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Up To 1000 NIH Investigators Dropped Out Last Year 111

Posted by timothy
from the this-epidemic-must-be-studied-somehow dept.
sciencehabit writes "New data show that after remaining more or less steady for a decade, the number of investigators with National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding dropped sharply last year by at least 500 researchers and as many as 1000. Although not a big surprise—it came the same year that NIH's budget took a 5% cut—the decline suggests that a long-anticipated contraction in the number of labs supported by NIH may have finally begun."
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Up To 1000 NIH Investigators Dropped Out Last Year

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  • Out of ~22,000 (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Sunday March 09, 2014 @07:20PM (#46441945) Homepage
    Without something to anchor your 500-1000 number, who will know how outraged they need to be?
    • Without something to anchor your 500-1000 number, who will know how outraged they need to be?

      I agree! For example, is this Less Than, Greater Than, or Equal To deporting the finest Ice Hockey Player in all of Ecuador?
      I can't bother to get worked up over something if it is just a "Best Ballerina on Bora Bora" level event...

    • by Kohath (38547)

      If you look at the chart at the link, it's 500-1000 out of 22000 or so -- 22000 is an all time high. So it's obviously the most outrageous outrage in history and we should all panic and wail and rend our clothes.

    • by realxmp (518717) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @09:04PM (#46442397)

      Without something to anchor your 500-1000 number, who will know how outraged they need to be?

      And without knowing what those investigators were doing neither number is particularly useful. That's 1000 investigators and their entire lab staff most of them being scientists doing useful research not administrators etc. Unfortunately this doesn't just affect the current generation of scientists, it affects the next generation too. Not all of these labs will close, but there will certainly be a lot less capacity to take students and post docs. How this will impact research is pretty hard to predict, unfortunately it looks a bit more like the blunderbuss approach than the precision cull of the herd with a rifle and scope.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not all of these labs will close, but there will certainly be a lot less capacity to take students and post docs.

        Fewer people will even make it that far when a line of research and certain fields get know to be shrinking. Current grad students, postdocs and young researchers will warn incoming people that things are getting harder and to go try other fields of research or lines of work. It is not like we lose the bottom part of the distribution and the best and brightest continue to do research, but people across the board get dissatisfied or view it as too risky and jump ship. I've watched friends and colleagues f

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Fewer people will even make it that far when a line of research and certain fields get know to be shrinking. Current grad students, postdocs and young researchers will warn incoming people that things are getting harder and to go try other fields of research or lines of work. It is not like we lose the bottom part of the distribution and the best and brightest continue to do research, but people across the board get dissatisfied or view it as too risky and jump ship.

          Speaking as an academic, we've been telling prospective grad students that there are no academic jobs out there for 20 years. No one goes into academia because they think it's going to be a secure, well-paid job - they go into academia because they have a personal passion and curiosity for discovery and are often willing to make significant personal sacrifices to satisfy that passion. They'll take their PhD and 10 years of higher education to work 60 hour weeks as a postdoc for $40k (and think that's awes

        • by TopherC (412335)

          I would naively have expected that cuts to NIH programs would have low impact relative to programs funded by NASA and DoE. I don't have much knowledge of the NIH programs, but I feel like they are shorter term studies with less specialized infrastructure involved. So a 5% cut in funding there has closer to a 5% reduction in output. But DoE and NASA programs are often 10 to 20-year projects. If you cut funding one year (and they have cut funding 5-10% every year for a long time), you start cancelling program

    • it's that we're losing _any_. We've had 30 years of constant productivity increases. These are the sort of jobs we were promised would replace all the Manufacturing jobs that went away for those 30 years. Now some of them are going away. It's suppose to be growing, not shrinking.
  • Now that the anti-tax movement has won, we can look forward to the destruction of the greatest source of innovation the U.S. -- and the world -- has ever seen.

    Get ready for the visionaries who tell us that the source of American innovation is guys working in garages, and all we have to do is lower taxes on garages to unleash the flow of productivity.

    • by Kohath (38547)

      A 5% budget cut is "the destruction of the greatest source of innovation the U.S. -- and the world -- has ever seen"?

      Just for some perspective on Federal government spending, "General Science, Space, and Technology" spending is up 12% (after inflation adjustment) from 2002-2012 and "Health" spending is up 41% during the same period. "Energy" spending is up 2400%.

      http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/... [whitehouse.gov] -- see table 3.2

      • by nbauman (624611) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @09:27PM (#46442493) Homepage Journal

        You and I must be reading different journals.

        Perspective: Asia's Ascent — Global Trends in Biomedical R&D Expenditures
        January 2, 2014
        N Engl J Med 2014; 370:3-6
        Owing to cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the NIH budget for fiscal year 2013 was reduced by $1.7 billion, to $29.2 billion — a 5.5% reduction that continued a trend of declining federal funding for biomedical research that began in 2003.2
        Our analysis reveals that U.S. inflation-adjusted R&D expenditures and the U.S. share of global expenditures decreased from 2007 through 2012. The decline is remarkable because the United States has provided a majority of the funding for biomedical R&D globally for the past two decades — a share that some previous analyses suggested was as high as 70 to 80%.2 Moreover, the decline was driven almost entirely by reduced investment by industry, not the public sector, between 2007 and 2012. Sequestration of NIH funding in 2013 and beyond will exacerbate this reduction by causing U.S. public-sector expenditures to decline.
        Although our data set has its limitations, our findings reveal a decline in U.S. financial competitiveness in biomedical R&D and may have implications for the debate over appropriate federal policy in this area. The lack of a coordinated national biomedical R&D strategy is disappointing, at a time when mature economies such as those of Japan and Europe have maintained their level of investment in this area.

        http://jama.jamanetwork.com/ar... [jamanetwork.com]
        Funding of US biomedical research, 2003-2008.
        JAMA. 2010 Jan 13;303(2):137-43. doi: 10.1001/jama.2009.1987.
        Funding of US biomedical research, 2003-2008.
        CONCLUSION: After a decade of doubling, the rate of increase in biomedical research funding slowed from 2003 to 2007, and after adjustment for inflation, the absolute level of funding from the National Institutes of Health and industry appears to have decreased by 2% in 2008.

      • and "Health" spending is up 41% during the same period. "Energy" spending is up 2400%.

        Of course health spending is up. When you spend tens to hundreds of millions of dollars on one website that doesn't work, what do you expect?

        (Not to mention that it does not conform to the government's own privacy laws, etc. I am still waiting for that one to blow up.)

      • Oops... we shouldn't forget "energy" spending. Solyndra, Evergreen, Beacon, SunPower [breitbart.com], etc. etc. ad nauseum.
    • Get ready for the visionaries who tell us that the source of American innovation is guys working in garages, and all we have to do is lower taxes on garages to unleash the flow of productivity.

      Once it was "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage"
      Now I can see a time when our chickens are on pot, and we'll be living in garages...
      (it does make for a more trippy class of omelets...)

    • by superwiz (655733)
      Are you high? US Federal government had the highest tax receipts in history AND the highest deficit in history. Regardless of whether you believe this to be a problem, the cut backs were definitely not the result of some imaginary across-the-board cut backs that you have dreamed up.
        • by superwiz (655733)
          Stop using "right wing" as a slur. They are better than the alternative. Better at what you ask? At this point... just better. The left just sucks balls.
          • by mvdwege (243851)

            Better? The ones that venerate anti-intellectualism, misogynie, homophobia and starving the poor?

            Fuck you.

            • by superwiz (655733)
              No, fuck you! Fuck you with a cherry on top. The left is a pro-slavery, pro-crime, pro-mysogeny, anti-science, pro-violence philosophy. Oh, and they are just not open about it. They are lying ass holes. You know... like you.
            • by superwiz (655733)
              Oh, yeah, forgot to mention that the fucked-up fucken ass holes, like you, are also anti-education And just to think! That's actually my pet peeve with lying fucked-up ass holes that subscribe to the leftist philosophies... you know like all the people who subscribe to the leftist philosophies. Well, do kindly eat shit and die.
  • We all know how the 'bad' researchers game the system by hyperciting to up their impact numbers, maybe they know they can't pull that shit w/ open-access & have moved on to the private sector? IDK, just pure speculation from someone outside the field...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, current approval rates for grants are around 10-15% and often grants that are funded are typically facing budget reductions at the time of approval, without any change in the scope or specific aims of the proposal. In many cases the cost of research is increasing but the funds available are not increasing at the same rate, thus few projects are being funded.

    • by docmordin (2654319) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @08:10PM (#46442149)

      As an actual researcher, let me state that your post has little to no bearing on reality. That is, open-access journals do not prevent an individual or group of individuals from artificially inflating various publication metrics. Moreover, agencies look at much more than those metrics, e.g., research output, research impact, past publication venues, and the number of students who are supported and are expected to graduate under a grant, when deciding how to dole out funding.

  • by PastTense (150947) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @07:52PM (#46442081)

    "Dropped Out" implies it was the decision of the researchers to quit.

    Instead it was the decision of the NIH to quit funding them.

    • You word you post as though it's the fault of the NIH. I isn't. The NIH don't have the budget to fund all the good research proposals they get. After they've thrown out the chaff applications, they have a bunch of excellent stuff remaining and not enough money to fund it all.
  • New data show that after remaining more or less steady for a decade ...

    Did they even look at the graph? It shows a steady decline from 2004 and 2008. The current level had not reached the 2008 level yet.

  • Austerity driven stupidity intentionally trying to destabilize this country. It's too bad we can't be strict constitutionalists and call up the militia to put down the insurrection or the far right fanatics, anti-science, anti-education, anti-Christian right. It really is simple: stupidity doesn't lead to innovation.
    • by Solandri (704621)

      Austerity driven stupidity intentionally trying to destabilize this country. It's too bad we can't be strict constitutionalists and call up the militia to put down the insurrection or the far right fanatics, anti-science, anti-education, anti-Christian right. It really is simple: stupidity doesn't lead to innovation.

      Take a good look at the graph in TFA. The biggest increase in investigators was during Clinton's second term (peak of the tech bubble) and Bush's first term (onset of recession). i.e. Bush in

      • by mvdwege (243851)

        Obama tried to continue that upward trend during his first term, but reality has set in

        Stop lying. It was an intransigent Republican Congress that set in.

  • There are very simple solutions to this, and that involves not giving the bulk of research money to the same big bloated labs. To do this you must 'stir-up' the allocation business (it is!) to direct younger smaller researches get more the the pie.
    No, simple - well known by those in the system - solutions... they just don't follow the same beat as the psycho leaders, is all.
    We wouldn't want well established people to be challenged by new sharp people - keep them begging at the door, as we do now in all fiel

  • Is that some number between 0 and 1000, or could it also be negative?
  • Let's start with the NIH main campus, in Bethesda, MD, where somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 people work every day. That include maintenance, cafeteria and hospital staff. If between 500 and 1000 left, that's 2.5%-5% reduction.

    Then consider the fact that it's probably the largest pure medical research institution in the world. Note that I said "pure research" - we're not talking about billions used to find a drug that's equivalent to, or only marginally better than an existing drug... because your pate

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

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