NIH proposes new funding scheme

On May 2, the NIH made an announcement that will change the way it will fund research. In a post on the NIH Director’s page of the NIH website, NIH Director Francis Collins cited the need to “exercise optimum stewardship” of taxpayers money, a biomedical workforce that is “dangerously out of balance,” and “the distribution of NIH grant funding [that] is highly skewed” as reasons for making the change.

To address these problems, the NIH is proposing to limit the total amount of NIH funding each researcher can receive. This will be done through the creation of a Grant Support Index (GSI) that scores the total amount of funding provided to individual investigators from all NIH grants. Various kinds of NIH grants will be assigned point values, depending on the size, complexity, and each type of grant.

Based on the new system, investigators who receive a GSI score over 21 will be required to submit a plan identifying how they will adjust their total NIH grant portfolio to bring their GSI score to below 21. In his post, Collins indicates that a GSI score of 21 would be equivalent to three single-PI R01 grants.

As the NIH continues to work on the implementation of this new system, Dr. Collins wants input from the community. Extramural researchers are being encouraged to share their thoughts with Dr. Michael Laure, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research (OER). The OER will be providing more information through its Open Mike Blog as the program is rolled out.


About the Author:

Kevin M. Wilson serves as Director of Public Policy and Media Relations for The American Society for Cell Biology. He's worked as the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Weygand (D-RI) and as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). He has a BA in Politics and American Government from the Catholic University of America. Email:

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