Dive Deep Into Special Grants Policy Topics at Our One-day Workshops

By now you’ve hopefully heard all about the NIH Regional Seminars and the opportunities offered during this two-day meeting on program funding and grants administration. …. However, did you know that attendees can also attend an optional workshop to dive deep into special topics? Both our Baltimore and Chicago 2016 seminars offer the following optional workshops: Human Research Protections: a full-day, CME-accredited workshop providing …. Continue reading

NIH and FDA Seek Feedback on Clinical Trial Protocol Template

I’d like to call your attention to an opportunity to provide comments on a proposed clinical trial protocol template, developed by the FDA and NIH, and informed by the guidance set forth by the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH) E6 Good Clinical Practice. The template provides a standard format, and corresponding instructions and sample text, for… Continue reading

Public Access Reporting and Resource Sharing

We’ve recently issued an NIH Guide notice to clarify when a grantee should report papers as an output of their grant in their progress reports, and help reduce administrative burden for investigators. Awardees are only required to report papers that directly arise from their award (such as authorship, consulting with authors, preparing manuscripts, and running analyses reported in the publication). In other cases, awardees have discretion in determining whether their contribution …. Continue reading

NIH’s Commitment to Basic Science

Several years ago, my colleagues and I analyzed the diversity of disease research supported by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and wrote about the importance of maintaining a diverse scientific portfolio. In times of scarce resources, it is tempting to prioritize investments that seem to offer a better promise of direct returns. In my current position as NIH’s deputy director for extramural research, I still feel strongly that maintaining a strong commitment to long-term goals and maintaining a diverse science portfolio ultimately balances risk and long- versus short-time pay-offs. Basic science is an essential component of this diverse portfolio. …. Continue reading

A Pilot Partnership to Find Private Support for Unfunded Applications

When I was an editor at JAMA, we often considered papers that were strong, received favorable reviews, and yet could not be published for lack of space. As it turned out, we had an option other than outright rejection: we could offer authors a user-friendly pathway by which their papers, and the reviews that went with them, could be forwarded for consideration at another journal (e.g. JAMA Internal Medicine). Later, when I came to NIH I wondered whether it was even theoretically possible for a funding agency to do something similar: arrange a way for highly meritorious but unfunded projects to find their way to willing, even eager, alternate private-sector sponsors. Effectively, we could develop public-private partnerships to extend the system’s ability to fund high-quality science and scientists. …. Continue reading

FY2015 by the Numbers, and a Quick Look at Recent Trends

When I was an extramural program division director, NIH applicants and awardees would often ask me questions like “Do you fund research on certain topics?” or “What’s been happening to success rates for certain kinds of grants?” or “How much money do certain kinds of grants usually get?” Often I would respond by going to the RePORT website and running a query or two (or three or more); I would not only show the results but also show the applicant/awardee how s/he could run even more queries on their own. Indeed the website offers an extraordinary data resource for the public, ranging from the RePORTER query tool to find certain kinds of grants, to a bounty of prepared reports, to tools for exporting large data tables about projects, resulting publications, and (more recently) patents. With the Matchmaker tool, one can even copy and paste some text (e.g. a draft abstract of your next proposal) and find similar funded grants. The NIH Data Book on our RePORT website now incorporates NIH’s fiscal year 2015 data. Let’s reflect on funding trends over the past three years, and other recently updated application and award summary data. …. Continue reading

Publication Impact of NIH-funded Research – A First Look

In a recent PNAS commentary, Daniel Shapiro and Kent Vrana of Pennsylvania State University, argue that “Celebrating R and D expenditures badly misses the point.” Instead of focusing on how much money is spent, the research enterprise should instead focus on its outcomes – its discoveries that advance knowledge and lead to improvements in health.

Of course, as we’ve noted before, measuring research impact is hard, and there is no gold standard. But for now, let’s take a look at one measure of productivity, namely the publication of highly-cited papers. Some in the research community suggest that a research paper citation is a nod to the impact and significance of the findings reported in that paper – in other words, more highly-cited papers are indicative of highly regarded and impactful research.

If considering highly-cited papers as a proxy for productivity, it’s not enough that we simply count citations, because publication and citation behaviors differ greatly among fields – some fields generate many more citations per paper. …. Continue reading