NIH Trend: Grant funding success rate

The sequestration ordered on March 1, 2013 has led to 5% budget cut in the National Institute of Health (NIH) funding. NIH is a key player in funding scientific research. Based on their website, NIH states that there would be roughly 640 less projects granted in the fiscal year of 2013 compared to 2012.

nih success rate

Diagram 1: The continual decline of application success rate in NIH. The blue bar illustrated the number of applications. The green bar illustrates the number of awarded applications. The pink line illustrates the percentage of success rate.

From the NIH data book, we have extracted the success rate in diagram 1 (above). The success rate has dropped significantly from 30% in 2000 to 17% in 2013. That’s a whooping 13% drop in success rate when the number of applications continues to grow. If you look at the detailed number of awarded application (see below), the number of awards coming from NIH in 2013 is similar to the number of awards between 1998 and 1999. So, is NIH under-funded? Absolutely yes.

nih success rate data

Diagram 2: Decline in the number of awards to a level similar to 1999.

Let’s switch gear and look at the award of R01 success rate. R01 is the “original and historically oldest grant mechanism used by the NIH”. Diagram 3 below shows first-time applicant (blue) and established investigator (in green). It shows that both success rates have dropped significantly since the late 90s. Since mid-2000s, the success rate has plunged below 20%. The success rates for both first timer and established investigators are now at record low.R01 success rate

Diagram 3. Decline of R01 success rate is found in both first time and established investigators

Interestingly, the number of investigators getting the awards is on a steady increase since the late 90s (see diagram 4 below). Despite the number of awards granted in 2013 is similar to the late 90s, the number of investigators continue to increase. This is possibly due to the fact that more applicants are applying for a grant jointly. Furthermore, the decline in the number of awarded grant application has affected first time applicant the most.

R01 number of investigators

Diagram 4. Steady increase of the number awarded investigators since the late 90s. With the recent decline of awards from 2010, the first time applicants have taken the hardest hit.

Whether or not you are a first time applicant or an established investigator, time is tough. There is an steady increase amount of grant applications, while the number of awards plunges to the level from the late 90s. In the next issue, we will continue to look at the trend within graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Source: NIH RePORT

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *