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The Hard Decisions

For researchers looking for grants, it can be difficult to understand how a committee makes its funding decisions. Nature News’ Kendall Powell says that these decisions are not made lightly, especially when there are many solid applications for only a handful of grants. “The real question is whether good, solid work is enough when as much as $800,000 is at stake — the cost of supporting a cancer investigator and his or her lab over four years,” Powell says, adding that “the competition is extreme.” Funding success rates are down, in part because of the economic downturn. This puts pressure on the reviewers, who say they feel forced to make impossible choices, Powell adds. Even some “outstanding” grants are sometimes rejected in favor of others, simply because there’s not enough money to fund everything. How can one gain the edge in such an environment? Well, Powell says, one idea is for researchers to run their applications through a peer-review process of their own making, by sharing the proposal with colleagues, getting their feedback, and using their contacts to “sniff out the personality of the panel and the nature of the competition.” Asking for help, she adds, is always a good idea.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.