We recently took up the Save-the-New-Investigators defense of the NIH against charges that it is violating the order of primary grant review by untoward administrative shenanigans. I was unhappy with the graphical defense and created a better version. (I see Science repeated the graphical-communication error. They are to be complimented on including the perspective of total funded application numbers though.) NIH-PickupStats-300.png
data source
Whether achieved by close examination or by reformulating the graph, the conclusion should be that the NIH strategy of funding New Investigator out of priority score order only had the effect of equating this number with the number of established investigator grants funded out of order. Note that before 2007 Program were funding about twice as many established-investigator exceptions as new-investigator exceptions. Just sayin’. There is always some context here people. And for those that want to argue that the current support for previously-unfunded scientists is the end of the world and a brand new introduction of age-discrimination….ROFLMAO.
I thought we could take the next step and further the examination of NIH funding behavior. In this case the data are the success rates for all competing New applications (termed Type 1) by fiscal year. Calculations of success rates are a bit tricky but basically this shows the number of awarded grants divided by the number submitted for consideration in that fiscal year. So even including the seemingly dramatic increase in out-of-priority-order grant pickups for New Investigators in 2007 (and presumably for 2008), the success rate is still only brought up to the same as established investigators in 2007-2008. A rate which, I will emphasize, is still considerably below that enjoyed by established investigators during the heady years of the NIH doubling (now un-doubled).

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