With budgets tight as ever, the NIH plans to experiment with new models of funding that boost investigator productivity by proving flexible, longer-term support. (Not unlike the HHMI Investigator Program.) While each institute will be given leeway to design their own programs, in general, applicants will be evaluated on how past accomplishments might shape future research rather than on specific aims.
The National Cancer Institute has already issued a call for proposals for its Outstanding Investigator Award, which provides up to $600,000 annually for seven years to cancer researchers with stellar track records. Meanwhile, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences seeks feedback on how to structure their program. More is expected to come, including similar programs for researchers at all stages of their careers.