In a previous post, we looked at the gender distribution of designated principal investigators (PI’s) of R01 and RPG applications submitted before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we look at NIH R01 and RPG application patterns for January 1 through April 8 over the past 6 years; these applications patterns may well reflect longer-term pandemic effects.
Changes to the R15 Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA), and Introducing the R15 Research Enhancement Award Program (REAP)
Students in institutions with significant amounts of NIH funding, whether they be undergraduate or graduate students, generally have plenty of opportunities to gain exposure to biomedical research. This early exposure is key to engendering interest in exploring careers in science and enhancing understanding of the value of the research process. Institutions with little NIH funding often offer significantly fewer opportunities for students to do hands-on research. That’s where NIH’s AREA program comes in.
At NIH, we maintain a broad and diverse portfolio of biomedical and behavioral research. To turn discovery into health, promising technologies must move from the laboratory into clinical trials, into the marketplace, into the doctor’s office, and into our every-day lives. A key way to transition promising technologies out of the laboratory is through the commercialization process.
At any given time, NIH staff are monitoring nearly 50,000 active grant awards. This monitoring happens throughout the grant life cycle, including once the award is over. Just as we strive to award meritorious grants as quickly as we can, it is equally important for us to ensure grant awards are taken off the books in a timely manner. A grant that slips past its closeout due date is costly and time consuming.
In earlier posts, like this one, we discussed the importance of moving towards “evidence-based funding.”. NIH seeks to apply data-driven strategies to conceptualize, develop, implement, and evaluate policies, such as those that will affect the NIH-supported biomedical research workforce. Today, we’d like to spotlight a recently published analysis of an award program directed to investigators early in their careers – a population that has received much attention at NIH and beyond in recent years.
As I reflect on the research training I received during and after medical school, I recall how lucky I was that I did not have much resulting debt and severe financial constraints that could interfere with my research career. Unfortunately, today’s aspiring physician scientists are often mired in debt. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that two-thirds of medical students graduate with debt, with 80% of those students owing at least $100,000.
How can we alleviate the rising debt accrued during biomedical training for those investigators seeking a foothold in the lab? The NIH loan repayment programs (LRPs), managed inside the Office of Extramural Research, is one approach the NIH is utilizing to stabilize career trajectories for talented investigators. My predecessor, Dr. Sally Rockey, understood and also championed the impact of the LRPs, and I share her enthusiasm. ….
Three years ago, NIH created a program to enable extramural researchers to collaborate with our intramural scientists and use the exceptional resources of the NIH Clinical Center. Since then, 20 awards have been made to support projects of significant breadth, such as a trial for treatment of relapsed leukemia; a malaria vaccine trial; and a trial testing a new cardiac catheter. This is the fourth year that NIH has issued this funding opportunity. The December 15 pre-application deadline is approaching, and I wanted to remind you what this program offers. ….
Today, I’d like to blog about some interesting discussions and dispel some myths related to NIH-supported core facilities. Core facilities are important research resources, providing access to advanced instrumentation and technologies operated by experts. Cores provide opportunities to be hubs of innovation at an institution, connecting scientists with the tools and expertise that can take their research projects to the next level. In March, NIH co-hosted a workshop with the Association of Biomolecular Research Facilities to discuss core facility management and strategies for increasing core facility efficiency. The meeting resulted in a set of recommendations for NIH and institutions to consider, and a report from the workshop is now available, if you’d like to read more. In addition, the presenters’ slides are posted on the workshop website, and each session was recorded and can be viewed online. Much of the workshop discussion involved core resource sharing and NIH’s policies on sharing of cores. NIH actively encourages ….
One topic of frequent interest to NIH leadership is how R01-equivalent awards compare to other research grant awards. The R01 is the standard mainstay of NIH’s research portfolio, and the oldest grant mechanism in use by NIH. As those familiar with the blog and RePORT know, we usually look at R01s in conjunction with other awards providing similar support analogous to an R01, which includes R37s or MERIT program awards. Of the R01-equivalent pool however, R01s make up the overwhelming bulk of these grants so while we call them R01-equivalents for accuracy-in-reporting reasons, it is highly appropriate to consider R01-equivalent data as representative of R01 trends. Over the past years we’ve been looking at trends in R01-equivalents compared to trends in awards through the R21 activity code. ….
In the rapidly evolving world of modern medicine, it is important that the transition of basic scientific discoveries into new medical treatments takes place with both precision and speed.
NIH’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs – which I’ve discussed a few times on the blog before – are a key part of NIH’s translational research portfolio. ….