Thursday, May 24, 2012

NIH is taking a new approach to spread the wealth

In a recently-released notice, NIH announced its intent to pilot the new Special Council Review program that will apply to investigators who receive $1.5M of funding or more per year.  Essentially, this review will consist of a special panel that will help to decide whether the well-funded investigator really, REALLY needs any extra projects or money when he or she already has significant funding.  Though I am not sure I like this socialist type of approach, I do support any policy that will help to make it easier for newer investigators and junior faculty to obtain funding.  In theory, resources would not be hoarded by a few superstars, but rather would be more spread out across research fields.  However, just as experienced PIs have taken advantage of the new investigator advantages by allowing large projects to be led by their less-experienced colleagues (though still essentially running the show), I am sure there will be some who find a way around this policy too.  To really have an effective policy that supports the development of younger investigators, I believe that the small well-funded group that this policy targets (similar to the "1%") should be prohibited from serving in any capacity other than consultants on other grants during the time they are receiving $1.5M or more per year in funding.  That would keep them from taking more than their fair share of NIH resources, and give some non-superstars a chance to shine. 

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