September 6, 2011
in which a picture is worth a thousand words….
but you need to go read the post by Hermitage.
Also, here’s a link to the Chronicle bit on the disparity in undergraduate scholarship awards mentioned in the post at The Hermitage.
White students make up 62 percent of full-time students enrolled in four-year colleges but receive 76 percent of institutional merit scholarships; and white students are 40 percent more likely to receive private scholarships than minority students are.
And the OER Rock Talk blog thread on the racial disparity continues…
August 26, 2011
A commenter named ES over at writedit’s blog asked:
I am wondering if I can conduct unfunded research projects using my current RO1 support since I have more experience and more publications on these unfunded projects. In contrast, testing our hypothesis proposed in my funded RO1 is practically not promising. If I decided to do something else which was not originally proposed in my funded RO1, how can I renew my funded RO1 or submit the report down the road.
the issue here is that my unfunded and funded project are total irrelevant. It is almost impossible to convert my unfunded project to something which is even close to the funded project. Can I do whatever Science takes me to with the unfunded project, and submit the unfunded project as new applications later, instead of renewal of my RO1? Will this cause a bad record for my academic career?
There was also a related query from Saheli in that thread:
2. Should the renewal reflect a substantial continuity to the current grant?
3. What the ingredients of a successful renewal?
The question from ES led to some startlingly bad advice.
August 17, 2011
The NIH has put out a request for information (NOT-OD-11-106) to gain “Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on the Future Biomedical Research Workforce“.
This blog, its readership and the corner of the blogosphere we inhabit has a slightly greater than passing interest in such matters. If you are not sure, here are a few areas of interest for this RFI:
- The balance between supply, including the number of domestic and foreign trained PhDs and post-docs, and demand, i.e. post-training career opportunities.
- Characteristics of PhD training in biomedical research, including issues such as
- The length of the PhD training period.
- Recommendations for changes to the PhD curriculum.
- Training for multiple career paths (including bench and non-bench science).
Characteristics of clinician-research training including issues such as
- The balance between MDs and MD/PhDs
- Career development of clinician-researchers.
- Recommendations for changes to the curricula for training clinician-researchers.
Length of Post-doctoral training. The ratio of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows on training grants to those supported by research grants. Possibilities for professional/staff scientist positions and the level of training required for such positions (e.g. PhD or MSc degrees). Issues related to the attractiveness of biomedical research careers (e.g. salary, working conditions, availability of research funding) The effect of changes in NIH policies on investigators, grantee institutions and the broader research enterprise.
I encourage you in the strongest possible terms to comment and let your opinion be heard. The last time there was a similar “how are we doing” type of RFI from the NIH that I got blogwood over, I seem to recall the number of comments was in the low thousands, 2,000 maybe? Compared to the number of individuals who are affected substantially by NIH extramural research policies this is tiny. This is your chance to have your representative voice punch far above your weight class folks. Avail yourselves of it.
Whew, I can feel the keyboards screaming in agony as the OUTRAGED PI’s hammer away at their comments.
The Rock Talk blog entry is supposed to be about What Can You Do When Two Reviewers Contradict Each Other. Now admittedly, the blog advice is, well, laughable.
In this situation we encourage you to use your best judgment. Take a look at all of the reviewer’s comments and criterion scores* and the scientific review officer’s summary of the discussion and then make a decision on how best to proceed from there. If the summary statement is unclear, you can always contact your program officer for clarification.
ahahahahaa, no wonder people are pissed about that non-answer to the question they themselves have posed in the blog entry!
July 22, 2011
This is fantastic.
…CSR is piloting a new program that we call the early career reviewer, where we will take complete novice reviewers, people who have not reviewed for NIH before, very early in their career, probably new investigators.
May 11, 2011
GMP is raging.
I am in a physical science field where journal publications are the most important, and many (many!) faculty have the criterion of 3 journal publications, preferably from the dissertation work, as necessary for graduation. I was quite peeved when I realized that this student would graduate with zero papers
ok. peeved. Why?
I asked the student if there was a reason that he was graduating without a single journal paper; if there was a reason that he must be graduating now and not in, say, a year?…He said it’s because his wife and he had been living apart for some months and he also happened to find a job there. I almost blew my top off
Look. We’re already in a bad place here, GMP.
May 3, 2011
The Office of Extramural Research at the NIH has launched a working group tasked with the examinationof the current and future state of the extramural research force.
That would be you, DearReader, at least those of you working in one way or another on scientific projects funded by the NIH.
Princeton University (sorry about that) President Shirley Tilghman is quoted in a Science Insider note from J. Kaiser as saying the following in an upcoming HHMI bulletin interview
“changes could be made to the structure of the typical biomedical research laboratory.” Specifically, she suggests reducing the number of trainees, who currently outnumber technicians 10 to 1, and increasing the number of “permanent employees…. We need to explore such options.”
April 15, 2011
A recent Notice from the NIH (NOT-OD-11-064) indicates that there is a need to standardize and refine the appeal process.
Here’s what struck me on seeing this Notice pop up: I bet there has been a massive uptick in the rate of appeals since the sunsetting of the A2 and the threats to rigorously weed out thinly concealed revisions as “new” submissions.
One viewpoint on the wisdom of appealing the scoring of your grant proposal that is very common is captured in this comment over at the NIGMS blog:
Based on everything I have read about the appeals process on various Web pages of the NIH and Institute Web sites, it seems like you’d have to be extremely foolish and poorly informed to bother appealing.
NIGMS Director Berg responded:
April 14, 2011
I’ve had a few interactions lately that have led to some pondering on the attribution of academic credit for papers. It all starts with the hilarious gyrations that promotions and tenure committees occasionally, maddeningly, go through.
As most of my readers are aware, in biomedical sciences we have a system in which there are four key elements to placing credit for a given academic paper.
1.) The first author. This person is generally a trainee and generally assumed to be the person who did “most” of the real work on the paper. This can be defined in many ways, from conducting the bulk of the experiments to the most important experiments to the drafting of the manuscript. Defined, that is, by the research team itself when determining who is deserving of the first authorship. Once the paper has been published, the assumption about the role of the first author is more nebulous but no less firm in attributing the academic credit.
2.) The senior author. Often the last author, often the primary mentor of the first author and often the PI of the grants identified as supporting the project.
3.) The “communicating author”. Most often the senior author, less frequently the first author and very infrequently someone else*. If the senior author, this is just a reinforcing stamp on his/her seniority, particularly if there are several relatively senior people with their own laboratories contributing. If the communicating author is the first author, this can be an indication from the research team that the project is really all under the intellectual domain of the postdoc or graduate student in question. The senior author is saying “no, really, it was all my brilliant postdoc and she should get all the credit. ps, email her for reagents or mouse lines, not me”.
4.) The grants identified as supporting the project and, by extension, the PIs of those grants.
P&T committees frequently find themselves parsing academic credit schemes not just from the biomedical perspective, but also from alternate academic traditions in which the number of other authors matters more than it does in biomedical disciplines, where the senior author is the first author, where single-authorship is important….or there is variance in other minutia. This can in itself be infuriating, after all, how hard is it to recognize that the tradition you trained in is only one of many equally arbitrary crediting schemes?
April 10, 2011
The question is posed by a new post from funkdoctorx:
The issue here is that the public does not understand what professors really do and how research works at the University level. Now, if you are a professor or postdoc reading this, think way back to the time when you were a first year graduate student. Remember how much there was to learn about the way the academic world, and academic research worked? Did you have much, if any, idea of this from your time as an undergraduate? I know I certainly didn’t grasp this at all. Even as a young post-doc I’m still working to understand how the system works despite being at it for 5+ years.
I was no different.
On more than one occasion I have expressed confusion when the NIH reveals a bit of data or enacts a policy change based on something or other…and gives out the impression that the related emergent behavior of their systems has been a complete and utter mystery to them up to that point.
One pertinent example is the creation of the Early State Investigator category out of the previous omnibus New Investigator category. In each case it refers to someone who has never served as the PI of a major NIH research grant before. The idea was to make sure that newcomers to the system weren’t being totally blocked by the Good Old Boys and Girls who already enjoyed the NIH largess. I first served on a study section before they created the ESI category and I can tell you it took about half a day for me to realize what time it was. Namely that the “NI” apps that were most competitive were from highly established senior investigators who just didn’t happen to have previously needed NIH funding. Perhaps they were career NSF-grant folks. Or had made their careers in foreign institutions and had only recently moved to the US. But “New”, they most certainly were not.
As we’ve discussed before, the change to permit only a single revision of a NIH grant has thrown a lot of uncertainty into the extramural research force. Although one obvious solution would be to just submit another “new” grant that is a thinly disguised re-working of the prior unfunded version, the CSR of the NIH is on to us. They have been working diligently to convince us that they will weed out such dodges with extreme prejudice.
I have just noticed that they have an extensive description of their screening process up on a web page. Complete with some examples and scenarios.
Key things that caught my eye include:
Which Applications Are Problems?
· Applications submitted as new (A0) but appear to be resubmissions (A1)
Yikes. So even if you get triaged and have criterion scores in the 7s and 8s, you can’t just start over with an A0? The decision isn’t up to you. You have to resubmit.
More after the jump…
February 16, 2011
So obviously the ESI/NI pickups and preferential payline strategies enacted around Fiscal Year 2007 or so worked to significantly increase the number of first time awardees. I make this out to be something on the order of 1,000-1,200 newly funded investigators in FY2010 over a ~2,2000-2,500 baseline back in FY2004-6. (Although if you check the last slide on the website, you’ll see that if you limit it to R01 equivalents, the trend is a lot less impressive.)
Most interesting, however, is the uptick in experienced investigators that seems to be associated with the doubling. Since we know that inflation and Bush era flatlined budgets essentially un-doubled the budget, well, we can see the problem here pretty starkly, no?
The number of experienced investigators being supported on NIH dollars has not fallen back anywhere near fast enough.
Some 2,000-2,500 experienced investigators were added to the books during the great doubling. At best this has been pared back to the tune of 800-1,000 investigators. While the first time investigators are up by a good 1,800 since the start of the doubling period.
I’ve been taking the piss out of PhysioProf for his observation that he thinks the NIH is intentionally trying to pare back the number of funded labs. I may have to reconsider my skepticism. Not only that, but reconsider where I stand on the *need* to drop significant numbers of investigators off the books. Five to fifteen percent, maybe even 20 percent…these are the numbers that might be necessary if inflation and flat budgets have really erased the budget doubling.
February 8, 2011
…ASBMB Today, the monthly news magazine for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (www.asbmb.org/asbmbtoday).
Rumor has it that this is being passed around as if it represents the will of the damn people, or some such nonsense. And these diatribes from left field have a way of being used to support existing agendas at the NIH. Your voices of reason need to be heard so make sure to comment over at Rock Talk.
Oh, and go read Odyssey’s comment on mid-late career folks who simply will not listen to anyone about the quality or importance of their research programs.
Meet you back here after the jump…
February 4, 2011
I had no idea.
Many of us PIs in the US are used to trying to suss out, hopefully subtly, whether or not potential postdocs who are approaching us are US citizens.
This is not because we are all jingoistic bigots, it is rather because the NIH NRSA training grant (institutional or individual) requires that supported trainees
must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence
So if a potential postdoc qualified for the NRSA, there is at least the possibility of landing NIH support for the person’s stipend.
Conversely the thinking is that a non-qualifying person would be more limited in the types of additional support that are available.
Well a kind reader has alerted me to the F05 International Neuroscience Fellowship announcement which has been around at least since 2006. The purpose?
The goal of the International Neuroscience Fellowship (INF) is to advance the training of qualified foreign neuroscientists and clinicians at the early or mid-career level, by enhancing their basic, translational or clinical research skills in a research setting in the United States (U.S.). This program aims to strengthen the intellectual capital of neuroscience research in international institutions. Awardees are expected to pursue future independent and productive careers, which stimulate research in the neurosciences on a global scale.
Eligible individual applicants include non-immigrant foreign scientists at the early or mid-career level.
Sweet! NIH fellowships for foreign postdocs. wait, what about that tricky language about the host countries having to be sufficiently disadvantaged?
“All applicants must be from a low- to middle-income country based on Gross National Income per capita classified by the World Bank “
As my correspondent notes: “Scroll down to “lower middle income countries”. Note the presence of both China and India on that list.“.
Well, all good then, amirite?
I mean c’mon, don’t be worried domestic postdocs. After all
All applicants must have a doctoral or equivalent degree, and an endorsement from their home institution, with a guaranteed appointment upon completion of the fellowship.
What could go wrong?