RCDeCade: A Case Study to Show NIH Support Trends in an Emerging Scientific Field

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?
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How Many Researchers, Revisited: A Look at Cumulative Investigator Funding Rates

In May 2016, we posted a blog on “How Many Researchers” NIH supports. We cited the findings of a University of Wisconsin workshop, which concluded that the biomedical research enterprise suffers from two core problems: too many scientists vying for too few dollars and too many post-docs seeking too few faculty positions. We also noted that NIH leadership and others were increasingly interested in describing the agency’s portfolio not only in terms of the numbers of awards and dollars (as we do each year in our “By the Numbers” reports), but also in terms of the numbers of researchers those awards support. Today we show updated figures on how many researchers are vying for NIH support and how many are successful. Continue reading

FY 2017 By the Numbers

We recently released our annual web reports, success rates and NIH Data Book with updated numbers for fiscal year 2017. Looking at data across both competing and non-competing awards, NIH supports approximately 2,500 organizations. In 2017 about 640 of these organizations received funding for competing Research Project Grants (RPGs) which involved over 11,000 principal investigators. Continue reading

R01 and R21 Applications & Awards: Trends and Relationships Across NIH

As described on our grants page, the R21 activity code “is intended to encourage exploratory/developmental research by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of project development.” NIH seeks applications for “exploratory, novel studies that break new ground,” for “high-risk, high-reward studies,” and for projects that are distinct from those that would be funded by the traditional R01. R21 grants are short duration (project period for up to 2 years) and lower in budget than most R01s (combined budget over two years cannot exceed $275,000 in direct costs). NIH institutes and centers (ICs) approach the R21 mechanism in variable ways: 18 ICs accept investigator-initiated R21 applications in response to the parent R21 funding opportunity, while 7 ICs only accept R21 applications in response to specific funding opportunity announcements. As mentioned in a 2015 Rock Talk blog, we at NIH are interested in trends in R01s in comparison to other research project grants, so today I’d like to continue and expand on looking at R01 and R21 trends across NIH’s extramural research program. …. Continue reading

Grant Renewal Success Rates: Then and Now

In one of my earlier blog posts, I described an analysis looking at whether attempts at renewal are successful. We looked at data from fiscal years 2013-2015, and found that renewal applications have higher success rates than new applications, and that this pattern is true for both new and experienced investigators. In response to your comments and queries, we wanted to follow up on the analysis with some historical data that looks are whether success rates of competing renewals decreased disproportionately compared to new grant applications’ success rates. …. Continue reading

Are Attempts at Renewal Successful?

On my first day on the job as NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, one of my colleagues asked me a question: Is it true that it is more difficult to renew a grant than it is to get one in the first place? Some people wonder whether NIH’s interest in supporting new investigators who are trying to get their first grant negatively impacts the other investigators’ attempts to renew their grants.
To address this question we gathered data on R01-equivalent success rates for new and experienced investigators seeking funding in fiscal years (FY) 2013 through 2015. …. Continue reading

Looking at Recent Data on R21 and R01-equivalent Grants

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. …. Continue reading

2014 By the Numbers

Application and award summary data for fiscal year 2014 are now available in the NIH Data Book. These data are of particular interest for all of us this year, considering the historic low of the success rate last year, and the reduction of NIH’s budget in fiscal year 2013, due to sequestration. For this reason, in the table below, we include both FY2013 and FY 2012 data for comparison purposes. …. Continue reading