Please Save the Unsolicited R01s - Salzberg

Please Save the Unsolicited R01s - Salzberg

Readers may take a look at a very sensible suggestion by Steven Salzberg that we fully agree with -

These large, top-down driven sequencing projects dont address specific scientific hypotheses, but they produce something that the NIH administration seems to love: numbers. Its impressive to see how many genomes theyve sequenced, and it makes for nice press releases. But very often we simply dont need these huge, top-down projects to answer scientific questions. Genome sequencing is cheap enough that we can include it in an R01 grant, if only NIH will stop pouring all its sequencing money into these huge, monolithic projects.

Ill be the first person to cheer if Congress gets its act together and fund NIH at a level that allows reasonable growth. But whether or not that happens, the growth of big science projects, often created and run by administrators at NIH rather than scientists who have successfully competed for R01s, represents a major threat to the scientist-driven research that has served the world so well for the past 50 years. Many scientists are afraid to speak out against this trend, because by doing so we (yes, this includes me) are criticizing those same NIH administrators who manage our R01s. But someone has to say something. A 27% decline in the number of R01s over the past decade is not a good thing. Maybe its time to stop the omics train.

He further clarified his position in the comment section by mentioning his own experience -

Full disclosure: I was a co-PI on one of the original BRCs, funded at The Institute for Genomic Research. We certainly benefitted from having it, but it quickly became clear to me that the community didn’t really need any of the BRCs, not really. It also became clear that the contract mechanism was a terrible way to fund a research database.

Also see -

Why Waste 3 Billion Dollars on Human Brain Activity Map Alchemy Project?


For clarification, the above suggestion is what we like to see, but here is what we expect to see based on our forecasts. NIH and other government agencies will be completely defunded by US government over the next few years. Enterprising biologists will try to do science in the same way science was done before alphabet soups (NIH, NSF, USDA, etc.) appeared on earth. As an ‘avid defender of NIH’, Steven Salzberg is on the wrong side of history.

Conference Budget the Next Big Cut

Written by M. //