To The Editor: We read with deep interest the special article in the Dec. 2006 issue by Thomas R. Insel, M.D., and colleagues regarding the state of affairs of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. Indeed, as they point out, these are exciting times in biomedical research, with the promise of groundbreaking discoveries a tantalizing prospect for young investigators. However, the special article by Dr. Insel and colleagues left us disheartened because despite the fact that “[NIH] will be funding roughly the same number of grants as in 2006” (1, p. 2043), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has drastically cut its career development awards. These awards, so crucial to attracting young investigators, are so vital because they typically provide 5 years of funding, including full salary support. Simply put, these career awards provide a buffer period in which new investigators can become established and not worry about the incessant demands of applying for new grants as old ones near expiration. Although the biomedical research market will “realign” (1, p. 2044), Dr. Insel and colleagues minimize the cost this will inevitably entail to the public as many young investigators forego careers in mental health research.
1.Insel TR, Volkow N, Ting-Kai L: Research funding: the view from NIH. Am J Psychiatry 2006; 163:2043–2045
The authors report no competing interests.