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NPA Supports Proposed NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative

Thursday, June 29, 2017   (0 Comments)
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June 29, 2017

 

The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) supports “The Next Generation Researchers Initiative” (NGRI) and encourages the reallocation of funds to increase overall productivity in the science community. We reiterate our belief that implementation of this plan will increase funds for early-career investigators and allow them to reach important benchmarks required in academia. Furthermore, we are optimistic that this change to funding will encourage faculty to better collaborate with, and train, the next generation of scientists.

 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) received feedback regarding their proposed Grant Support Index (GSI) which aimed to limit NIH funding received by investigators who have GSIs over 21 points (the equivalent of three single-PI R01 awards). On Thursday, June 8, the Advisory Committee to the Director unveiled the new NGRI strategy, with the aim of bolstering early-stage and mid-career investigators with their research. Francis Collins, Ph.D., has since released a statement about the “bold, more focused” approach the NGRI will take. The main points of the NGRI are:

  • Extending the opportunities for early-stage scientists by funding most applications that score in the top 25 percent.
  • Providing additional support for mid-career scientists with less than 10 years experience as a principal investigator who narrowly missed funding, or those about to lose funding.
  • Reprioritizing funding at each NIH research institute or center to provide ~$210 million in the first year rising to ~$1.1 billion in the fifth year (depending on the availability of funding).
  • Placing greater emphasis on current programs which focus on early-stage and mid-career researchers.
  • Tracking the impact of these measures on researchers and also developing and testing metrics of the impact of these initiatives on scientific progress.

While we commend this new initiative, we do have some concerns. As each NIH research institute and center will choose how to reprioritize funding, it is likely that each will take novel approaches to the implementation of the NGRI. Without a single implementation strategy, there may be too much leeway and the junior researchers may unintentionally suffer deleterious effects. The NIH should define what desired outcomes should be tracked to show how the NGRI effects the scientific enterprise. We encourage continued advocacy for increased funding for early-career scientists as we wait for each NIH research institute or center to reprioritize their funds to make the NGRI a reality.

 

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