Next Generation of Researchers Initaitive

Make your voice heard. Provide feedback on the National Institutes of Health’s Next Generation of Researchers Initiative.

The National Institutes of Health is developing recommendations for its institutes to support the next generation of biomedical researchers — and we want to know what you think.

The proposed Next Generation Researchers Initiative, or NGRI, addresses the difficulties that early- and mid-career investigators face as they seek funding for their research. The initiative aims to provide long-term stability for scientists developing independent research careers.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology wants your comments on this NIH initiative. The ASBMB supports policies and programs that make the life science research enterprise more sustainable. The ASBMB, led by its Public Affairs Advisory Committee, is paying attention as the NIH proposes new policies, and we are working to provide substantive comments and feedback. 

The NIH plans to finalize its recommendations for the NGRI by December. The ASBMB wants the agency to hear your opinions.

The comment period has closed. Thank you for providing your suggestions. 

Curious about the ASBMB's involvement in NIH's policies for the next generation of biomedical researchers? Here’s a timeline of our activities.  

Date

NIH action

ASBMB action

May 2017

The NIH proposes a grant cap.

Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, in a statement released May 2, introduces the Grant Support Index. Modeled after the NIH’s Research Commitment Index, the proposed GSI imposes a point system that limits the number of projects a PI or co-PI can participate in.

This policy is estimated to affect 6 percent of NIH-funded investigators but would support 1,600 new R01-equivalent awards.

 

The ASBMB responds to the GSI.

In  a letter to NIH leadership, the ASBMB voices these concerns about the GSI:

  1.  Using points as a proxy for grant dollars would create unintended inequities. 
  2.  Including training awards and core service grants would unjustly punish educational and service efforts. 
  3.  The policy would unfairly penalize collaborative research. 

Read the ASBMB letter here.

June – August 2017

The NIH shelves GSI, introduces NGRI.

The GSI draws mixed feedback. While younger scientists view the new approach to funding as necessary, prominent scientists strongly oppose any change that would alter or reduce funding streams.

In June 2017, Collins declares that the GSI will not move forward. Instead, the agency launches the Next Generation of Researchers Initiative to support early and mid-career investigators.

The NGRI, using the data and justifications for the GSI, reallocates funds from existing programs to support early- and mid-career scientists but does not impose a funding cap on investigators. It also extends funding cutoff points for early investigators to 25 percent. 

 

The ASBMB responds to the NGRI.

In August 2017, the ASBMB submits a list of questions to the NIH about the NGRI, including:

  1.  How will the priorities that will be rearranged to fund this initiative impact the research community? 
  2.  How many new proposals will be funded within each individual institute and center, given varied current intra-institute paylines? 
  3.  What type of data and benchmarks will be used to measure NGRI efficacy? 
  4.  How will these funds be divided between early- and mid-career investigators? 
  5.  What exact definitions and mechanism will be used for funding mid-career investigators? 

Read the ASBMB letter here. 

Oct. 2017

 

An ASBMB opinion piece aims to standardize postdoc titles

In the journal eLife, the ASBMB’s PAAC makes the case for standardizing how postdoctoral researchers are categorized and provides a framework that institutions can follow. Read the ASBMB article here.

Dec. 2017

NGRI working group is formed

Lawrence Tabak, NIH principal deputy director, shares an interim report on changes to the NGRI during the fall Advisory Committee to the Director meeting. The NIH convenes a working group including trainees and tenured faculty to guide NGRI implementation. The new focus of the NGRI will be to provide recommendations to the ACD, which would advise Collins, to slow attrition in the biomedical research workforce.

 

April 2018

 

The ASBMB provides recommendations to the NIH NGRI working group

In a letter to NIH institute directors, Institute Directors of Extramural Activities and members of the Advisory Committee to the Director’s NGRI working group, the ASBMB puts forth five policy suggestions:

  1.  Establish a program to fund early-stage investigators. 
  2.  Establish a program to retain at-risk established investigators. 
  3.  Establish a cross-NIH sliding scale for the funding of multiple awards. 
  4.  Set a salary support limit for research universities. 
  5.  Establish a program to promote re-entry. 

Read the letter here.

May 2018

NGRI working group releases draft recommendations

The working group presents draft recommendations during the Advisory Committee to the Director’s spring meeting.  Their draft recommendations address:

  1.  Modifying the original NGRI definitions and policy. 
  2.  Developing methods to identify and support “at-risk” investigators and early-stage investigators. 
  3.  Enhancing early established investigator diversity in a meaningful and sustainable way. 
  4.  Optimizing workforce stability by more clearly defining the target distribution of investigators across career stages. 
  5.  Assessing productivity through a multifaceted approach. 

The recommendations seek to increase sustainability of the scientific enterprise. The working group will present final recommendations during the ACD’s December meeting.