With an ultimate goal of cutting its grant application reviews
by half, the Center for Scientific Review will begin a pilot program
for new researchers in February. It is aimed at carving a month
and a half from the 6-month process.
CSR will conduct the pilot in 40 of its study sections, offering
a shortened review process to new investigators applying for their
first major NIH grant, an R01.
|The Center for Scientific Review
will begin a pilot program for new researchers in February
aimed at carving a month and a half from the 6-month process.
If all goes as planned, the shortened process will enable some
new investigators with applications needing work to revise their
applications and get back into a new review cycle more promptly,
ultimately saving them 3 to 4 months.
"We welcome this effort," said NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni.
He cited benefits for both researchers and scientific institutions
nationwide, as well as "the public awaiting medical advances."
The pilot was proposed by a special trans-NIH committee chaired
by Eileen Bradley, chief of CSR's surgical sciences in the biomedical
imaging and bioengineering integrated review group. It was approved
by NIH's extramural activities working group, which represents
all the institutes and centers. It was also reviewed and approved
by a joint meeting of the NIH review policy committee and the extramural
program management committee.
Acknowledging the interest of outside scientists in obtaining
speedier reviews, CSR director Dr. Toni Scarpa said, "Especially
in the area of biomedical research, the scientific world moves
fast, and we must keep up with it. We plan to use new electronic
and management tools while preserving the rigor and fairness of
NIH peer review, so we can identify the most promising medical
research more rapidly. Our goal is to reduce the grant review process
Total R01 grants are about $10 billion. They support many of the
best biomedical researchers at universities and medical centers
across the country — scientists who, over the years, have
been awarded more than 100 Nobel prizes.
CSR recruits 15,000 outside scientists for the peer review for
scientific merit of three-quarters of the nearly 80,000 applications
NIH receives in a year. IC advisory councils then review the summaries
CSR provides to determine which of the applications best fit their
aims and public health needs. The IC directors make their final
funding decisions based on the assessments and recommendations
that come out of the two-tiered review process. CSR and IC processes
together take about 9 months.
This pilot incorporates a number of features, including a shortened
time for reviewers to consider applications, earlier study section
meetings, accelerated production of summary statements and a delayed
submission date for these amended applications. CSR will assess
the views of the applicants in the pilot to see if they felt they
benefited from the shortened review cycle. CSR will also get the
opinions of reviewers.
New electronic and management methods and new electronic research
applications may enable CSR to use shortened cycles in reviewing
all R01 applications and other applications as well.
For more information on the pilot, visit http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-06-013.html.