Thursday, March 13, 2008

Beyond start-up grants

Here's Inside Higher Ed's Andy Guess on an interesting new initiative by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute:

... In continuing its mission to support biomedical research, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute today announced a major effort to plug one of the gaps: the period when a junior faculty member’s start-up funds start to dry out. The idea, according to officials, is to provide a six-year respite of completely predictable funding for up to 70 scientists who have already spent two to six years in their own laboratories, often with funding from their first grant.

“We decided to focus on scientists who have led their own laboratories for several years because many of these scientists are at a high point of their creativity just as they see their start-up funds and early-career awards ending,” said the institute’s president, Thomas R. Cech, in announcing the program. ...

“I guess Tom [Cech] and I both thought that this stage in a person’s career is when they’re most productive, when they’re absolutely full of energy.... What are they doing? They’re stuck in their office, writing and rewriting their grant,” said Jack Dixon, the institute’s vice president and chief scientific officer. The solution, he said, was to take a “people not project” approach, to attract the most creative investigators and give them the resources to branch out and even change directions in their work, if necessary.

The program's website is here.

My own views on attracting bright young facutly to teach and research in India's leading institutions were posted here, and yes, our start-up grants should be far bigger than what they are now.