Friday, May 4, 2018

The Issue that Keeps Us Awake at Night

NIH Extramural Nexus: Open Mike Blog
Mike Lauer
May 4, 2018

The most important resource for the successful future of biomedical research is not buildings, instruments, or new technologies – it’s the scientists doing the work. But by now, it’s no longer news that biomedical researchers are stressed – stressed by a hypercompetitive environment that’s particularly destructive for early- and mid-career investigators. But those are the researchers who, if we don’t lose them, will comprise the next generation of leaders and visionaries. Almost 10 years ago, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) took steps to improve funding opportunities for “early stage investigators”, those who were 10 years or less from their terminal research degree or clinical training. Those steps helped, but many stakeholders have concluded that more is needed. Stakeholders include members of Congress, who included a “Next Generation Researchers’ Initiative” (NGRI) in the 2016 21st Century Cures Act. This act asked NIH to support a comprehensive study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) on policies affecting the next generation of researchers and to take into consideration the recommendations made in their report. The National Academy began their study in early 2017 and completed it in April 2018. The NIH has initiated steps to fund more early stage investigators to improve opportunities for stable funding among investigators who, while funded, were still beset by unstable prospects. The NIH also convened a special Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Working Group, focused on the Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI) with members included from all career stages – from a graduate student through senior faculty.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Philanthropic Sector Evolving Under Trump Administration, Study Finds

Philanthropy News Digest
April 12, 2018

The flexibility, nimbleness, and willingness to collaborate demonstrated by the philanthropic sector over the past year in response to a rapidly changing policy environment could serve as a model for the sector going forward, a report from the TCC Group finds.
Based on interviews with nearly thirty leaders of philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs), the report, (Un)precedented: Philanthropy Takes Action in the First Year of a New Political Reality, found that in the first year of the Trump administration, PSOs and funder collaboratives were called on to keep funders well informed of policy changes. To that end, PSOs have played a critical role in enabling funder learning, dialogue, and action, and have helped accelerate important funder conversations in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion; the need to think beyond issue silos; and the foundational benefits of creating space for dialogue across political and ideological divides through nonpartisan civic engagement.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

There’s No I In Team: Assessing Impact of Teams Receiving NIH Funding

NIH Extramural Nexus
Mike Lauer
April 5, 2018


Almost 11 years ago, Stefan Duchy, Benjamin Jones, and Brian Uzzi (all of Northwestern University) published an article in Science on "The Increasing Dominance of Team in Production of Knowledge." They analyzed nearly 20 million papers published over 5 decades and 2.1 million patents and found that across all fields the number of authors per paper (or patent) steadily increased, that teams were coming to dominate individual efforts, and that teams produced more highly cited research.

In a Science review paper published a few weeks ago, Santo Fortunato and colleagues offered an overview of the "Science of Science." One of their key messages was that “Research is shifting to teams, so engaging in collaboration is beneficial.”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Peer Review in Flux

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
March 4, 2018

Beaten down by technological change and economic pressures, the long-held notion of scientific peer review is losing its status as the "gold standard" measure of scholarly reliability.

The problem facing universities in 2018, however, isn’t so much that peer review has inevitably evolved, but that scientists collectively have failed to respond with a better replacement.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

FY 2017 By the Numbers

Open Mike Blog
Mike Lauer
March 7, 2018

We recently released our annual web reportssuccess rates and NIH Data Book with updated numbers for fiscal year 2017. Looking at data across both competing and non-competing awards, NIH supports approximately 2,500 organizations.  In 2017 about 640 of these organizations received funding for competing Research Project Grants (RPGs) which involved over 11,000 principal investigators.
The average size of RPGs increased by over 4%, from $499,221 in FY 2016 to $520,429 in FY 2017. Similarly, in FY 2017 the average size of R01-equivalent awards increased from $458,287 to $482,395 (by over 5%).

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Gates Foundation Launches $170 Million Gender Equality Initiative

Philanthropy News Digest
March 6, 2018


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a $170 million initiative to advance gender equality globally through the economic empowerment of women.
Over the next four years, the foundation's new Gender Equality strategy will focus on connecting women to market opportunities, ensuring that they have access to financial services, and supporting peer groups that build women's collective knowledge, economic power, and voice. Economic power is one of the most promising entry points for gender equality, Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates argues in a post on Quartz. In the post, Gates notes that while fully a third of married women in the poorest countries have no control over household finances, those who do are far more likely than men to spend money on nutritious food, health care, and education; and that when women gain access to a bank account, they work outside the home more, which not only increases their income but changes men's perception of them.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

How to Protect Your College’s Research From Undue Corporate Influence

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
February 25, 2018

The upsides of research ties between companies and universities are legendary. Silicon Valley, Route 128, Research Triangle, and their numerous superstar companies with academic roots are leading examples. Annual benefits are now measured in the billions of dollars, thousands of patents, and hundreds of start-up companies.
But corporate bias is a known risk to scientific integrity. And as universities find themselves increasingly enticed by governmental budget cuts to court industry dollars, their eagerness for private-sector partners appears to be outpacing their willingness to set firm rules on ethical boundaries and to investigate when things go wrong.