Clinical trials Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Science

Rubbing it in: Woo not “sweating to the NIH payline”

Last week, I wrote a quick and (semi-) facetious piece about how my colleague and I are sweating to the NIH payline, as we wait to find out whether our R01 application will be funded or not. With its being rumored that National Cancer Institute (NCI) paylines will be in the range of the 12th percentile, it’s going to be really, really tight whether we make it below that line or not, although my colleague’s being a new PI will certainly help.

Wouldn’t you know it that Writedit, the blogger whose excellent and highly useful blog, Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship I discovered and plugged last week would have to return the favor by showing up in my blog to rub some salt into our wounds.

Yes, he’s informed me that I should really be applying to research woo, because the paylines for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine will be considerably more liberal in FY 2007. Quoth Writedit:

The home of complementary and alternative medicine is upping its projected success rate from 14% in FY06 to 17% in FY07. The usual blah-blah-blah about preferring 4-year grants to 5-year grants and cutting budgets as needed. They still have a remarkably liberal payline policy though.

For R21s, priority scores of 160 and better are most likely to be funded. I bet a lot of you would love to get news like this from your IC!

So, in other words, while the NCI’s paylines remain mired in the 10-12 percentile range (the best scenario this time around is a payline of the 12th percentile) while threatening to fall even further and with the situation even worse at other Institutes, if you do a grant on alternative medicine and submit it to NCCAM, the payline will be at the 17th percentile, a level not seen at the NCI for three years or more now. (The Payline was the 16th percentile when my R01 was originally funded.) Heck, if you’re an new investigator, the payline could well be as high as the 20th percentile. (They cut new investigators a break in order to encourage them.)

I tell you, it’s time for me to get into woo here. As Writedit puts it:

With liberal paylines like these, time to start thinking outside the box, folks.

Of course, there’s “outside the box” and there’s “outside of this planet,” and all too often the woo supported by NCCAM falls into the latter category. As tempting as it is, I don’t know if I can do it. I do have standards, you know.

On the other hand, if the NCI payline falls into the single digits next time, it may be time for Orac to find a way to make woo research pay. Any ideas are, of course, appreciated and might be shamelessly stolen…

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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