Lots of interesting ideas coming in to my previous post on models of support for staff scientist positions.
Let me add an idea into the mix. Suppose that NIH were to develop a training grant-like mechanism for staff scientists with additional conditions:
(1) No more than XX% of the salary and benefits of each staff scientist position can be supported from the grant with additional funds coming from other grants or institutional funds.
(2) Any staff scientist supported from the grant is guaranteed full support for a period of YY years after the termination of the grant by the institution.
For the purposes of discussion, set XX% = 50% and YY = 2. The idea is to have both NIH and the institution have substantial "skin in the game" with the staff scientists and their positions as the beneficiaries.
As a disclaimer, I do not know enough about the legal framework that could influence how the details of this plan.