Apparently the NIH is concerned funding rates are going to fall off a cliff in 2011. Jocelyn Kaiser has a news piece this week in Science.
The cliff problem was the focus of a meeting of economists, academic leaders, and NIH officials last week at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island in New York. Economist Paula Stephan of Georgia State University in Atlanta expects trouble as a glut of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students who were hired or kept on with ARRA money will hit the job market. "There is going to be a huge backlog of individuals looking for jobs and fellowships in 2011 and 2012, " predicts Stephan.
One suggestion: persuade Congress to fund one-time "bridge" fellowships to give ARRA-funded postdocs more time to find academic jobs or switch careers. "It wouldn't take a whole lot of money, " says meeting organizer Richard Freeman, a labor economist at Harvard University.
What academic jobs is he talking about? Basically Freeman's suggestion boils down to giving "bridge" funding to ARRA-funded postdocs so they have time to bail out...
Harvard microbiologist and American Society for Microbiology President Roberto Kolter, who spoke at Cold Spring Harbor, says "there's a wait-and-see attitude right now" in his department, which didn't apply for much ARRA money. He and many of his colleagues won't need to renew their grants for 2 or 3 years. But then, he expects, "there will be some casualties."
Ain't that the truth...