Seeking to gain a better picture of how US researchers spend the roughly $16 billion in NIH funding they receive annually in individual grant funding, Science recently reached out to the research community and asked investigators to open up their books. Many were skittish about attracting an audit, and declined, but some agreed.
One of those who provided their spending details is Michael Imperiale, a microbiologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
The project he details was a five-year grant totaling $1.2 million that was awarded in 2010 and which runs its course this year. The R01 award funded a molecular biology study of BK polyomavirus, which causes urinary tract infections in children and life-threatening illness in kidney and bone marrow transplant recipients.
Imperiale has spent $504,000, or about 44 percent of the grant, to fund salaries and benefits and to pay tuition for a grad student.
"Until about 3 years ago, I had a second grant," he says. "When it didn't get renewed, I had to shut that project down and cut back on personnel."
He has spent $226,000 on supplies, or nearly 20 percent of the funding. Much of that has gone to buy antibodies to determine whether the virus is replicating, which cost around $300 to $500 for about 200 micrograms.
The next-largest cut of the funding was the $411,000, or 36 percent, which went to the University of Michigan, for hosting the research, or indirect costs. That pays for maintenance of the 120-square-meter space his lab occupies, and pays for utilities and other services, as well as safety and compliance expenses.
Less than one percent of the funding has gone to travel expenses, totaling $10,000. That paid for travel for Imperiale and two or three lab members to attend two conferences per year; the American Society for Virology's annual meeting and the DNA Tumor Virus Meeting.