BOX 2-5 NIGMS Support for New Investigators

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has established a number of procedures and funding policies to ensure that adequate numbers of new investigators are supported. This comes at a time when applications are increasing, with nearly 70 percent of the increase in new grant applications between 2001 and 2003 coming from new investigators (Hawkins, 2004). Under the new policies, an applicant's status as a new investigator is one of the criteria used in funding decisions made by the Institute. That is, NIGMS takes certain programmatic steps to provide special consideration for new investigators after consideration of their applications by the study section. In addition, NIGMS is making all its R01 grants to new investigators have a 5-year term (instead of the average 4-year award), providing new investigators with additional time to help establish their research careers.

Data provided to the committee by NIGMS suggest that these policies are already having an effect on the success of new investigators in applying for NIGMS support. New investigators are having greater success in receiving funding than are experienced investigators who have previously received NIH funding. For example, between 2001 and 2003, 36 percent of those submitting their first R01 application to NIGMS were funded; two-thirds of these awards were made to unamended applications in the first round of review, with most of the remaining awards going to amended applications submitted two review rounds later. This 36 percent for new investigators compares with a success rate of about 30 percent for previously funded investigators. When looking at any R01 (not only funding of the original or amended first application), about 45 percent of new investigators are funded within three years of their first R01 application to NIGMS.

These higher rates of funding success for new investigators occur despite worse priority scores obtained in peer review. New investigators with percentiles between 20-40 percent have over 20 percent higher funding rates than established investigators (Figure 2-13). Even new investigators with percentile scores between 40-50 percent have a 40 percent chance of being funded through revised applications.

FIGURE 2-13. Success rate for NIGMS R01 applications from new and previously funded investigators, by percentile score.

FIGURE 2-13

Success rate for NIGMS R01 applications from new and previously funded investigators, by percentile score. New investigators have a higher success rate on submission of a revised proposal than previously-funded investigators. Source: NIGMS, NIH.

From: 2, Where Are We Now?

Cover of Bridges to Independence
Bridges to Independence: Fostering the Independence of New Investigators in Biomedical Research.
National Research Council (US) Committee on Bridges to Independence: Identifying Opportunities for and Challenges to Fostering the Independence of Young Investigators in the Life Sciences.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2005.
Copyright © 2005, National Academy of Sciences.

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