NIH pilots special scrutiny of PIs with $1.5 M in total costs.
May 18, 2012
Thoughts on NOT-OD-12-110:
The threshold of $1.5 million total costs. How’s that break down? Well if you are in a consensus ~50% overhead state university, let’s see…Thats FOUR full-modular awards. But let’s be clear, odds are you got cut by at least a module per award so that’s only $900K direct..you get to be in a University with about 70% overhead and you are still clear. What bout the much-rumored 100% overhead small institutions? well, you get three R01s before you go under strict scrutiny.
I do wonder if this will satisfy all the “kill the rich” voices? Will they see this as the NIH taking them seriously or as a meaningless sop?
Next question, this is just identifying special Council level review…No guarantee that any grant will ever be blocked because the PI has too much $$. No guarantee that negotiations wouldn’t be made either. “Say, PI Jones, would you please put some more junior colleague on as titular head to one of your other awards so we can give you this one”?
new MultiPI awards won’t trigger the scrutiny unless all PIs trigger the threshold. Hello courtesy “multi”PIship!!!
It may possibly change some people’s strategy so that they work harder to distribute effort around to other people’s awards in small percentages. Like junior PI is going to screw BigCheeze over on the agreed upon part of the direct costs? No worries there.
How are study sections going to respond to this. Will they take this as the NIH saying “This is our threshold for being worried about too much money. Now shut up about this for anything below this amount.”? Or will they take this as encouragement to think about lab size even more when they are reviewing the grant in front of them?