More Early Stage Investigators Supported in FY 2022


Over the past two years, we supported 1,412 early stage investigators (ESIs) in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and 1,513 in FY 2021, which were both all-time highs. These ESIs were first-time Principal Investigators (PIs) designated on type 1 (new) R01-equivalent awards. Today, we are pleased to announce that even more ESIs were supported in FY 2022 as part of our continued Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI) efforts.

Table 1 shows we supported an additional 1,609 ESIs in FY 2022 (a 6.3% increase over FY 2021). As there were 5,435 total applicants, this makes the ESI funding rate 29.6% (Table 2). 63.8% of the ESI applications were discussed in peer review, referred to as the discussion rate (Table 2).

We were also able to support 61 more At-Risk Investigators in FY 2022 (2,087) compared to the previous year (2,026) (Table 1). This group consists of researchers that received a prior substantial NIH award but to the best of our knowledge, would have no funding the following fiscal year if they were not successful in securing a competing award. Their funding rate rose to 27.0%, from 25.4% last year.

Table 1: PIs on Type 1 R01-Equivalent Applications and Awards by Career Stage: FY 2016 to 2022

Early Stage InvestigatorsNew, Not EarlyAt-RiskEstablished
Fiscal YearApplicantsAwardeesAwardees (% Change)ApplicantsAwardeesAwardees (% Change)ApplicantsAwardeesAwardees (% Change)ApplicantsAwardeesAwardees (% Change)

Table 2: Discussion and Funding Rates for PIs on Type 1 R01-Equivalent Applications and Awards in FY 2022 by Career Stage

Career StageApplicantsDiscussedAwardeesDiscussion Rate (%)*Funding Rate (%)
Early Stage54353466160963.829.6
New, Not Early72413750125751.817.4
At Risk77364570208759.127.0

* The Discussion Rate is a person-based metric that is the percent of applicants (actually people designated as PI’s on an application) who had at least one application make it to the discussion stage of peer review.

The next set of tables present aggregate data for sex/gender (Table 3), race (Table 4), ethnicity (Table 5), and disability status (Table 6). The researchers voluntarily self-reported this demographic information on their eRA profiles. Please keep the following in mind:

  • We use the White House’s Office of Management and Budget Minimum Standards for collecting and reporting race and ethnicity data (see also this Nexus article for more).
  • These demographic data are used for statistical purposes only and not linked to consideration of funding of individual grant applications.
  • Applications are received from, and awards are issued to institutions, not individual scientists. Institutions designate scientists who serve as principal investigators on applications and awards. Thus, when we say that an application was received from a male researcher, what is meant is that an application was received from an institution who designated a male researcher as principal investigator.  

When focusing on FY 2022, there were more applications received from and awarded to male researchers than female researchers across all career stages (Table 3). We are seeing upward trends in the numbers of female ESI applicants and awardees compared to FYs 2021 and 2020. Female ESIs, New, Not Early, and At-Risk applicants in FY 2022 had slightly higher discussion rates, compared to males. Also, female researchers across all career stages had higher funding rates than male researchers.

Table 3:  FY 2022 Data by Gender for PIs on Type 1 R01-equivalent Applications and Awards

Career StageSex/GenderApplicantsDiscussedAwardeesDiscussion Rate (%)Funding Rate (%)
Early StageFemale2447159774865.330.6
New, Not EarlyFemale2474138049655.820.0
At RiskFemale2480150368660.627.7

The number of Black/African American ESIs was higher in FY 2022 compared to FYs 2021 and 2020. The discussion rate was lower for Black/African American researchers across all career stages in FY 2022 compared to their White and Asian counterparts (Table 4). The Black/African American group did have higher funding rates in the New, Not Early and At-Risk stages. Though progress is being made in some areas, the absolute number of Black/African American applicants and awardees remains markedly lower than white and Asian researchers.     

Table 4: FY 2022 Data by Race for PIs on Type 1 R01-equivalent Applications and Awards

Career StageRaceApplicantsDiscussedAwardeesDiscussion Rate (%)Funding Rate (%)
Early StageAsian146493342263.728.8
Black or African American2321285455.223.3
New, Not EarlyAsian175793129153.016.6
Black or African American2551235048.219.6
At RiskAsian1944112551057.926.2
Black or African American157844553.528.7
Black or African American2221506567.629.3

Hispanic or Latino researchers in the later career stages saw a higher discussion rate than their non-Hispanic or Latino counterparts (Table 5). The funding rate for Hispanic or Latino researchers was higher across all career stages (except for the New, Not Early group) than Non-Hispanic or Latino researchers.

Table 5:  FY 2022 Data by Ethnicity for PIs on Type 1 R01-equivalent Applications and Awards

Career StageEthnicityApplicantsDiscussedAwardeesDiscussion Rate (%)Funding Rate (%)
Early StageHispanic or Latino3302109863.629.7
 Not Hispanic or Latino47062998139563.729.6
New, Not EarlyHispanic or Latino4302147749.817.9
 Not Hispanic or Latino5178278694253.818.2
At RiskHispanic or Latino33521110063.029.9
 Not Hispanic or Latino67113985182159.427.1
EstablishedHispanic or Latino53638919072.635.4
 Not Hispanic or Latino96756864314370.932.5

Less than 2% of PIs in each career group reported having a disability (Table 6), which is similar to what we have blogged on previously. Disabilities include hearing, mobility/orthopedic, visual, or multiple disabilities. The discussion and funding rates were generally lower for PIs who identified as having a disability compared to those who did not.

Table 6: FY 2022 Data by Disability Status for PIs on Type 1 R01-equivalent Applications and Awards

Career StageDisability StatusApplicantsDiscussedAwardeesDiscussion Rate (%)Funding Rate (%)
NI NON-ESIYes7634<1244.7%10.5%
AT RISKYes119542845.4%23.5%

We are pleased to see the large number of ESIs continue to be supported through NIH programs. Such programs include the Katz Award where no preliminary data is required, Pathway to Independence Award where someone can go from graduate school into a faculty level position, and NIH director’s new Innovator award that incentivizes early career researchers to come into the NIH system. We have made some progress, but we still have a ways to go, paraphrasing what Dr. Lawrence Tabak, NIH Acting Director, mentioned at a Senate appropriations hearing in May. The hypercompetitive funding environment for instance, which was one of the reasons we launched the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, still exists and continues to affect researchers early in their career. As we move forward, our focus will remain working towards expanding opportunities like these that support and prioritize researchers early in their career and further diversifying the future research workforce.

One comment

  1. Where is the data to show that this early-stage strategy leads to sustainable funding? How many of those who have benefitted from the ESI advantage will have NIH funding 10-15-20 years down the road? After all, any research that leads to meaningful discoveries does not occur in a short 5 years. Taxpayers have a right to know whether they are funding research that is likely to lead to such discoveries, or simply funding investigators so that they can get a job but who are unlikely to succeed.

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