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grant $ distribution [was: Crusades for saving...]

matkisso at opal.tufts.edu matkisso at opal.tufts.edu
Thu Jun 19 15:14:29 EST 1997

Dr. Forsburg has commented on the number of _extrememly_ well funded labs.  It
makes me think of Hughs labs that also have large RO1 grants, or labs
with >2 big RO1's.  Is it justifiable when young investigators are having
trouble getting even smaller grants?  I hate to sound Marxist, but it could be
seen as a bit of a wealth distribution problem.

When Varmus first took over as head of NIH, I remember reading him in an
interview saying that the days of big labs might be over.  He even cited his
own large lab as an example of what might become an obsolete way to fund
science.  Since then, though, no change has happened.  There are no  caps on
how many grants a single investigator can recieve from NIH.

Dr. Varmus was at Tufts to give an address several m,onths ago, and at the
reception that followed someone asked him whether the kinds of policy changes
he had hinted at would ever take place.  His answer was, essentially, no.

I think competing for grants is a good thing -- it forces you to write the best
proposal you can, but I'm left with the following questions: Are there 
diminishing returns on big money?  Or if the raw statistics (publications 
per grant $) say these heavily funded labs are more successful,
is the number effected by the circumstance that young investigators are
spending more time hustling funds and less on experiments?  

We all have anecdotal information, but does anybody have good, controlled data? 
Or do we simply need to do the experiment of capping grant funds?


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