Pulling together as a department when external funding is tight

May 4, 2010

Some academic departments have internal sources of funding to keep the research programs of their faculty limping along if the PI experiences a gap in extramural funding. This is great. It can be a bit of an issue, however, trying to decide who deserves the (most) money.
One way to look at that is as an investment strategy. Your mini-state Department of -ology might be smartest to invest the internal funds in that laboratory that has a chance of regaining extramural funds in short order.
Odyssey has a few thoughts in Bridges to Nowhere:

Many, including myself, would like to see “actively” and “recent” quantified. The current popular suggestion is that recipients need to have submitted at least two proposals in the last twelve months. I don’t think that’s enough. I would make it at least three in the last six months. I’m not necessarily talking about NIH R01-level proposals here. Pretty much anything that would help keep a lab going should count. I don’t see this as too onerous a burden for someone with a viable research program.

Go read and comment.

4 Responses to “Pulling together as a department when external funding is tight”

  1. Odyssey Says:

    Thanks for the link love!


  2. Pascale Says:

    One problem is the lack of funding sources in the current climate for established PIs. Many foundations cut out basic grants-in-aid with contraction of funds, continuing programs for trainees and new faculty only. It’s difficult to send out that many proposals when the “usual suspects” are already incarcerated.


  3. anon Says:

    I’m surprised that you are only feeling the economic pinch now. My former department laid off most of its support staff and all of the junior faculty who had not been able to obtain funding. I was one of them. Dead wood was retained. Maybe I’m biased, but that was a stupid approach.
    The NIH has not always been a source of support. How was science funded prior to the existence of the NIH, and is this a mechanism that departments or universities can revert to as a secondary resource?


  4. Odyssey Says:

    We haven’t been completely immune to the economic pinch. The state institution I’m at has certainly taken cuts, although they’ve tended to be smaller than in many other states. The upper administration has done an admirable job of absorbing most of them. The cuts that have made it down to our department haven’t hurt us too badly because most of the department’s budget is drawn from grant salary reimbursement. It’s only now, when we’re beginning to see a net loss in grant $’s in the department, that things are beginning to get really, really tight.
    We’ve been lucky.


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