Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Update on Simplifying Review Criteria: A Request for Information

Posted by Noni Byrnes">Noni Byrnes on December 8, 2022

Cross-posted on Open Mike. NIH has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking feedback on revising and simplifying the peer review framework for research project grant applications. The goal of this effort is to facilitate the mission of scientific peer review – identification of the strongest, highest-impact research. The proposed changes will allow peer reviewers to focus on scientific merit by evaluating 1) the scientific impact, research rigor, and feasibility of the proposed research without the distraction of administrative questions and 2) whether or not appropriate expertise and resources are available to conduct the research, thus mitigating the undue influence of the reputation of the institution or investigator. Currently, applications for research project grants (RPGs, such as R01s, R03s, R15s, R21s, R34s) are evaluated based on five scored criteria: Significance, Investigators, Innovation, Approach, and Environment (derived from NIH peer review regulations 42 C.F.R. Part 52h.8; see Definitions of Criteria and
Continue reading →

Career Opportunities at NIH for Behavioral and Social Scientists: Serving as a Program or Scientific Review Officer

Posted by Christine Hunter on October 13, 2022

Guest post by Dr. Christine Hunter, Acting Director, NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research; Dr. Valerie Durrant, Director of the Division of AIDS, behavioral and Population Sciences at the Center for Scientific Review; and Ms. Elan E. Ey, Deputy Director, Client Services Division, NIH Office of Human Resources. Originally released on July 7, 2022, on the OBSSR Director’s Voice Blog. Our hope with this blog is to highlight some exciting career paths at NIH for behavioral and social scientists that offer the opportunity to be highly engaged in shaping the future of the scientific enterprise. Science administrator jobs at NIH, called Program Officers (PO) and Scientific Review Officers (SRO), primarily involve planning, directing, and managing the evaluation of the science to ensure the best health-relevant research now and in the future. The PO and SRO roles are quite different, but each require a high level of scientific expertise
Continue reading →

CSR 2022-2027 Strategic Plan

Posted by Noni Byrnes">Noni Byrnes on September 20, 2022

I am pleased to announce the release of the CSR 2022-2027 Strategic Plan. CSR is entrusted with most of the peer review that enables NIH to support a broad range of biomedical research. Our primary goal, to ensure that peer review identifies the strongest, most promising science, depends upon an evaluation process that is fair, independent, expert, timely and free from inappropriate influences. This plan delineates a forward-looking framework comprising five overarching goals that organize CSR’s current and future initiatives in support of our important mission.   Goal 1: Maintain scientific review groups that provide appropriate scientific coverage and review settings for all of NIH science.   Goal 2: Further develop a large cadre of diverse, well-trained, and scientifically qualified experts to serve as reviewers.   Goal 3: Further develop an outstanding, engaged, and diverse staff.   Goal 4: Implement changes to the peer review process to make it more
Continue reading →

Seeking Public Comment on CSR’s 2022 – 2027 Strategic Plan

Posted by Noni Byrnes">Noni Byrnes on February 14, 2022

I am pleased to announce that CSR’s draft strategic plan is now open for public comment. This 5-year plan (for 2022–2027) will serve as our roadmap as CSR advances its mission of seeing that NIH grant applications receive fair, independent, expert, and timely scientific reviews—free from inappropriate influences—so NIH can fund the most promising research. Input from CSR’s stakeholders—the external scientific community, the CSR Advisory Council, NIH institutes and centers, and our own CSR staff—helped to shape the goals of the plan, all of which center on strengthening peer review. Input included critical discussions about topics that have received increased and necessary attention recently, including structural racism and the COVID-19 pandemic. The goals are:   • Goal 1: Maintain scientific review groups that provide appropriate scientific coverage and review settings for all of NIH science.   • Goal 2: Further develop a large cadre of diverse, well-trained, and scientifically qualified
Continue reading →

Strengthening Fellowship Review

Posted by Bruce Reed on January 6, 2022

Have you applied for, sponsored, or reviewed NIH fellowship applications? We would like to hear your thoughts on what works, what doesn’t, and how the process could be improved. National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowship (F) awards are intended to support training that will enhance pre- and post-doctoral trainees’ potential to develop into productive, independent research scientists. In 2021, CSR handled the review of more than 5500 of the approximately 6800 NRSA F applications received by NIH. We recently convened a CSR Advisory Council working group, charged with evaluating the fellowship review process and making recommendations to make it as effective and fair as possible for all. The working group has noted multiple concerns, many of which center around the challenges of discerning the potential of the applicant and the value of the training planned, as opposed to the general reputation of the school and sponsor. There are concerns that
Continue reading →

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Center for Scientific Review (CSR)

Posted by Noni Byrnes">Noni Byrnes on December 20, 2021

An anniversary is a time for reflection on our history, the goals we’ve accomplished, the challenges we’ve surmounted, and the lessons we’ve learned along the way. Our video, “Catalyst of Hope and Health,” reflects on CSR’s work over the past 75 years to ensure that grant applications sent to NIH receive fair, independent, expert, and timely scientific reviews that are free from inappropriate influences, so NIH can fund the most promising research. Since its establishment, CSR has also sought to continually improve. I invite you to watch the video to learn about this ongoing commitment to a high-quality, fair review process that serves to advance NIH’s mission. It features former NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and additional NIH leaders such as Drs. Marie Bernard, Anthony Fauci, and Michael Lauer, as well as NIH historian Dr. Richard Mandel, present and former CSR advisory council members, and reviewers and scientific review officers.
Continue reading →

CSR’s Commitment to Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Peer Review

Posted by Noni Byrnes">Noni Byrnes on March 3, 2021

On March 1, NIH Director Francis Collins announced NIH’s broad-based initiative, UNITE, to end structural racism and racial inequities in biomedical science. This is a recognition of the need for urgent, sustained effort on many fronts across the research enterprise, including in all parts of the NIH’s extramural processes, to change culture. While the NIH Institutes and Centers will examine their programmatic priorities and discretionary funding practices, here at CSR, we are committed to pushing ahead with efforts to protect the peer review process from the systemic biases that exist in all areas of the scientific community. In the June 2020 Review Matters blog, I wrote about some of the steps that CSR is taking to address individual and systemic biases in peer review. Following that, in July 2020, we held three community listening sessions, in which we heard the rightful anger and the call for urgent and specific action
Continue reading →

Should we keep meeting this way?

Posted by Bruce Reed on November 13, 2020

How will study sections meet in the future? NIH peer review depends on robust meetings where groups of scientists, through vigorous discussion, identify the applications of highest merit. For the last 75 years, until last March, nearly all chartered review committee meetings were held in-person. Today, in response to the pandemic, 90% of all CSR review meetings are run as video (“Zoom”) meetings. CSR is taking steps now so that when all options are back on the table, we can make informed choices about how best to convene review meetings. Last round we obtained survey responses from 3,000 NIH reviewers, ratings by scientific review officers (SRO) of 230 review meetings, compiled quantitative data comparing in-person versus Zoom instances of over 275 meetings, analyzed rosters from those meetings, and also surveyed our support staff. The data give no indication that the forced switch to Zoom has introduced major problems. Quality of
Continue reading →

Race & Peer Review

Posted by Noni Byrnes">Noni Byrnes on June 12, 2020

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis is just one of the latest disgusting examples of the systemic racial bias that has plagued this country for centuries. While our Black/African-American colleagues have to deal with this in their everyday lives, the recent incidents have led the rest of us to do some soul-searching about the part that we play in perpetuating this bias, either by our actions or by our failure to act. Here at the Center for Scientific Review, our mission includes words such as “fair”, “independent” and “free from inappropriate influences”. And bias, in all its many insidious forms, is the very antithesis of fairness. As indicated by several published studies over the last decade, and NIH’s own analyses, there remains a serious and disturbing disparity in NIH R01 award rates between White and Black applicants. Isolating the effect of race in the peer review process is a
Continue reading →

Broadening the Reviewer Pool: A New Tool for Societies to Recommend Reviewers

Posted by Kristin Kramer on May 7, 2020

CSR has launched an online portal through which scientific societies may recommend scientists to serve as NIH reviewers. This comes in response to requests from professional societies for a way to recommend potential reviewers and is part of CSR’s ongoing efforts to refresh and expand the pool of well-qualified reviewers in every area of science. This new online tool is easy to use and, by gathering key review-relevant information, makes it much more likely that scientific review officers will be able to find and invite the scientists who are recommended. We ask that scientific societies vet reviewer qualifications before entering the recommendations. They should be scientists who are generally interested in serving as reviewers. Scientific expertise, extramural funding, and productivity are examples of qualifications. In addition, we strongly encourage societies to recommend productive scientists from diverse backgrounds and career stages – e.g. assistant, associate, and full professors. Early career scientists
Continue reading →