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NIH peer review "review" ends

The NIH has wrapped up its year-long effort to reform the way it reviews grant applications, releasing today (June 6) a report that focuses on changes such as shortening and redesigning applications, making it easier for good reviewers to serve, and encouraging innovative and "transformative" projects. For instance, the agency plans to create a new investigator-initiated Transformative R01 Award program worth at least $250 million, and invest at least $750 million in innovative awards, such as

By | June 6, 2008

The NIH has wrapped up its year-long effort to reform the way it reviews grant applications, releasing today (June 6) a report that focuses on changes such as shortening and redesigning applications, making it easier for good reviewers to serve, and encouraging innovative and "transformative" projects. For instance, the agency plans to create a new investigator-initiated Transformative R01 Award program worth at least $250 million, and invest at least $750 million in innovative awards, such as the Pioneer, EUREKA, and New Innovator Awards, for a total of $1 billion over five years. Additional highlights of the changes include: -Increasing flexibility for reviewers, and compensating them for their time and effort -Focusing applications on impact, including five review criteria, and changing the rating system for applications -Establish a minimum of early stage investigators and those new to the NIH to support, encourage the Transformative Research Pathway During the last year, the NIH solicited feedback from the life science community about how it should linkurl:change;http://www.the-scientist.com/2008/5/1/32/1/ peer review, and received 2,000 responses, some in the form of a statement from an institution or professional organization, each representing thousands of researchers. In January, I sat down with Lawrence Tabak, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and co-chair of one of the NIH peer review working groups, to talk about the process. linkurl:Click here;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54180/ to listen to the interview. And check out the linkurl:NIH's Web site;http://enhancing-peer-review.nih.gov/ for more information on how it's changing peer review.
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Avatar of: les costello

les costello

Posts: 2

July 9, 2009

The stated goal of the NIH review of the R01 peer review process initiated in 2008 by NIH Director Dr. Zerhouni is to ?Fund the best science, by the best scientists..." This review process was predicated on the conclusion that serious contemporary issues exist that compromise this stated goal. As a result NIH has been issuing new guidelines, requirements and considerations into the peer-review process. However the new guidelines and requirements that have evolved and imposed by NIH are antithetical and counter-productive to achieving this goal. The R01 vehicle is being transformed from being the major vehicle exclusively for funding the best science, by the best scientists, to a major vehicle for the training and development of new investigators (NI)/early stage investigators (ESI). Even recipients of NIH training and other grants for up to ten years qualify as ESIs for R01s. New directives require that ?NIH will support New Investigator (NI) R01 awards at success rates comparable to those for established investigators submitting new R01 applications.? Recently NIH required that ?... applicants eligible for consideration as first-time R01 investigators under the FY 2009 appropriation will be paid using an extended payline of the 22.0 percentile; compared to 16.0 percentile for others.? This new direction and requirements insure that funds for the best science and the best scientists will be diverted for the funding of lesser quality science and research. This does a disservice to the advances in medicine and health; and is contrary to the interests of the scientific, medical, and public-at-large communities. There already exists training and development vehicles and funding for young investigators. \n Moreover, the NIH policy introduces and justifies a form of age discrimination in that it insures and requires that grant proposals from senior investigators and long-time funded investigators will be denied funding based on age, not on scientific merit. The policy even violates the NIH CSR requirement ?...to see that NIH grant applications receive fair reviews -- free from inappropriate influences -- so NIH can fund the most promising research?. As a senior investigator with grant funding for 48 years and also a past reviewer on several NIH and other agencies grant review panels, I vehemently object to this policy. I do so not for personal reasons; but for the obligation to protect and defend the successful prior NIH 60-year history of advancements in science and medicine, which was based exclusively on funding the best science. I and my colleagues of yesteryear successfully competed as young investigators against established investigators based on the merits of the science and the capability to conduct the research.\n NIH states that today's young investigators do not compete successfully; so a need exists to downgrade the quality of science that will be funded. What NIH does not recognize and does not address is the reason for this contemporary problem. The reason is that contemporary biomedical graduate and post-graduate programs no longer train young aspiring investigators to be "scientists" with a broad holistic background and capability to integrate molecular to cellular through organ-systems physiological and pathophysiological principles and relationships, They are trained to be myopic super-technologists predominantly in areas of molecular biology/molecular technology (I address this problem in: The Effect of Contemporary Education and Training of Biomedical Scientists on Present and Future Medical Research. Acad Med, 84 459-463, 2009). Until this problem is addressed, the absence of broadly trained and knowledgeable biomedical ?scientists? will continue to decline as will the quality of biomedical research. Then there will no longer be a need for NIH to impose special considerations for young investigators. There will be no high quality science and scientists to compete against. \n

June 23, 2010

The NIH's biggest flaw is its biasness. Please, don't get me wrong : not all of the NIH is the same! Several times I served on the panel which was always objective and was always doing its best in helping investigators and in pushing good research ahead. At the same time, there are numerous examples of the NIH panels being pretty much "closed societies" where "outsiders" are never welcomed. What do they do when an outsider submits his/her grant to such a notorious group? First, they are getting surprised by the person's sassiness. Then, they select the most inappropriate panel of reviewers with enormously-huge reputation in any field but not the one that has any relation to the proposed study. At that point the investigator starts realizing that something is not right and he is trying to contact the NIH Program Officer - the one who is in charge of this panel. This Program Officer (usually with very modest or even close to none communication skills) responds with a cliché: don't bother me, we know what we are doing, we have PROFESSIONALS, everything will be okay. When the time comes, the naïve investigator sees what this "okay" means: his/her proposal is trashed! Not a single comment addresses the foundation of the proposed study and the investigator cannot identify the grounds for the reviewers' objections. Strikingly, the investigator sees that answers to all of the reviewers' critiques being readily available and easily located within the body of his/her proposal. All of the above makes this naïve outsider confident in his/her opinion: this proposal was never read! As for the "take home message" - it is clear: "GO AWAY! WE DON'T WANT YOU! And - you are so insignificant that we don't even put an effort into looking for any justified reason to slap you on the bottom!" What kind of options this naïve investigator is left with? Not too many: 1. To swallow this rudeness, lack of professionalism and unethical behavior while continuing his/her quest for a tiny little entrance that may lead him to this magical "good boys club"; 2. To turn away and to look for another granting agency; 3. To fight - which means to get on the "black list" of these "truth-seekers" And - nobody likes them anyway... I am pretty sure everything I said is very familiar to all of us. And yet - nothing changes... The system is rotten... Don Quixote, where are you?... It is so hard to fight alone against something that is much tougher than the windmills...

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