My currently sparse posting schedule is due to the fact that my ‘day job’ is embroiled in re-application for National Institute of Health funding. Without federal money, all of our research grinds to an instant halt. Over the last several years, however, increased military spending has meant that less and less of the pie goes to US science, technology, and health. This table on the NIH website really drives the point home. The success rate for a continuation of a previous grant was 36.8% in 2006. It depends on the type of grant you have, but you’ll need to re-apply every five years or so. If the continuation rate stays the same, over 60% of labs re-applying for funds will need to either find new money or close in 2007. In contrast, the continuation success rate for 1999 (data can be downloaded at the bottom of the page) was approximately 70%.
That singularly depressing thought explains why I was struck by David Leonhard’s article in today’s New York Times, discussing the cost of the war in Iraq and what we could have done with $1.2 trillion dollars. Jonah Lehrer at The Frontal Cortex also has a great discussion of what wars really cost.
Ok, back to work. ‘Cause grants don’t write themselves.