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Tough Times Ahead for NIH Research Grants

By November 9, 2010December 5th, 2023Awareness

At the American Society of Human Genetics meeting last week, National Institutes of Health head Dr. Francis Collins reported that NIH could now be facing a period where only 10% (ten percent) of all NIH applications will be funded. This would mark a historic low for NIH and a halfing of the current success rate of applications.

NIH, whose budget for 2010 was $31 billion, is the leading funder of basic disease research as well as a major supporter of clinical research in the US.  While foundations such as the Children’s Tumor Foundation can afford to seed-fund new ideas in neurofibromatosis research, the majority cannot afford to support multi-million dollar grants over many years. It is absolutely vital for researchers to be able to transition to NIH funding to pprovide the financial backbone to keep driving forward with new discoveries and then translatiing these to clinical treatments.
The news of potential cuts ahead come after 2 years of ARRA stimulus funding which gave NIH a $10 billion boost which supported new job creation and projects in research. NIH now faces a possible return to 2008’s $28 billion budget.

The average age of a researcher receiving their first successfully funded NIH grant is now 42 and the knock-on effect of further NIH cuts wil inevitably be to discourage researchers from committing their career to academic research. “The effects would be profound,” Collins said to reporters after his ASHG talk. He predicted tough times ahead for NIH’s budget, saying “I think if we can stay even with inflation, well consider it a success.”