A sign of how bad it is in grantland…

July 13, 2007

Time was, Program would commit to nothing, and I mean nothing, about your grant until the Notice of Grant Award was generated. You could be sitting 1 point off the hard funding line and you’d get the old “we advise you to revise and resubmit” zombie mantra. You could have a 1%ile ranking and they wouldn’t be inclined to admit that you were funded in any official way. [Interesting sidebar: in talking with some POs about their unhelpful mantra at one point I said in some exasperation “It’s not like I’m going to sue you or anything, I just want some idea of how you are leaning.” Seeing a funny look to the eye, I inquired. Sure enough, yes, getting sued for giving someone too positive a nod on funding a grant (that ultimately wasn’t funded) was exactly what they feared and for apparently specific reason. sheesh]

Recent discussions with colleagues shows that all of sudden Program is willing to write letters to investigator’s local officials (deans, chairs, whatnot) suggesting (but not committing) that they intend to fund the grant. This has been helpful to people in various dire straits. Nevertheless it shows how bad things are, Program is having to go way out of the way to keep their cadre of scientists alive and vibrant…

2 Responses to “A sign of how bad it is in grantland…”

  1. Neuro-conservative Says:

    I have also spent sleepless nights trying to interpret the tea leaves from inscrutable Program Officers; I know of two colleagues within the last year who were <2%ile and couldn’t get a firm committment prior to the funding letter. Despite the dire circumstances, I find your story encouraging — basic human compassion and common sense overriding fears of litigation.

    Like

  2. PhysioProf Says:

    Interesting.

    At the last cycle of the 2006 fiscal year, I had a grant scored right near 10%ile, which would need to be funded from 2007 budget. I got one of those “highly likely to be funded” e-mails from the Chief of the Grants Management Branch of NINDS. Then, it turned out that the 2007 payline was 9%ile, and they didn’t fund the grant.

    This cycle–the last of 2007 fiscal year–a resubmission of that grant scored below 3%ile. A few days after it was scored, I got a boilerplate e-mail from Chief of GMB stating that “At this phase in the NIH budget cycle, the NINDS payline has not yet been determined. NINDS has instituted an automated e-mail notification system which will notify you immediately once funding parameters are established.”

    Over the last several years, I have never seen an e-mail like this from NINDS. The only boilerplate e-mails I have ever got were “highly likely to be funded”, “not likely to be funded”, “uncertain at this time”.

    Then, almost a month later, I received another boilerplate e-mail, but this one is “highly likely to be funded”.

    I guess they decided to send out these “no payline yet” e-mails because a bunch of people received “highly likely” e-mails last year but didn’t get funded. I can’t imagine what has occurred over the last month that has induced them to now send me a “highly likely” e-mail.

    Like


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