HomeWashington Letter2017 ▶ NIH Scraps Controversial Grant Cap
NIH Scraps Controversial Grant Cap

June 2017

This week, the NIH announced that it will not implement a controversial policy proposed in May aimed at redistributing $250 million in funding to early and mid-career investigators that would have limited grant support to some later-stage investigators with at least 3 grants. Under the proposed policy, all NIH grants would have been scored according to a Grant Support Index (GSI) and those that exceeded a score of 21 would have been required to adjust their grant load. The research community, including the ATS, expressed serious concerns about how the policy would affect training grants, collaborative projects and ultimately, the NIH peer review system. Questions were also raised about how the data and metrics used to develop the GSI were assessed.

The NIH still plans to redistribute funding towards early and mid-career investigators through a New Generation Initiative and will continue to analyze optimal systems for evaluating faculty productivity and time commitments. The Next Generation Initiative will include the following mechanisms:

  • Redirect funding from the NIH base budget to meritorious early-stage and mid-career investigators (those with 10 years as a principal investigator who are about to lose all NIH funding or are seeking a second award for highly meritorious research), beginning with $210 million in fiscal year 2017 and escalating $1.1 billion per year after five years, pending availability of funding.
  • Track NIH Institute and Center funding decisions for early- and mid-career investigators
  • Utilize and potentially expand current NIH funding mechanisms aimed at early- and mid-career investigators, such as the NIH Common Fund New Innovator Awards, the National Institute of General Medicine Sciences Maximizing Investigators' Research Award, and other special awards from specific institutes, with an aim of funding most early-career investigators that score in the top 25th percentile
  • Develop and test new metrics for assessing the impact of NIH grant funding policy on scientific progress.

The NIH has created a new web page for the Next Generation Researchers Initiative for the latest updates on this project.

Last Reviewed: October 2017