Campus Messages

An archive of email messages sent to the entire UCSF community by the Chancellor and members of the Chancellor's Cabinet.

June 8, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

I am happy to report that NIH announced today that it will not implement the Grant Support Index (GSI) plan first made public at the beginning of May (see my June 1 email). This decision was in response to substantial feedback and concerns received from the community; UCSF was very active in that discussion, and many will be pleased with this outcome.

Also announced following yesterday’s Advisory Committee to the [NIH] Director meeting is a new effort, the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, which seeks to “increase the number of NIH-funded early-stage and mid-career investigators and to stabilize the career trajectory of scientists” ( This plan will extend the payline for early-stage and mid-career scientists, at an estimated cost of $210 million in the first year, ramping up to $1.1 billion in year five, using funds obtained from “rearranging priorities in other categories.” Greater emphasis also will be placed on existing NIH programs that serve scientists in these career stages.

While NIH will not move forward with GSI, they intend to pursue “the development and testing of metrics that can be used to assess the impact of NIH grant support on scientific progress.” We will track those plans closely, with the expectation that stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide input in the process similar to what occurred with the GSI concept.


Keith R. Yamamoto, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy

May 31, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Many in the UCSF community are aware that NIH has been seeking ways to assess the value of NIH grant support, and in particular wants to determine “whether it might be possible to fund more investigators with a fixed sum of money without hurting overall productivity.” [1, 2] On the premise that there are diminishing returns after achieving a given level of total support, NIH Director Francis Collins announced on May 2, 2017 a plan [3] to limit the number of grants held by any one investigator. In that scheme, a Grant Support Index (GSI) would assign point values to various grant mechanisms (e.g., an R01 grant is valued at 7 points), and any applicant who would exceed a GSI of 21 would be expected to adjust his/her grant portfolio if the new application were to be funded. Based on an initial analysis carried out by our Office of Sponsored Research, at least 42 UCSF investigators currently exceed 21 points, and at least an additional 18 are at 21 points precisely.

Not surprisingly, there has been much concern within the research community about the GSI policy as initially announced. I have been in active discussion with NIH leadership about these issues, as have many others across the nation. Direct communications to me, as well as a recent press article [4], suggest that substantial changes are being made. Unofficially, I have been told that GSI point assignments will be limited to R-mechanism grants, and that T, P and U mechanisms will no longer be included. I also have been assured informally that the 21-point line will not serve as a formulaic cap, but rather will flag an application and applicant for consideration of whether exceeding 21 points is merited by...

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