As a postdoctoral researcher in the process of seeking funding, I have had numerous discussions with other postdocs as well as graduate students and undergraduates about the current status of funding opportunities in this country. Repeatedly, I hear that people are leaving academia primarily due to the cutthroat environment for obtaining funding at early stages. Therefore, as an early stage investigator, I am encouraged by the ongoing discussions of how to more sustainably support a workforce of scientists now and in the future.
With that said, I am concerned about the budgetary sources of the new NGRI program. Currently, I have only heard promises to dedicate money to early career scientists, with no plan as to where these funds will come from. As the NGRI information page itself points out, the drop in the percentage of funded awards to early career researchers has stopped. However, this seems to be at the expense of mid-career researchers instead of being more evenly distributed. I worry that as anxiety builds under the current administration regarding NIH funding as a whole, the NIH will find it very difficult to allocate more resources to early career investigators as promised. At the very least, I suspect these allocations may further compromise the ability of mid-career scientists to secure funding.
The earlier GSI plan seemed to me to more specifically target the labs that have increasingly monopolized the NIH’s resources over the past decade. I understand many of the posed objections to the GSI but am concerned that the labs that stand to benefit most from a system in which an ever-decreasing amount of funds are split between early- and mid-career researchers are also the labs with some of the loudest voices in this discussion.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the views of the author(s) and do not represent the official policy or position of ASCB.