In DepthBiomedicine

No-strings awards at NIH draw concern

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Science  01 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6281, pp. 20
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6281.20

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A new grant program launched by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to give researchers more stable, flexible funding is drawing concern because it has resulted in big cuts to some lab budgets. The program, Maximizing Investigators' Research Award, is part of an effort across the National Institutes of Health to expand the agency's use of awards that support people based on their track record, not projects. As a pilot test, in January 2015 NIGMS invited established investigators with at least two standard R01 research grants to apply for a MIRA in exchange for "somewhat less" funding. On average, the new awards amount to a 12% cut in a recipient's overall average NIGMS funding for the past 5 years, with much deeper cuts for some. Some recipients say they feel duped.