Interesting (and possibly depressing) post from Robin Barr (NIA) on funding trends.
The average age of first-time R01 funded investigators who have PhDs remains 42 even after seven years of policies at NIH to increase the numbers of new and early-stage investigators. And, over the same interval, age has continued to increase for first-time R01-funded MDs and MD-PhDs, despite the policies we have in place.
This comment on the number of investigators on an R01 caught my eye:
How many investigators does it take to write an R01? I looked at the 100 top-scoring R01 applications across NIH in January 2015 and compared them to a similar set from January 2005. R01 applications have been bulking up! In 2005, more of the top scoring applications had a single principal investigator listed as the faculty on that application—just Professor X and the students and postdocs—than had two faculty, or three faculty or any other number. By 2015, Professor X needed more help. Now, three faculty is the most common number of faculty members on an application. By 2015, the “average” top-scoring R01 at NIH had more than four faculty listed as participating on it.
I don't think it's that people need more help writing R01s; it's that funding is tight and people are scrambling to try to cover salary support.