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Thursday, November 1, 2007


NIH Research Funding: Realities

In another article, Elias A. Zerhouni, the director of the National Institutes of Health, described the current funding situation at NIH.

Many scientists are dismayed that it is more difficult to get funded today than it was before the NIH budget doubled in 1990s. What can explain this apparent paradox? The core reason is the increase in the number of new applications and applicants for NIH grants (see above figure). In 1998, NIH received 24,151 applications for new and competing research project grants; NIH expects to receive over 46,000 in 2006 and over 49,000 in 2007. The doubling in the demand for grants is primarily due to a large increase in the number of new scientists applying for grants. In 1998, there were about 19,000 scientists applying for competing awards. In 2006, NIH expects to receive applications from approximately 34,000 scientists and forecasts that over 36,000 scientists will apply in 2007.

The principal cause of this remarkable growth in grant demand is the unprecedented expansion of research capacity across the country that began in 1999. Stimulated by successive administrations' and Congress's calling for more research on emerging health issues, academic institutions responded. Increased demand, inflation effects, and flat budgets are the main drivers of today's challenges.

Source: "NIH in the Post-Doubling Era: Realities and Strategies" Science. 2006 Nov 17; 314(5802):1088-90.
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