Monday, June 19, 2017

Proposed NIH Cap on Indirect Costs (F&A) is a Research EMERGENCY

There is a strong likelihood that NIH will soon be imposing a cap of 10% indirect costs on all research awards.  This decision will happen soon, and it may take effect by the end of the year.  We need to get the word out and mobilize the scientific community! This is not about politics.  It doesn't matter whether you voted for Hillary, Trump, or Mickey Mouse in the 2016 election.  This is about the future of scientific research in this country.

Why are indirect costs important?  These costs are typically used to fund support staff and resources that help to make research happen.  This includes research administrators, research development personnel, laboratory and animal facilities, and other key research support resources.  In this blog post from approximately 2 years ago, Dr. Sally Rockey, the former Deputy Director for Extramural Research at NIH, included a detailed presentation describing how indirect costs are used.  The formal NIH definition of Indirect Costs is located here.  Here is a great article from AAMC that provides an in-depth explanation of indirect costs and their role in supporting research.

This recent article in Science also helps to better explain the current situation.  Currently, many of the leading academic research institutions have negotiated indirect cost rates with the government that range from roughly 50% to 100%.  This means that, for every $1 spent to conduct a research project, another $0.50-$1 is spent on resources to support high quality research.  A reduction of this magnitude to indirect costs would decimate the infrastructure and ultimately could impact the quality of the science.

Please make your voice heard!  Politicians, NIH decision makers, and the general public need to be informed.  It is hard for many outside of the research world to understand the potential negative impact of this cap, and it is up to us to come together as a scientific community and educate the country as to the vital need for adequate research infrastructure to enable groundbreaking scientific discoveries.

How will we cure cancer if we can't afford to keep the lights on?

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