Abstract for: Workforce Modeling for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the research community has been concerned for decades about the increasing periods of training and the rate of entry of new investigators into its pool of funded Principal Investigators (PIs). Since 1970, newly trained investigators have experienced longer periods of training prior to application for NIH research grant support. Longer periods of training are reflected in the average age at which investigators receive their first independent research grant, which has increased from 34.3 to 42.4 over the period from 1970 to 2006. Because of the concern about sustaining the enterprise and assuring a continuing supply of new investigators, the NIH launched a collaboration with viaSim to model the biomedical PI workforce and to estimate the rate of replenishment necessary to balance the age of the entire pool and to test policies that could be employed to encourage reductions in the duration of training. This paper provides an overview of the model developed for the project, as well as some initial simulations of policies related to the duration of training and entry of new investigators. The final section addresses how the NIH-specific model could be applied to the national STEM workforce.