NIH Plan for Actions to Stabilize the Biomedical Research Enterprise

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NIH Plan for Actions to Stabilize the Biomedical Research Enterprise

To: Campus Community


Dr. Kimberly Andrews Espy, Senior Vice President for Research

Subject: NIH Plan for Actions to Stabilize the Biomedical Research Enterprise

Date: May 31, 2017

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced plans to stabilize the biomedical research enterprise while maintaining effective stewardship of taxpayer funds. The NIH plans to cap funding to individual investigators with three R01s (or their equivalent) to reverse the course of the flat or negative funding trends for early and mid-career investigators, and improve the output of funded research.

The following information is what we know today. The Research, Discovery & Innovation office will provide updates on the NIH's plans as they become available. 

How will the cap be implemented? 

Investigators will be assigned a score, based on the number and type of NIH awards they have. The scores will be established using a tool called the Grant Support Index (GSI). The GSI will assign a point value to each grant, based on type, complexity, or size. The GSI tool is not complete, but the NIH indicates that three R01s is equivalent to 21 points on the index. Other kinds of grants will be assigned different scores. If an investigator has a score over 21, they will have to include a plan in any new grant application for how they will reduce their existing commitments to retain a total score of 21 if the application is selected for funding. 

The NIH will perform GSI calculations for individual investigators. They are still deciding on process, and scores for various grant types are not yet complete.

When will the cap be implemented?

The NIH will be seeking impact from the community for the next few months. The NIH has not announced a timeframe for implementing a cap for individual investigator funding. They indicate that this will be implemented for new grants only, not existing awards. 

How will this impact current and future awards?

This will not change the status or funding level of current awards. When the proposed change is implemented, active awards will be counted in the score assigned to each investigator. The proposed change is expected to free up $500-650 million, which could fund 1500-1600 new awards. 

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