A couple of recent pieces in Science will be of interest to those of you concerned about the demographics of the NIH-funded independent scientist pool [h/t: writedit]. The first one details the prior NIH head Elias Zerhouni’s attempt to make his administration’s support for New Investigators permanent NIH policy. The second News Focus details interviews conducted with NIH funded investigators over the age of 70.
Much of this is familiar territory but I was struck by the use of the term “affirmative action” to describe the NIH’s attempt to keep funding for new awardees viable.

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Now we’re talkin’! The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is looking to take the final step necessary to break the cycle of unnecessary churning of grant revisions. As I have mentioned a time or two, I think that study sections have evolved into a position in which only revised grant applications are considered seriously. Furthermore I am convinced that this refusal to award top scores until the grant has been revised at least once is a big waste of time and effort in many cases. A “waste” because I dispute that the conduct of the eventual science is changed one bit by this process. The grant proposal itself, sure, a better document. But the resulting science? The investigator is (rightfully) going to pursue the science that makes the most sense to her, not whatever she has been forced to write by grantspersonship concerns.

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