Reference NIH Data on Cumulative Investigator Rates

Funding News Edition: May 17, 2023
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You’ve likely heard the term Success Rate in the context of NIH grants, which is defined as the percentage of reviewed grant applications that receive funding. It is computed on a fiscal year (FY) basis. Applications having more than one submission in the same fiscal year (i.e., new and resubmission) are only counted once.

In 2016, NIH created another metric to assess funding success called the Cumulative Investigator Rate, which is calculated as the number of unique principal investigators (PIs) who were designated on an NIH research project grant divided by the number of unique PIs who were designated on applications over a 5-year period.

In his recent blog post “How Many Researchers: The FY 2022 Cumulative Investigator Rate,” Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH Deputy Director of Extramural Research, succinctly differentiates success rate as an application-based metric versus cumulative investigator rate as a person-based metric. The latter was designed to capture a broader view of NIH support for scientists over time.

In that same blog post, Dr. Lauer shares charts displaying the cumulative investigator rate from FY 2003 to FY 2022 for research project grants (RPGs) overall and several activity codes therein: R01-equivalent, R21, and P01. He concludes by observing that the cumulative investigator rate for RPGs and R01-equivalent grants has continually increased in recent years. We encourage you to explore the charts yourself.

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