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Collins Talks Cuts, NCATS

Both Science Insider and Nature's News blog report on National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins' talk at a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill this week, in which he warned that the grant-funding success rate could drop below 20 percent for the 2011 fiscal year. According to Nature, Collins "projected, 'with some uncertainty,' that success rates for scientists trying to win grants from his agency will end up between 17 percent and 18 percent." He also told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education that that success rate would "be the lowest in history," adding that "for every six grants, we will fund one of them, and five are going to go begging." Science adds that during the hearing, Collins also defended the proposed National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences — the creation of which would "shift at least $1.3 billion" among various institutes, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) said, calling for a "thoughtful consideration to the effect that [NCATS] will have on the NIH, the extramural research community, and the private pharmaceutical world." Collins responded that the proposed NIH reorganization is "a complicated process," but that he sees the proposed center as essential "to move the science forward." Collins told the Senate subcommittee that he'd have submitted a budget plan for the proposed center "in the next few weeks," Science adds.