Wednesday, September 03, 2008


I thought this, just posted on the afternoon edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education, was really interesting.

September 3, 2008
NIH Tries to Buy Eureka Moments With New Round of Grants
Few, if any, scientific discoveries prompt a slap to the forehead and a shout of “Eureka,” as Archimedes is said to have done.

But that hasn’t stopped the National Institutes of Health from chasing after truly novel work that could push research in new directions. Today, the agency announced it was giving out $42.2-million to 38 “exceptionally innovative research projects that could have an extraordinarily significant impact on many areas of science.” Each will get $200,000 in direct costs for up to four years.

The awards are the first to be made under a new initiative with the acronym “Eureka,” for “Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration.” For example, Iswar K. Hariharan, a professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of California at Berkeley, won a grant to study new ways to promote tissue to regrow.

The Eureka awards are one way the NIH has been trying to respond to criticism that its ultracompetitive grant-making process favors established researchers and relatively safe projects that are sure to deliver results.

Last year the agency started granting new innovator awards to support researchers early in their careers. The Pioneer award program, by contrast, provides $500,000 per year for five years to researchers with a track record of opening new areas in research.

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