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Zerhouni Pledges $1B for High-Risk, High-Impact Research and New Scientists

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – As if heeding the call of scientists who last week said that the US government, and in particular the National Institutes of Health, should give extra support to early-career investigators and transformative research, the NIH said on Friday that it plans to funnel around $1 billion into those efforts over the next few years.
 
At a scheduled meeting of NIH’s upper policy advisors, Director Elias Zerhouni said the NIH will continue to support and expand three ongoing funding programs with $750 million over the next five years, and it plans to create a new program with a minimum of $250 million specifically for transformative science.
 
Zerhouni said in a statement Friday that the NIH needs to “continue to maximize the freedom of scientists to pursue high-risk, high-impact research.”
 
The new $250 million program will be a new investigator-initiated Transformative R01 program under the NIH’s Roadmap initiative. The $750 million will go to the NIH’s New Innovator Awards, EUREKA Awards, and the Pioneer awards.
 
As GenomeWeb Daily News reported last week, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences issued a white paper stating that early-career scientists are spending more and more time applying for grants, and are receiving their first grants later and later. The AAAS report, called Advancing Research in Science and Engineering, followed a review of the state of young scientists, first-time NIH applicants, and of transformative research.
 
It said that the federal government needs to take steps to promote new ideas to combat the “natural tendency to give highest priority to projects they deem most likely to produce short-term, low-risk, and measurable results.”
 
Further details about the how the NIH will administer funds under the new transformative research grants were not immediately available.