NIH Emeritus Grant: Letting in the New Crop and Kicking the Old Out

Earlier this year, the NIH proposed a new idea to help
sustain the biomedical research workforce through an “Emeritus Award for Senior
” and solicited feedback from biomedical scientists
The idea behind the Emeritus Award was to help senior investigators transition
out of a position reliant on NIH support and to transfer the research to junior
colleagues, or to close a lab down (Kaiser, 2015). The reason for creating such
an award is to free up research money for younger and more junior researchers. But
before going into what scientists thought about the Emeritus Award, I would
like to describe the current system of research funding in the U.S.

There are several prominent papers and reports that
indicate that the biomedical research system in the U.S. is in crisis (Alberts
et al., 2014; NSF, 2014; Holleman and Gritz, 2013; NIH, 2012; Martinson, 2011;
Martinson, 2007). I just gave a lecture a few months back at a Career Symposium
at my college to biomedical graduate students. The symposium had a panel of biomedical
science trained speakers discuss alternate careers for biomedical students. My
presentation discussed my career in the federal public service as a science
policy analyst and my current position as an academic bioethicist. But before
beginning discussion into my career transition outside biomedical science, I
decided to present some interesting data to the students which forms the basis
for why NIH proposed the Emeritus Award. Since the doubling of the NIH budget
around 2002/3, the success rates of obtaining research grants have decreased
from roughly 25-33% to about 14-17%.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.