NIH Can See the Hard Landing This Time

March 26th, 2009

Posted by: admin

ScienceInsider reports that the House Appropriations Committee (the Labor, Health and Education Subcommitee) recently held a hearing on stimulus spending and the National Institutes of Health.  A webcast of the hearing is currently online.

An exchange between the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Jackson (D-IL) and Acting Director Kington noted the potential hard landing after the stimulus funds are spent by NIH and the acceptance rate declines as the budget comes back to Earth.

But hearing chair Jesse Jackson Jr. (D–IL) noted the obvious: The 2-year bolus of money could prove to be “a double-edged sword” if scientists can’t keep going when NIH’s budget drops to normal levels in 2011.

Raynard Kington, NIH acting director, said that because the stimulus-funded grants will lead to new advances and ideas, NIH expects a rise in applications in 2011. As a result, the success rate for grants could “drop several points below what it has been” if NIH does not receive a “substantial” budget increase, Kington said. The success rate is projected to be 21% in 2009, NIH officials say, which is close to the historical low.

Just because the cliff can be seen doesn’t mean it will be avoided.  It just makes it easier.

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