Nature has a brief interview up with Elias Zerhouni, former director of NIH, about his time at NIH. Its very short, but there are some interesting tid-bits. Some highlights:
Nature: Partly as a result of your policy requiring a minimum number of new investigators to be funded, some senior ones who would have been funded are not. How do you respond?
EZ: That’s just bogus. For years the difference in success rates between a young investigator and an established investigator was 5–6%. You can’t say: “Oh, my God, people are ageing!” and then penalize the young investigators. My policy is not to give the young investigator any greater chances of success. My policy is barely evening out the field.
I feel like it’s these established folks who have the political power and who basically penalize and discriminate against new entrants. I see it in the scoring behaviour of the peer-review panels. Every time we try to help the young investigators, the scoring panels penalize them by giving them worse and worse scores. I have the data to show that.
Here we go again with the poor senior investigators losing some funding to the kiddos. I appreciate how Zerhouni shoots it down. I’d love to see all that data, I wonder when they will release it?