Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Letting another NIH deadline slip

I've been meaning to submit an SBIR Phase I proposal to the NIH for about a year now. I first let the August 2008 deadline slip, then December and April. The project continues to clarify. I had every intention of submitting a proposal this time around. But a few things stay my hand.

First, I'm in the midst of negotiating a DoD Phase II SBIR, which really must take precedence. Along with that, I'm planning three new full-time hires around the start of 2010. There are a great many administrative details to attend to, in addition to reviewing applications and scheduling interviews. I'm looking to move into larger office quarters to accomodate a larger staff.

I recently prepared and submitted two new Phase I proposals for different agencies. There are still several irons in the fire, pending review. Once I have that new staff in place, and the Phase II underway, I'll have more time and energy to dedicate to new projects.

That said, the NIH's reticence, indeed seeming disdain for small business research gives me pause. They have made it clear that they have little interest in funding research beyond the walls of academic institutions. If there were no SBIR mandate, I suspect there'd be little room in their R&D budget for truly small businesses. But why?

I bring some baggage with me, I admit. Academia dumped me unceremoniously as soon as I received my PhD. I was given my diploma, then ushered out the door. There's little place for the unrepentant interdisciplinarian within the walls of the ivory tower (at least there was little room for me). Nearly every independent review of my CV came back with the following remark: "You look like a researcher." I was told point blank that hiring committees are uninterested in research for a junior faculty position. "They want someone to teach 101 and 102 and 103. They'll look at your research after you're tenured."

After five years of seeking, 150 applications, a handful of interviews, and a semester of adjunct servitude at a private institution that refused to hire full-time adjuncts with benefits for full-time work, I finally struck out on my own. I see the great value in programs like SBIR to provide an alternate source of support for open and fair competition among dedicated, innovative scholars, whose ideas are just that bit out of the mainstream.

I guess we'll see what the coming SBIR reauthorization has to offer. I still have an NIH proposal in me. Just not this time around.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting text. You have a nice blog. Keep it up!

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