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Alan F. Schatzberg

Advice for a Tight Funding Climate

Posted on July 3, 2008

Alan F. Schatzberg (bio) describes distribution and review difficulties associated with a tight funding climate.


Obviously we're in probably the tightest funding status that we've had in years, and this is going to be a problem for all investigators. So it's a problem in several ways. One is obviously there are few dollars to distribute, and there are going to be, I think, really applications that aren't going to be funded. So that's one issue.

But the bigger issue is the review process. So what happens, I think, frequently when things are not funded very quickly, you start to get a line, if you will, within study a section so that it comes back for a second time, or a third time. And often times, it's the third time that they get funded, so that you're moving up a queue, if you will. And that becomes then difficult for people, because they have to kind of resubmit and whatever.

But it also becomes difficult in another way, because now when you have a triaging of applications, where in fact grants are not necessarily scored, they're reviewed but they're not scored, somebody can get an unscored result, but have a pretty good application because there are so many grants that have come back that are getting scored. So it looks like your application isn't really as worthy as it is.

So I think that becomes discouraging, particularly for young people. So they'll come back and they'll say, "I got unscored, and that's terrible, but the critiques aren't too bad, and I think I can address it or whatever." So I think people need to have staying power. They need to be able to go back in and prepare to reapply. They need to be patient and have to kind of work within the system.

When the dollars get better, then hopefully there'll be more funding. One of the problems that you have when you have this kind of light, if you will, in terms of funding is you have some attrition in the field and some investigators will drop out. Some may do clinical work. Some may seek other fundings. Some will do administrative work so that there's kind of a paring down in the size of the field.

So staying power is also important in that way because eventually there'll be less, there'll be fewer people competing for the funds. So it's an unfortunate outgrowth of the economic and the international situation that we face.

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Excerpted from an interview with researcher at the 2008 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Pittsburgh, PA.


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