The tl;dr version of a response to a NIH IC’s RFI

May 20, 2019

Request for Information. NIH uses these to try to djinn up support for some action they wish to take. It is not clear to me why they bother but you can tell when you see no public response to a set of RFI questions that you know aren’t going to go their way. Or when you see a very restricted and upbeat set of sample responses published when you know you and others sent in critical ones.

But I’m cynical and, who knows, maybe sometimes the ICs really are trying to learn something. A recent one from NIDA caught my eye since it is right up my professional alley.

RFI: Inviting Comments on Non-Human Animal Models of Substance Use Disorders (NOT-DA-19-036) asks just what you might expect. Here are their four questions and my short and sweet answers to them. These will serve to represent the typical applicant PI response to such things.

NIDA seeks input from the scientific community on the following topics:

Current animal behavioral procedure(s)/model(s) that BEST recapitulate human substance use/SUD, including the aspect(s) of substance use/SUD (initiation of drug use, drug maintenance, pathological drug use, relapse) targeted by the/these procedure(s)/model(s)

Super easy to answer. The ones that I use. Obviously the gold standard and the best.

Animal procedures/models of SUDs that best balance the inherent trade-offs between resources (time, cost, etc.) and complexity/ecological validity

Mine. Man this is easy. I have the perfect tradeoff….but oh, let me tell you that what you really need to do is give me even more money because then the extra resources will really pay off.

Animal procedures/models of SUDs whose translational value are frequently misrepresented or overrepresented by the scientific community

Those guys’ procedures and models. Over there. The ones that I don’t use are totally bogus and a complete waste of time. Unfund them as soon as possible.

Aspects of substance use/SUD (e.g., specific DSM criteria for SUD) that are NOT currently being modelled in animals and how current procedures/models could be adapted to overcome technical/logistic challenges and address this gap in the field

Weeeellllll, we DO happen to have this new model that we’ve been struggling to get funded properly and by complete and utter coincidence I can manhandle at least one DSM criteria to fit what we are trying to do. FUND ME!

I’m telling you, this is a good 89.54% of the honest responses to any such RFI.

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