A Pilot Study of Continued Funding after Holding a Single R21 Award

Aug 08 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

In a recent post, I highlighted the growth in the number of applications and, to a lesser extent, awards for R21s. At the end of the post, I noted that many individuals who held R21 awards in FY2013 had no other R-mechanism funding and noted that one could track outcomes for these individuals over time going back to an earlier year.

As a first step, I have examined a sample of approximately 800 investigators who received an R21 award in FY2009 and held no other NIH awards (including both R and all other mechanisms). I then examined the funding for these investigators in FY2013. Of the sample of 801 investigators, 576 investigators (72%) had no funding in FY2013.

FY2009 was a year in which NIH received additional funds through ARRA. Of the R21 awards in the sample, 367 were supported by ARRA and 434 were not. Of the ARRA-supported investigators, 277 (75%) had no support in FY2013. Of the non-ARRA-supported investigators, 299 (69%) had no support in FY2013. Of the investigators who were funded, it appears that slightly more than half have R01 funding.

This study is a preliminary study with a sample from a single year, but it provides a general sense of the outcomes after having a single R21 awards. Not that this sample includes investigators at a variety of career stages.

9 responses so far

  • Dr24hours says:

    Is there similar comparison for other R mechs? What percent of any R funding holders in 2009, which was set to expire prior to 2013, have funding in 2013?

    i.e. Is this an effect of R21s, or is it simply a result of the overall funding environment?

  • babyattachmode says:

    I would be interested to know if these 72% without NIH funding have other sources of funding or if they are no longer in academia?

    • datahound says:

      A quick Google search of a sample indicated that approximately 85% of these individuals are still in academia.

      • Grant says:

        Its interesting that the Google search sample indicated that approximately 85% of these individuals are still in academia. A lot needs to be done still

  • Joe says:

    Of the 225 who did have funding in 2013, how many again only had an R21? I wonder if people are limping from R21 5o R21.

    So we might judge the awarding of the R21s to these researchers as a bad thing because five years later, 75% of them are no longer doing funded research and 85% of those are still in academia (deadwood). Or maybe it was worth it, because 25% of them were kept going and are now productive researchers.

    • datahound says:

      26 of these (or a bit over 10%) had only an R21 in FY2013 although I would not over-interpret these numbers since this is a partial sample from a single fiscal year.

      Again, I would not over-interpret these figures. I am only looking at NIH funding and some of these folks certainly have funding from other sources (NSF, foundations, etc.) so the "deadwood" conclusion seems entirely premature.

      You did summarize the key question: what is the desired/expected outcome for these R21 awardees? This is more than a "half full-half empty" situation since clarity about this point could inform policy decisions about the use of these mechanisms.

  • […] numbers that Datahound churned up are a bit sobering with regard to future NIH success for R21 award winners. Although he's quick to […]

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