NIH to Go Anonymous?

The National Institutes of Health is considering a pilot program that would keep the identity of grant applicants hidden from reviewers.

Dec 13, 2012
Bob Grant

WIKIMEDIA, ANONYMOUSIn a move to make the grant review process less biased, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced that it is mulling over a policy change that would strip the names of grant applicants from their proposals for at least some of the time that they progress through the peer review process. Last Friday (December 7), the NIH’s principal deputy director, Lawrence Tabak said that “a number of approaches are being considered” by the agency for bringing anonymity to the grant review process, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. One approach could divulge the name of the grant applicant and her institution only in a later stage of review.

This potential change was one of a number of suggestions regarding NIH policy and procedures proposed by the NIH’s Advisory Committee to the Director last week. Other recommendations include establishing a new funding program for graduate students and postdocs, hiring a chief diversity officer, and improving mentoring for undergraduate students. Making the NIH grant review process anonymous would be another change in a line of moves—including a push to increase the diversity of NIH awardees and the establishment of new programs seeking riskier research proposals—that aim to spread the NIH’s wealth among a wider swath of the scientific community.