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Team Tracks National Institutes of Health Research Grants Shifts Over Time

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) team reporting in eLife considers grant inflation for NIH-funded research projects grants (RPGs) between 1998 and 2021. Using a "data-driven price index" known as the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI), the researchers reported a jump in RPG costs from fiscal year (FY) 1998 to FY 2003, during a period of NIH budget doubling, leading to higher average and median costs for RPGs in that time frame. Since then, though, their results point to stabilization and gradual decreases in RPG costs since 2003. "On both ends of the cost spectrum, the agency is funding a greater proportion of solicited projects, with nearly half of RPG money going towards solicited project," they write. "After adjusting for confounders, we find no independent association of time with BRDPI-adjusted costs; in other words, changes in real costs are largely explained by changes in the composition of the NIH-grant portfolio."