Meaningless Fact Revealed By Obsessive Dickeing Around On NIH Web Site

The National Institutes of Health is obligated by statute to make public information concerning the biomedical research grants it funds. There are two main sources of such information that are updated on a weekly basis to reflect newly awarded grants.

One is the NIH RePORTER Web site, which allows one to search a database of all NIH grants awarded over the past thirty or so years via such identifiers as the principal investigator of the grant, substantive keywords, the peer-review panel that reviewed the grant, the institution to whom the grant was awarded, etc. There is also a less well-known Web site that is part of the SILK (Secure Internet LinKed) system, which is actually just a massive comma-separated-values spreadsheet listing all Notices of Grants Award (NGA: the legal document created by NIH that constitutes the grant) issued in the last 90 days.

Each of these sources of information is updated on a weekly basis early Sunday morning, presumably via an automatic population mechanism that sucks information out of the grant award management system used by NIH staff to handle grant applications and awards. There are two dates associated with each NGA: the date of issuance and the date that the grant award officially begins. Sometimes these are the same date, but sometimes the NGA is issued several days or weeks before the start date of the grant.

Well, it turns out that NGAs that have been issued are announced on the SILK Web page even if the start date of the grant hasn’t arrived. In contrast, grants only appear in the NIH RePORTER database after the start date has arrived.

This can be seen, e.g., if you sort the SILK spreadsheet on the date of NGA issuance and look for grants with NGAs issued during the first week of September, but with start dates in the future (a bunch of them have start dates of September 15). None of these grants appear in NIH RePORTER, but grants whose NGAs were issued that same week, but with start dates that have already occurred, do appear.


  1. Chebag says

    Christ is this what BSD grant grubbing mofos like you, DM and Iddyseus do to get a jump on rumpsniffing real scientists??

  2. MonkeyPox says

    What the fuck does this have to do with the tyranny of religion? Shouldn’t you just blog somewhere else?

  3. arrzey says

    On the contrary, learning how NIH works, learning what information it releases, is part of grantsmanship. In fact, I didn’t know of this database, and learned something useful (to me) from it.

    The analogy (not homology) is that despite NIH’s mission to improve healthcare in America, they fund research that has the potential to provide data/results/theory as the building blocks for future healthcare. If all they funded was stuff that made people healthy right now, they’d only fund a bunch of dimwad clinicians who don’t have a clue about research carrying out case studies.

  4. says

    “. If all they funded was stuff that made people healthy right now, they’d only fund a bunch of dimwad clinicians who don’t have a clue about research carrying out case studies.”

    Fucken amen brother.

  5. Chebag says

    You too arrzey? “grantsmanship” is nothing more than using tricks to prioritize crappy science over that of the more deserving scientist who spends his time doing actual science. Instead of just standing under the money tree shaking it frantically like those arrogant grant grubbing rumpsniffers CPP and DM and their whole pack of sycophantic scoundrels..

  6. says

    Who the fuck cares how good your research is if you can’t be arsed to get the funding to do the goddamn shit? It is a ridiculous facet of academia that so many PIs cannot get it through their heads there is no $$$-fairy that magically realizes their unstated brilliance and shoves money in their g-string.

  7. arrzey says

    Chebag, Sigh. When funding is hovering around 5-10% (depending on the institute), there is lots of good, and even great, science that doesn’t get funded. I know, I have sat on study sections, and I continue to do ad hoc.

    To me, grantsmanship means that the person/genius/idiot writing the grant has taken time to make it easy for me to advocate for them. It means that they have figured out how to answer the critique from last round, how to formulate a testable hypothesis, and how to write it in a way that I will understand. I’ve got a background in math/statistics, which means I’m frequently requested as a third reviewer to vet models or analysis. I do my damnest to review fairly, but if I can’t understand what you’re saying, is rather difficult to provide even a useful critique.

    And, you know, all of this was true, even when funding was sloshing around at 20-30%.

  8. Chebag says

    No wonder you have such trouble reviewing arrzey. The NIH has been appointing junior reviewers who are out of their depth and incompetents from backwaterU for years. If only there were some competent, expert reviewers who were real active scientists (unlike you know who) at the *bench*. They would be able to properly rank these proposals without making all those dumb factual errors that torpedo the good proposals leaving, by chance alone, the bescumbered dross spewed out by the grant grubbers like used tissue.

  9. spinynorman says

    CPP: thanks dude, this is really useful.

    Monkeypox: the answer is “no.”

    Hermitage: word.

    Chebag: How do you manage to fit your entire head up your ass? And more importantly, was development of the method for doing so one of the Specific Aims in your last unfunded application?

  10. Chebag says

    Keep fiddling, spinyNero, keep fiddling. The NIH is crashing down around your ears but of course you can’t hear a thing from your cozy spot up CPP’s colon

  11. spinynorman says

    @Chebag: curiously, my last RO1 renewal had an impact score of “PFG” and percentile score of “yeah, this’ll do” because, according to the reviewers, my group had over the previous interval published (actual exact phrasing from the summary statement) “a metric shit-ton of high-quality science.” That’s the best form of grantsmanship there is, pal.

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