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Research Training in the Biomedical, Behavioral, and Clinical Research Sciences
increase would be about 2 percent of the NRSA training budget. This should not be implemented by reducing the number of individuals supported by the NRSA program.
Second, the size of the MSTP should be expanded by at least 20 percent—and more, if financially feasible—with an emphasis on clinical, behavioral, and social sciences in the expansion. This program has been highly successful in producing researchers in basic biomedical, transitional, and clinical research.10 Again, recommendations to increase MSTP training were made in previous NRSA reports, and an increase was endorsed by NIH following the 2000 NRSA report. Currently there are 911 MSTP slots at an average cost of $41,806 per slot. An increase by 20 percent to about 1,100 slots would increase the MSTP budget by about $7.6 million, or 1 percent of the NRSA budget. Phasing it in over 4 years would not have a significant impact on the budget.
Third, NIH should consider an increase in the indirect cost rate on NRSA training grants and K awards from 8 percent to the negotiated rate currently applied to research grants. The increase in the rate could be phased in over time. This would require a five- or six-fold increase in indirect costs, or $191 million for the NRSA program at its current size, assuming that stipends amount to about half of the awards, and $338 million for K awards. There was not unanimity within the committee on this recommendation because of concerns about costs and the reduction in program size that could result with a stagnant NIH budget. An increase of $529 million is significant, even in light of the reasoning that NIH should share the full cost of administrating these programs, but the committee wanted to record its support for the measure and its hope that it could be implemented at some point.
The committee had the option of putting forth recommendations without prioritization, but it believed that guidance in these difficult economic times would add to the weight and credibility of the recommendations.