November 2009

ASBMB Advocates at NIH

Underscores Importance of Basic, Investigator-initiated Research

Update on the New NIH Scoring System

Acknowledging that the National institutes of Health scoring system, implemented this year, was still in its infancy, ASBMB PAAC members asked NIH directors about its effectiveness.

Jeremy M. Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, was supportive of the effort, saying that the distribution of grants scores on the new nine-point scale “isn’t too bad,” despite fears that the vast majority of grants will be given similar, good scores.

Director for Extramural Research Sally J. Rockey agreed, saying reviewers are taking advantage of the full scoring range.

For more information and an initial analysis of the new scoring system, visit the NIGMS Feedback Loop at http://bit.ly/13Sdvd.

In meetings with members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Public Affairs Advisory Committee in September, National Institutes of Health directors underscored their commitment to sustaining stimulus-level funding and supporting research efforts by individual investigators.

The committee members met with five institute directors and the director of extramural research this past September to emphasize the importance of funding mechanisms for investigator-initiated, basic research and to find out more about NIH funding priorities under Director Francis Collins. Collins has a history with major research initiatives and led the publically funded effort to sequence the human genome.

“We’re not going to cut into basic science,” said Nora D. Volkrow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “That is who we are.”

Jeremy M. Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and Sally J. Rockey, director of extramural research, echoed Volkrow, assuring the committee that they had seen no indication of a shift away from funding individual researchers.

“[Collins] knows that R01s are the strength of the NIH,” Rockey said.

 Berg noted that although Collins has been involved in large-scale projects, he, like most biomedical researchers, began his career as an individual investigator.

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