09 June 2016

Hello Atlantic! Here are my answers to your questions about funding

The Atlantic recently ran an article about science funding that asked for scientists to write in and answer three questions. So, I did. These were my answers.

How did those years of flat (National Institutes of Health, NIH) funding affect you or your colleagues, if at all?

The difficulty in attracting funding affected our students. When I took students to conferences who were considering looking for doctoral positions, they were disheartened by how much of the talk was about whether a lab could get funding.

Flat NIH didn’t affect me or my colleagues much, for two reasons.

  1. My university is an emerging research institution, so there is not a huge amount of federal funding in general. Faculty here haven’t reached the point of being competitive for the stand alone R01 research grants that are the bread and butter of many biomedical research labs.
  2. My department is not a biomedical department. The National Science Foundation and other organizations are generally better funding fits than the NIH for us. (And it is a bit annoying when reports treat the NIH as if is was the only funding agency for all of biology. There are huge swathes of biology that NIH doesn’t touch.) 

Have you even noticed the 2016 increase?


(Other researchers often get annoyed at me when I say declining funding rates haven't affected me personally. They badly want to show solidarity, and impress on people that the funding shortfalls are hurting science – which they are, and I agree with. But it doesn’t affect all of us equally.)

And what would more funding mean to you?

My institution is determined to add many new doctoral programs, including biology. I’good thing that would creating new opportunities for underserved minority students in my region, instead of this:
ve had many discussions with my colleagues about whether this is a good idea, given the steady decline in funding success rates. More funding might convince me that a new doctoral program could be a

Additional: Moments after I posted this complaining how NIH is so often presented as the only game in town for biology funding, what do I see but a tweet from the Society for Neuroscience presenting NIH as the only game in town for biology funding. Sheesh.

Contact your representatives today and ask them to make the case for a strong research funding level for NIH.

If you’re going to all the trouble of contacting your federal representative to support neuroscience, why not mention other agencies that fund that discipline? Like the National Science Foundation?

Related posts

Happy sequestration

External links

NIH Funding: It’s Personal

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