What’s Your Recovery Act Story?


Recovery.gov - NIGMS InformationIf you’ve gotten funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, you know how important it is to tell people in your community that this support is having an impact. We want to hear from you, too. Your stories can help us show the American public how the Recovery Act is working to accelerate research, stimulate the economy, and create or retain jobs.

So please tell us about how this funding has helped you. The impact can be large or small, immediate or long-range. Did you hire a promising new scientist or keep someone from losing a job? Were you able to form new collaborations or purchase critical equipment? Did the Recovery Act help speed your research, enable you to make new discoveries, or advance science in other ways? For training programs, were you able to develop new curricula or other activities that you would not have been able to do otherwise?

We invite you to share your experiences now and in the future using our What’s Your Recovery Act Story? (no longer available)+ Web form. We’ll post a sampling of what you send us on our new Recovery Act Impact Web page. Check out the ones we’ve already posted there to see what your colleagues are saying.

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17 Replies to “What’s Your Recovery Act Story?”

  1. What about the 99% of all Challenge Grant applicants, who put considerable effort into writing proposals, but were not funded?

  2. My story is that not a dime of the Recovery Act came my way, despite applying for (a) an administrative supplement (b) a competitive revision adding a new aim to my funded grant and (c) a challenge grant with two other colleagues. I work at the best public university in Texas, and expected to able to support at least one person through the (a) mechanism. I got no explanation for who was given that money and why I was not one of them. Gone without a trace.

  3. From what I can tell very little of the money available from ARRA funding mechanisms has been spent, so I would consider this a bit premature. Even if all the funds were already awarded the impacts of investing in research are primarily medium to long-term. Nevertheless, I think it’s important for the public to understand how the ARRA is having an impact.

    In addition to the effort to craft proposals for the different ARRA programs, many of us also have faced increased peer-review loads. This is uncompensated work for people who are typically already overcommitted. Thus far that has been the main impact for most scientists whom I know.

  4. Isn’t this a little premature?

    I threw my back out sitting and writing grants for long hours: within a month or so I helped with a shared equipment grant, I wrote part of a collaborator’s supplement, I wrote my own competing revision, and I wrote an R21.
    Just yesterday I heard that the collaborator’s supplement was funded. That will certainly help, but its not a lot of $$ for me.
    I got a meaningless-in-isolation-score but no percentile and a “funding won’t be decided until fall” about my competing revision. We’ve just solved the structure that was for, although there’s a lot more work to be done.
    The r21 hasn’t even been read yet.

    So up to date, my contribution to the economy due to the stimulus package has consisted of paying a physical therapist to help my own recovery from the writing frenzy.

  5. It appears that the NIH has used ARRA funds to hire someone to promote a positive view of ARRA? This conflicts a bit with my understanding of their role.
    I agree with Talaga that little has happened so far, so this is premature. As experiences accumulate, they may not all be “and they all lived happily ever after”, so please rewrite the “what’s your story?” lead-in. Here, what happened is that everyone was “encouraged” to try for money, and the resultant stampede did not at all match my vision of scientific research or its funding.

  6. I found the email from NIGMS asking for my ARRA story quite frustrating. My supplement application was submitted in May, and I have not received any word about it. Each time I inquire, I have been given the impression that no ARRA money has been released in GM. A colleague submitted one in mid-July and was told it would be funded almost immediately – I again inquired to my Director and was told:

    “I don’t know what Institute your colleague applied to, but at GM we have received a large number of requests. Due to the nature of the funds and the complexities of the ARRA process, it simply takes a long time – unless the Institute is funding very few applications. Your application hasn’t been forgotten, but I don’t have any news to give you yet.”

    The problem of course is not the delay itself, it’s the inability to give potential hirees and prospective graduate students a hard date after which we will know whether we can offer them a job. People who may truly want to work with us cannot afford to wait open-endedly, so are forced to take a less desirable position.

    That’s my story.

  7. I would love to be able to answer your request for stories, but as far as I know, no one in my
    Department has actually received any such funding. I am Chairman of a Department with
    a substantial number of NIH grants, thanks to the fine work of my faculty.

    Ever yours
    Bob Eisenberg

  8. I am a recently tenured professor at one of the many University of California campuses. No stimulus money has come my way either. I applied for 2 admin supplements and have heard negatively about one and nothing about the other. I also wrote a challenge grant which after being assigned to a study section was withdrawn by the adminstrative staff for a minor paperwork oversight. The renewal of my biggest R01, that defines my lab, has been repeatedly trashed and I am staring at an almost empty lab bank account, firing people right and left, planning experiments based on reagent costs and wondering if I will have to shut down my lab that I worked so hard to establish, right after achieving tenure. I agree with everything Dr. Heuser (post above) has said about our system and I know Dr. Heuser’s work well. If the government is shutting down people such as he, I can’t imagine what people such as I face in the years to come. The stimulus money IS a joke!

  9. I am eagerly awaiting word on my administrative supplement application. I have potential candidates for the positions, and would love to hire them.

  10. My team devoted a considerable amount of time and effort to put together a very strong proposal. It was an incredibly frustrating experience trying to get it submitted as the government systems were totally bogged down. I found out two weeks ago upon checking era commons that the proposal was withdrawn. It was impossible to find someone to talk to who was willing to explain what had happened. I was told it would all be in a “letter” that I would just have to wait for. Well, two weeks later there is no sign of a letter. It would have been more honest and decent to just put all the proposals through some kind of a lottery pre-filter, which is really what the “withdrawals” are all about.


    1. My guess is your proposal was tossed out for one of the following reasons: too many references, or you used your standard NIH biographical sketch which was 4 instead of 2 pages. I learned the hard way that they used as an initial screen the following: a) do you have a secretary who checks the proposals for every last bizarre compliance feature and b) are you someone that reads the entire RFA because some of the instructions are hidden in various sections that seem to be addressed to the signing official staff and not the investigator. After selecting the richest, most well-administratively staffed labs by this method, they may move on to the science.

      1. But following simple instructions oneself is surely not so much to ask. They were very clear for all the points you noted.

        1. The instrunctions were not all clear. Some were, some weren’t. And the instructions for the entire proposal were not all consolidated into one section of instructions. Your comment makes clear how some justify this type of weeding while others do not. I myself will never see things through your eyes.

  11. My experience with the administrative supplement request is the same at that of Dave Gilbert. A next-door colleague who submitted a request at the same time as me was funded immediately (June). When I asked my Program Officer about my application he said ‘Don’t know yet. Many pending requests, requests still arriving, limited funds, process take time.’ Both my colleague and I have GM funding. Go figure.

  12. My success story is that I have successfully delayed hiring a post-doc who desperately needs a job. After submitting my Supplement in mid-April, I told her that we’d know about it two weeks. Three weeks later, I told her we’d hear in another 2 weeks. Two weeks after that, my PO told me I’d hear between June and August, so I told the post-doc that. Then yesterday, as she was crying in my office, I told her not to worry because it wasn’t even August yet and how could one expect the money to come so soon? That’s my success story…I’ve learned the ability to keep somebody hanging in hopes of getting a job.

    In all seriousness, I’m assuming that if I haven’t heard by now, there’s no money coming. I suspect they put more money into funding marginal R01s that didn’t make the payline than in giving supplements.

  13. I submitted my two Administrative Supplements in early April. I was delighted when I received notification that one was awarded and nearly fell off of my chair when the second one was awarded. This money will prevent me from laying off two long-standing research personnel in the lab and will allow me to recruit another individual. Needless to say, every dime of this money will protect jobs.

  14. I used RePorter to search all NIGMS funded projects under ARRA and exported them into Excel. When I summed it up it came to around $95 million (as of August 19). That’s out of $500 million allocated to NIGMS. If I did everything correctly, there is still hope out there…

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