In DepthScientific Workforce

NIH limits reign of chiefs

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Science  03 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6439, pp. 423
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6439.423

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Some scientists who work directly for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) joke that NIH stands for "nerds in heaven." But the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, and its other intramural research sites, which together house some 1200 principal investigators and 4000 postdocs, are also known as stodgy places where the scientific management, mostly white men, tends to stay in place for decades. Now, NIH is aiming to shake up the largest collection of biomedical researchers in the world by imposing term limits on midlevel leadership positions. Starting next year, the 272 lab and branch chiefs who oversee NIH's intramural research will be limited to 12-year terms. The changes are roiling the campus.