Advancing public health depends on science being empirical, transparent, and rigorous. As yet another step towards fostering rigorous science, we have revamped the Rigor and Reproducibility webpage to highlight and include more resources you might find helpful. Since sketching out our plan last summer with the Advisory Council to the NIH Director, the webpage now reflects policy updates and explores new resources, all in a simple and easy to read manner. Continue reading
The 21st Century Cures Act requires federal agencies to “review applicable regulations and policies for the care and use of laboratory animals and make revisions, as appropriate, to reduce administrative burden on investigators while maintaining the integrity and credibility of research finding and protection of research animals.” This past March we requested feedback from the public on ways to reduce regulatory burden while also maintaining the highest standards for protecting animal welfare and scientific integrity. You responded with constructive and helpful feedback with more than19,000 comments. Generally, many responses supported the actions initially proposed in the request, but they were balanced with concerns from animal advocacy and other groups. Continue reading
When research findings are made up from thin air, misrepresented in some way, or blatantly and without credit copied from others, we risk eroding the public’s trust, damaging institutional reputation, harming careers, incurring skepticism, misleading future research, and, arguably most importantly, hurting patients. NIH takes research misconduct seriously. We are being proactive.
At NIH, we are heavily invested in our workforce and in understanding the barriers they face. What characteristics do they share? How do they compete in the current hypercompetitive environment? When do they stop applying to NIH (drop out), even after receiving their first award? Staff from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) delve into these questions in a paper published recently in PLOS ONE , whose findings I’d like to highlight today. Here, Drs. Patricia Haggerty and Matthew Fenton looked at factors that may contribute to the success of early-career investigators and if these factors affect all junior researchers equally. Continue reading
By the time many researchers have completed their education and training, they have amassed on average $160,000 in student loan debt. The NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) are a set of programs established by Congress and designed to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. The LRPs counteract early-career researchers’ financial pressure by repaying up to $35,000 annually ($70,000 over a two-year contract) of a researcher’s qualifying educational debt in return for a commitment to engage in research areas important to the mission of NIH. Continue reading
Several months ago, we learned in the press that an NIH-supported investigator was banned from his university campus pending an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. The institution, which was the recipient of the awards in which this investigator was designated as principal investigator (PI), had not informed us of this situation. Once aware, we contacted senior institutional officials to discuss the need to ensure the effective stewardship of the award under these circumstances. We requested that the institution provide us with alternative plans for conducting the research given that this individual would no longer serve as PI and would have no other involvement in the NIH-funded research, and we reminded them (as we recently reminded the community and as reiterated below) that they are responsible for notifying NIH of any change in status that might affect the ability of an individual identified as key personnel to conduct NIH-supported research. Continue reading
For nearly 10 years, more women than men received PhDs in the biomedical sciences, yet women are still underrepresented at every subsequent stage of academic advancement. In 2015, for example, women earned 53% of PhDs, but they comprised only 48% of post-doctoral fellows, 44% of assistant professors, and 35% of professors. To better understand what might be contributing to women’s underrepresentation in later stages of academia, Dr. Lisa Hechtman and her colleagues at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) analyzed “funding longevity by gender” among funded NIH investigators. Their analysis, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, yielded a number of interesting findings which I’d like to share with you.
We have written several blogs and articles over the past two years about our efforts to enhance stewardship and transparency in clinical trial research. Indeed, earlier this year Congress applauded our efforts thus far and reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring public access to the results of the NIH-funded clinical trials through timely registration and results information reporting on ClinicalTrials.gov. However, we have heard concern about how the NIH’s Policy on the Dissemination of NIH-Funded Clinical Trial Information applies to fundamental studies involving human participants. Continue reading
As highlighted in many previous blog posts and the recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report, promoting a strong biomedical workforce is a top priority for the NIH. In 2017, NIH launched the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, which is a multi-pronged approach to increase the number of NIH-funded early stage investigators. An important component of this initiative is the call for increased transparency and availability of data about the make-up of the biomedical research workforce. More complete data will allow NIH leadership to best understand and address the needs of our emerging workforce. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, we touted the value of the NIH’s Research, Condition, and Disease Classification (RCDC) system to give us consistent annual reporting on official research budget categories and the ability to see trends in spending over time. RCDC’s robust scientific validation process, which allows for such consistency, provides public transparency into over 280 different NIH budget categories.
RCDC categories do not encompass all types of biomedical research. So, how can we get this type of data for other research areas that are not encompassed in RCDC categories, especially those which are newly emerging fields? Are we able to use the same thesaurus-based classification system to explore other research trends?