Junior investigators successfully compete for extra NIH grants

September 13, 2018, Public Library of Science
Applications scored and triaged from funded and unfunded Early NIH-funded Investigators (ENI). Credit: Haggerty et al., 2018

More than half of early-career scientists who received their first research project (R01) grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are successful in obtaining subsequent funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to a study published September 12 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Patricia Haggerty and Matthew Fenton of NIAID, an NIH institute.

The survival of junior scientists in academic biomedical research is difficult in today's highly competitive climate. NIH data on first-time R01 grantees indicate the rate at which early drop out from an NIH-supported research career is most rapid four to five years from the first R01 award. The factors associated with a high risk of dropping out, and whether these factors impact all junior investigators equally, are unclear. In the new study, Haggerty and Fenton set out to better understand how first-time NIAID awardees compete for subsequent R01 awards and what their funding outcomes were.

The researchers identified a cohort of 1,496 investigators who received their first R01-equivalent (R01-e) awards from NIAID between 2003 and 2010, and studied all their subsequent NIH applications through 2016. Ultimately, 57% of the cohort were successful in obtaining new R01-e funding, despite highly competitive conditions that favored more senior investigators. The early-career scientists who successfully obtained new grants consistently submitted more applications per year, more renewal applications, and more applications to multiple NIH Institutes. Funded investigators had better scores on their first R01-e grants and demonstrated an early ability to write better that would be scored instead of triaged.

Haggerty notes: "When we compared grant submission behaviors and grant quality indices, what emerged was the profile of the tenacious, successful early NIH-funded investigators, who developed superior grant writing skills, superior grant submission strategies, and projects with broad relevance and scope. These are skills that can be modeled and taught."

Explore further: Inequality in science funding

More information: Patricia A. Haggerty et al, Outcomes of early NIH-funded investigators: Experience of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, PLOS ONE (2018). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0199648

Related Stories

Inequality in science funding

April 24, 2018

New research shows that winners of a large research grant programme in the Netherlands have a 2.5 times greater chance of obtaining a follow-up grant than nonwinners. The research, which focused on NWO Vidi Grants, was jointly ...

How success breeds success in the sciences

April 27, 2018

A small number of scientists stand at the top of their fields, commanding the lion's share of research funding, awards, citations, and prestigious academic appointments. But are they better and smarter than their peers? Or ...

Pediatric physician-scientists struggle for funding

January 16, 2018

For young physician-scientists, obtaining research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) can be a springboard to significant contributions to medicine and further professional opportunities. A lack of funding, ...

Recommended for you

Light-based production of drug-discovery molecules

February 18, 2019

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells are widely studied for the conversion of solar energy into chemical fuels. They use photocathodes and photoanodes to "split" water into hydrogen and oxygen respectively. PEC cells can work ...

Solid-state catalysis: Fluctuations clear the way

February 18, 2019

The use of efficient catalytic agents is what makes many technical procedures feasible in the first place. Indeed, synthesis of more than 80 percent of the products generated in the chemical industry requires the input of ...

Engineered metasurfaces reflect waves in unusual directions

February 18, 2019

In our daily lives, we can find many examples of manipulation of reflected waves, such as mirrors, or reflective surfaces for sound that improve auditorium acoustics. When a wave impinges on a reflective surface with a certain ...

Design principles for peroxidase-mimicking nanozymes

February 18, 2019

Nanozymes, enzyme-like catalytic nanomaterials, are considered to be the next generation of enzyme mimics because they not only overcome natural enzymes' intrinsic limitations, but also possess unique properties in comparison ...

Sound waves let quantum systems 'talk' to one another

February 18, 2019

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory have invented an innovative way for different types of quantum technology to "talk" to each other using sound. The study, published Feb. 11 in Nature ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.