Thought of the Day

Apr 09 2016 Published by under Fixing the NIH, NIH, NIH Careerism

"Uppity" is a fascinating concept when it comes to NIH Grant award. 

We know the sentiment applies to newer and younger investigators. I've heard countless review and Program Officer comments which amount to "let's not get too big for your britches, young un!" in my day. 

I wonder how much of the Ginther effect is related to sentiments similar to "damn uppity [insert subvocalization]"? 

17 responses so far

  • sel says:

    I scrolled through his slides and my question is actually on the "aging" studies. One of the slides states "younger researchers are generally viewed as more innovative" and laments the aging of the scientific workforce. As a mid-career type, what's the best way to stay innovative? I don't want to be deadwood.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Exploit younger scientists?

  • Juan Lopez says:

    I have seen it happen:

    When I heard that my first R01 was going to be funded, I was so happy. Then the budget was cut massively, way below modular. So it was clear what I had to do: keep fighting to get another R01. Eventually one application received a good score, so I called the PO. His response: first you have to prove that you can handle the money we are giving you. It did not get funded.

    Not quite "uppity", but something that BSDs don't have to go through.

    What did I do? Invite a BSD into the project as PI. Almost identical project got funded next round. I lost the credit of being sole PI, but I got the money needed to run my lab and do the research.

  • Grumble says:

    "As a mid-career type, what's the best way to stay innovative? "

    Drink from the Fountain of Youth?

  • Mikka says:

    Don't you graybeards know that you have to CRISPRize the optogenetic stem cells through graphene nanotechnology to fight bioterrorism and the zika epidemic?

  • tom says:

    multiple POs have told me to stop submitting grants. I told them that i can't help it I am doing great work. that probably earned me some shit. but totally worth it.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    CRISPRize the optogenetic stem cells through graphene nanotechnology to fight bioterrorism and the zika epidemic

    Hey! That was the title of my latest grant application!

  • drugmonkey says:

    multiple POs have told me to stop submitting grants.

    So tell them to fix their system so that your confidence in continuing the ones you have is higher?

  • SidVic says:

    Multiple POs, Tom- i hate your energy. Why not try to break into another institute or funding source if they show resistance at your standby. NIA? NIGMS? DOD? Foundation? Some POs are like Bernie, they like to spread it around. Others could care less.

  • Dave says:

    I hate POs.

  • drugmonkey says:

    You should recognize that POs are people like anyone else. Trying to do a tough job within a series of constraints. Their power is less than you may imagine and the number of PIs just like you begging for the same sort of special flower help may be much greater than you imagine.

  • tom says:

    I have funding from multiple institutes and funding sources (ie not just NIH). this is from one particular institute. I just keep doing what I want to do, because said institute happily will give 3-4 R01's to more senior people. They like to tell me I am young. I refuse to acknowledge that.

  • Pippso says:

    Off topic: does the following make any sense?

    "For example, if the national success rate for R01 applications is 18%, the NIH would fund 18% of R01 applications from each state."

    (from "Biases in grant proposal success rates, funding rates and award sizes affect the geographical distribution of funding for biomedical research" https://peerj.com/articles/1917/ )

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    @Pippso, presuming that the distribution of applicant quality from each state is equal, then yes, success rates across states should also be equal.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Pippso-

    This is another long term issue. It's why there is a geographical diversity obligation in study section makeup and why there are various special programs for underfunded States.

    Obviously those initiatives only partially compensate.

    Did that article say anything about regional differences in local support for research Universities? I've lived in states that vary tremendously in their support of higher Ed and it correlates well with the NIHgrant numbers in that article.

  • Ass(isstant) Prof says:

    Pippso-

    With respect to geographic distribution, a.k.a. zip code bias, I get the impression that IDeA (Institutional Development Award) provides cover for not funding an RPG in a state that already receives few NIH dollars. "Well, they've got IDeA funding..."
    Of the 52 jurisdictions in the PeerJ article, 26 are eligible for IDeA "special programs," which might tell you something about the geographic concentration of funds.

    Salty Scientist-

    See: "zip code bias" and how it might color impressions about application quality (or applicant quality, as you note).

    DM does nail it with local support. I also see in IDeA support used as an excuse for institutions/states to limit their own support for research and development, all the way down to the local level of academic units refusing to provide grant accounting support. Long term issue is right.

    And back to the main topic here, yes, I've had a PO say flatly over the phone that, "there are a lot of senior people applying, so as a junior-level investigator you won't be able to compete. Don't apply."
    WTF?

  • Eli Rabett says:

    Funding at the same rate based on application moves more money to Boston. If, for example there are 100 applications from Vermont and 1000 from Massachusetts, Vermont gets 18 and Massachusetts 180.

    Math.

    Funding based on states (EpSCOR) is different

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