An interesting historical note on the plight of younger investigators and the Ginther report

Jan 28 2013 Published by under NIH, NIH Careerism, NIH funding, Underrepresented Groups

As noted recently by Bashir, the NIH response to the Ginther report contrasts with their response to certain other issues of grant disparity:

I want to contrast this with NIH actions regarding other issues. In that same blog post I linked there is also discussion of the ongoing early career investigator issues. Here is a selection of some of the actions directed towards that problem.

NIH plans to increase the funding of awards that encourage independence like the K99/R00 and early independence awards, and increase the initial postdoctoral researcher stipend.

In the past NIH has also taken actions in modifying how grants are awarded. The whole Early Stage Investigator designation is part of that. Grant pickups, etc.
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I don't want to get all Kanye ("NIH doesn't care about black researchers"), but priorities, be they individual or institutional, really come though not in talk but actions. Now, I don't have any special knowledge about the source or solution to the racial disparity. But the NIH response here seems more along the lines of adequate than overwhelming.

In writing another post, I ran across this 2002 bit in Science. This part stands out:

It's not because the peer-review system is biased against younger people, Tilghman argues. When her NRC panel looked into this, she says, “we could find no data at all [supporting the idea] that young people are being discriminated against.”

Although I might take issue with what data they chose to examine and the difficulty of proving "discrimination" in a subjective process like grant review, the point at hand is larger. The NIH had a panel which could find no evidence of discrimination and they nevertheless went straight to work picking up New Investigator grants out of the order of review to guarantee an equal outcome!

Interesting, this is.

3 responses so far

  • dsks says:

    “we could find no data at all [supporting the idea] that young people are being discriminated against.”

    I don't doubt it. I'm sure a young person with a 20 yr publication history, and a lab with enough staff to generate at least one paper's worth of preliminary data for every grant would be treated just the same as anybody else.

  • drugmonkey says:

    precisely dsks, precisely.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    Get off my lawn.

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