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A Cap on Grant Applications — Does it Work?

In March of 2009, the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council instituted a new grant application system — researchers will be banned from applying for research funding for 12 months if they've had three or more proposals ranked in the bottom half of a funding prioritization list during the past two years, or have had less than 25 percent of the proposals funded in that time, DrugMonkey writes. After scientists complained, EPSRC said it would wait until April 2010 to implement the changes, to give the community time to adjust. More than a year later, DrugMonkey says, the strategy has proven to be a success. According to the Nature News Blog, grant applications in the UK are down from about 5,000 a year in the 2005-2006 cycle to less than 3,000 in the 2010-2011 cycle. Despite a declining number of funded grants, success rates are actually up. "Of course, success rates are a poor picture of what has happened to science funding," DrugMonkey says. "The tough questions start from here. Who has managed to secure funding? Who has been shelled out of the system? Have existing labs been scaled back ... or lost altogether? Has this been at disparate cost to newly starting faculty, mid-career faculty or the geezertariat?"

The Scan

Study Reveals New Details About Genetics of Major Cause of Female Infertility

Researchers in Nature Medicine conducted a whole-exome sequencing study of mote than a thousand patients with premature ovarian insufficiency.

Circulating Tumor DNA Shows Potential as Biomarker in Rare Childhood Cancer

A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that circulating tumor DNA levels in rhabdomyosarcoma may serve as a biomarker for prognosis.

Study Recommends Cancer Screening for Dogs Beginning Age Seven, Depending on Breed

PetDx researchers report in PLOS One that annual cancer screening for dogs should begin by age seven.

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.