Archive for: April, 2014

The Recovery from the Recovery Act

Apr 30 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

In response to my initial post, several commenters expressed surprise about the number of previously non-R mechanism funded investigators who joined the R-funded pool from FY2008 to FY2009 and then departed from FY2010 to FY2011. These transitions were presumed to be due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Many, both inside and outside of NIH, were concerned about the potential impacts on the ARRA funding on the biomedical research enterprise since the funds were intended to be spent over two years, perhaps a sensible concept in the context of an economic stimulus but not the optimal way to support real scientific progress. Options were developed to allow funding of some longer-term projects (such as traditional R01s), but most institutes and centers were reluctant to fund such awards since the out-years (past the two year period supported by ARRA funds) would have to be supported from regular appropriations (of unknown size), potentially greatly limiting the funds available for new and competing awards in FY2011 and beyond.

So, how did NIH handle the situation? NIH funded many supplements to existing grants, funded short-term mechanisms such as R03s and R21s, funded a large number of 2-year R01s (otherwise a rarity), and created new mechanisms including RC1s (“Challenge Grants”) and RC2s (“Grand Opportunity Grants”).

Using NIH RePORTER (which has a filter for ARRA-supported grants), I examined ARRA-funded grants awarded in FY2009 and FY2010 and compared the PIs with those from FY2008 from my previous analysis. The results for all R mechanisms for New (defined as not funded by some R mechanism in FY2008 but ARRA-funded in FY2009 or FY2010) and Existing (funded by some R mechanism in FY2008 and received ARRA funding) are shown below:

 

  R01 R21 R03 R15 RC1 RC2 All
New 692 681 274 189 404 155 2654
Existing 1097 493 91 8 490 225 2779

Supplements:  7420; of these, supplements to R01s:  5996

 

Overall, the total number of awards is nearly split with 2654 going to “New” PIs and 2779 going to “Existing” PIs. For R01s, 61% of the awards went to “Existing” PIs. However, for other mechanisms, including R21s, R03s, and particularly R15s (AREA grants), more awards went to PIs who had not been R-funded in FY2008.  In addition, over 7400 supplements were awarded including nearly 6000 to R01s. Almost all of these were to “Existing” PIs although a small number of supplements were made in FY2010 to grants first award in FY2009.

For the RC1 and RC2 awards (which were not included in my previous analysis), 55% (for RC1s) and 60% (for RC2s) were awarded to “Existing” R-funded PIs.

The total number of R01, R21, R03, and R15 awards to “New” PIs was 1836.   With the addition of some SBIR/STTR awards, the number is approximately 2000. This aligns reasonably well with the increase in the number of R-funded investigators from 5190 from FY2007 to FY2008 to 6533 from FY2008 to FY2009. Since most of these were 2-year awards and the budget was quite constrained again in FY2011, it is not surprising that many of these investigators left the R-funded pool in FY2011 (although I have not yet checked this directly).

The total number of R01, R21, R03, and R15 awards to “New” PIs was 1836.   With the addition of some SBIR/STTR awards, the number is approximately 2000. This aligns reasonably well with the increase in the number of R-funded investigators from 5190 from FY2007 to FY2008 to 6533 from FY2008 to FY2009. Since most of these were 2-year awards and the budget was quite constrained again in FY2011, it is not surprising that many of these investigators left the R-funded pool in FY2011 (although I have not yet checked this directly).

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A longitudinal analysis of NIH R-Funded Investigators: 2006-2013

Apr 28 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

Datahound's first post...

Most of the data readily available from NIH RePORTER are on a 'per grant' basis. However, these data may be more revealing when they examined on a 'per investigator' basis. To obtain such data, the results for all R mechanism grant awards were downloaded from NIH RePORTER and aggregated the data for each unique investigator.

Disclaimer:  While I have done my best to perform this analysis fairly and accurately, there are a small number of records for which the interpretation is problematic. These represent small amount of funding although their inclusion/exclusion could influence the inferred number of investigators to a small degree. Only the contact PI was included for multiple PI awards.

R mechanisms from R01 through R56 were included with the exception of R13 awards (conference grants) and RC1 and RC2 awards made for FY09 and FY10 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Approximately 75% of the awards examined were R01s, 10% R21s, 5% SBIR/STTR (small business) awards, and 10% other mechanisms. Note that the number of awards includes all award types including new, competing continuation, non-competing, and supplements rather than unique grant numbers.

The number of awards and the number of investigators are shown below.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Awards 38904 38941 38534 46478 42692 36577 36938 35131
Investigators 27300 27417 27189 29082 28954 26525 26362 25361

Aggregated over all 8 years, a total of 53526 investigators were funded by these mechanisms.

From these data, the number of investigators who left the R-funded investigator pool each year (that is, those who were funded one year but not funded the next year) as well as the number of investigators who joined the funded investigator pool (that is, those who were not R-funded one year but were in the subsequent year) could be determined. The dynamics of the investigator pool determined in this way is shown below:

2006-2013 investigator dynamics-2

The results of this analysis reveal the impact of ARRA and the sequester. From 2006 to 2007, the number of R-funded investigators increased by 117 as 5317 investigators funded in fiscal year 2006 were apparently no longer funded in 2007 while 5434 investigators not funded in 2006 were now funded in 2007. A drop of 228 investigators occurred from 2007 to 2008.  In contrast, with the advent of ARRA, the large bolus of investigators joined the funded pool in 2009.  Note that this analysis does not include RC1 ("Challenge") and RC2 ("Grand Opportunity") grants which would presumably swell these numbers further. The number of investigators held fairly steady from 2009 to 2010 but then fell dramatically after ARRA with 7059 investigators leaving the funded pool and only 4628 investigators added in 2011. The number of investigators dropped slightly again from 2011 to 2012 and then more substantially in 2013 due to the sequester with a net loss of 1001 investigators. Overall, over this period, the number of R-funded investigators dropped by approximately 6%.

Since there are a total of 53526 unique investigators and approximately 27000 investigators for each of the eight fiscal years, each investigator, on average, was funded for a total of four years during this period ((27000 X 8)/53528 = 4.03).  More on the distribution of funding for these investigators soon...

 

14 responses so far