Presentation on theme: "NIH Study Section. Typical Workload 70-90 applications 20-25 members Each application is assigned primary, secondary, tertiary reviewer – 8-12 applications/reviewer."— Presentation transcript:
NIH Study Section
Typical Workload applications members Each application is assigned primary, secondary, tertiary reviewer – 8-12 applications/reviewer Reviewers in training sections typically review applications covering a wide range of topics – Unlikely to be an expert in all of the grant applications
When I review grants On plane, traveling to meeting – no internet access! At home, watching reruns of Law and Order The night before the scores are due
Candidate Assess the candidate's potential to become an important contributor to biomedical or behavioral science. Because the goal is to identify candidates who have the highest potential to develop into productive independent scientists upon the completion of their training, this element of review is critical to the overall score. extent and level of previous education including undergraduate or graduate degree(s), the field, academic performance, mentor and institution; Dissertation topic(s) in one or two sentences; Previous postdoctoral research or clinical experience, including: the mentor, institution, topic, and dates; Evidence of commitment to a career in research; Awards and honors, other relevant research experience, professional training, and publications; Reference letters; considering both the numerical rankings and the text of the letters Important Note: Candidates with clinical degrees (M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., etc.) may have had little previous research experience but are eligible for postdoctoral fellowship support and may propose training that leads to a Ph.D. degree. The candidate's specific background should be considered in assessing the potential to develop into a productive scientist.
Sponsor and Environment Assess the qualifications of the sponsor including his or her research expertise and prior experience as a mentor. Also evaluate the degree to which the level of funding for the proposed project, the environment of the host laboratory, the proposed training program, and the institution will be conducive to successful postdoctoral training. The sponsor’s training plan should be individually tailored to the applicant and should describe planned activities such as coursework, seminars, scientific conferences, and opportunities for interaction with other scientists. Training in career skills, such as grant writing, lecturing, and giving scientific presentations, is encouraged.
Research Proposal Briefly evaluate the merit of the research proposal and the general approach, considering the applicant's research background and the respective contributions of the applicant and the sponsor in the development of the research proposal. The proposal must have scientific merit, but unlike a research grant proposal, it should be evaluated in the light of the applicant's previous training and career development. Therefore, avoid a detailed critique of technical aspects of the research, but check for flaws so severe that they cast doubt on the applicant's or the sponsor's scientific judgment and qualifications or on whether such flawed research can serve as an appropriate vehicle for the candidate’s development. The emphasis here should be on potential of the training plan to provide the fellow with individualized supervised experiences that will develop the candidate’s knowledge and research skills, and not on the likely significance or impact on the field of the proposed research.
Considering the candidate's qualifications and previous research experience, evaluate the proposed training experience as it relates to preparation for an independent research career. Candidates may choose to remain in a scientific area related to their previous work or shift to an entirely new area of research, but the proposed experience must augment the candidate's conceptual and/or experimental skills. The overall training potential should be considered in light of the requested period of fellowship support.
Quick overview Candidate, etc Evidence of scholarly activity, commitment to research Sponsor: experienced in research area? In mentoring (junior/senior co-mentoring plan)? Letters of recommendation Training plan More than methods training Regular meetings with mentor/lab meetings? Advisory committee (describe contribution of each member, include letter)? Career enhancement skills: writing/presentation/natl meetings
Pet Peeves with Research Proposal Too dense Annoying tpyos, obvious cut & pastes Too many abbreviations Figures too small, legends/axis too small Color photos not submitted in appendix
Pet Peeves Biosketch not accurate or up-to-date – Manuscripts “in press” for 5 years – Separate abstracts and papers – Acceptable to list manuscripts submitted or in preparation
Pet Peeves Background too long – Not a state of the art review, should lead the reader to the hypothesis tested – Only discuss subjects relevant to your research plan Preliminary data not properly credited (add citation if published)
Pet Peeves Methods: too detailed – Don’t need protocols for standard assays, buffer compositions, etc No discussion of interpretation of potential results, alternative hypothesis Potential problems limited to technical difficulties Dependent aims Overambitious, unfocused aims No letters from collaborators/consultants
Pet Peeves Animals: lack of numbers justification ALL required sections not addressed Incomplete references – List all authors, article title Additional pointer – Clarify how long have you been in the lab particularly for MD fellows
What Happens Reviewers submit grades and critiques online 1 week prior to meeting – 4 components are individually scored (candidate, sponsor/environment, research plan, training potential), plus overall score Overall score is NOT an average of components – Reviewers read other critiques – SRA develops rank list of grants
Stuffy hotel meeting room 20 people sitting around table, with laptops, iphones and internet access – Jet-lagged, overworked Bottom 40% of grants are triaged (not discussed at meeting) – Receive reviews – No group discussion (no summary statement) – Receive component scores, not overall score Grants reviewed in order of preliminary scores – Best to worst
What happens Chair asks each of the 3 reviewers for the initial scores* – Primary reviewer presents overview, strengths and weaknesses – Other reviewers concur or discuss differences – Discussion open to floor – Reviewers state their final scores at end of discussion (opportunity to modify scores/critiques) – Group votes within the range of the scores
Assigned reviewers have the most influence on scoring – Passionate reviewer (pro or con) will influence the group
Resubmissions Address all of the critiques Reviewers may not be the same as the original Reviewers see the original critique, but not the original grant
The “F” word Not decided by the study section Reviewers don’t know the final score of a grant Reviewed grants get funded through a variety of different Institutes, with different funding lines