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NIH Launches New Initiative to Support Early- to Mid-Career Investigators

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – In a post on the National Institutes of Health's website today, Director Francis Collins unveiled a new program called the Next Generation Researchers Initiative aimed at providing support to early- and mid-career investigators.

In early May, Collins noted that the agency was making plans to address what he called "a biomedical research workforce dangerously out of balance." NIH executives planned to use a measure called the Grant Support Index (GSI) to limit the total NIH grant support provided to any individual principal investigator through NIH-supported research.

However, Collins noted today, feedback from the scientific community showed investigators were concerned that the GSI methodology for assessing research impact and possible caps on total grant dollars could discourage team science, complex trials, or the establishment of research networks.

"As a result, we are shifting toward a bold, more focused approach to bolster support to early- and mid-career investigators while we continue to work with experts on approaches to evaluate our research portfolio," Collins wrote. "In recognition of the call for such action in the 21st Century Cures Act, we are naming this effort the Next Generation Researchers Initiative."

The initiative will be funded from the NIH's base budget, starting this year with about $210 million, and ramping to approximately $1.1 billion per year after five years. The initiative will also track the impact of NIH Institute and Center funding decisions for early- and mid-career investigators with fundable scores, place greater emphasis on current NIH funding mechanisms aimed at early- and mid-career investigators, and will encourage multiple approaches to develop and test metrics that can be used to assess the impact of NIH grant support on scientific progress.