NIH tweaks plan to award more grants to younger researchers

Science – U.S. biomedical research leaders are pulling back from a plan to fund 400 additional grants each year from a narrowly defined set of young and midcareer researchers. The agency is tweaking the plan after hearing concerns that the policy was too arbitrary and could shut down productive labs.

Instead of focusing on midcareer scientists who are no more than a decade into their independent careers, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, will instead seek to steer funds to any researcher whose lab is at risk of folding, NIH officials said. “Age should not matter,” NIH Principal Deputy Director Larry Tabak said at a meeting today.

The move is the second time this year that NIH has revised its strategy for halting the aging of its workforce. This May, the agency announced that it would free up funds for early and midcareer researchers by capping the number of grants a principal investigator could have. But a month later, the agency dropped the so-called Grant Support Index after senior scientists with big research programs vigorously objected.

Read more at Science.

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