NIH Will Not Cap Funding to Individual Laboratories

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is dropping its controversial proposal to limit grant funding to individual laboratories. The agency announced the plan in May 2017, with a goal of freeing up funding for younger researchers and correcting an imbalance in the distribution of research funds.

However, many in the research community pushed back on the proposal, claiming that the limits would discourage collaboration and divert funding from talented, proven investigators. Following the criticism, NIH announced that it will instead increase support for early-career principal investigators through its Next Generation Researchers Initiative. The agency will designate $210 million in funding in 2017 and increase that to
approximately $1.1 billion per year after five years.

The increased budget will benefit first-time grant applicants, labs losing NIH support, and mid-career scientists (those with ≤10 years of experience as a principal investigator).

NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, said the new funding would be a result of a “reprioritization of funds,” but no further details were provided. “We are shifting toward a bold, more focused approach to bolster support to early- and mid-career investigators while we continue to work with experts on approaches to evaluate our research portfolio,” Dr. Collins wrote in a statement on the agency’s website.

Visit grants.nih.gov/ngri.htm for more information on Next Generation Researchers Initiative grants.

Sources: The Boston Globe, June 8, 2017; National Institutes of Health Director’s Blog post, June 8, 2017.

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