Could Sheldon Cooper Get an NIH Grant?

The average age a PhD research scientist receives his or her first NIH grant is 42 years old—the highest it’s ever been. Those with an MD are generally awarded funds at age 45.

Now consider this: the average Nobel Prize winner in medicine or biomedicine conducted his or her groundbreaking work at 41 years old.

Herein lies the problem with today’s federal science funding: There’s no room for innovation, let alone failure. Scarce research dollars mean that the federal government is becoming risk averse. Newly minted researchers are held to the standards of established scientists.

Scientists aren’t getting the funding they need when they need it the most. Money is instead going to those who are already in established tracks beyond the period when creativity is at its peak.

Young researchers are being left in the dark. Who knows what bright ideas are snuffed out with them?


Thanks to Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities, for pointing this out.

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