NIH Peer Review Review

Nature already has a quick recap of the 2-month RFI process that just ended last Friday. Of the 2,000 responses submitted, only the public AAMC comments are specifically discussed … favorably … and a summary of the most common suggestions is also provided:

“Still, good ideas have emerged in the ‘popular’ category: there are strong arguments to be made for shortened grant applications and for regular ‘bridge’ funding to see investigators through gaps between grants. It is also important to ensure that senior, accomplished scientists serve on study sections. There is simply no replacement for the brains, experience, insight and judgement that they bring to bear on applications.

To this end, NIH grantees should be required to serve on study sections if the agency asks for their help — with due provision to ensure that they are not overburdened, and perhaps also a reward in the form of increased funds for their own grants. This would ensure that the best scientists are recruited onto study sections, and that senior scientists are brought back into the system.”

Nature also has a very insightful commentary on research funding woes at US biomedical institutions by one of my favorite research integrity researchers, Brian Martinson. Indeed, as part of this commentary, he notes that “Difficult funding decisions are increasing ill will, perceptions of injustice, and eroding the bases of ethical behaviour among academics.”

He offers a few suggestions, including one geared toward transitioning NIH funding to younger risk-taking investigators: “Universities have benefited handsomely from the efforts of senior faculty members in securing NIH grants during their careers, perhaps those same universities could now return the favour by taking full responsibility for paying these faculty salaries in their later years. This would serve the dual purpose of getting them off the NIH dole, and encouraging them to share their knowledge with their younger colleagues through more teaching.”

1 Comment »

  1. iGrrrl said

    Thanks for posting the Martinson commentary. I started graduate school right before the decade of NIH doubling, were funding lines were very tight, and the “are we training too many PhDs?” question was being asked. All such discssion stopped when NIH funding got better, which was not good. The biomedical community needs to reactivate the discussions again, with the added numbers of a decade of new doctorates.

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