Fund people, not projects I: The HHMI and the NIH Director's Pioneer Award
Publish Date: 27-12-2020
Synopsis: So there's this paper, Incentives and Creativity: Evidence from the academic life sciences (Azoulay, Graff Zivin, Manso 2011) that shows that Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigators (who are funded for a longer term and in a more open ended way) outperform those of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that have shorter review cycles and more concrete grant proposals. This is seen as a vindication of the "fund people, not projects" paradigm. However, the effect sample reported is huge , perhaps too good to be true, and the extent to which this model can scale is debatable, as Azoulay himself also says that it is not clear how well this model can scale. HHMI is very much focused on a narrow elite.
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