Assessing the Outcomes of NIGMS Glue Grants


NIGMS Glue Grants Outcomes Assessment, November 4-December 15In September 2009, we announced that we were not reissuing the funding opportunity announcement for our Large-Scale Collaborative Project Awards (Glue Grant) program, which has supported research teams tackling significant and complex problems that are beyond the means of any one research group. We are currently assessing the need for this type of support and how best to manage programs of such scope and magnitude.

As part of this effort, we are conducting an assessment of the glue grant program’s major outcomes and their impact. We’re seeking your views through voluntary input forms posted on the NIGMS Web site. The forms will ask about various aspects of the glue grant program as a whole and about specific glue grant projects, including:

You can read more about the assessment and view the forms at The site will be open for input until December 15, 2010.

UPDATE: We have extended the comment period from December 15 to January 15.

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11 Replies to “Assessing the Outcomes of NIGMS Glue Grants”

  1. I was once invited to review a glue grant (not one of those listed). I turned down the review assignment because, after looking at the proposals, it was clearly just a collection of projects that should have been RO1 proposals. Although there was a common overall theme, the proposals did not provide any benefit other than the accumulation of knowledge in a specific field. Overall, the proposal I viewed was simply a way for already well-funded investigators to submit projects without going through the RO1 review process. I think this is a real problem with the glue grant concept at a time when RO1 funding is severely limited.

  2. I have a largely negative view of these large initiatives. The grants I have seen awarded went to a mediocre PI, with almost disastrously low outcome. Yet the same people got another large award, and another one, with the same low quality results. The problem with such large grants is that in many cases the various PIs do not closely collaborate, and there is little accountability for the funds spent. This is a waste of tax payers’ money. Use it to fund individual RO1s.

  3. I have been consultant on two of these grants and reviewed a couple more. The quality of science in these grants is generally lower than the R01 grants, not only those funded but also many of the ones that are not funded or even scored.
    Certainly, for the $ per $ return on the investment I can only imagine that the Glue grants do not even come close to the R01.
    Beyond that are many other issues. But it will be worth looking at some data that NIH might have and share with the public whose comments are sought.

  4. At my previous job, I watched colleagues put together one of these proposals. It seemed like a means for a few strong investigators to get together with some weaker investigators–and both parties increased their chances of getting funded by skirting the R01 mechanism. I agree with the other comments: not the best use of taxpayer dollars.

  5. I know one PI on a funded Glue grant and another who is a current applicant. Both have outstanding programs with many collaborators, and their research would be facilitated by this mechanism. That having been said, I think that it is not a mechanism that should be used under the current funding scenario. Maybe sometime in the (hopefully not too distant) future.

  6. I have never been associated with a Glue grant, nor have I reviewed any. I have, however, reviewed a number of Program Project grants for different Institutes. Some of these were new, some for renewal, but in every case I found that one or two strong proposals (suitable for RO1) carried a lot of weaker science on their backs in these multi-investigator deals.
    Artificial collaborations designed to get funding are usually just that, and bear little or no fruit. A true collaboration arises when mutual interests and needs of individual investigators mesh. If it is desirable to encourage research in a particular area, it would be more cost-effective to provide funding for joint post-docs or research scientists to foster proven, existing and productive collaborations in areas of interest. This could be done via existing mechanisms (either as F32s or supplements to R01s), which would guarantee that the proposals would be subjected to rigorous review.

  7. I have seen many different formats for grant support over the 40 years I have been involved in the science. In general I think large grants are ineffective especially when distributed among multiple institutions. The whole, unfortunately is not greater than the sum of the parts. While there are always outstanding components to these proposals, there are always weak components. I think the money would be much better spent supporting young investigators.

  8. The main issue with glue (and other large grants) is whether they provide value beyond the sum of their parts and/or whether they enable significant science that otherwise can not occur without this mechanism. For the couple of glue grants I am familiar with, neither meets these criteria. On the other hand, I am familiar with several program projects that do.

  9. Thank you for sharing this initial feedback. In response to some of the comments, I want to note that the individual glue grant projects post information on their activities on their respective Web sites. Furthermore, the assessment report, which we will make available on the NIGMS Web site, will include bibliometric data bearing on the objective productivity of the glue grants. The report will also contain a summary of all data considered by the assessment panel, including the summary of community input.

    Again, I encourage anyone with comments about the glue grants program to submit them formally via the input forms (link no longer available).

  10. We have extended the comment period from December 15 to January 15. Your input to date is greatly appreciated, but we need additional input to be sure we have a sufficiently broad sampling of community opinion.

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