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NIH Funding - Some Truthiness in Order?

From the Daily

Despite the research expansion, officials acknowledged federal funding has been hard to come by.

"There's no question there's not as much money as there used to be," Cerra said.

With new facilities, "it will be much easier (to obtain funding) than it was two months ago," he [Cerra] said.

Bruininks said "relatively flat" funding from the National Institutes of Health is "barely keeping pace with inflation."

From the Scientist:

Every NIH-funded biologist can rattle off the story of the agency's budgetary rise and fall over the last 15 years. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton pledged to double the NIH budget within five years. He did, and the agency's R&D budget jumped from $13 billion in 1998 to $26 billion in 2003 - triggering a flood of scientists into the field, a burst of building activity at institutions, and the expectation that any well-respected scientist with a reasonable idea could receive federal funding.

That all ended in 2003, when the country was consumed by terrorism, a budget deficit, and a war.

So in 2003, NIH's R&D budget began to, as many now say, flatline: tracking inflation and inching from $26.4 billion in 2003, to $27.2 billion in 2004, and $27.9 billion in 2005. The situation has not changed much since then: For fiscal year 2009, President George W. Bush requested $29.5 billion.

The trouble is, science doesn't shift as quickly as political focus does, and NIH grant applications continued to pour in, even when the amount of available money slowed to a trickle.

In 1999, scientists submitted 8,957 applications for R01 grants classified as type 1, or new submissions (these figures include only original applications, not resubmissions). The agency awarded 1,761 applications, for a success rate of 19.7%.

By 2005, the number of applications rose to 10,605, and only 970 were approved. That means only 9.1% were successful, and 9,635 were rejected - more than the total number of submissions only six years earlier.

For type 2 grant applications, which request to continue an already-awarded R01 grant, the numbers tell the same story.

In 1999, 3,214 funded scientists requested renewals; 1,772 received them, for a success rate of more than 55%.

By 2005, 3,896 needed renewals of their grants, but only 1,262 requests were awarded; the success rate had fallen below 33%. So among nearly 4,000 scientists who were working off NIH funds in 2005, more than 2,600 lost that support.

In 2007, more than 4,100 scientists were denied renewals of their R01s.

And yes this has happened at Minnesota. We all know colleagues who have fallen off the NIH wagon. Very good scientists. So don't pretend, Frank, that with these new facilities it is going to be "much easier" to obtain funding.

In your dreams...

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