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Developing Science to Underpin NIH Peer Review

Thursday, September 17, 2015 — Poster Session III

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
FAES Terrace


  • R Nakamura
  • D Luckett
  • MA Guadagno
  • A Rubinstein
  • A Vancea
  • A Manning
  • C Dumais
  • R Etcheberrigaray
  • MC Chen


Officials from many countries frequently visit the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) because they want to copy the winning formula NIH uses to identify and fund the most promising grant applications. For 70 years, NIH has recruited groups of external scientific experts to help it evaluate grant applications. CSR receives over 80,000 applications a year and reviews the majority of them in 1,500 review meetings using 17,000 reviewers. These reviews guide NIH funding that supports over 300,000 extramural scientists and research staff across the country and beyond. The payoffs of peer-reviewed research have been dramatic in terms of life expectancy and economic growth. Recent research by Li and Agha found that NIH peer review scores correlated with better research outcomes. CSR is conducting a series of surveys and research studies of application evaluation and ranking fairness to determine the extent to which current peer review practices are optimal for achieving its’ mission, and to identify areas of success and improvement in the quality and cost of peer review. Yet, will the future be as bright as the past? In the last ten years, NIH funding has steadily declined in real terms, and grant success rates have fallen from 40% to 16%. China, however, has doubled its research funding every 5 years for the last 30 and will soon outspend the U.S. NIH peer review remains a viable way to help propel U.S. health science research to greater heights.

Category: Institute, Center, and Scientific Directors