It would be fascinating if NIH did audits to search for who gets funded with their first grant by pedigree and productivity measures.
I'd want to see categorization of number of first and last author pubs. Of course. Some sort of measure of productivity in the time since being appointed to the independent investigator title. Mediated by JIF.
Then pedigree by the grant wealth and productivity of the pre-independence mentors.
I wonder if you can get away with crap productivity of you are tied into the network. And if you can overcome your Outsider status by generating a ton of pubs.
I wonder how likely a newb is to be funded as the years elapse from the time of first appointment without senior author publications.