After hearing many thoughtful comments and concerns from the medical research community, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it will not implement the proposed Grant Support Index (GSI). The stated goal of the proposed GSI was to improve NIH funding support for early- and mid-career investigators to stabilize the biomedical workforce. However, almost immediately following the announcement of the GSI in May, NIH received an array of comments and concerns from the research community addressing the GSI methodology for assessing research impact, and possible negative effects on collaborative research, complex trials, and research networks.
As a result, NIH has shifted its strategy to support early and mid-career investigators by launching the Next Generation Researchers Initiative. This new program will go into effect immediately and will:
• Allocate approximately $210 million for this year, ramping up to nearly $1.1 billion per year after five years (pending availability of funds), to support additional early-stage investigators and mid-career investigators;
• Track NIH Institute and Center funding decisions for early- and mid-career investigators and assessing their impact;
• Emphasize current NIH funding mechanisms for early- and mid-career investigators with a goal of funding applications that score in the top 25th percentile from early-career investigators; and
• Develop and test multiple methods to evaluate the impact of NIH grant support on scientific progress.
In response to the news, the Chair of the ASN Policy and Advocacy Committee, Crystal Gadegbeku, MD, stated that “ASN appreciates that the National Institutes of Health was receptive to the comments it received from the medical research community when it originally proposed the Grant Support Index. We look forward to continuing to provide feedback on the Next Generation Researchers Initiative as the NIH emphasizes the success of early- and mid-career investigators.”