Science by Consensus: Why the NIH Grant Review System Must Be Changed

One of the foremost concerns of biomedical scientists in the United States is the difficulty in obtaining grant funding from the National Institutes of Health. The NIH grant review system has now become like the weather: Everybody talks about it, but nobody seems to be able to do anything about it. A disturbing example of the shortcomings of NIH review panels was provided by John McGowan, the director of extramural research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He courag

Nejat nes
Apr 11, 1999

One of the foremost concerns of biomedical scientists in the United States is the difficulty in obtaining grant funding from the National Institutes of Health. The NIH grant review system has now become like the weather: Everybody talks about it, but nobody seems to be able to do anything about it. A disturbing example of the shortcomings of NIH review panels was provided by John McGowan, the director of extramural research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He courageously revealed that several proposals to investigate HIV infection of macrophages had been rejected by a review panel ("study section") with the pretext that "the literature does not support the hypothesis that HIV can grow in macrophages."1

It is now well known that macrophage-tropic strains of HIV infect macrophages and are thought to initiate infection in humans. It is clear that our understanding of HIV pathogenesis would have...

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