Republicans of Science

Jun 25 2015 Published by under NIH, Tribe of Science

10 responses so far

  • Isabel says:

    OT but since this is a random political post seems appropriate enough.

    Well it's about time:

  • dsks says:

    Perhaps a traditionally libertarian notion is worth pondering in re NIH funding?

    I've been going back and forth with some folk on FB in re the pros and cons of a Universal Basic Income and relating to the funding topic, it occurred to me that it would cost around $2Bn of the $30Bn NIH budget (7%) to guarantee every one of the ~20,000 PIs* actively applying for R01 grants an allocation of $100K total indirect+direct per year.

    If we wanted to be at least a little bit selective and bring the expense down a bit, we could guarantee it only to PIs submitting discussed applications for the relevant 3-5 yr funding period in question.

    Completely bonkers, mind, but one could make a case that it's less so than blowing substantial coin on some of these aimless boondoggles like the Brain Initiative and whatnot.

    * not sure how reliable this number is, I think I got it from a graph you posted DM

  • drugmonkey says:

    It isn't enough. And the history of "starter grants" like R29 show this. Review panels will continue to screw over noobs...even harder because now they have "something" under your scheme.

    And, with all these ppl getting minimal support, it just increases the competition for the real money.

  • dsks says:

    Yes, it wouldn't be much it's true, but nevertheless lots of us are eagerly hitting Foundations up for this sort of money knowing full well it's decent for supplementing startup or existing public funds. It can cover an additional salary, take the edge of a dry funding spell for sure, generally reduce the uncertainty a bit etc...

    In terms of the effect on conventional grant competitiveness. If the $2Bn came straight out of the NIH's RPG allowance (~$15Bn), then yes this would be estimated to reduce number of applications funded by ~15%, but 1) my thinking is that there are other areas of the NIH budget that could probably contribute to a UBI of sorts; and 2) I think a lot of PIs in the current environment would be prepared to sacrifice a small reduction in success rates for a guaranteed $>75K directs /yr to put towards keeping a valued postdoc/tech etc.

    (I have to say, after looking at the numbers, I was rather struck by the fact that if you simply divvied up $15Bn/yr between 20,000 PIs you get $750K per year per PI! That number is much larger than I'd have expected).

  • drugmonkey says:

    My perspective is that lots of the kinds of science near and dear to me (read: anything involving vertebrate animals) would be impossible under your scheme. The noobs in my entire field would be severely crippled. I can't go with such a plan, obviously.

    (Also, having faced down ~such a plan for my first grant ever and having the PO save face by cutting a year off the project....I can speak slightly more than theoretically about these suggestions. They stink)

  • jmz4 says:

    It is odd. I'm involved in some postdoc advocacy groups, and the oldtimer oligarchy *love* us. They love to talk about supporting trainees, meanwhile completely dismissing the generation above us that their suggested policies (and behavior) are screwing over (the same people we'll be in 5-10 years).
    I'm not sure if it's cause they know we're more or less powerless and so can pander to us safely, or if they honestly just think that the PI's getting shafted by the current environment deserve it.

  • drugmonkey says:

    You won't be competing with them for another funded cycle or two. They'll be on the way out then. My generation threatens their easy funding immediately.

  • dsks says:

    Jings, my bad, I was looking at the wrong chart. 40,000 PIs not 20,000. That's a good bit more expensive.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    Duh, poor(ly funded) PIs are poor because they are lazy and stupid.

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