Following up on the Research Commitment Index as a Tool to Describe Grant Support

Many thanks for your terrific questions and comments to last month’s post, Research Commitment Index: A New Tool for Describing Grant Support. I’d like to use this opportunity to address a couple of key points brought up by a number of commenters; in later blogs, we’ll focus on other suggestions.

The two points I’d like to address here are: 1) why use log-transformed values when plotting output (annual weighted relative citation ratio, or annual RCR) against input (annual research commitment index, or annual RCI), and 2) what is meant by diminishing returns. …. Continue reading

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FY2016 By The Numbers

Over the past few days, we released our annual web reports, success rates and NIH Data Book with updated numbers for fiscal year 2016. Overall, we see steady increases. In addition to looking back over the numbers we typically highlight in this post, we want to point out several new research project grant (RPG)-specific activity codes used to support extramural research. FY 2016 saw the launch of some new …. Continue reading

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Research Commitment Index: A New Tool for Describing Grant Support

On this blog we previously discussed ways to measure the value returned from research funding. Several of my colleagues and I, led by NIGMS director Jon Lorsch – chair of an NIH Working Group on Policies for Efficient and Stable Funding – conceived of a “Research Commitment Index,” or “RCI.” We focus on the grant activity code (R01, R21, P01, etc) and ask ourselves about the kind of personal commitment it entails for the investigator(s). We start with the most common type of award, the R01, and assign it an RCI value of 7 points. And then, in consultation with our NIH colleagues, we assigned RCI values to other activity codes: fewer points for R03 and R21 grants, more points P01 grants. Continue reading

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Status of Our Initiatives to Strengthen Clinical Trials

In September Dr. Carrie Wolinetz and I blogged about our policy reforms to build a more robust clinical trials enterprise through greater stewardship and transparency at each phase of the clinical trial journey from conception to sharing of results. We discussed how these efforts promise to improve the quality and efficiency of clinical trials, translating into more innovative and robust clinical trial design, and accelerated discoveries that will advance human health.

Over the past months we have continued to partner with the community to work through the implementation of these new policies, developing responses to frequently asked questions and even reconsidering the timing of our single IRB policy to give our grantees time to work through how to operationalize the change. …. Continue reading

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One Year (or so) of “Open Mike”

As the year 2016 ends, my first full year in my new role here at NIH, I’d like to reflect on some of the topics covered here on Open Mike. Thanks to our NIH Regional Seminars, I have had the pleasure of hearing feedback from some of you in person, and I am also greatly appreciative of our virtual interactions, through the thoughtful comments posted by blog readers in this space. Our blog opened on October 19, 2015, when I noted that NIH is an extraordinary success story; even skeptics identify NIH as a government program that works. But at the same time, I also noted that all is not well with the biomedical research enterprise. In many respects, the 50+ blogs that followed have dug deeper into our anxieties and challenges. The sidebar highlights five major themes arising over the past year or so, and blogs related to those categories. To get a sense of community interest, we have also compiled some reader statistics. Further below, Table 1 shows which blogs, as of December 27, received the most page views, and Table 2 shows which blogs received the most comments. These themes, your viewership, and your comments …. Continue reading

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Characteristics and Outcomes of R01 Competing Renewal Applications (“Type 2s”)

An investigator’s long-term success depends not only on securing funding, but on maintaining a stable funding stream. One way to assure continued funding is to submit a competing renewal application. However, as we noted earlier this year, while new investigators were almost as successful as experienced investigators in obtaining new (type 1) R01s, the difference between new investigator and experienced investigator success rates widens when looking at competing renewals (type 2s), and success rates of new investigators’ first renewals were lower than those of experienced investigators. In addition, we know that since the end of NIH’s budget doubling in 2003, success rates for competing renewals of research project grants overall have decreased. To further understand trends in success rate for R01 competing renewals (“type 2s”) I’d like to share some additional analyses where we look at characteristics of type 2 R01 applications, and the association of their criterion scores with overall impact score and funding outcomes. Continue reading

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The 21st Century Cures Act, and Perspectives from NIH

You may have been following news of the 21st Century Cures Act, a landmark piece of legislation with provisions for healthcare, medicine, and research. Republican and Democratic lawmakers supported this bill through its development and eventual passage, and yesterday, President Obama signed the bill into law. The Act establishes a multitude of important changes to our nation’s approach to supporting and funding health care, medical interventions, and research. Readers of this blog may be particularly interested in the many changes directly relevant to NIH’s mission. A New England Journal of Medicine Perspective essay …. Continue reading

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How Many Researchers Were Supported by NIH as Trainees?

Earlier this year we reported on the unique numbers of research project grant (RPG) awardees and applicants each year since the end of the NIH doubling, in 2003. We described how the number of unique RPG awardees has remained relatively constant, while the number of applicants (as assessed over 5-year windows) has steadily and markedly increased.
A number of readers asked us about the prior NIH-supported research training and career development of these investigators. Among RPG awardees, what proportion had received prior fellowship, training, or career development (F, T, or K) awards? And perhaps of greater interest, among unsuccessful, unfunded applicants, what proportion had received prior fellowship, training or career awards?
To answer these questions, we start with a quick recap. …. Continue reading

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