In March 2018, we showed data suggesting that, despite still being in a state of hyper-competition (as described in this post), the severity may be lessening. The number of unique applicants for NIH research project grants (RPGs) appeared to stabilize after many years of uninterrupted growth. Furthermore, a person-based metric, called the cumulative investigator rate, started to rise in fiscal year (FY) 2015 for RPGs after declines in previous years.
We were pleased to see the interest in our recent blog on the unique number of investigators applying for and receiving NIH research project grants (RPGs). Some of you (through the blog page or through other media) have asked about whether we have similar data for our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. We have generated analogous figures for SBIR and STTR grants, and today’s post shares this investigation of the question, “How many unique researchers are seeking SBIR/STTR funding?” ….
Last year, Kimble et al. published the findings of a workshop held at the University of Wisconsin on proposed strategies to rescue biomedical research in the US. The workshop organizers brought to together a number of stakeholders, who concluded that the research community faces two chief problems: “Too many researchers vying for too few dollars; too many postdocs competing for too few faculty positions.” These conclusions raises at least two questions: How many scientists, or more specifically how many principal investigators, does NIH fund? And how many scientists (more specifically aspiring principal investigators) want to receive NIH funding? Today I’d like to discuss two ways to examine these questions, by looking at the number of principal investigators awarded funding, not just on a yearly basis, but also in a way that captures a broader view of NIH-supported scientists over a window of time. ….