When researchers receiving more than $1 million a year in direct costs from the National Institutes of Health apply for more funding, their applications will undergo extra scrutiny, according to a notice issued by the agency. The review council will be assessing the applications to ensure that the proposed work is "both highly promising and distinct from the other funded projects." ScienceInsider notes that NIH has been trying to find ways to stretch its dollars in times of flat funding, and the agency also considered capping the amount of funding an investigator could have.
This review process does not limit funding, notes Sally Rockey, the deputy director for extramural research at NIH, at her Rock Talk blog. Further, it will affect a small number of investigators. "With the restrictions in the final policy, less than 1 percent of all proposals going to the councils will get the extra review," ScienceInsider writes. Rockey notes that about 90 applications in the next round will undergo the extra review.
However, ScienceInsider adds that "because the policy is not a cap, it's unclear how much money it will ultimately free up."
"I predict that the number of applications that are rejected after this special scrutiny is going to be very, very small," writes blogger DrugMonkey, who adds that "this will have no perceptible effect on success rates for those of us in the 93 percent or 98.5 percent."