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NIH Exchanges Cap for New Initiative

The US National Institutes of Health is walking away from its plan to limit the total amount of grant support any one investigator could have, Nature News reports.

In May, the agency proposed capping the total number of grants an investigator could have to about the equivalent of three single-PI R01 grants. NIH said such a move would affect 6 percent of NIH-funded investigators and would free up 1,600 grants that could then be offered to early- and mid-career investigators.

But, as Nature News notes, NIH is giving up on that approach because of the reaction it generated from the community.

Instead, the agency has announced a new program, dubbed the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, to support early- and mid-career researchers, as GenomeWeb reports. In particular, the initiative will be funded through the NIH's base budget to the tune of $210 million this year and will increase to approximately $1.1 billion a year after five years. ScienceInsider says that that would enable the agency to fund about 2,400 grants.

Nature News notes that the initiative will support researchers who have been NIH-funded principal investigators for fewer than 10 years and whose grant applications scored highly, but were rejected for a dearth of funds.

The plan will go into effect immediately, ScienceInsider adds. According to NIH Director Francis Collins, that means "there are investigators who weren't going to get funded and [now] will."