The Center for Scientific Review has launched a year-long series of six open-house workshops to solicit input from leaders of the scientific community
and other stakeholders. They will help CSR improve its study sections, which review NIH grant applications.
“Peer review is the cornerstone of NIH,” said NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni at the first workshop on Mar. 2. “It is critical to the integrity and excellence
of our science.” He thanked participants, who gathered to focus on CSR’s neuroscience study sections. “It is a humbling experience to realize that over 31,000 scientists come to NIH every year to serve on study sections, advisory councils and other groups,” he said. “They help NIH maintain our adaptability.”
CSR director Dr. Toni Scarpa notes that CSR’s peer review groups have not been assessed broadly by the scientific community since the NIH panel on scientific boundaries for review released its reorganization
plan 7 years ago. “The rapid evolution and expansion of science has made it much more difficult for our peer review groups to keep pace,” he said. “The expected input from the open houses will help accelerate needed changes at CSR.”
About 200 scientific leaders from professional societies, disease groups and NIH attended the first meeting. To help CSR align its study sections
with changes in science, participants met in breakout groups to answer two key questions: Is the science of your discipline appropriately evaluated
within the current study section alignment? What will be the most important questions and/or enabling technologies forthcoming in the science
of your discipline in the next 10 years? Team leaders later summarized their discussions for the whole group. The meeting concluded with a discussion of ongoing changes at CSR.
The next five open houses will focus on the behavioral and social sciences study sections, disease-
based study sections, integrated biological study sections (two workshops) and biomolecular study sections.
Comments from the workshops will be posted online. All those interested will be encouraged to submit additional input. The resulting reports will be presented to the NIH peer review advisory
committee, which will guide CSR as it works to implement changes and address concerns raised at the workshops. More information, reports and registrations can be found on CSR’s web site, http://www.csr.nih.gov/openhouse.