I’ve always seen your research program as a model, Frank! Your methods work has a very strong connection to relevant topical projects, and is therefore relevant and useful for actual statistical practice! I also really like the way you and colleagues developed things at Vanderbilt with embedded statisticians. The optimal setting is synergy between applied work and methods development with credit given for both.
I strongly agree about funding. Getting methods work funded through substantive/topical grants is very effective, and leads to more relevant methods problems. It means that we’re answering methods questions that move substantive research forward as well. This is particularly relevant for large network grants. When we developed CNODES (www.cnodes.ca), Samy Suissa insisted that we retain ~5-10% of the project funding for methods work. This has been a great source of methods funding, and there is a nice synergy between our methods work for CNODES and the drug safety work we do for Health Canada. It’s also a fantastic way to train applied statistics students – they see early in their career what it’s like to participate in substantive projects and develop methods problems organically.