Analysis of Subsequent Years of K99-R00 Program

May 28 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

I had previous done some analysis of the NIH K99-R00 program for the first two cohorts.  I wrote R scripts to assemble information about the R00 and R01 (as well as DP1 and DP2) awards subsequently obtained by K99 recipients and to analyze these results. I included precise grant start and end times rather than simply fiscal years as I had done in my initial analysis.

The results for the first K99 cohort (from fiscal year 2007) are shown below. This shows the number of investigators (out of 182 initial K99 awardees) who had K99 awards, R00 awards, or R01 (or DP1, or DP2) awards aligned with the start dates for the initial K99 award at time 0.

2007 K99 Cohort Plot-3

This shows that more than 90% of these K99 awardees transitioned to the R00 phase and that more than 100 of these PIs had obtained at least one R01 (or equivalent) award as shown previously but now with more precision about the timing of these awards.

With these scripts in hand, it was straightforward to analyze subsequent K99 cohorts. The results are shown below:


K99 Awards Plot


This graph reveals that the overall pattern for the K99 phase is remarkably consistent from year to year, with substantial transitions at the end of year 1, a steady decline and then a sharp drop at the end of year 2, and the remaining ~20% of PIs transitioning off the K99 by the end of year 3.

The results for the R00 phase are shown below:

R00 Award Plot


Again, the pattern is quite consistent. The fraction of K99 awardees who have transitioned to the R00 phase is approximately 50% at the end of year 2 (since the start of the K99 award) and peaks at between 80 and 90% in the middle of year 3. The curves are different for the FY2010, FY2011, and FY12 K99 cohorts since they have not yet had time to fully transition, but the curves look quite similar for the regions that overlap the other curves.

The final curve shows the transition to R01 awards (I also included DP1 (Pioneer) and DP2 (New Innovator) awards).

R01 Award Plot-2


Here, the curves are more different. For the first (FY2007) cohort, more than 50% of the K99 awardees have transitioned to R01 funding. More than 40% of the FY2008 cohort have transitioned, but comparison of the FY2007 and FY2008 curves suggests that this cohort is transitioning more slowly or will not achieve the same level of the FY2007 cohort. This trend continues with the FY2009 cohort. Of course, these attempted transitions to R01 funding are occurring over the period where the overall number of NIH supported PIs dropped (as revealed in my previous post). The FY2010 cohort showed an initial burst above the FY2008 and FY2009 curves but has slowed since then. It is too early to say much about the FY2011 and FY2012 cohorts.

The ability to analyze these data in kinetic detail with relative ease allowed some comparisons that were much harder to make in my previous analysis. I am impressed with the continuing development of R by a large open community (especially Hadley Wickham) that are making R an ever-more-powerful tool.

14 responses so far

  • chemicalbilology says:

    These analyses. are. awesome. That detail about the relative rates of the REAL transition (which is R00 to R01 or equivalent) is really interesting.

  • potnia theron says:

    Thanks again for doing this Jeremy. I think these kind of analyses are critical if NIH is ever going to change its attitude towards junior scientists.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Yeah....those subsequent cohorts are topping out. k99ngaR00 fatigue?

  • pinus says:

    R01 panels are getting tougher on K99/R00 folks, expectations are higher than they were inititially.

  • Chris says:

    Would it be useful to compare this information to that published by NIH about ESI success rates over time to determine how well those with K99/R00 do vs. those without?

  • lurker says:

    Thanks so much, JB! You've retold my trajectory via numbers and graphs. I'm learning Rstudio myself, and it is awesome.

    If only I had gotten my K99 a year earlier, maybe I'd live up to my potential. I feel sorry for the cohorts after me, as they will soon learn the rub of this mechanism. Without the award, they may not have a TT position. With the award, it's some money but not enough or long enough duration to get your research program going to then look legit to SS for an R01. As reflected in my >dozen pink sheets, the demands on "productivity" from R00's applying for an R01 have consistently been unrealistic. Basically, it's turned getting the first R01 into a de-factor renewal when you only had 3yrs "R01" instead of 5yrs.

    Some R00's will survive , get lucky, or are simple awesome immortals, about 50% back in 2007, but that rate is rapidly going to go down by startling increments of 10% decline per cohort year, as funds get scarcer and critiques get more vicious. A nice Lord of the Flies scenario playing out (poetic, since I use flies as my model organism).

    @Potnia: These data will change what attitude and how at NIH regarding junior scientists? That they'll realize what a sham this mechanism is, setting up more aspiring investigators only for disappointment and cynicism? That they'll "reform" this mech by bringing back the "R29"?

  • DJMH says:

    / scurries back to work.

  • tami says:

    I don't get the last charts. Shouldn't more PIs from within each cohort get funding as time goes on? Why is there a decline after a peak for all but of the curves?

  • drugmonkey says:

    Are you only counting ContactPI for any Multi-PI awards here?

  • qaz says:

    The problem remains that we don't have numbers of what these kids would have looked like without the K99. There's no comparable control group.

  • sad ESI says:

    As a K99/R00 recipient, I want to echo the comments above that study section members are all too often treating our R01 applications as though they are R01 renewals. An R00 is at most 3 years, and provides barely half the direct costs per year of an R01. This is NOT an R01-equivalent grant.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    I haven't seen any of these on panels, but I think the take is likely right. Panels may subconsciously thing these kids have an extra float.

  • Dr. Glitterbear says:

    I'm an FY2010 K99 recipient (Started 9-1-09) who has yet to transition to a R01 funding. But not for lack of trying as I have submitted 5 R01/R21 in the past 12 months. I am at the point now where I have been focusing on grant applications over the past 12-18 months that my publication output has suffered. After I submit two R01 next week, the next year will be focusing on submitting the 5 manuscripts that are awaiting submission and the ~10 projects that will be completed within the year for submission. I need those for tenure AND grants applications.

    The struggle is real, y'all.

  • mH says:

    qaz... recent hires at same institutions, no K99?

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