NIH to limit the amount of grant money a scientist can receive

US agency creates point system to address imbalance in distribution of research funds

The following is the introduction from an article written by Sara Reardon on Nature. The whole article can be accessed from

For the first time, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) will restrict the amount of funding that an individual scientist can hold at any one time, on the basis of a point system. The move, announced on 2 May, is part of an ongoing effort to make obtaining grants easier for early- and mid-career scientists, who face much tougher odds than their more-experienced colleagues.

“Because scientific discovery is inherently unpredictable, there are reasons to believe that supporting more researchers working on a diversity of biomedical problems, rather than concentrating resources in a smaller number of labs, might maximize the number of important discoveries that can emerge from the science we support,” NIH director Francis Collins wrote in a blogpost. In doing so, he added, the policy could improve “returns on taxpayers’ investments”.

According to the agency, just 10% of grant recipients win 40% of the agency’s research money. Advocacy organizations and groups that advise the NIH director have been urging the agency to address this inequality for more than a decade. They are also concerned that increasing competition for grant money drives researchers to spend more time on paperwork and personnel issues associated with grants, and less time in the lab.

4 responses to “NIH to limit the amount of grant money a scientist can receive

  1. Hallelujah!! 10% of NIH funded researchers get 40% of all the funding. OK, I’m not crazy. I write a grant and it goes in the toilet because I’m not one of the big labs. It gets frustrating and has me worn out and I frankly have PTGRD Post Traumatic Grant Review Disorder. OK, I jest with that one, but sarcasm is a lively sport and coping mechanism that helps. I don’t know if the point system is really the way to address it, but seriously, the labs with 30 people working for them makes me wonder if things are done the best way. It gets a bit ridiculous and you end up with situations like Carlo Croce, who can claims he had a lab so big, he didn’t know/could not verify the authenticity of every western blot that went into his publications.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that this will be an improvement. I am sure that the bigger labs will try to get around it. I remember when I was the Chair of the DBD Study Section how many researchers from the bigger universities tried to get around all rules applying the same grant an inordinate amount of times, cut and pasting sections of other people grants, etc. They just didn’t care that they were breaking the rules and the government never did anything about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This isn’t how we made huge leaps and discoveries. Penicillin, and lithium for bipolar were discovered half accidentally and they were put to use, insulin was a huge breakthrough too when a scientist was looking at some compounds in his laboratory. Now there are few if no true breakthroughs like the earlier 20th century, its just “scientists may have discovered ____ does ___” an article gets published, and if it can’t go through 20 years of approval and pass all the lobbying, it gets thrown away. The reason why there have been quack approaches to treating autism is people get desperate and there has been little scientific effort to look at what works or guide the search.

    So far the consensus and attitude among psychiatrists is to just take what medicine we give you, hope it works, anything that seems absurb (to them) don’t try. That is the problem with supplements now, its either someone trying 30 different random things at home only making it worse or saying supplements are useless, substance ___ is toxic so it shouldn’t be pursued even if it could be regulated and made safer when there could be one out there that really helps, after all, lithium is a mineral and it is used to treat bipolar, it can cause toxicity but it is moderated, and it does help some patients to a great degree. Some achieve remission.

    Autism is seen now as “its not an ongoing disorder with a mechanism” “the brain just had a stupid mishap growing up, WHICH CAUSED EVERYTHING NOTHING ELSE GOING ON NOPE, and now we just need to provide more services and education, there is nothing to do since there is no neuropathology, it’s just the way the brain is, unique like a linux to a windows”, “it has always been around, we just got better at discovering it”, and more.

    That word “developmental disorder” while true, it is a devopmental disorder, is used as a cop out by many for looking any further, even though bipolar and schizophrenia have developmental roots too that strike later (with subtle signs showing in childhood), those are “mental disorders” and people treat them as if there is abnormal mechanism or malfunction happening TO someone. They “have” schizophrenia/bipolar. But with autism? No, there is no “having” autism, the person IS a breathing autism. It’s just “how their brain grew, it overgrew by 150% at 1 year old and screwed everything up, mirror neurons are all broken in every single patient and the amygdala/hippocampus/___ is too small/big (they can’t make up their minds) now all there is left is a faulty shaped brain, no mechanisms involved” ignoring the fact not every one has brain overgrowth that severe (my head was measured when young, it was normal throughout all ages). And schizophrenia and bipolar also display brain size differences/abnormalities early in childhood before any symptoms appear in adolescence/young adulthood. Even during remission the brain still has those differences, but nobody ever talks of trying to gain some sort of remission or stability for autism! No “positive” or “negative” symptoms. It cannot be treated since they believe there is no “problem” to treat.

    If we didn’t know about lithium today for bipolar and someone showed promising results, I wonder if it would go through. They would see using a mineral in salt form as being some scientific woo, it’s too dangerous (and it is, which is why they find ways to make it safer and encourage a lifestyle to counterbalance the effects) other than their drugs developed over 20 years of trials in a laboratory (which are supposedly not dangerous to the body either). Penicillin? “Who would use a mold as a way to treat infections?” They would ask, “why not use one of our special chemical composite compounds and hope it doesn’t burn away too much flesh in the infected area! Insulin? “Why would you inject that stuff? How do we know if your body treats injected insulin the same as insulin made by your own body! Just take our pills to counteract the symptoms and eat right!”


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