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Career Development Awards Critical to ID/HIV Physician-Scientist Pipeline


At a time when needs for infectious disease and HIV researchers to combat antimicrobial resistance, global outbreaks, and biosecurity threats and advance a cure for HIV, are growing, the low baseline funding for career development grants announced by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) this week for the coming year will challenge efforts to bring new physician scientists to the field.

The levels for career development grants, or K awards, which, apart from one category, dropped from the 18th percentile in 2018 to the 14th percentile in 2019, will limit research objectives and discourage trainees from applying for opportunities important to the development of a strong infectious disease and HIV physician-scientist pipeline. While we recognize that NIAID sets initial funding levels conservatively and may add funding at the end of the fiscal year, data continue to show a decline in applications for the awards over the last decade. Congress has provided $2 billion funding increases for the National Institutes of Health in each of the last two years, and most NIH institutes have set higher funding levels for K awards in 2018. IDSA and HIVMA believe that NIAID can and should make this critical investment.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America has urged NIAID to increase existing K award levels, and to consider implementing additional mechanisms to improve the funding landscape for early career researchers, in line with the NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative. IDSA and HIVMA will continue to urge Congress to increase funding for NIH and NIAID specifically, recognizing that recent increases, while important, have not yet been sufficient to make up for previous years of more stagnant funding, inflation, and growing needs.

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