Single vs Multiple R01 Holders by IC

Jun 05 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

On a recent Drugmonkey post on the new NIGMS MIRA Award announcement, a commenter suggested that NIGMS might have more R01 PIs with more than 1 R01. With my new R tools, it was relatively straightforward to check this.

Below is a table with the number of PIs (not counting multiple PIs in this analysis) from each IC who have 1 R01 or more than 1 R01 for fiscal year 2014 (R37s are also included). The abbreviations for the ICs are shown with the IC number. Note that the additional R01s can be from the same or a different IC.



As can be seen, NIGMS (GM) is actually slightly below the median (not weighted by the number of PIs) of 0.304 and below all of the other large ICs (CA, AI, HL).

Other queries welcome!

Updated:  I discovered an error in the table that I originally posted. A revised table is included. None of the conclusions were affected.

15 responses so far

  • Susan says:

    Interesting -- I remember having an exchange with Drugmonkey several years ago, over the topic of multi-RO1 PIs. Some plot on Sally Rockey's blog then indicated that far<10% of PIs had more than 1 R01, which challenged DM's standing belief at the time that MANY investigators had (and were hogging) multiples. I can't find it but will keep searching.

    • drugmonkey says:

      It has never been my argument that MANY investigators were "hogging" multiple grant awards. At least not to my current recollection. I definitely argued all along that more than one grant award was necessary for sustained operation of the kind of science that is in my subfield and that it was entirely normal in my experience for PIs to have more than one R01. I argue that this is a valid goal for new PIs to shoot at. I am not remembering that I made any strong claims about what percentage of PIs attained this goal.

      I will admit that Rockey's data startled me about just how many PIs only had a single R01. I was probably less surprised at the rapid dropoff above, say, 3 concurrent awards.

  • Dave says:

    These numbers are higher than expected, no?

    • drugmonkey says:

      Not if you read Rockey's mythbusting post which Susan has linked. FY2009 data showed about 72% single-RPG PIs in NIH-wide data. 70% in FY2004.

  • Susan says:

    This was what I'd remembered:
    showing that the vast majority of PIs had a single R01 (that was my point to DM at the time).

    A trend of increase over time (in 1986, fewer than 20% total had more than 1 R01) is clear, and updated with Jeremy's new numbers here. The rich ARE getting richer.

    • drugmonkey says:

      The rich are not getting richer.

      The full description is in the following post.

      The average PI at the moment has to carry at least* 1.3 R01s to equal the purchasing power of 1 R01 in 2000. If you go back to 1985 as your starting point, that gap only increases.

      *depending on what you want to assert about the status of funding reductions upon award in different FYs, among other factors

      • Susan says:

        I fully understand and lament the diminished purchasing power effect.

        However, by "the rich are getting richer" I mean: those with grants are getting more grants", leaving a large and ever-increasing number of people -not- getting grants, at all.

        If you don't have 1 R01, the fact that it only would buy you 3/4 of what it used to is no consolation.

        • drugmonkey says:

          Yes but making out like those that have more than one grant are greedy bastards "hogging" grant funding auggests less than full understanding of the inflation problem.

        • qaz says:

          We have no evidence that the rich are getting richer. For one thing, we have no evidence that the number of PIs with multiple grants has actually changed historically. For another, we don't know if (as DM has pointed out), the proportional costs have changed.

          We can argue that things should be better distributed, yes. But DH's data is not a historical statement.

          PS. Also remember that as it became impossible to assume that a good job on one grant implied the grant would be renewed, it became necessary to have two grants out-of-cycle. Our predecessors (those pesky baby-boomers) could assume that good productivity on an R01 meant it would likely be renewed even if it took 2-3 rounds. That meant they could live on one R01 and internal bridge funding from the university/institute. That is, of course, impossible now. It is possible that with tighter funding lines, people are hitting the death wall more often (Beware the Cull!) and it is likely that the people with only one R01 are more likely to hit that death wall, which could change the proportion of survivors with multiple R01s.

          • Susan says:

            Evidence for the historical trend arises from combining DH's present numbers with the set from the Rockey blog that I linked. You'll have to click on it to see it, as I'm not savvy enough to post the plot in this comment. Maybe DH will be able to reproduce and update the Rockey plot with his own tools.

            DM, I apologize for projecting the word "hogging" onto you.

            I understand why you'd lobby for new PIs to aim at 2 R01s - coverage and costs, of course. It was your choice of the term "normal" to describe your world, where the average PI has multiple R01s, that I noticed. Perhaps you mean "not infrequent but still the exception".

  • qaz says:

    Most people I know with multiple R01s have them from multiple institutes. (Say one from NINDS and one from NIMH). Are these people included here?

  • jmz4gtu says:

    Well, DM's field is at the high end of the spectrum, so maybe that explains his perception relative to people in other ICs.

    Is HG high just cause it is still relatively small and fast?

    So, if DH is accounting for PIs with grants at muliple ICs, why are the specialist institutes still so much lower? Have they been practicing de-facto limits on the number RO1s for a while now due to their smaller budgets?

    DH, could you do a correlation on the fraction with multiple RO1s against IC funding level?

  • dsks says:

    "DH, could you do a correlation on the fraction with multiple RO1s against IC funding level?"

    And against time, given the ever-diminishing purchasing power of the single grant, as DM points out; are the ratios increasing? If not, today's single grant PIs must be getting pretty damn thrifty.

  • […] my previous post, I examined the fraction of NIH PIs who had either a single R01 (or R37 Merit Award) or multiple […]

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