Archive for: July, 2014

K99-R00 Evaluation: IC distribution

Jul 22 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

The K99-R00 program is an NIH-wide program but, as is typical at NIH, each institute and center has considerable flexibility about the details about how the program is administrated. For example, for the two cohorts of K99 awardees that I have been examining, the number of K99 awardees ranges from 1 for the National Institute (then National Center) for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD, MD) to 54 for the National Cancer Institute (NCI, CA). The number was not simply proportional to budget size. For example, the number of K99 awards from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, AI) was 13, smaller than five other institutes despite the fact that NIAID has the second largest budget at NIH. Moreover, as one would expect by chance, the fraction of women and men among K99 awardees varies from IC to IC. This may be relevant to understanding the disparity between women and men in the probability of transitioning from an R00 award to an R01 or similar award.

These data are summarized graphically below:

IC distribution


The size of each circle is proportional to the number of R00 awardees from each IC.

These data may be relevant to understanding the gender disparity. For example, both NIAID and the National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS, NS) have percentages of men among R00 awardees that are slightly higher than the NIH average but all of the women from these institutes who have received R00 awards have gone on to obtain R01 or equivalent (DP2) funding through the present.

Understanding the origins of the gender disparity between women and men going from a K99 award to R01 or equivalent funding is important for determining what policy adjustments should be considered.

11 responses so far

K99-R00 Evaluation: A Striking Gender Disparity

Jul 21 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

In a recent post, I examined the NIH K99-R00 (Pathway to Independence) program. Looking at two cohorts of individuals who received K99 awards in FY2007 and FY2008, this analysis revealed that 91% of these 360 awardees transitioned from the K99 phase to the R00 phase, indicating that they had found suitable academic positions. Further, of those with such positions, 51% had obtained R01 funding through the present and some others had received other types of grants.

Over the process of organizing these data, I noticed that the fraction of women receiving K99 awards appeared to be lower than that for men. In order to examine this point more systematically, I assigned gender to these 360 awardees based on name and web searches. Overall, 142 of the 360 (or 39%) of the K99 awardees in these two cohorts are women. This is consistent with the value reported by NIH for this program.

Of the 218 men with K99 awards, 201 (or 92%) went on to activate the R00 portion. Of the 142 women, 127 (or 89%) went on to these R00 phase. These differences in these percentages are not statistically different.

Of the 201 men with R00 awards, 114 (57%) have gone on to receive at least 1 R01 award to date. In contrast, of the 127 women with R00 awards, only 53 (42%) have received an R01 award. This difference is jarring and is statistically significant (P value=0.009).

These results are summarized graphically below:

Men-Women-K99-R00-R01 percent

To investigate this further, I looked at the two cohorts separately. For the FY2007 cohort, 70 of the 108 men (65%) with R00 awards have received R01 grants whereas only 31 of the 62 women (50%) have (P value = 0.07). For the FY2008 cohort, 44 of the 93 men (47%) with R00 awards have received R01s whereas only 22 of the 65 women (34%) have (P value = 0.10). The lack of statistical significance is due to the smaller sample sizes for the cohorts separately rather than any difference in the trends for the separate cohorts, which are quite similar.

What could account for these disparities? Of course, it is unknown at this point if the differences reflect differences in R01 success rate as this would depend on the number of applications submitted by each applicant. I do not have access to data regarding the numbers of applications submitted by these grantees (although NIH does and could do this analysis).

One possibility is that the disparities is due to differences in the timing of funding for men versus women, that is, women might become R01 funded at more similar rates, but a greater disparity is observed at this point because of the lack of time for follow-up after the K99 award. To examine this point, I looked at the percentage of first R01 grants awarded each year to men and women as shown below:


The curves for men and women for each cohort are quite similar. This does not support the hypothesis that the timing of R01 funding is primarily responsible for the observed gender disparity.

Another factor that I considered is the impact of other R01-like awards, primarily the NIH Director's New Innovator (DP2) awards, on the analysis. Overall, nine K99-R00 awardees have received DP2 awards. Of these, six are men and three are women. Interestingly, three of these six men have subsequently received additional R01 awards whereas none of the three women have. In addition, one male K99 awardee received a Pioneer (DP1) award. The inclusion of these additional grants does not significantly affect the overall conclusion about the occurrence of a gender disparity.

Confirmation of and further analysis of these disparities is certainly warranted. Indeed, the K99-R00 program may be highly appropriate for such analyses as investigators at similar career stages competed for initial support and then obtained relatively comparable resources to launch their independent careers.

22 responses so far

My first pass evaluation of the K99-R00 program

Jul 17 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

In 2006, NIH initiated a new grant program The Pathway to Independence award program. This transition award was a direct response to a National Academy of Sciences report "Bridges to Independence" that highlighted the long time between degree completion and the initiation of an independent research career. This program using a combination of the K99 and R00 mechanisms (and are often referred to a "Kangaroo" awards).

The first awards were made in FY2007. In 2011, Drugmonkey posted a qualitative evaluation of the K99-R00 program and noted that some K99-R00 recipients had gone on to receive R01 funding. However, it was too early to perform a more quantitative analysis. However, now sufficient time has passed that quantitative data are more interpretable.

I analyzed the grant trajectories of the 182 K99 recipients awarded in FY2007.

Here are the key results:

170 (or 93%) transitioned to the R00 phase, indicating that they had obtained an appropriate faculty position.

Of these 170 individuals, 101 (or 59%) have obtained at least 1 R01 grant through the present. In addition, 4 had obtained New Innovators (DP2s), 1 had obtained a Pioneer (DP1) and 1 had moved to the NIH intramural program.

The timing for obtaining R01 grants is shown below:

2007 plot

The plot shows that R00 awardees received R01 support as early as FY2009. The number of R00 awardees receiving their first R01 peaked in FY2012 and has been falling. The line to FY2014 is dotted as this fiscal year is not yet complete. The cumulative percentages of R00 awardees with R01 support are as follows:

FY2009-4%; FY2010-14%; FY2011-27%; FY2012-43%, FY2013-53%; FY2014-59%


For comparison, I also analyzed the 178 K99 awardees from FY2008.

158 (or 89%) transitioned to the R00 phase.

Of these 158 individuals, 66 (or 42%) have obtained a least 1 R01 grant through the present. In addition, 6 had obtained New Innovators (DP2s) and 1 had moved to the NIH intramural program.

The timing for obtaining R01 grants is shown below:

2007 2008 plot

The FY2008 cohort is obtaining R01 grants with a similar but slightly longer time delay compared to the FY2007 cohort, due at least in part to the impact of the ARRA funds on the FY2007 cohort. For the FY2008 cohort, the determination of the overall fraction obtaining R01 funding and the final trend will depend on the results through the end of FY2014 and, perhaps, beyond.

The cumulative percentages are:

FY2009-0.6%; FY2010-1.2%; FY2011-7%; FY2012-16%, FY2013-37%; FY2014-42%

From these data, there can be no doubt that the the K99-R00 program has been effective in transitioning individuals from postdocs to faculty positions. It is clear that individuals with these awards compete well for such positions through some combination of the skills and qualities that allowed them to successfully compete for the K99 award and the interests of the hiring institutions in having faculty with some extant funding and a track record of obtaining such funding. The role of this program in influencing hiring has been discussed in another Drugmonkey post.

The results in obtaining R01s is also quite impressive to me. Of course, it is not clear what percentage of these individuals would have obtained positions without the "kangaroo hop". One comparison could be to look at F32 recipients who went on to faculty positions during the similar period, but this will take some work. Again, the factors that have led to this success include scientific skills, grant writing skills, relatively good contacts with NIH staff, funds for preliminary data, and others.

It is less clear how much impact this program has had on the timing of the transition to independence if this is defined by obtaining independent R01 funding. There is still a substantial lag between obtaining a faculty position and obtaining R01 funding, comparable to what Drugmonkey posted with my data from NIGMS (although these results were from times where success rates were somewhat higher). Nonetheless, overall it is hard not to see the K99-R0o program as a substantial success.


21 responses so far

R01 Success Rates: New and Renewal Applications

Jul 08 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

In a recent post, I looked at the distributions of A0, A1, and A2 awards for new (Type 1) versus renewal (Type 2) R01 grants. I noted differences between trends for new and renewal awards over time and commenters Ryan and DrugMonkey noted possible reasons for these differences. As DrugMonkey said "Remember the structural issues here with Type 2s. There is a fixed number of possible Type 2s and an unlimited number of Type 1s that can come in for consideration. As each Type 2 flails out at the A1 (or previously A2) stage, it is gone forever from the pool of potential Type 2s."

NIH does release data regarding the number of applications for new versus renewal R01s (and many other mechanisms. The data for new R01 applications and awards for FY2003 to FY2013 are shown below:


These data show that the number of applications for new (Type 1) R01s grew with an initial burst immediately after the end of the doubling and then another stimulated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) implementation. The number of applications in FY2013 was 24% larger than that for FY2003. The number of awards declined relatively steadily over this period of time with a 26% drop from FY2003 to FY2013.

The situation is very different for renewal (Type 2) applications as shown below:


The number of applications for renewal (Type 2) applications grew from FY2003 to FY2006 and then declined relatively steadily through FY2013. There has been a 32% drop in the number of applications for Type 2 applications from the peak to FY2013. The number of renewal awards fell by 47% from FY2003 to FY2013.

The success rates for new and renewal R01 applications are compared below:

R01 Success Rates-2

The success rate curves parallel one another relatively closely. The success rate for renewal applications was 48.3% in FY2003 and it fell to 31.4% in FY2013, a drop of 35%. The success rate for new applications was 24.1% in FY2003 and fell to 14.3%, a drop of 40%. As DrugMonkey noted, the pool of projects eligible to be the subject of renewal applications limited.

10 responses so far