New CSR director Dr. Richard Nakamura
NIH director Dr. Francis Collins announced the selection of Dr. Richard Nakamura as new director of the Center for Scientific Review on Dec. 3, 2012. He broke the news at a meeting of the CSR advisory council via a trans-Atlantic phone call.
Nakamura has been serving as acting CSR director since September 2011. He leads CSR’s 450 scientists and administrative staff, overseeing their efforts to manage over 80,000 incoming grant applications a year and review the majority of them in CSR peer review groups. CSR holds 1,500 review meetings a year, involving about 16,000 reviewers from the scientific community.
“Richard has done a tremendous job of leading CSR in this transitional period,” said Collins. “CSR has experienced many changes in a short amount of time, and Richard has demonstrated extraordinary leadership abilities as CSR continues to evaluate its trans-NIH peer review processes by putting improved and more efficient procedures in place so the NIH can fund the most promising research.”
In accepting his appointment, Nakamura emphasized the key role peer review plays in advancing science and ensuring the wise use of taxpayer funds and the importance of working collaboratively with all stakeholders at NIH and in the scientific community.
He listed some initial priorities for CSR:
- Become more scientific in assessing approaches to improving the efficiency and particularly the quality of NIH peer review.
- Work hard to understand and address racial disparities in NIH reviews.
- Collaborate with the NIH and scientific communities to identify critical problems such as the definition of a “new” application and to develop solutions.
He concluded, “I want others to know that CSR is not just the place that conducts reviews but we are an organization that is fundamentally committed to the science of the U.S.”
Nakamura spent more than 33 years at the National Institute of Mental Health, where he has served as both its scientific director and deputy director. He also was acting director of NIMH from 2001 to 2002. During his time at NIMH, he received a number of leadership awards, including the Presidential Rank Award.
Nakamura came to NIMH in 1976 as a postdoctoral fellow. In the mid-1980s, he coordinated NIMH’s Biobehavioral Program and later was chief of its Integrative Neuroscience Research Branch. Between 1997 and 2007, he served as deputy director. From 2007 to 2011, he was scientific director. While at NIMH, he also has held other positions, including associate director for science policy and program planning; chief, Behavioral and Integrative Neuroscience Research Branch; and coordinator, ADAMHA Office of Animal Research Issues.
Nakamura earned his B.A. in psychology from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., his M.A. in psychology from New York University and his Ph.D. in psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has expertise in a number of areas, including cognitive and comparative neuroscience, science policy/funding and ethics in science. He has published 30 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, most related to neurocognition in primates.