Fun NIH RePORTER tricks

March 27, 2013

Select your favorite ICs of interest in the Agency/Institute/Center field.
Enter %R56% in the Project Number field.
Submit Query.
Click on various grants and hit the History tab

Grind teeth in impotent rage.

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34 Responses to “Fun NIH RePORTER tricks”

  1. becca Says:

    Ok, I’m missing something. Why the grinding of the teeth?

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  2. rs Says:

    Wow, just wow. some projects go back to grandfather time and continuously funded as R01s.

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  3. zb Says:

    Wondering, too. My favorite IC doesn’t appear to have any R56. Most seem to be NIAIDS (1/2) & NINDS.

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  4. drugmonkey Says:

    Why the grinding of the teeth?

    The R56 mech exists to hand out 1-2 years of money when the IC can’t bring itself to pick up the entire award. You may conclude that the score for the original application was not sufficient to justify funding, even using programmatic priority justifications.

    Now, admittedly, some of them are used to pick up jr faculty who just can’t catch a break and I endorse that use.

    It’s the other end of the program that I object to. The kid-gloving of highly established investigators who haven’t managed to get a fundable score on that particular application.

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  5. Dave Says:

    Sigh. The NIDDK fucken loves this things.

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  6. Dave Says:

    69 in total and I would say that based purely on the year, 2/3 are for new investigators…ish and the rest are for very senior folk. One dude even came off an R37 and went straight to the R56!!!! Nice work if you can get it.

    This is clearly a holding pattern as I’m sure many ICs mistakenly think they will see a 10% increase in the budget next FY. Delaying the inevitable, really.

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  7. DrugMonkey Says:

    It is a bad error to assume all the -01a1 R56 awards are junior folk.

    Regarding R37 to R56…. Ten years is a looooong time to be out of the competing submission game…

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  8. Went to the 2 IC’s with which I do business (one R01 and one F30 for a student in my lab, I review regularly for both and have sat on study sections for both). One had only 2, one old frackin’fart (5 R56 DC000147 30 – which in translation means that it is in its 30th year, and was the 147th grant awarded by the IC), and one jr person. The other had 14 of which 9 were jr people, 2 were R01’s at their very end (and were asst/assoc profs), and the other 3 were tooth grinders.

    How this plays out in the future will be a reflection of how seriously NIH takes supporting young investigators.

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  9. DrugMonkey Says:

    Or the degree to which they will sacrifice the middle of the distribution to keep their Boomer buddies alive, Potnia?

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  10. Actually those dudes with the -14 and -20 are not boomers, they’re GG’s. But that’s a small point. The bottom line is that there *should* be a juniority criterion (not necessarily age, given that there are bunch of junior rank but older age females trying to get back in the game). I’m OK with it being non-tenured or asst. profs only for these mechanisms.

    And I’m also on board for no tenure, five year renewals and a reasonable appeals process. I think tenure damages the young as much as it keeps the old in plaid pants and neckerchiefs. Despite the wackaloon discussions on twitter, tenure is about job security pure and simple. Well, job security & its sequellae.

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  11. becca Says:

    Oh. That’s… special.
    Makes the guy from Harvard whose R01 kept getting less and less money each year and then suddenly gets an R56 with 380k a bit weirder.

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  12. drugmonkey Says:

    Lot’s of R01s are “getting less and less money each year”. The CR-related cuts, cuts-upon-funding, etc are brutally cumulative.

    Also, it is not impossible that it was planned that way from the outset- there might be early startup costs for that interval of the project in terms of equipment or major sample collection or something.

    The R56 would have most likely resulted from the app for the next competing interval…that is a time to reset the budget. (Some ICs have limits in terms of how much you can increase for a competing renewal but I’m not sure how stringently those are applied, whether they are relative to awarded amount or originally committed amount, etc.)

    As you will recall, I had a prior analysis of the BRDPI adjusted buying power that shows that since the origination of the modular limit one would need something around $380K to equal the original $250K in purchasing power. so, year -11 of a grant that started as full modular I can see the person finally having to come in at $380K. easily.

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  13. drugmonkey Says:

    I’m OK with it being non-tenured or asst. profs only for these mechanisms.

    I am too. But seeing these bailout go to the ESIs and to the aging folks who are totes buddies with the POs and IC Directors and never to people in my midcareer demographic is…..teeth grating.

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  14. Dave Says:

    I’m OK with it being non-tenured or asst. profs only for these mechanisms.

    Another reasonable idea that I’m sure the NIH will ignore. Remember we will “lose a generation of young scientists” because of the sequester, and the NIH appears to be OK with that.

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  15. Former technician Says:

    I have seen R56 used for good. A former research track member of our lab received and R01 a few months later he received an offer for a tenure track position at a nearby university. He had another R01 going through just in time when he accepted the offer. The second grant was awarded as an R56 instead of as the R01 that was proposed. He was told by the Program Officer that this would make the transition to the new university easier. He was also told that he could reapply to change the R56 back to an R01.

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  16. drugmonkey Says:

    He was told by the Program Officer that this would make the transition to the new university easier.

    Easier than not having any award at all? Sure. But certainly no easier than if the R01 had made it to funding.

    He was also told that he could reapply to change the R56 back to an R01.

    This is another thing that irritates me…though I’m not entirely clear on the rules. Many of these suckers are awarded after the A1 goes down in flames. That should be the end of the project for continuation apps and the usual requirement to dance around the too-similar criterion. But then the stated purpose of the R56 is to allow the person to re-apply after a close-but-no-cigar score. Then there’s the mechanism-change rule that permits you to put in a substantially similar application after the A1 doesn’t hit…just so long as you change mechanism.

    so if POs are using the R56 to keep hope alive on a continuation that they happen to like….this is yet more unfair bullshit. I suppose a little judicious RePORTERing can tell me if R01 continuations follow after an interval of R56 bridging but I think we’re too close in time to judge the effect of the allegedly rigorous weeding of substantially-similar apps.

    Remember we will “lose a generation of young scientists” because of the sequester, and the NIH appears to be OK with that.

    I wish I know how to even interpret or analyze such claims…..

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  17. drugmonkey Says:

    Ok, so…

    you’ll want to wildcard 2R56% and look at FY2010 for this little exercise in figuring out where the Bridge is to.

    The no-A2 policy kicked in for submissions in winter 2009, meaning FY2010 as a first-funding date. (the occasional A2 grandfathered in will still show up which makes things a bit odd. )

    but any R56s awarded in FY2010 should have only lasted until FY2012 at the longest.

    sure enough, I’ve already seen a couple that resulted in a resumption of the competitive R01. It’s ok when the R56 was awarded un-amended and the new R01 interval was awarded un-amended.

    But if the R56 has an A1 or the new R01 interval has an A1 then my suspicions are confirmed that this little dodge can be used to keep a project continuing in the face of the A1/substantially-similar rule

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  18. drugmonkey Says:

    From the R56 description
    This support is designed to enable the Principal Investigator to gather additional data for revision of the current application.

    Applicants are reminded that the limitations on time and the number of amendments described at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-03-041.html apply to all subsequent revisions.

    right? what am I missing here? The amendment rules should apply to continuations and the R56 is to enable those amended versions. So they should not be awarded, at all, to A1s since it would be a Bridge to an A2 amendment. Clearly, however, the CSR is accepting the A2 as if it were an A0 and giving two more rounds of review. So really it gives the lucky PIs an A3 to get their ongoing project competitively continued.

    Where the fuck is PP to tell me what I’m missing on this????

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  19. Ola Says:

    N of 1, but the only person I know who got an R56 was a mid career gal, moved her lab to here with 3 grants, fell on hard times related to the move (animal woes, nothing worked in the new place), and lost 2 of the 3 grants. The remaining RO1 renewal was just outside the payline and an R56 was awarded (~200k directs for 2yrs IIRC). 4 years’ later she’s now back up to speed and doing well with 2RO1s again and a decent sized lab cranking out good papers. So, the “bridge” does sometimes serve its purpose.

    In addition, what might skew your numbers… several R56s were awarded under ARRA. Institutes had a pretty open slate to decide how to spend their ARRA money and some did it this way. This was back in the day when everyone was dumb enough to think that this recession thing was gonna last 2 years and everything would return to normal.

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  20. DrugMonkey Says:

    Look I’m not saying they don’t serve a purpose. Money is money. Most labs are going to do something with the cash, prelim for a new project or finish a paper…who cares.

    The point is that it is drawing a huge underline beneath existing clubby, old-boyz/girls inequities.

    Somebody else, several of them, are no less deserving and didn’t get the help. This special case of continuing a long running project is particularly odious given the advantages that surround such programs.

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  21. It’s the other end of the program that I object to. The kid-gloving of highly established investigators who haven’t managed to get a fundable score on that particular application.

    It is highly appropriate that program staff protect the research projects of their productive established investigators. You’re just fucken whining because this money comes at the expense of your own borderline grants that don’t get picked up.

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  22. Dave Says:

    Yeh I mean they should use the R56 for exactly that purpose, and for new PIs too. There does seem to be this attitude that oldies are not worth supporting anymore, even if they are highly productive. I’m not that comfortable with that because, to me, it’s just not fair. This comes back to the “who to cull?” issue again.

    It’s easy to say “well they didn’t get a fundable score on their R01 so fuck ’em” but when the shoe is on the other foot, I’m sure it would be a different story. Moreover, I think we all appreciate that a close but not fundable score does not mean the PI is not productive, nor does it mean he/she has shitty ideas or is a bad scientist.

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  23. Dave Says:

    I wish I know how to even interpret or analyze such claims…..

    Just quoting Franny Collins himself.

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  24. dsks Says:

    “It is highly appropriate that program staff protect the research projects of their productive established investigators. ”

    Fine, but it would be nice to have a little transparency here. If the programs staff have a selection of BSDs that they want to/will prop up regardless of the judgment of the peer review process, there ought to be a clear(-ish) set of criteria upon which such a charitable status is bestowed (prior grant productivity & impact, institutional prestige, and whateverthfuck).

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  25. DrugMonkey Says:

    It doesn’t take too many of these sweetheart deals for someone who happens to be in good with Program to *make* someone a productive and established investigator. POs are picking the winners and losers amongst those who haven’t managed to make it over the payline hurdle. As you know I defend their role in soon so for *projects*.

    Not so much when it comes to arbitrary saves for one program over another.

    And yes, PP, this is definitely coming from my irritation at not receiving such benefits. 🙂

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  26. Gigantic Says:

    “It is highly appropriate that program staff protect the research projects of their productive established investigators. ”

    In other words: impact scores, percentiles and paylines are for little people.

    Like

  27. Eli Rabett Says:

    Although not an inhabitant of NIHville, Eli is a bit sick of the youngsters’ whining. It was no fucking bed of roses in the 1970s with no hiring in the US and no grants neither. Eli scuffled, his friends scuffled, many fell by the wayside. Life sucks. Get used to it. It will continue to suck.

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  28. drugmonkey Says:

    Eli, the hiring in the US in the 70s was awesome compared to now. There are data you know.

    http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2010/10/short-term-thinking.html

    one long slide downwards. Nobody is claiming that there was no competition in the past. but it is assholish in the extreme to fail to acknowledge that things are worse now than they were before. For my generation and for the ones above me. We all had it better than the kids these days. The fact that the generation prior to me had it easier than my generation did is also true but it would be stupid of me to fail to recognize my own fortune relative to the postdocs seeking jobs (and grants) right now.

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  29. Dave Says:

    It was no fucking bed of roses in the 1970s with no hiring in the US and no grants neither

    Although not an inhabitant of NIHville…

    Laughable. Jog on.

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  30. TwoYellowsMakeRed Says:

    Regarding R37 to R56…. Ten years is a looooong time to be out of the competing submission game…

    Unlikely that he didn’t have other competing applications submitted for 10 years. Of course, if you know the name, you can look up his funding (although not application) history.

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  31. DrugMonkey Says:

    Ok, but given fears about renewing that R37 extension has to be worth at least 5 submissions on average.

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  32. Dave Says:

    This sort of non-bid patronage would be illegal in most areas of government.

    If you’re not buying your program officers drinks at meetings (or, if you’re female, flirting with them), then you’re not doing your job. At least your dean doesn’t think so.

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  33. Dave Says:

    “Nobody is claiming that there was no competition in the past. but it is assholish in the extreme to fail to acknowledge that things are worse now than they were before. For my generation and for the ones above me. We all had it better than the kids these days. The fact that the generation prior to me had it easier than my generation did is also true but it would be stupid of me to fail to recognize my own fortune relative to the postdocs seeking jobs (and grants) right now.”

    Yea, not like the REALLY good old days, like before the 1950s, when you had to first go make your fortune in business and then dabble in science in your spare time using your own money.

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  34. […] this DrugMonkey post got me thinking about the various uses of […]

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