NIGMS Director Updates Council on Second Phase of MIRA Pilot

During the September 16 meeting of the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Director Jon Lorsch provided an update on the second phase of a two-part pilot program for funding research supported by the Institute. The goal of the Maximizing Investigator’s Research Award (MIRA) for New and Early Stage Investigators (R35) pilot is to “increase the efficiency and efficacy of NIGMS funding.” Lorsch defined new investigators as individuals who have not had a major NIH grant, and early stage investigators (ESI) as individuals within 10 years of their terminal degree, research, or medical residency. Of the 320 applications reviewed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIGMS will make a total of 94 awards, a success rate of 29.4 percent compared to the 19.6 percent NIH-wide success rate.
Acknowledging concerns of the Council and others regarding the review process, which is focused on the individual’s track record and therefore could potentially “exacerbate bias in the application, review, or funding decision processes,” Lorsch noted that they did not observe “any significant differences in gender, race, or ethnicity between the applicants and the awardees.” In fact, one unexpected outcome of the competition was that individuals receiving MIRA funding were 1.5 years younger on average than individuals in the unsuccessful applicant pool; MIRA awardees, on average, are two years younger than last year’s early stage investigator awardees.


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