Over at RockTalk there's an interesting discussion going on about how the NIH should best manage biomedical science in these fiscally-challenging times. Times are tough in academic science. The funding rate at the NIH appears to be down at the single digit levels (i.e. <10%). After NIH's doubling and the related increase in the number of faculty in the biomedical sciences, this abysmal funding rate means a great many labs are floundering. A great many very, very good proposals are going unfunded.
There are many, many comments over at RockTalk on that post. Many offer possible solutions. Many others appear to consist of primarily whining about the system.* While addressing a comment the inimitable DrugMonkey offered up the following nugget:
Your colleague’s situation is indeed sad….but every indication is that this is the intentional outcome from the NIH perspective. They need to shrink the pool of applicant PIs.
They need to shrink the pool of applicant PIs.
i.e. Funding levels are very, very low and likely to stay that way for quite some time.
Or get worse.
The NIH simply cannot afford to support the academic biomedical research enterprise at the same level to which we've all become accustomed. The result, whether a deliberate move by the NIH or not, is going to be quite a few labs going under.** We will see a reduction in the number of PI's working in the biomedical sciences. It's already beginning to happen.
I find this very scary, but I fully intend to survive. How about you?
* Whining won't change the system and won't keep you funded.
** Obviously for the individuals in those labs this is a very bad thing. Most likely for the science as well.