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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

Not Kept "Clean and Sanitary"

A Food and Drug Administration inspection uncovered problems with cross contamination at an Emergent BioSolutions facility, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Resumption Recommendation Expected

The Washington Post reports that US officials are expected to give the go-ahead to resume using Johnson & Johnson's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Canada's New Budget on Science

Science writes that Canada's new budget includes funding for the life sciences, but not as much as hoped for investigator-driven research.

Nature Papers Examine Single-Cell, Multi-Omic SARS-CoV-2 Response; Flatfish Sequences; More

In Nature this week: single-cell, multi-omics analysis provides insight into COVID-19 pathogenesis, evolution of flatfish, and more.