You know how you like to complain about your NIH grant reviewers?

October 2, 2013

Remember, o ye NIH grant seeking Readers, that your peers are supposed to be reviewing the grants you submitted in the June/July interval right about now. And thanks to the House of GOP shuttering the Federal government, the study sections are being cancelled.

Maybe.

You see, maybe a Continuing Resolution will be passed….tonight? or tomorrow morning? or Friday at 2?

And then the study section meetings for next week will be back on.

So the reviewers have to struggle along and finish up their jobs as best they can, not knowing if it will be for the meeting that is scheduled….or if it will be some sort of replacement meeting later in the month or year.

From what I am hearing, your friendly peers are stepping up to the damn plate and getting their grants reviewed.

Even without access to eRA Commons (where all the grants are stored, hardly anyone bothers to get a CD anymore). So the “read phase” that is supposed to take place the week before a study section meeting is going to be difficult. Hard to read the other reviewers’ comments on the grants you are assigned because you don’t know who they are! All that is supposed to be automatic on Commons you see. Well, from what I hear around the campfire, the sections are doing what they can, no doubt with heroic work from the Chairs and a little illegal subterranean rogue work from the government employee SROs.

I thank you all.

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72 Responses to “You know how you like to complain about your NIH grant reviewers?”

  1. Dave Says:

    You see, maybe a Continuing Resolution will be passed….tonight? or tomorrow morning? or Friday at 2?

    Not likely. Tanfastic Boehner has officially lost his marbles:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/02/government-shutdown-congress_n_4028889.html#183_boehner-silent-on-default-question

    This is heading toward a default.

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  2. Neuro-conservative Says:

    House passed a bill to restore NIH funding today. So far, Reid & Obama are opposed.

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  3. Pinko Punko Says:

    Let’s pick and choose who gets the money and f*ck everybody else. No, thanks, neuro-c. That is not the way to do things.

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  4. Dave Says:

    Yeh no way should individual appropriation bills be passed, even if that means the NIH gets screwed.

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  5. DrugMonkey Says:

    Divide and conquer should definitely be resisted. No better for us to support it for NIH than for the war nuts to special-flower the military.

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  6. Neuro-conservative Says:

    You do realize that gov’t by its very nature is designed to pick & choose who gets $$, don’t you? Also, even during regular order, each department is appropriated separately.

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  7. Dave Says:

    NC, you don’t understand the consequences. This is about a small minority holding the whole country hostage to satisfy an ideologicalally extreme faction of this country. It’s an unbelievably dangerous precedent that cannot be allowed under any circumstances including, by the way, a default.

    Regular order it most definitely is not.

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  8. Neuro-conservative Says:

    I agree that we should not hold our policy hostage to the small minority (31%) of ideologically extreme voters who support Obamacare. Let’s just repeal it now, and get on with the business of government.

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  9. CD0 Says:

    What it is most frightening about the blackmail that the Tea Party extremists have imposed is their ignorance of the role of government.

    They only added NIH to their short list of “fundable” agencies when it was publicized that children were prevented from being enrolled in clinical trials at NIH. Not before.

    We are talking about people who do not believe in evolution. Who vomit on science on climate change and think that providing access to healthcare for 11 million fellow Americans goes against “work ethics”. I find some consolation in that in 30 years we will see them as ridiculous as we now see the extremists in Alabama during the civil rights struggle. But for now they are causing tremendous damage.

    And, yes, I am one of the reviewers waiting to know when we will be able to discuss the applications that we already reviewed. Every member, without any exception did his/her job and placed the scores on a timely manner, so that we could download the critiques of our peers before the shutdown.

    The problem are not the scientists, but those who do not understand Science.

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  10. Mikka Says:

    How will this affect the reviewer’s mood? I have a lot riding on this review cycle. Anyone on a study section care to comment?

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  11. CD0 Says:

    In my experience, most reviewers always make an effort to provide a fair evaluation. I cannot imagine that somebody will be particularly harsh because both the applicant and the reviewer suffered from this idiotic display. Plus this will affect all applicants in this cycle equally.
    A theoretical concern is that the triage line could be moved up to be able to complete the review process, but at this point nobody knows for sure when and how this will be completed.

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  12. Ola Says:

    Ours was supposed to be yesterday and today (Oct 2/3) but got cancelled. No idea on rescheduling yet, but I would guess it won’t be for at least a month, as CSR will be super busy with the ones still going ahead anyway.

    The problem is that the in-person discussions more than a month after the initial scores were posted, will suck big-time:

    “So this proposal is all about… err… let me check my notes…. oh… err, yes so anyway this proposal is all about…”

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  13. Arthur Hunt Says:

    Re: Divide and conquer – wouldn’t it be entertaining to have Reid send back to the House bills that, say, double the amount appropriated by the House?

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  14. DJMH Says:

    N-c, you don’t win elections with 31% of the vote. As you’d think the Republicans might have noticed by now, what with their losses at the Presidency, the Senate, and the House (D’s gained seats). I’ll have to check my pocket Constitution to be certain, but I *think* changes in law are supposed to be effected by changes at the ballot box.

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  15. Susan Says:

    Reid should tack on funding for the ACA to the bill to fund the NIH.
    Check, fucking, mate.

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  16. Neuro-conservative Says:

    People vote for a variety of reasons – not just single-issue. Obama’s re-election does not indicate widespread support for Obamacare. There is no groundswell for that steaming pile. For example, the state of Louisiana registered a grand total of zero enrollees.

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  17. Susan Says:

    Zero? or … “they’re not going to tell you yet” or ” HHS now says it’ll be a solid month before they reveal how many people signed up yesterday.” ?

    Which line of that article am I supposed to cherry pick, now?

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  18. Dr Becca Says:

    the “read phase” that is supposed to take place the week before a study section

    OK serious question: if nobody is reading the grants until the week before study section, why the 4 month delay? Why not make due dates for Oct study sections in Sept?

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  19. Susan Says:

    Way to repeat speculation as fact. That’s how the spin machine works, after all!

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  20. Grumble Says:

    Good question, Becca. I’ve always wondered why NIH grant review takes so ridiculously LONG. What exactly happens during the ONE MONTH between when a reviewer gets grants and the actual panel meeting? A whole lot of nothing until a day or two before initial reviews are due.

    There are probably several other parts of the process that could be streamlined as well. Does it really take 2 months for review officers to get commitments to review all the grants? If NIH told them to do it in 1 month, they’d probably do it in one month.

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  21. Dave Says:

    wouldn’t it be entertaining to have Reid send back to the House bills that, say, double the amount appropriated by the House?

    You jest, but the senate has been trying to pass appropriations bills at the pre-sequester level all summer (not that most Americans are paying attention). The Baggers in the House knocked them all back, predictably, so Dems have been requesting budget conferences for months in an attempt to resolve the funding issues. What has been barely reported though is that The Baggers (Cruz and Rubio in particular) refused going to conference EVERY SINGLE TIME, which is why their request for a conference with Dems on Monday night was so laughable, especially because it came with ridiculous ACA demands. The media has done a horrible job reporting these things, which is just one reason why The Baggers get away with a lot of crazy shit (low information voters). Basically everything The Baggers have done this year has been designed to lead up to this very moment. But they assumed Obama would cave, and that hasn’t happened.

    Now they have no exit strategy and are in big, big trouble. And this is why we will default, unless Obama breaks some laws and uses his executive powers to avert it. But if he does that he will face certain impeachment from the right and may as well wave the rest of his presidency goodbye. It’s a perfect storm.

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  22. Dave Says:

    A theoretical concern is that the triage line could be moved up to be able to complete the review process….

    Seems very likely:

    https://writedit.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/federal-government-shutdown-showdown/

    It will be a miracle if the NIH doesn’t also take a MAJOR budget hit after all this is over, so add that in to the mix as well.

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  23. Couple of replies – my study section (oct 2/3 – Ola, are we on the same one???) will be on the phone whenever the gov’t figures out. This is an IC study section reviewing mostly R03s & K-awards and they are all for early stage people, who once again are getting screwed. There is no way that a phone review can give as much time, attention and thought as an in person one.

    Time for NIH to act on proposals. The read phase is AFTER reviewing – its when you read others reviews. Usually reviewers get grants at best 4-6 weeks before reviews are done. My experience is Read-phases are 3-4 days at most before study section. In the Olden Dayes, there was no read phase, and you were correcting your review by hand on the plane to DC, before you read the whole thing in all its glorious boring entirety to the whole second. How do I love thee, eRA Commons, let me count the ways.

    My understanding of the process is that one big chunk of time is taken up in the assigning and sorting of proposals after they come in. That’s why resubmissions get an extra month – because allegedly they know where they are going. I got asked about grants to review (June submissions- but some were resubmissions that didn’t come in till 1rst week July) end of July/beg of Aug, but did not get a final list till mid/late August, for reviews due at end of Sept. I’m not sure there is a lot of slop in the system.

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  24. DrugMonkey Says:

    N-c you crack me up.

    the small minority (31%) of ideologically extreme voters who support Obamacare.

    How on EARTH do you come up with the conclusion that almost a third of any distribution is “ideologically extreme”? or that it is a “small” minority?

    [and this is even before we get to the fact this number jumps tremendously if you simply ask whether people like the “Affordable Care Act” (thanks Jimmy Kimmel!) and even further if you go down the list of items that are actually in it without calling it Obamacare OR the Affordable Care Act. ]

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  25. DrugMonkey Says:

    becca,

    OK serious question: if nobody is reading the grants until the week before study section

    “Read phase” refers to the interval just prior to the meeting date in which all the reviews have been written and submitted. Then each reviewer can read the other reviews written for the grants they are assigned and make any reconsiderations or adjustments to their own position that they see fit. They can also, if they have time, read the reviews written for every other grant assigned to that study section. I heartily recommend that first-timers to a given study section read a lot of the reviews for applications not assigned to themselves for calibration purposes.

    tl;dr: The “Read” part refers to reading the written critiques, not the applications.

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  26. DrugMonkey Says:

    You do realize that gov’t by its very nature is designed to pick & choose who gets $$, don’t you? Also, even during regular order, each department is appropriated separately.

    HAHAAHHAA, good one N-c. We’re just in regular old order right now, are we? EVERY normal old Congress refuses to ever pass a budget, struggles through on Continuing Resolutions and then goes on to shut down the government the next fiscal year. All just to get their way on the “pick & choose who gets $$” within the regular old process of politics.

    totes normal.

    Do you ever listen to yourself or do the echos from the chamber make that difficult?

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  27. Grumble Says:

    ” the small minority (31%) of ideologically extreme voters who support Obamacare”

    HAHAHAHA! That takes some extremism, to support a law that is so exquisitely in the center that it originated in a right-wing think tank, was tested by a Republican governor in a mostly Democratic state, and was passed by Democratic majorities over the howls of protest of both reactionary conservatives and far left progressives. What kind of “extremists” are you talking about – the extreme middle?

    I hope your inner neuro is smarter than your inner conservative, because the latter seems to have some problems with basic deductive reasoning.

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  28. The Other Dave Says:

    @Grumble, becca…

    potnia said it. All that extra time is needed to route it to the appropriate study section, figure out whether ad hoc reviewers are needed, get them on board, and schedule everything. Wrangling cats.

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  29. Pinko Punko Says:

    Well, in the crazification post from Kung Fu monkey, the number on the right that will essentially believe just about anything and everything is a rock solid 27%. Neuro-c was flipping in around. Anyhow, things just get worse and worse.

    ——-

    RE: another topic of the day

    I have to say that I am a fan of open access publishing and transparent publishing, but today’s shrillness from OA advocates because the predatory publishing got hammered by the Science sting is pretty annoying. Of course this class of journal was previously the craptown titles published by your regular Gun Running Publisher Company, but the idea that there is massive proliferation of them, and that they are probably very problematic for 2nd and 3rd world science in that they might overwhelm legitimate journals where the cost of publishing is perhaps higher, is a big problem. And yelling about tu quoque seems to miss the point. Just kind of ridiculous.

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  30. DJMH Says:

    Pinko, agreed that the sting was pretty revelatory and deserves attention. However I do take issue with the way Science presented it–there were about two sentences acknowledging that PLoS One and Hindawi journals were fine, and the rest was about the fraud journals. Given that Science has a pretty big stake in the status quo, it would have been more seemly for them to acknowledge the successes of OA, and not just the failures, a little bit more clearly.

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  31. musclestumbler Says:

    Two things (and an observation):

    1.As a member of a study panel for NSF, we were supposed to meet next week (10/7). We have been instructed to standby, and will complete the study panel via web conferencing (not ideal by a long shot). The plan is that once the government gets back up and running, we will meet 24-48 hours later via web conferencing. The members of my panel have all agreed to meet and review over weekends if necessary- the particular division of NSF that I’m reviewing for is going to move heaven and earth to get the grants reviewed by the end of October. All levels- research grants, RUI, CAREER, etc.

    2. @becca-Having now seen how the sausage is made, it makes complete sense why it takes so long to actually hold the study panel. You have to coordinate membership on the panels, get the COIs resolved, get the proposals salted out to the committees, give the members enough time to clear their schedules, etc. If you’re still not sure why, then volunteer for a panel and you’ll see.

    Observation: @neuro-c: believe it or not, there’s more to funding than just the NIH. NSF-The grants are for the same level, the grants are available, it’s just a smaller pool of funds to draw from (which means your game has to be impeccable). The science is just as rigorous, and the grantsmanship is just as intense. If you think it’s too beneath you, I challenge you to write a grant for funds from them (and actually get it funded). Until then, please go back to watching Faux News and let the grownups talk here.

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  32. Anon Says:

    We were set to meet Oct 1. Thankfully, our SRO cancelled our travel (before I got on the plane Monday morning!) and spent all day Monday setting up an internet meeting in the event that the shutdown didn’t happen. So our entire study section (and several others, no doubt) was up late Monday night prepping written comments for discussion and up early again on Tues, checking email and checking the news to see what would happen. We really wanted to meet and discuss the grants. We are ready to discuss the grants at any point. But let’s be honest. We all had this meeting blocked out on our schedules for months. Once the government reopens for business, it’s going to be worse than herding cats in a rainstorm of puppies to find a time that we can all meet (either in person or, more likely, online) to do this.

    I really feel for the PIs whose grants are being held hostage. I have a grant of my own that is supposed to be reviewed later this month. Somehow this is all stressing me out much more than it should. But I really hate being ready to do my job as a reviewer, having spent hours reviewing and prepping, and then being locked out by something completely out of my control. Clearly I would not do well in a society with really horrible problems (Syria or Egypt, anyone?) if this annoying (but not life-threatening, to me) government shutdown is causing me so much angst.

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  33. Cassius King Says:

    I am one of the PI’s whose grant is being held hostage. My first R01 submission as a PI was going to be reviewed next week. This project is a continuation of an R21, and is a project I have been working on for years. I have been anxiously awaiting the review for months.

    The problem for me is that, not knowing how competitive my grant will be slows my research progress overall. If I get a good score, I will be bullish, and spend more of my startup to speed things up, since I will have more confidence in my ability to raise more funding. If I get triaged, then I decrease my burn rate for the inevitable rainy days. However, this current uncertainty is killing me. I really feel sorry for the poor people who are not getting a paycheck though.

    I have heard rumors that the reviews may be pushed back to the next review cycle, and that the NIH may even skip this submission cycle altogether. Has anyone else heard anything to this effect?

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  34. DrugMonkey Says:

    I don’t see any reason that would happen. Council meetings are jan-ish. There’s time

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  35. DrugMonkey Says:

    Wait, new grants? Yeah, that’s not happening IMO. I don’t think this will go past the Nov date so there’s plenty of time

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  36. The Other Dave Says:

    Forget rescheduling or phone (ugh!) meetings. I think the SROs should just compile scores without any sort of panel meetings. I think this would actually improve the quality of review. Each reviewer’s scores will be more independent, and panel scores will more reflect the other assessments or at least a cursory examination of the written proposal rather than whichever blowhard sounded best at the meeting (isn’t it absurd to have people who never read a proposal score it or rank it in any way?). I am a strong advocate for eliminating panel meetings altogether. Lots of private funding agencies don’t have panel meetings.

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  37. qaz Says:

    The advantage of meetings is that they allow shared expertise. I have often heard “I’ve given it a good/poor score because of this issue, but I could be convinced that this issue is not as cool/a problem as it seems.” Sometimes the other reviewers say “you’re right, I missed that”, and sometimes the other reviewers say “that’s not as good/bad as you think because…”

    Several times in the study section I’m on, non-assigned reviewers have read the proposal and have changed the scores of the study section for good or ill.

    Three reviewers is far too few anyway. If we were going to do no-discussion reviews, then we would need to have many more reviewers to get a reasonable sample.

    ToD, have you ever been on a study section?

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  38. DrugMonkey Says:

    Endorse qaz. Meetings supply a genuine corrective factor. checks and balances people, checks and balances.

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  39. The Other Dave Says:

    qaz: What you describe is exactly what I think should be avoided. There is growing evidence from social psychology that discussion & consensus-building builds confidence in assessments but reduces accuracy and consistency.

    DM: I like checks and balances too. Multiple reviews inherently provide ‘checks and balances’. But those checks and balances are undermined by panel discussion, which is basically an extremely subjective data ‘weighting’ process.

    The odd thing is, every scientist knows that it’s good to make several independent measurements. And every scientist also knows that once you do that, it’s bad to fudge the measurements. And yet… that’s what panel discussion is.

    I have served on panels for both NIH and NSF. I am currently vice-chair of an NIH-style panel for a state funding agency. I raised these issues there, we changed what we do, and it has worked well so far.

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  40. I am sometimes wrong in my assessments. Lots of reviewers change their minds, their scores, and the ultimate outcome because of talking with others. Yes, there is surely some of the “increased confidence & lower accuracy” effect. But if people are reasonably honest and open, and try not to play the pysch games in scoring, then the discussion have a strong effect in being able to present a consensus that is ultimately very helpful on resubmission.

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  41. asstprof Says:

    Does anyone know how the shutdown will affect NIH grant deadlines after the government resumes operations? e.g. if the government restarts on Nov. 4, will grants with a Nov. 5 deadline still be due on Nov 5? Many people seem to believe that all deadlines will be extended due to the administrative backlog.

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  42. Neuro-conservative Says:

    Shutdown is likely to end on Oct 17, so I doubt the Nov 5 resubmit deadlines will be affected.

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  43. qaz Says:

    N-C, why do you think the shutdown will end on 17 Oct?

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  44. Dave Says:

    @DM – I think the reason people think that a default will be avoided now is because they think Obama will do something to avert it a la 14th amendment. I’m not so sure he will, but one thing for certain is that The Baggers will not budge.

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  45. Tea Party Says:

    Damn sure we won’t budge. And if we do, it’s because very deep cuts have also been approved. The NIH will be included in those cuts. The End is near.

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  46. CanadianPhD Says:

    I don’t think the NIH can take any more cuts. That stress, coupled with current stress from the sequester, would be too much. Who can differentiate a 10- vs a 15-percentile grant proposal? The system is already near or at failure, and more cuts will push it over the edge. 5- vs 10-percentile? Reviewers might as well start playing Bingo to decide which proposal should be awarded.

    “The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun, the Clone War has.” ―Master Yoda.

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  47. DrugMonkey Says:

    You people really do not understand Obama if you think he’s gonna pull some Constitutionally dubious jujitsu to bail the Republicans out.

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  48. Dave Says:

    To be clear, I don’t think he will. But a lot do. I think he will let them see this through and suffer the consequences.

    @CanadianPhD – I agree that if the FY14 sequester cuts are allowed to kick in, the NIH could become insolvent based on the multi-year commitments that it makes. It might not be able to pay the bills.

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  49. Grumble Says:

    “You people really do not understand Obama if you think he’s gonna pull some Constitutionally dubious jujitsu to bail the Republicans out.”

    Boner will cave 5 minutes before midnight the day before the government runs out of money. He’ll allow a straight vote and all the dems and enough still-sane repubs will vote to avoid financial catastrophe. He knows very well that causing a massive world-wide financial crisis that triggers another recession would mean the end of the Republican party power for years, if not decades.

    “I agree that if the FY14 sequester cuts are allowed to kick in, the NIH could become insolvent based on the multi-year commitments that it makes. It might not be able to pay the bills.”

    Uhh, there are no multi-year commitments. All awards are for one year only. For subsequent years, all NIH has to do is cut the amount of the continuing grants, and voila – enough money to continue limping on.

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  50. CanadianPhD Says:

    Well, then the way I see it the situation is bleak:

    Best Option:

    Reps cave in and approve the CR, which leaves the FY14 sequester intact. Outcome: NIH budget is cut compared to FY13.

    Middle of the Road Option:

    Reps and Dems reach a compromise, which probably involves some concessions from the Dems on top of the sequester, which is already the law of the land. Outcome: NIH budget is cut even more than what the FY14 sequester mandates.

    Worst Option:

    No agreement. US defaults. Worldwide crisis. Outcome: The NIH budget will the last of our problems.

    I don’t see any good outcome here. Am I missing something?

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  51. Joe Says:

    @CanadianPhD “Who can differentiate a 10- vs a 15-percentile grant proposal? The system is already near or at failure, and more cuts will push it over the edge. 5- vs 10-percentile?” You people are lucky if you have 10% paylines. NIAID has been at 6% for a while.

    @DM “You people really do not understand Obama if you think he’s gonna pull some Constitutionally dubious jujitsu to bail the Republicans out.” If he were to do that, the GOP would impeach him and that’s all that would go on for the rest of his term. So he might think it would be the right thing to do for the country, but I’m pretty sure it would wreck his chances to accomplish anything else as president.

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  52. DrugMonkey Says:

    If he were to do that, the GOP would impeach him and that’s all that would go on for the rest of his term. So he might think it would be the right thing to do for the country, but I’m pretty sure it would wreck his chances to accomplish anything else as president.

    While it is true that the continued de-legitimizing attacks, and the threat of more of the same, have boxed in the Obama administration, it is also true that he is a moderate, by the book politician to the core. IMO. I think he would take up this alleged “14th amendment” strategy only in the most extreme of circumstances, if ever. we aren’t there yet.

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  53. Grumble Says:

    “If he were to do that, the GOP would impeach him and that’s all that would go on for the rest of his term”

    That’s true, and that’s why I think that O won’t cave in this idiotic game of chicken.

    But what he might do is order the Treasury department to start paying debts the day the cash runs out, and then simply assert that Congress’ failure to act left him with no choice because the Constitution forces him to pay the debt (“The validity of the public debt of the United States… shall not be questioned…”). The result would be a severe rocking of the financial markets, but crisis would be averted. The impeachment circus might commence – but many Repubs may not have much stomach for it after the big-money businessmen who support their election campaigns get done screaming at them for playing this dangerous game.

    And if there are no impeachment proceedings (or if there are and O wins), then at least the use of the debt limit as a cudgel for a minority in Congress to get what it wants would be abolished forever.

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  54. StarvingPostDoc Says:

    That 14th Amendment clause is useless in real life because it has never been been subject to judicial review, and it is unclear which way the Supreme Court would decide.

    What investor would want to own US bonds and treasuries issued under the excuse of the 14th Amendment when their value rest on a Supreme Court decision?

    Some risk-averse would, but I’m sure they’d ask for a high interest rate to make up for the risk premium, which really undermines the whole point of bonds and treasuries. So, in reality, the 14th Amendment route is good-for-nothing, and that’s why Obama cannot and will not use it.

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  55. I don’t think the NIH would become insolvent. I think they would fire some% of staff, and demand extreme cutbacks from already funded grants (ie the years for which they have not yet sent money to the uni’s) and limit (even more so) the number of new grants (can anyone say payline of 1%?).

    I, too, am worried about greater implications. Go reread (or read) The Handmaid’s Tail by Atwood http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid%27s_Tale

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  56. Dave Says:

    Best Option:

    Reps cave in and approve the CR, which leaves the FY14 sequester intact. Outcome: NIH budget is cut compared to FY13.

    What????? That is the worst option. Whatever happens, by far the worst thing that can happen is that the FY14 sequester kicks in in January. This has become a sleeper issue and I fear Obama may cave on that specifically and nobody will pay any attention. I would be OK (not happy, but OK) with a maintenance of the Fy13 cuts going into FY14 such that nobody suffers any additional cuts. Keeps your eyes peeled people…..

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  57. Dave Says:

    ……all NIH has to do is cut the amount of the continuing grants, and voila – enough money to continue limping on.

    With the cuts we are talking about, that will not take care of it.

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  58. Grumble Says:

    It’s supposed to be a 17 or 18% cut, right? So cut noncompeting renewals by 20%, and that takes care of most of it. (Not that it’s in any way sustainable to have such a huge chunk taken from existing grants year after year.)

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  59. Dave Says:

    Yeh 18.6% cut in FY14, below Fy13 sequester levels, to HHS in general. We don’t know exactly how that would translate to each agency, but fair to assume a cut to NIH in that ballpark. That would represent an additional >$5b cut to NIH budget in Fy14. No way are they making that up by cutting existing awards and I don’t think they can in all honesty. Well, they can, but……

    I think we would be looking at one or two ICs disappearing, or a major shift in priorities between intramural vs. extramural. No way are they going to get by with payline cuts and administrative cuts alone. It would destroy the extramural community. Hopefully we wont get there, but people need to understand that the FY14 sequester is a DISASTER for the NIH and would facilitate major changes to the way biomedical research is funded in the US. In other words, it definitely wont be business as usual for any of us.

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  60. Pinko Punko Says:

    ToD- building consensus could move away from expertise, but that is only if the net problem of moving away from expertise is greater than balancing out review that was maybe suboptimal. I think suboptimal initial review is a much greater problem than a panel coalescing around a majority opinion that differs from optimal expertise. Yes a panel can be swayed by an authoritative voice, but the question is if this is swaying them away from a more correct review, of if it is taking them from indecision to decision. There is a difference of people that have no opinion voting one way than people with an opinion changing their mind. There are three reviewers on grants and the whole panel votes. Do you think everyone on the panel reads every grant?

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  61. SfiI Says:

    CanadianPhD is right. Whichever way this ends, it’s going to be REALLY, REALLY BAD.

    It’s so depressing. I should have quit years ago…

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  62. Ismydatareal? Says:

    With paylines around 5-percentile, the only way to have a shot at having a proposal approved is to quite simply fake data.

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  63. DrugMonkey Says:

    I have had grants scored below 5%ile without faking data. For the record.

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  64. The Other Dave Says:

    @pinko. People who haven’t read grants voting on them makes no sense either.

    Like

  65. anonymous postdoc Says:

    But that was before other people started freaking the fuck out and faking their data, with which our regular- old real data must compete!

    I don’t actually believe that any substantial proportion of people are faking their data. Because even faking the data is gonna represent a whole lot of effort in grant prep, 90-95% of which is wasted at current funding rates.

    What I have been hearing/seeing a whole lot of, all of a sudden, is established PIs jumping to pharma. I would imagine that move will be reversible in a few years, should things ever improve, and is probably smart. I suppose pursuing and directing your own research interests is a game for better times.

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  66. Grumble Says:

    “What I have been hearing/seeing a whole lot of, all of a sudden, is established PIs jumping to pharma. ”

    This reminds me of a bleak joke some citizens of the former East Germany told me about the initials of their country’s name, DDR (Deutsche Demoktratische Republik). They used to say it stands for “Die Dumme Rest.” It means “the dumb ones who remained,” referring to the mass exodus to the West shortly after the war when it became clear that the Soviets were going to control the East.

    I’m beginning to feel dummer und dummer.

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  67. Grumble Says:

    (Actually, Der dummer Rest. This is what happens when a language has three genders for its nouns – foreigners can never keep them straight.)

    Like

  68. Dave Says:

    What I have been hearing/seeing a whole lot of, all of a sudden, is established PIs jumping to pharma

    Not in my experience. Pharma is far from the “safe haven” that many think it is nowadays. The amount of jobs lost in Big Pharma over the last few years is truly astounding. Merck just last week announced another huuuuuuuge cut.

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  69. Grumble Says:

    Might be true that pharma is no safer than academia, but I’ve seen several well-established, well-funded PIs cross over to pharma. These aren’t rats leaving the sinking ship. They are the ship’s officers.

    Like

  70. Busy Says:

    Wasn’t there a recent study showing that as competitions got harder the percentage of cheaters increased as well, all in the context of Ivy league admission policies?

    Certainly in my field the proportion of cheaters at the top venues seems to have increased the harder it is to get in. In fact, in one specific venue that shall remain nameless in my estimation over half of the papers contain some fake data.

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