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A Change in Our Resubmission Policy

We have had much discussion on this blog about NIH’s resubmission policy (most often referred to as the NIH A2 policy). I have also heard from many of you in a variety of forums, expressing serious concerns about the impact of NIH’s resubmission policy on applicants during these times of tight funding. We’ve listened to your concerns, and we are making changes.

If you recall, following extensive assessment of NIH’s peer review processes as part of the Enhancing Peer Review project, we implemented a number of policies to ensure that our peer review process was best serving scientific research. (If interested, the archived pages explaining this process are online.) In 2009, we went from allowing two resubmission applications to allowing one, and that policy specified that if the resubmission application was not funded, the application had to be substantially different in content and scope in order to be eligible for submission as a new application. The policy change was made to address the growing trend for resubmission applications to be scored more favorably, which in essence, created a queue for meritorious applications before success in funding. This queue meant that the time to award of meritorious applications lengthened considerably. The new policy had its intended effect: the number of applicants who were awarded with only one try rose substantially.

While the change in policy had the intended result of a greater number of applications being funded earlier, many researchers voiced concerns that the requirement for previously reviewed applications to be substantially redesigned in order to be accepted as new applications resulted in many meritorious research ideas being deemed ineligible for resubmission. With the ever lowering success rates due to the reduced NIH budget over the last couple years, even more meritorious applications were not funded.  As a result, we heard increasing concerns from the community about the impact of the policy on new investigators because finding new research directions can be quite difficult during this phase of their career. Also, established investigators voiced concern about the need to redirect the research focus of productive labs in order to submit future NIH applications.

So today we have announced a policy change. While the new policy still allows a single resubmission per application, ideas that were unsuccessfully submitted as a resubmission (A1) may now be presented in a new grant application (A0) without having to substantially redesign the content and scope of the project.

The resubmission of an idea as new means the application will be considered without an association to a previous submission; the applicant will not provide an introduction to spell out how the application has changed or respond to previous reviews; and reviewers will be instructed to review it as a new idea even if they have seen it in prior cycles. While there may not be major changes to the research direction of these previously reviewed ideas, NIH expects that applicants will nevertheless take advantage of previous reviewers’ comments to strengthen the applications for each submission.

The new policy does not address the fact that funding is still tight. (If only it could!) We will not be able to fund any more projects because of the new policy and likely will see some increase in the number of applications. However, we will monitor this new policy closely. Hopefully you’ll agree that this policy provides you with greater ease and versatility, giving you the opportunity to present your best ideas in the best way, and enhances NIH’s ability to discover and fund the most meritorious science in support of our mission.

101 thoughts on “A Change in Our Resubmission Policy

  1. A disaster. Certainly a return to the old traffic-pattern days of yore for genuinely new submissions. A return waaaaay back to when you funded a few -A6s. Now everything will be several rounds in before it is funded.

    You would be far better off actually fixing peer review.

    • I would rather fight for several rounds and win than have my potentially winning proposal be arbitrarily aborted. Fighting and having the chance to win increases morale and will bring out the best in everyone. Having a proposal be aborted within a few percentile points of the payline is debilitating to careers.

      • THE STUDY SECTIONS ARE GOING TO BE OVERWHELMED!!!

        I agree this is going to be a disaster particularly in the short run. There are going to be thousands of grants that were turned down over the past two years all resubmitted in the next round or two. There is no reason not to and it will be used to show administrators that one is still actively pursuing research. Success rates are going to plummet to 3% demoralizing everyone.

  2. This is wonderful news and a sign that NIH is willing to help biomedical scientists deal with the challenges of the current funding environment.

  3. Does this mean “the nearest submission date” or “any due date following the unsuccessful resubmission”?

    Also, does this apply to A1s that were unsuccessful before this notice was issued, and starting now, they can be submitted as new – or does the unsuccessful A1 have to be submitted after April 16?

      • I also had this same question. Can any past A1 grants submitted before 4/16/14 now be submitted now as A0s?This would be the fairest approach

    • If you are planning to submit a new application following the unsuccessful resubmission, you may submit it for a future date that is designated for new applications. Please remember to check the funding opportunity announcement to ensure you target the right due date!

      And yes, if you had an unsuccessful resubission before the policy was issued, it is now eligible for submission as a new application.

  4. This is good news for many proposals that were of high quality but fell just short of the payline. However, look for a major uptick in submissions, a corresponding decline in paylines, and some very, very busy Program Officers and grant reviewers!

  5. This is indeed great news. Thank you NIH for listening to our concerns. I am a relatively new investigator and given teh time frame we have to set up the laboratory and generate sufficient data for R01, it’s almost impossible finding new research direction that would dazzle reviewers after unsuccesful submission. thank you so much again.

  6. Great news, thank you NIH. The Notice only refers to “following an unsuccessful resubmission (A1) application”. Can an uncompetitive or unscored A0 also be followed up with a new A0 that’s essentially the same idea? Or do we have to go through the A1 stage and have that rejected first?

  7. It would be interesting to try a policy of “selective third tries”. A second resubmission may be very reasonable for an application that scores well in significance and innovation but needs more revisions to the approach. But a second resubmission may be less valuable for a proposal that fell short in the areas of significance and innovation.

  8. What does this mean for younger investigators who do not have new investigator status anymore? We don’t have a bunch of old A1s in our pockets to resubmit as ‘new’ proposals.

  9. As a reviewer I strongly agree with Mat. There is no attempt by NIH to oversee the peer-review process so that grant reviewers get any feedback on their reviews. Resubmitting unfunded proposals alone accomplishes nothing except boost the number of applications-just like the U01 initiative that came out to replicate previous studies. There was no useful practical guidance from NIH for PIs to properly write the grants or how to fairly review applications; especially using the same criteria used for R-01s, R-21s etc. For example, how does one evaluate “Innovation” to replicate a study using the criteria meant for an R01? How many PIs actually understood the “rules” to submit proposals for these U01s? None that I saw. There should be at minimum a process where at least 1 review/year/reviewer gets feedback from someone who works at the appropriate division of NIH who can make a standardized judgement that the review is accurate, it complies with NIH scoring criteria and is unbiased. Currently the basis to be a reviewer is having been funded by an R01 and been around a while and is willing to work like a dog for $450/grant cycle minus taxes. For an organization that is dedicated to pursue science it is an unfortunate and sloppy way to fairly judge someone’s scientific endeavor that they spent so much time to put together. It is very evident that the system is broken by the number of late past-deadline reviews, reviews that have scores with absolutely no or very little feedback (to PIs) or for other reviewer’s to digest prior to the meeting, or reviewers with obvious conflicts of interest with the grants they are reviewing without any known consequences, that I see. Adding more grants to review probably will mean having to now get a 2 percentile score to get funded which doesn’t help to many people.

    • “There was no useful practical guidance from NIH for PIs to properly write the grants or how to fairly review applications;”

      Really! 20 years of education and a Ph.D. and you need NIH to hold your hand! Sheesh!

      • SaG:Your comment is naive and condescending. I have 26 years of education and many PIs/ Reviewers have more than that. No one needs you or anyone else to hold our hands, by the same token we don’t make the rules either. If you have a suggestion to improve the entire process then let’s hear it. I also see that NIH is so fully engaged it picks and chooses which comments to respond to. Mostly because they have no idea what the outcome of this change in policy will be; and yet of course they have their government job that ensures they are insulated from any of their decisions. As I said, this policy alone will do nothing-not for new or experienced investigators. People who have “almost good enough” grants are surrounded by similar investigators in the same situation with their own “almost good enough” grants. To think that you alone out there who thinks this is a great idea because now you get 8 shots to fund your grant is mistaken. p.s. to SaG you’re welcome to submit a grant using this link because even the review officers and their supervisors at NIH didn’t understand the problems that came up with this funding proposal. But of course you need no one to hold your hand so I am sure you will be all over this: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-13-383.html

  10. Well, I am not sure about overall, but I had a proposal sent to a study section hastily comprised after the government shutdown. Not one member had any background in the entire discipline the proposal is based in. None of the reviews were substantive and none accurate. I was advised to give up that line of research entirely and write a new proposal sent to a more suited study section based in the institute related to the work. OK, we have lots of hot results and I am used to writing, so that was only a problem in terms of laying off lab members due to delay. This policy would have helped.
    Now, why do decisions about renewal of long term projects take place with only 3 months left on the project? Why can’t renewals be submitted in time for a possible A1 and an orderly disbanding of a research group if not funded?

  11. In response to Mat and George: I suspect that neither of you is a new or young investigator trying for their first R01. If you’re an established investigator with lots of people in your lab, you may not have a hard time coming up with a completely new application, and you may even have enough people and resources to generate lots of new data for your next grant idea. For those of us trying to get our first NIH grant, it can be extremely hard to rebound from that ‘almost good enough but not quite there yet’ A1 application that could not be submitted again under yesterday’s rules. Many/most established researchers had that A2 opportunity when they were starting out. Now, you’re the ones reviewing the grants–and I do understand the time and effort that goes into this task–but limiting the opportunities for new investigators is not the way to address this problem.

    I am tremendously grateful to the NIH for listening to the feedback from all sides, and making what I think will be viewed as a welcome change to many bright, qualified young scientists who are having trouble competing with big, established labs for funding of their first grant.

    • I agree. It’s much different when you have tenure or at least some job security to say that this is a bad thing than when you are burning through your start-up trying to get started and are staring at losing your job. Yes, it will set up a queue and may result in projects funded on the 4th or 5th try. Yes, it will put a greater demand on reviewers with increased submissions. However, at least the projects that we are passionate about and have toiled at for years will have a chance for funding. I’ve gone through several rounds of the A0/A1 yo-yo, and I see this as a faint hope in these tough times.

    • Indeed, I got my start under the A2 rules. The traffic pattern was no picnic. A0s simply were not taken seriously, at all. Especially for new / younger investigators. And let me remind you, the applicant was supposed to be frowned upon, even then, for putting in a A0 that was a revised version of an A2 that missed funding. Some sections did, indeed, frown upon such things so in my day the junior investigator who struck out on A2 was advised to revise Aims, etc, much like the formal and more stringent policy that has just been rescinded.

      Despite my considerable skepticism, let us take it as stipulated that Dr. Rockey’s claims to shortening the time to funding are correct. That is a significant improvement from the old holding-pattern days that I launched under. With this new policy, we ARE going to return to a greater delay from initial submission to eventual funding for, keep in mind, those projects that the system will eventually deem to be fundable projects.

      How long to get from A0 submission to eventual funding on the A2 or A3? Three years? Four? Each cycle of mean delay is going to put folks out of business.

      I stand by my first comment. It would be far better if the NIH could figure out how to fix the cultural factors of peer review that drive the holding pattern. It isn’t evilness on the part of reviewers, it is a necessary outcome of the system at present. The NIH needs to focus on figuring out how to fund the grants that just-miss the current payline without any further re-submission. That should be their target of greatest focus and interest.

      • No one is disputing that the NIH needs to be fixed, no one is saying that reviewers are evil, and no one thinks that this change will make everything sunshine and roses. However, we are seeing the worst funding situation in the history of the NIH and the A1 limit exacerbated the problem, especially for young investigators. At least with a holding pattern/queue we can use reviews to improve our grants and make our science appealing enough that it may eventually get funded. Having to make a new grant every third try means you start back at almost zero, which is a waste of time and effort. Taking 3 to 4 years to get a grant funded is infinitely better than never getting funded and having to apply for jobs at McDonalds. This is what young faculty face right now and what I think a lot of senior faculty have forgotten or aren’t terribly concerned about.

      • they didn’t get funded because they didn’t make the payline. the payline is what it is, i don’t see how you can “fix” that, there simply is not enough $

        • What strikes me is that many investigators seem to think NIH should fix a problem the universities created by hiring many faculty without the support to carry out the research they were hired to do. The universities expanded based on the unsustainable 90′s NIH funding bubble, without making a corresponding commitment themselves. In fact, the universities reduced their financial commitment to their own faculty in response.

  12. Dee I wish you all the best in your endeavors. My fundamental point was that NIH needs to accept the responsibility to improve the actual process of providing guidance on what is expected from PIs to effectively submit a grant as well as facilitating standardization of the grant review process. Active oversight by NIH and educating the committee members to be more effective reviewers who provide truly clear feedback would benefit everyone. Who hasn’t received feedback that made you wonder if the reviewer actually read the application? While recycling a grant seems very appealing, if you get bad or inaccurate feedback by some reviewers who are not qualified, who do not understand your application, or who are not committed to perform a really thoughtful grant review will leave us all just as frustrated.

  13. As a grant writer, I think this new policy is great. I have a couple of “almost good enough” A1 applications that should be quite easy to revise and re-submit. However, I’m also a reviewer and I anticipate having to review a lot more grants that are never going to be good enough. If you can re-submit a rejected A1 as a new A0, can that then be re-submitted as an A1 and then a new A1 ad infinitum?

  14. Will there be any restrictions on where an A0 that’s based on a failed A0 or A1 can go for review? As a reviewer I worry some about ‘section shopping’, i.e. flipping A0s to one section after another until the applicant gets a good enough score to merit an A1. Seems like there is potential to add a lot of burden to the review process.

      • Grant reviewers (like myself) spend a lot of time giving serious consideration and thought to each an every grant application that gets assigned to them. We do this as a voluntary contribution to the scientific community (and believe me, the quality of the review system will become worse if you force each and every grant recipient to become a grant reviewer). So instead of telling us to “suck it up” you should try to consider how the scenario might look from the side of the reviewers: with the new rules there is ZERO disincentive to just resubmit the very same grant the next time around in the hope that it might get to a different study section and/or a different set of reviewers. There is a clear potential that we will see a significant increase in “old but now new” submissions which will not only increase the workload but also reduce the percentage of grant submission being funded. While I think there is clear merit to allow for extra rounds of submissions for grants that were extremely close to being funded (and those will benefit from another chance), allowing every un-funded proposal to be resubmitted without major changes may indeed call for an avalanche of proposals hitting the study sections that may make it extremely difficult to conduct a fair and productive grant review process.

        • I completely agree with what Seb described above. Those who are not aware about the reality of NIH/CSR review process will be enthusiastic about this R1 to R0 or R0 to New R0 submission policy. An R2 would have been much better than this. This will no better than trying luck one more time in other study section. You may be lucky, but chance is less. Increase in number of grant to be reviewed is a clear invitation for sloppy review and no quality. Most study section is full of grade C scientists. Grade A scientist rejects review invitation from NIH, but drains most money of NIH. NIH need to revamp the entire review process. Journal article review process evolved a long way, but NIH remained archaic. Life of a junior faculty in US is not going to be better if not worse by this policy. US is destroying its seed crop ( junior scientists).

  15. I am a bit surprised by some of the unguarded enthusiasm. Indeed, the shift to an integer scoring scale and the elimination of the A2 were made with good intentions and a strong rationale, but each had unintended consequences. So might this new policy.

    One concern is that allowing unlimited resubmissions of unfunded proposals in the guise of new grants may end up hurting those same young investigators who seem to be most excited. Rather than thinking about the small number of “nearly funded” grants in the 10th to 20th percentiles, consider that this policy also invites sending in the five times as many triaged and middling A1′s for a new review. These also appear as a new grant, and can be directed to a different panel without having to address weaknesses with new preliminary data/change in aims/new collaborators/etc. Even if most of these recycled proposals never rise up to the funding line, they may further clog the system, degrade reviewing and decrease consistency. These trends would hurt all but the most advantaged and thus may lead to even greater inequality. I am sure many of you can imagine other troubling scenarios. Either way, “no” no longer means “no”.

    Now, I understand the temptation for CSR to respond to a crisis, but this is akin to rearranging the deck chairs. I believe we need to think instead about how to get more of us into life boats by restoring funding lines to closer to sustainable levels. We may have to consider options such as limits on direct costs per grant and/or per investigator a la NIGMS, but at least we might be able to save more colleagues while we wait to be rescued.

    • I completely agree with the comment of Steve Kron above. A mad administration at the NIH, who is changing rule so frequently with out real analysis and interpretation. Do they really have team to analyze the trends of funding. Why some have 6 R01′s and some have 5%FTE in 20 grant and some junior investigator is struggling for his first grant.

      • Finally some comments that make sense…Thank you, guys! Actually, I think the negative consequences of removing A2s was actually very predictable. You wonder who is running things at NIH…

    • I absolutely agree with Steve. For short-tem, (or maybe long-term), in exchange for getting infinite chances, this policy change will likely significantly decrease the success rate, which actually may hurt young scientists even more, as everyone including established scientists would now throw in their failed applications. After all the root of the problem is the relative scarcity of money. Arranging deck chairs won’t fix it.

    • I am a new investigator who completely agrees with Steve Kron. Limiting direct costs per grant or per investigator in order to increase % funded could be a reasonable solution for the short term. As for the resubmissions of failed grants as new A0s, at least limit the number of resubmissions or limit those that can be resubmitted to the highest scoring failed proposals.

  16. It is interesting that many of the comments have addressed the quality of peer review. I think one way to improve that part of the process would be to have more reviewers for each grant, and a particular reviewer is only looking at one of the criteria, without access to other parts of the grant. E.g., one reviewer looking at the Aims, the project summary, and the biosketches/personal statements & letters of support, scoring only Investigator. Get 7 reviews. Same for the others (Approach only needs the research plan). Assign composite score & ranking by an algorithm, Have an executive committee that assesses the critiques of the other reviews in assigning final scores. No more NI/ESI’s getting, “the lack of considering -obscure model- demonstrates the investigators inexperience” in Approach section. No more big wigs getting away without Power Analysis.

  17. It is clear the system is broken at all levels and both the NIH personnel and all the PIs can ponder around many ideas and concepts how to fix the broken “crystal glass” which is in many pieces and some are even missing. Not possible, except melt down the pieces and reform the new glass shape. Firstly, the idea of multidisciplinary, collaborative approaches, center grants and so on is wrong and misconceived. There has never been in the history of science a “Nobel Price” given in Chemistry or Medicine to multidisciplinary or collaborative or large center research findings, and there will never be. The NIH money wasted on such endeavors can support hundreds of individual PIs who will most likely contribute more efficiently to the advancement of science.

    Peer-review system as set up both in terms of effectiveness, accuracy, biasness and funding the most important research and scientist has no bearing to the reality. The idea of having an individual on a committee who has minimal expertise has not shown a major discovery capacity but because he/she has an R01 grant is as good as getting my grandma to be on the committee who has been dead for more than 30 years. The productivity component of peer-review can be thrown out of the window, since publishing 10 papers each year with overall contribution of infinitesimal impact on advancement or discovery within specific or general biomedical sciences can be superseded by a single paper at any given time. It is the significance of the published paper(s) and not the numbers that matter today, tomorrow or ever.

    I have suggested some 15 years ago that with the electronic age we have the Nation’s best science and scientist has to be evaluated on an international level, “two reviewers from USA and two from outside the country international experts in a specific field”. This will remove the time burden on US scientists/reviewers, biasness and politics. The NIH program director replied with confidence that there is going to be very soon a change in the peer-review criteria. Indeed, that happened but the way committees operate, their make-up and appropriate guidance/training has not changed. Hence, the change in the criteria or any other aspects of peer-review process will have no significant positive impact at the end.

    • How do you know team science will not be awarded by Nobel prize? NIH is going to lobby hard to award Nobel to human genome project team, ENCODE team and GWAS/NGS groups etc. to prove its point. Awards are for sale, we all know that. Let young, single lab investigation die, that kind is not good for this century and pay NIH dollars to “scientist managers”

      • (1) Very interesting point! Yes, NIH-lobbying —- for “Nobel” to teams of Genome project and others may have been possible if NIH and NIH-Review committee members were to have a major/dominant role in the “decision making”. But that is not the case. The “Nobel Price” ultimate decision is made by the “Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet consisting of 50 professors. Nobel Assembly appoints 5 Nobel Committee members who collects and screen for nominations for Nobel Price from international prominent scientists. The Nobel Committee recommends potential individuals to the Nobel Assembly and final decision is made by the 50 Assembly members. The “Nobel Foundation” has a set of rules and criteria obviously that need to be also followed which includes a maximum number of individuals that can be awarded the “Nobel Price” at a given time may not exceed 3.

        (2) There are some very important and hidden factors that can make or break potential for being selected by the Nobel Assembly and 5 Nobel Committee members. One of those is based upon clear and fundamentally sound grounds that the discovery/contributions are substantial, proven and there was no uncertainties associated by introducing additional claims that may not be possible to substantiate as the time goes by the individual or others. A classic example in my view was perhaps the case of “Judoh Folkman (Children’s Hospital Boston)”, the father of angiogenesis field who has clearly generated a major field of importance in medicine. No doubt he may have been given deservingly the “Nobel” for the angiogenesis field alone, however, the component related to his angiogenesis field was the “cure for cancer with anti-angiogenesis peptides” which was claimed and became a major publicity with the involvement of major drug companies that the cure was within 5 years (mid 1990s). Incidentally, when Dr Folkman began his quest in 1970s and has asked for NIH support for more than a decade, the NIH-Study Section Committee Members unfortunately would not award him NIH research money until many years later (~mid-late 1980s).

        (3) The genome project and all the other multidisciplinary studies unfortunately have fallen to the same trap as above by claiming that: Quote, “once the human genome was completed we will know all we needed to know about which genes are responsible for all the human disease. With this knowledge the cure for all human ailments will be imminent”. Unfortunately, none of those have been achieved or will be achieved just because of the knowledge of the gene responsible for the disease. Hence, a claim that has not been fulfilled or proven has zero chance of been considered for “Nobel Price”. Importantly, decades before the genome project there were many genes already defined to be responsible for a number of different diseases with no drugs ever developed or cure. Now that the scientific community realized that simple identification of a gene has not and will not lead to “magic bullet for cure”, there is side-track developments that perhaps “human proteome” is the ultimate answer or may be possibly “human metabolome” and so on. The reality is the fact that >99% of all the drugs prescribed today and make up the Doctor’s Pharmacapia have been discovered and developed between 1905 and 1970s and without knowing the genes or studying the so called cellular mechanisms. If it was not for the classical scientists you would have been still drinking a “bottle of Scotch Wiskey” before your tooth can extracted or filled.

  18. This will not substantively change what gets funded. Because its really about “who” gets funded.

    NIH is to be criticized that it funds “usual suspects.”

    A portion of these peer review needs to be a blinded scientific assessment as to who is the PI. While a separate part of the review is wisely a basis of the investigator’s background, a significant review portion based in the science of the project can be blinded.

    Otherwise all this is just window dressing and propaganda and there will be no substantive change in who gets funded until a generation of boomers retires.

  19. This is a welcome change but the NIH needs to go one step further and eliminate the notion of resubmissions: every grant should be new submission. The one and only important issue should be whether the research is worthy of public support, and not whether the PI has groveled before the reviewers and responded to the particular criticisms of the particular study section members that reviewed the previous submission. Grant reviews should be viewed as feedback on how to improve the application; it is up to the PI to improve it as s/he sees fit. In contrast with the olden days, when every grant was discussed, the triage system spares the study section from having to discuss grants from the relatively few who just don’t get the message that their idea will not get funded.

  20. The NIH Review Policy Officer confirmed below that the resubmission policy is retroactive (query mentioned an A1 that was reviewed by a Council in May 2012 and was not funded):

    From: Review Policy Officer (NIH/OD/OER) [ReviewPolicyOfficer@mail.nih.gov]
    Sent: Friday, April 18, 2014 11:37 AM
    Subject: RE: Is the Updated Policy for Application Submission retroactive?

    Yes, there is no time limit between the first A0 and a subsequent A0. However, there is a 37-month time limit between an A0 and its subsequent A1.

    Sally A. Amero, Ph.D.
    NIH Review Policy Officer
    NIH Extramural Research Integrity Liaison Officer

    I doubt there will be an exponential rise in applications in response to the new policy. I heard a study section member say investigators get a reputation if they submit poorly conceived applications every grant cycle, especially because they are likely to be judged in the same study section more than once. Unrevised rejected A1s will almost certainly be triaged if they are resubmitted repeatedly. Study sections would start to anticipate poor quality, and that would lower the chances of funding for the next proposal before it is even reviewed. New investigators who build a lame reputation by trying to game the system won’t stand a chance in the long term. Assuming that people will revise appropriately before a resubmission, this policy can help, and the “selective third try” mentioned above would be a good future addition.

  21. Stupidest idea ever. People were already doing this. change the title abstract and narrative. Some changes to the specific aim and you are back in business. Doesn’t change anything. We are back to zero…
    Smarter thing would have been A02 submissions only for grants that were scored or scored below 50. Unfortunately they didn’t ask me……

    • I believe you may be right. I spend lot of time and hard work to come up with new data and new aims to revise an A1 to submit as new A0. But I could have done what you just said. NIH never had machinery or efficient manpower at CSR to catch those A0 as virtual A2′s. NIH officers are busy in handing out funds to some “know suspects” and NIH club members

  22. I think this should be very helpful for new and starting investigators – thank you. Quick questions regarding this notice: will the grant need to be marked as A0 following an A1 – will the reviewers need to know it is one of these grants ? Also, should the grant have a completely new name ?

    Thanks!

    • You would submit the A0 following an A1 as a new application (there is a check box on the application form where you select new or resubmission). You should not include mention of the previous submission in the new application. You may change the application title, but it is not a requirement. If the application goes to the same study section, reviewers may remember seeing your previous submission, but they will be instructed to review the application as new.

  23. A couple more things to consider. There are going to be many more study section reviewers added as individual reviewers don’t have the time to review more grants than they are already. Regardless, many out there think the same reviewers will be reviewing all their grant proposals. It is simply not the case. Reviewers come and go all the time and to think that because you answer the problems of the last review group doesnt mean you are addressing unanticipated issues raised by a new group of reviewers. In fact the possibility exists that you may not get reviewed at all as scored by a new group of reviewers. However lets think that your grant and 10 others now get all 1′s at a particular study section in June because now everyone can resubmit their grants ad infinitum. These 10 grants are now in the top 1 percentile along with all the other NIH grants. What makes’ you think that your grant will guarantee to be funded? Perhaps at best only 2 of the 10 grants will be funded because of lack of funding; and another group will make that decision based on scientific merit. So congratulations the great news is that your grant was in the top 1 percentile. The bad news is that you still only have a 20% chance to get funded, and if you are not funded what next? I have seen only 7 grants in the previous 4 grant cycles get funded via our study group and that includes all kinds of competitive awards, so what I suggest is quite possible. So no, this policy is not an answer to your funding prayers whether you are a new investigator who has never had a grant funded or an experienced investigator. By the way I have 11 scored grants with 20s and 30s just sitting in my drawer. Until I have a better idea I plan to let them sit there because this policy change is going nowhere; and no I am not 100% funded either, I’m not part of the old boys network or benefiting from any of the other assumptions people who have never served on a grant review section are making.

    • Yes. Just be sure that at the time of the new submission you still meet the eligibility requirements in the FOA.

  24. This is an interesting change in policy.
    Would this increase the number of applications in an already overwhelmed system?
    Will the scoring criteria be different?
    Is it that NIH now has more money to give out which is why they are asking for more applications?
    How is this advantageous to anyone?
    I thought the issue was the large variability in scores among reviewers. I don’t see how this new policy will change that.

  25. This policy revision is excellent and welcome news, as it addresses a major issue with rejected renewal applications; i.e., technically you could no longer perform related research in the field in which you are an expert. How dumb is that?? This is critical, too, for new investigators who only had 2 “rookie at bats” to hit a home run, or forced to call it quits on the projects they were hired for…. yes, there were ways around this, but having to quasi-cheat or dodge stupid barriers doesn’t make sense. I have always thought that new investigators should have A0-A2′s, and still think this would be a good idea even in the new system. They should have a chance to address the specific critiques for two resubmissions. All other efforts to assist new investigators have been superficial or neutral at best, and actually harmful at worst. Full disclosure: I’m NOT a new investigator and haven’t been for over a decade.

    Now– the NIH needs to revise their peer-review panel system. I propose that anyone with a current NIH grant of any stripe should be required to participate in at least one peer review panel during the funding period of the grant, per grant. If you have 3 NIH grants, you must be on 3 separate panels during the funding periods of the 3 grants. Minimally. Another idea is to have all funded investigators be entered into a lottery for each panel from which their grant was reviewed and funded. Once you serve you’re done for the year.

    The peer review system has become like the jury of peers in local criminal courts– it’s the folks who can’t get out of it that end up on the jury. Being a permanent member is too onerous and of little actual benefit, and can inadvertently entrap mediocrity. In contrast, having successful researchers populate the panels as a requirement of their success ensures a steady pool of experienced reviewers with more perspective on the process. Having sat on panels with and without a few well-known researchers, the experience and the quality of the reviews are higher when there’s a few “big shots” in the room, who can help keep the nit-picky comments to a minimum. It’s time to not just expect, but to formally require, a return on the NIH funding that has directly contributed to any individual researcher’s personal success.

  26. This is a wonderful development for multiple reasons. Among them; the impact on the directionality of success rates following implementation of this policy with the potential for a congressional eye blink. Question is, which pool of applicants will have their success rates impacted. Hint: anyone ever played ping-pong?

  27. A day late and a dollar short for new investigators who have already been squeezed out and didn’t have the luxury of mentorship…

    • Mentorship? It is not a mystery as to what is expected of junior faculty. Obtain funding, establish a body of work that the community recognizes as your contribution, teach well and be an interactive colleague. No amount of mentoring changes these expectations. I don’t understand why junior faculty don’t consider their former grad school and postdoctoral advisors as their mentors. They should have a vested interest in your success becuase their reputation is partly based on the success of their mentees. You have been mentored throughout. Whether that was good or bad depends on whether you made wise choices in who to work for. They should provide the good feedback on your proposals, as they are the experts in your field. Your new colleagues are probably not experts.

      • I believed in all of these statements when I first entered research. However, I now know that the key to success in research is being mentored in the way the system works from the beginning, especially with respect to funding and type of awards. This means more than being taught the scientific method, how to generate data and develop skills in additional fields of research. Without early direction including emphasis on timelines and milestones critical to career development achieving independence is an uphill process or becomes a goal out of reach. I can only speculate that this is one reason why NIH now requests reporting on the use of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) at institutions as part of progress reports. I agree that success of their trainees should be in the interest of graduate and postdoc advisors, but interest is often limited to the generation of data or even keeping future competition at bay. Finally, the statement “[y]ou have been mentored throughout” is especially interesting because it is unclear what it is based on. Assumptions of how mentorship generally works may simply not be true.

  28. This could be a big news to some. Nevertheless, the funding is not going to be higher in the next several years. Therefore, payline for the last 2 cycles for the 2015 budget will potentially drop.

  29. Everyone states that we need to fix the peer review system. I also agree. The question is how to fix. The original peer review system was placed when the payline was much higher. When the payline for the Established Investigators (EIs) drops below 10 percentile, none of the peer review system will work. This is the REALITY. The only meaningful way to fix the peer review system is to increase the payline. Hope you got it!

    • I agree that raising the payline is paramount, however as a long-standing reviewer, I believe that when NIH attempted to standardize the review and re-do the scoring system, we went from a strengths based review to a weakness-based review process. I believe that this is part of what killed the system.

  30. Agree with the New PI. Really got badly squeezed as a new PI from 2010-14. Now I have 6 months left and the NIH finally woke-up! Indeed, a day late and a dollar short.

  31. I question the wisdom of the change. As another commenter mentioned, it seems like rearranging deck (or perhaps more appropriately, desk) chairs without addressing underlying issues. As long as paylines are at 10%, there will continue to be people just on the outside looking in and a lot of struggling junior investigators. I’m sure there will be anecdotal stories of investigators whose grants get funded on the third or fourth submission, just as there will be investigators whose A0s and A1s won’t be funded to compensate. But it will surely create more work for an already struggling review system.

    Instead, I’d like to see NIH begin to take a hardline on negotiated F&A rates. At my institution, the negotiated rate just increased again and is now more than 50%. I’ve seen other institutions with rates higher than 100%. This is intolerable on several levels. One can be pro-science and pro-NIH yet against administrative costs that have no obvious grounding in reality. Phrased another way, I wouldn’t give money to a charity that has a 50% administrative overhead no matter how much I support their mission. It should be gradual, but F&A costs should be:

    1) capped at a national maximum, just like salaries. I guarantee that while Institutions will howl, none would discontinue their research if F&A costs were cut in half tomorrow. This might have the side effect of making Universities think about the scale of the science enterprises that they can afford to co-fund, which would not necessarily be a bad thing.

    2) linked to better accounting. All F&A expenditures should be documented so that it is clear they are being spent on actual research-related costs. As an entire generation of researchers are threatened with extinction, the perception that F&A costs are being used to support non-research activities at Universities needs to be erased. Either by showing that the perception doesn’t match reality or by holding Institutions to account.

  32. Having an “outstanding” (score of 22) grant shot down twice, and being a reviewer and hating the process as it is now too arbitrary, I agree with both sides here.

    My suggestion is that SRO’s need to tell reviewers to be clearer for those grants that don’t stand a chance, ever – reviewers should not nitpick on approach details if they are really not excited about the grant, but rather give low scores on innovation or significance. Now, there are just too many grants that get resubmitted with little chance. I am not looking forward to my next grant review cycle in October.

  33. It is good that NIH is not afraid to do more work to give more chances for excellent ideas to be funded. In the new operating system in the past years, any reviewer can easily kill a proposal, based on science or bias.
    However, NIH also urgently needs to address the issue of how best to allocate limited tax papers’ money, so the funds are not used to merely build up the egos and factories of a small number of dominant PIs. It is not sustainable for NIH to give so much funds to large labs, so the investigators pay all their salaries and benefits using NIH funds. It is also unnecessary for any labs to use more than one million dollars to pursue real innovative ideas. Too many study sections are dominated by reviewers who focus on some hot areas in which labs piled on top of each other to discover the same things and make similar grand standing claims. Year after year, the labs claim they have made major discoveries that have advanced medical science greatly. Yet, year after year, we wake up and see our understanding and treatment of major diseases such as cancer have not advanced as much as many PIs claimed it would.
    Many hot scientific journals have evolved to publish scientific articles with only publicity and business interests in mind. In essence, the whole US biological research enterprise has evolved into a big publicity business and has turned innovative, thoughtful research into large factory operations operated by a few dominant PIs.
    For the US biomedical science research to thrive, it is critical to distribute the limited funds to more labs, with diverse views, not just limited to a few groups of scientists who agree with each other heartily about their fantastic views and limited directions.

  34. I wish there was a way to auto re-submit a grant until it gets funded. (just kidding, but this will happen, that people submit lot’s of grants without any changes just to see if the new set of reviewers they are getting will fix the problem, especially for K grants where reviewers change a lot and it depends a lot on each reviewers opinion).

    Now here is some other things that should be changed:
    - force PI’s to make their data and/or their developed methods available after (say) 5 years (this is a no-brainer, it is government funding, similar to the paper requirements)
    - decide before submission (with the PO) if a specific K funding is right and then do not allow this point to come up in the review/discussion again (I had a K25 killed at the second chance because one reviewer thought it was not the right mechanism, because I was too advanced. K25 are for all career stages). It would be good to educate reviewers about the different K mechanisms.
    - make the review process more transparent by:
    – listing the individual scores, not just the average score
    – for each score outside the range, pass on the statement so that we know why (and how to adress these in a resubmission).
    – find a way to remove the contradictions from the reviews (-too little experience vs too much experience, -coursework too little, just right, over-ambitios). If reviewers cannot agree about even those things, then lets assume it is not both too little and too much at the same time, but maybe it is just right.

    • I fully agree with the comments of “Me”. I also had the experience on an R21 submission where one particular issue was highly praised by reviewer one but was considered as significant weakness by the reviewer 2.

      Also, I like the idea of getting the scores of each reviewers and if their scores is above or below the average, they must pass on the specific comments to the investigator. This might help to understand why my score is such and may even help to prepare the resubmission.

  35. The old policy on resubmissions was horrible, especially in combination with the single resubmission policy. The new policy is much better. Unfortunately, the change has come too late to help my career. Better luck next life, I guess.

  36. as a reviewer, this is not positive. the reality is that this will not increase your chances of getting funded, only more funding will do that. you may have more chances but so will everyone else. the probability of getting funded will stay the same. the only thing it will do is increase the workload on reviewers, which will decrease the quality of the reviews. it’s hard to see how there is anything positive to this.

  37. This sounds like a big improvement. In future I need to worry less that my reviews will crush the careers of others.

  38. This change will decrease productivity. More grant writing and paperwork required from the overall population of scientists to obtain the same amount of funding. It may also hurt junior investigators and those fields who are expected to participate in the grants of others, who sometimes cannot give up a bad idea. It would be better to discuss all grants for two rounds, so researchers have adequate feedback and the grants are thoroughly considered the first two times. One assigned reviewer, who misunderstands a basic point or has a conflicting point of view or just isn’t very good, can kill a grant arbitrarily without discussion. However, some reviewers go on too long in presenting a grant, going into detail that really isn’t relevant to the scoring decision. There should be a time limit on the initial oral presentation by the assigned reviewers during the study sections so all grants can be discussed. Also, the bullet point format, which has made reviews impossible to interpret and causes reviewers to focus on checkbox issues instead of rather than scientific value, should really be reversed

  39. It is good news. Many disheartened investigators will feel more encouraged and stick to research career and academia. Hopefully, NIH will also give a serious thought of remodeling peer review process.

  40. I think this change is a big mistake. It will mean many more grants submitted, an increase in queueing to get funded and, given the limited funds, more labs going through periods of no funding. I agree with suggestions in previous posts that grants with no chance of funding should be tagged as such and prevented/discouraged from resubmission. Instead, it would be better if grants which are scored below say the 30th percentile are allowed multiple resubmissions after the A1.
    Regarding peer review, I have served on study sections for 10 years now. If you want to encourage participation, I suggest that, following 5 years on a study section, the PI is given an automatic 5 year renewal on one of her/his grants (or some other benefit – automatic percentile bonus etc). I think you’ll find that the potential pool (and quality) of reviewers will suddenly increase, allowing NIH to more picky!

  41. What about competing renewals, projects been funded for years? Competing Renewal AO and A1 not funded. Can you still submit a competing renewal? For how long till the closeout documents be submitted?

    • After a resubmission of a competing renewal (Type 2) application that is not funded, the next submission should be submitted as a new application (Type 1 A0) on the new application due date, and it will lose any association with the previously funded grant. As a new Type 1, the application would be due on the new application due date, not the renewal application due date, and would not contain a Progress Report or introduction in response to previous critiques.

      For more information, be sure to visit the Resubmission Frequently Asked Question page at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/resubmission_q&a.htm

  42. For some grants, especially with new ideas from new investigators, an A2 submission is helpful to show that the PI has made efforts from expert review and has refined the project. In an AO submission, it will be reviewed as a new proposal, if I understand the process correctly. This may not help much, other than the PI getting an opportunity to resubmit. Let us keep the A2 submission as it used to be with the history attached.
    LP

  43. The review process is very flawed. Reviewers can be biased, lazy or just uninformed. The review guidelines are vague. And reviewing is hard! If you are too close to the subject you can be overly critical and if you are too far you can be taken for a ride or miss the point. I’ve been on panels and that’s just the way this system is: it is cheap, so not very fair nor good. This should not be seen as criticizing the NIH staff or most of the reviewers; this is the system. For this reason, I like the new rules because it allows the applicant to get many reviews and possibly find a set of reviewers that will see things the way he/she sees them. One of my PI friends always tells me: “it’s a numbers game”. I still think that quality is the main ingredient for success but, in a time of limited funds and overabundance of researchers, many good projects don’t get funded just because they had one reviewer that wasn’t enthusiastic. Of course, the downside is that it will mean more work for reviewers (particularly in the next few years) but that should not penalize the good proposals. It, however, may even lower the quality of the review (maybe). Hopefully, applicants will not file terrible grants over and over again and if this is a concern, a system to eliminate them could be included in the review process (special recommendation from the majority of reviewers or getting “unscored” twice?).

  44. This will be a total disaster for at least two reasons. First will be the increase in grant numbers with a concomitant decrease in the time a reviewer can afford to spend per grant. Second, it will encourage investigators to resubmit their same, tired ideas that nobody really cares about or feels are important. So, rather than spending their time on something important they will continue to pursue their own interests that will never rise to the level of fundability. If the NIH felt it needed to do something, it should have limited this to proposals that scored at least in the 20th percentile on the A1. I am sure that many of the people above expressing enthusiasm will pigheadedly resubmit their triaged grants and clog up the system. Perhaps the NIH should consider limiting the number of submissions an investigator can submit. I have seen so many A0 proposals that are sloppy, poorly thought through, and uninteresting that I wonder what these people are thinking. The day of submitting a bunch of grants and seeing if any elicit interest are over. I just do not see why investigators, particularly young investigators, do not take advantage of every resource available to them, starting with the very idea itself. It seems all everyone is interested in is meeting the deadline, not turning in a quality product that is interesting, convincing, error-free and a worthwhile advance. This policy will just worsen the situation.

    • I had 2 different A0 grants get unscored in the past 2 years and upon resubmission get funded as A1s. Were the grants substantially changed? No!!! The Introduction section allowed me to point out the glaring problems of the first review in each case. Was the science flawed or uninteredting? No. Was the review process flawed? No. I was able to address the prior reviews. The problem was with the reviewers. In one case it was organism bias and the other was a complete lack of understanding. It only takes one misguided reviewer to unscore a grant because study sections frown on pulling grants out of the original unscored list. Having the ability to respond to prior reviews is why I am still doing science.

  45. As many have commented in this thread, the real problem is the payline.
    NIH funding has fallen to the mid-Clinton doubling level.
    In contrast, military funding (>$700bil) has not.

  46. I think this is a mistake, because it will lead to more sloppy applications, dramatically increase the burden on reviewers, and therefore make grant-getting even more of a lottery than it already is. I think a better amendment to the system would be to allow A1s to be resubmitted as A2s only in exceptional circumstances, i.e. close to the payline, and perhaps with an advantage to ESIs.

    I worked my butt off on my A1 precisely because I knew it was my LAST chance of getting this project funded. This is a GOOD thing! I submitted an A0, got feedback, did my best to revise, and now it’s up to the reviewers and the advisory council to decide whether this is something NIH wants to fund. If so, great. If not, okay, I get it, I’ll move on to something different. If I can’t write a fundable application in 2-3 years, it’s not going to get any better with further submissions, honestly.

    I do appreciate that NIH is responsive to feedback from the community, but I think in this case someone needs to be the adult in the room, and say “you had a chance to revise, we still don’t want to fund it, sorry”.

  47. There are ways the reviewer committee at large can improve and , yes, even “vote” in the current system.

    First and foremost, We should all be more strict in what we accept to review. Just because the nice SRO asks us to review something, we should not accept if it is really not our sphere of expertise. This will potentially lead to high quality reviews.

    Second, voluntarily , if we criticize some point in a grant , we must supply the evidence to the contrary, be it in an abstract or published paper.

    Third, regarding the point that there are some investigators with too many grants and too many young and smaller lab investigators with too few. After accepting the invitation to review a grant from the SROs, you are always free to decline for any reason. Even better if you mention the reason to the SROs, this will eventually filter it way up to the top.

  48. I have only read a few of the comments but my opinion is that most researchers will initially submit what they believe to be their best ideas first. If the idea is not reviewed well, it may be because 1) it is severely flawed, 2) the applicant did not communicate the idea well, or 3) at least one reviewer did not grasp the merits of the research even though they were clearly explained. It is not in the best interest of science to tell the applicant that they must now submit what they believe is a lesser idea. Better to let them resubmit what they feel is their best idea, hopefully making changes that better support their proposal. Bottom line: I think the recent change makes a great deal of sense.

  49. Many on this thread seem to think the purpose of NIH is to support researchers whether or not their research is good and to sustain their careers and increase their number no matter what. The purpose of NIH is to support research that yields the greatest cost-benefit to the public, within the necessary constraints of a strained system.

  50. I am surprised that so many people have time to echo arguments already made in this blog. I haven’t heard anyone address the problem of “professional grant writers” which is a tool many large labs are currently using to get a leg up on the rest of us. At the very least the face page of the application should indicate that such a service has been used. This will be even more important now that we can “bat” as many times as we want. PS I have never taken the time to blog before, there are too many other things to do.

  51. I think the issue really is fixing the review process, not allowing infinite resubmissions, which as others have noted above, could easily overwhelm reviewers. Part of the problem is that the investment of work in a proposal is so huge. If peer review were reliable and reproducible, it would be less of an issue. But, just as peer review for publications has been demonstrated to be neither, it seems to be neither at NIH as well. I have gotten summaries back with widely divergent views from different reviewers and no evidence of any effort to reconcile them to a coherent message. I have had resubmissions come back acknowledging that all the concerns expressed in the original pink sheets have been addressed, but trashed by one reviewer for something never raised in the original review (and not, in my view, a valid criticism, but that’s just my potentially-biased opinion).

    NIH should act more like foundations – send a short letter of intent and, if review of that is positive enough, get invited to submit a full proposal with more decent odds of funding. The resources wasted on proposals that have no chance of funding is horrendous. For those who feel that it is simply not possible to judge a potential project fairly in a short LOI, I suggest: 1) reading Roger Kornberg on the role of 10 years of essentially unrestricted support in the work leading to his Nobel Prize; and 2) think about how often the most important findings of your projects and those of your colleagues were those that were expected vs. unexpected.

    Maybe the answer is to go to competitive LOIs and then 1 submission only, with negotiation about imperfections in those scored highly enough for funding consideration. Having to resubmit and wait 8+ more months for things that could have been negotiated/fixed over a week or two is also silly and wasteful.

  52. I m glad that NIH finally dropped the A2 limit. That is a positive move. But……

    There are several things that need to be addressed. The expressed motivation for the A1 limit was to reduce time between application and funding. When the NIH computed the reduced this, they committed a well known statistical error of creating a biased sample. They left out the time to funding by those left unfunded. When we add in that time, the average time is longer, not shorter.

    The idea of only allowing an A0 for an A1 wastes the reviewer’s time since they have no way too utilize the hours spent by previous reviewers. To what end does this policy improve the system other than not locking you out? Yes its good to be able to try again, but you cannot explain to the new reviewers, the errors that the previous reviewers made. The simplest way to resubmit as an A0 is to simply send back the previous proposal utilizing whatever guidance you may have gotten from the last negative review. You have no idea if you will be reviewed by the same people so you can’t possibly explain misinterpretations and you will have the opportunity to obtain new ones.

    If you simply allow more resubmissions, the same panel will likely have some of the same people reviewing the revised proposal as reviewed it last time. That saves the reviewers a great deal of effort and allows the applicant to explain misunderstandings. Now, the applicants and the reviewers have been handed much more work to do for no increase in productivity.

  53. My First Blog Ever.
    The obvious frustration out there (myself included) may be clouding the real issues.

    Peer Review has inherent flaws, but works better than any other system and IS NOT THE MAIN PROBLEM. The problem is that when paylines are so low, the distinctions between funded & non-funded scores become out of necessity, arbitrary. I served on Study Sections (Genetics, MGC) long enough to know the problem is the directive that reviewer’s are given and must adhere to…”SPREAD YOUR SCORES.” Most complaints about the reviews can be traced to this…it is the reviewer’s job to ding many grants that are excellent, and essentially select only one out of their pile of 8-10. Nitpicking and topic/approach-bias is often the only way to do it.

    Problem 1. The creation/dissolution of Study Sections according to perceived priorities, tailoring them to attract certain research at the expense of basic, investigator-driven topics. Therefore, the competition at certain Study Sections (which are now covering too much scientific ground), makes it nearly impossible for some excellent research/researchers to get funded. Reorganizing/broadening some Study Sections (again) might make the effective paylines more equitable.

    Problem 2. As pointed out above, excessive indirect costs are limiting the amount of direct costs available. Acting on this is a good way to increase direct costs available, and will raise paylines.

    Problem 3. Ratio of money going to large-scale projects, PA’s and mega-multiple grant PI’s. Yes, some big projects and big labs are very productive and innovative. But when you figure productivity/total grant money, I suspect NIH would be better off in terms of discovery by limiting the number of R01s per PI to two (or in exceptional circumstances three), and being more stringent about funding large-scale projects, freeing up funds to fund smaller laboratories, thereby raising the paylines.

    Problem 4. Not enough money – given the astounding success of biomedical research. NIH should innovate other ways of securing funding for extramural research from the Federal Gov’t. Basic Research Pays Off, especially given how much the USA spends on health care; NIH needs to do a better job of convincing Congress of this (spend more effort at this, rather than “rearranging deck chairs” with peer review changes, etc.). Perhaps NIH should consider private/corporate donations (so long as the money does not come with strings attached and goes into a general research fund). Wouldn’t philanthropists/big corporations want to donate (tax-deductible) knowing their dollars are going directly to highly meritorious peer-reviewed projects?

    Getting paylines back up to ~20% or higher should be the major goal of NIH right now. Discovery and Innovation will follow. Finally, having an A2 would probably be better than an A0 in terms of getting higher-quality improved applications and reducing the flood of applications, which will not benefit the overall situation. Thanks for reading.

    • Wow, Steve, you nailed it. Excellent PIs are being punished by the process – reviewers are encouraged to extinguish as many grants as possible for the most petty reasons. I have been on study sections where well known “bigshots” get their lack luster grants funded and excellent younger faculty are passed over for nit-picky reasons. Really what this is about is NIH needing to ration it’s very limited budget, by favoring a few chosen labs. They would be better off just distributing funds by lottery – it would be more fair and they would get better science out of it. The concern is that this problem is killing careers, dissuading young people from science, all while protecting an aging cadre of scientists.

  54. This is great news! I am aware of teams that submitted only to have to resubmit. The previous policy forced a redesign that strayed away from the hypothesis of the initial submission in a way that made it challenging to pursue.

    Kudos for this much needed revision!

  55. I am wondering whether A0 designation in Reporter will now potentially be those revised A1′s. The label looses meaning, and those of us who use Reporter for finding projects that “made it through on revision” will loose a resource.

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