Open Letter on Proposed NIH Grant Support Index

Dear Dr. Collins:

As new investigators associated with a wide range of research institutions and representing a diverse mix of basic and translational research programs, we strongly support mechanisms to reduce disparities in NIH funding, including through the Grant Support Index (GSI).

In order to launch our labs and to continue contributing to science beyond startup-funded years, we depend on NIH support. However, competition for these funds is particularly arduous for junior investigators with limited track records relative to established labs. The average age of first-time awardees remains above 40, despite almost a decade of policies intended to support new and early stage investigators. In addition, competitive renewals are increasingly difficult, limiting the number of mid-career scientists able to remain in the field. We are further concerned because the NIH budget has been in continuous decline based on inflation-adjusted dollars and is currently at risk of further cuts.

We welcome efforts like the GSI that seek to make the distribution of funding more equitable and transparent to all investigators and support those in the early- and mid-career stages. We believe these measures serve the interests of taxpayers and the sustainability of the American academic research enterprise. However, given that the agency already reports that 40% of its funding is awarded to just 10% of grantees, we are concerned that allowing exceptions to the GSI will undermine its potential for generating equity in NIH research funding. We urge the NIH to closely monitor the effectiveness of new policies to improve funding parity and to continue to explore and implement transparent practices towards this goal.

Signed,

Prachee Avasthi, University of Kansas Medical Center

Michael Cianfrocco, Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan

Elana Fertig, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University

Clement Y. Chow, University of Utah School of Medicine

Mete Civelek, University of Virginia

Michael Feigin, Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Alice Soragni, University of California Los Angeles

Daniel Gorelick, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Lindsay Schwarz, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Gaurav K Varshney, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

Katherine Aird, Penn State College of Medicine

Uri Laserson, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Lillian Fritz-Laylin, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Bethany Kerr, Wake Forest School of Medicine

Joshua Bembenek, UT Knoxville

Premal Shah, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Maitreyi Das, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Chiara Manzini, The George Washington University

Christine Schnitzler, Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida

Mary Williard Elting, North Carolina State University

Magdalena M. Grabowska, Case Western Reserve University

Mostafa Zamanian, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Richard J. McKenney, University of California – Davis

Elisha D.O. Roberson, Washington University in St. Louis

Saad Bhamla, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

Stacey D. Finley, University of Southern California

Melissa A. Wilson Sayres, Arizona State University

Francisco N. Barrera, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Mackenzie Mathis, Harvard University

Rosie Alegado, University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa

Joel D. Boerckel, University of Pennsylvania

Javier Apfeld, Northeastern University

Jordan D. Ward, University of California, Santa Cruz

Carolyn Rasmussen, University of California, Riverside

Matthew N. McCall, University of Rochester Medical Center

Jeremy C. McIntyre, University of Florida

Shipra Vaishnava, Brown University

Shawn Douglas, University of California San Francisco

Keerthi Krishnan, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Stephen N. Floor, University of California San Francisco

Andrew McDavid, University of Rochester Medical Center

C. Savio Chan, Northwestern University

Kevin Wright, Vollum Institute, Oregon Helath & Science University

Rebecca Riggins, Georgetown University Medical Center

Timothee Lionnet, New York University School of Medicine

Charles G. Danko, Cornell University

Medha M. Pathak, University of California at Irvine

Giri Athrey, Texas A&M University

Maria Chahrour, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

J.J. Emerson, University of California, Irvine

Luigi Marchionni, Johns Hopkins University

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