Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Life after ARRA funding

This article on Bloomberg.com underscores the importance of planning for your research beyond ARRA funding. If you were lucky enough to obtain funding through the stimulus act, you know that it was designed to jump-start the economy, and that the grants could not be renewed. With many ARRA-funded projects coming close to ending, it is important to consider where your future funding will come from.

We all should have seen this coming. The Recovery Act/Stimulus Act/ARRA/Whatever you want to call it was only supposed to be a temporary fix, to keep research and innovation going until the economy rose out of its depression. Unfortunately, almost 2 years into the Recovery Act, the economic outlook, while improving, is still quite gloomy. Who will be there to step in and replace the money when the ARRA funding runs out? NIH will not have its permanent budget increased. Many of those temporary ARRA-funded jobs created by the stimulus will disappear, and more Americans will be out of work.

Rather than pray for a second wave of ARRA funding, it is time to be proactive. If you have already been working on an idea, consider devoting more time to a proposal and submitting for the October deadline. Or begin to work on your writing and gather preliminary data so that you can submit in February. My hunch is that next year's June and October deadlines will be full of people who are nearing the end of their ARRA funding who are trying to get their projects funded via other mechanisms, so there may be some advantage to being ahead of the curve.

Incidentally, I am happy to see that Matt State at Yale has had such tremendous success in obtaining funding for his laboratory. He is a brilliant researcher who has contributed extensively to the field of neurogenetics and, specifically, to research on genetics and autism. It is nice to see that the stimulus money has helped this type of important work.

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