Responding to Frequent Questions on Flexibilities Related to NIH Funding and COVID-19

The public health emergency due to COVID-19 is causing difficulties in many aspects of our lives. My colleagues and I here at NIH are well aware of the challenges being felt in the research community as institutions are closing, people are being asked to practice social distancing, and resources and attention are justifiably focused on public health needs. We recently updated our website with a slew of additional FAQs, new funding opportunities, as well as a video message from me, where I address some of the most common questions. Continue reading

COVID-19 Resources for Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding

Due to the potential exceptional impact of the declared public health emergency, we want to assure our recipient community that NIH will be doing our part to help you continue your research. Our website on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients has a list of available resources. Continue reading

Seeking Your Input on Simplifying Review Criteria

Over the past several years we have heard consistent concerns about the complexity of review criteria and administrative load of peer review. To address these concerns, CSR has convened a working group of our advisory council, charged with recommending changes to research project grant review criteria that will improve review outcomes and reduce reviewer burden. We would like to hear your thoughts on the issue. How might review criteria be modified to obtain the best evaluations of scientific merit? Continue reading

How Many Researchers: Positive Trends Continue in FY 2019

As we continue to explore the question of how many researchers NIH funds, we have been observing a positive trend over the last few years where the number of unique scientists seeking support on NIH research project grants (RPGs) is stabilizing along with a commensurate rise in the corresponding NIH cumulative investigator rate. Now with fiscal year (FY) 2019 data available on the NIH Data Book, let’s see if this trend continued. Continue reading

What’s Happening With “At-Risk Investigators?”

In December 2018, the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) offered a number of recommendations to NIH on the “Next Generation Researchers Initiative.” Among those: The Committee recommended “special funding consideration for “at-risk” investigators. These are researchers who developed meritorious applications who would not have significant NIH research funding if the application under consideration is not awarded. We plan to draw more attention this year, both inside and outside NIH, to outcomes for at-risk investigators, to ensure those submitting meritorious ideas to NIH are not lost to the system. Continue reading

Broadening the Pool of NIH Reviewers

The scientific peer review process benefits greatly when the study section reviewers bring not only strong scientific qualifications and expertise, but also a broad range of backgrounds and varying scientific perspectives. Bringing new viewpoints into the process replenishes and refreshes the study section, enhancing the quality of its output. Continue reading

Case Study in Review Integrity: Asking for Favorable Treatment

What happens when a former colleague contacts you, a reviewer, out of the blue to ask if the application on which he is a principal investigator could be treated favorably at the review meeting? Do you brush off the investigator and figure you will not let the contact influence your review of that application? Or do you instead immediately notify NIH? Intrigued? We have a case for you (based on true stories, details have been changed slightly and names have been fictionalized). Read on. Continue reading

Celebrating 20 Years of ClinicalTrials.gov and Looking to the Future

NIH’s National Library of Medicine has launched an effort to modernize ClinicalTrials.gov to deliver an improved user experience on an updated platform that will accommodate growth and enhance efficiency. Creating a roadmap for modernization requires feedback from a wide array of stakeholders on how to continue serving, balancing, and prioritizing their varied information needs. As ClinicalTrials.gov celebrates its 20th anniversary on February 29, 2020, we’re asking for your input on how it can best continue to serve your needs for many more years to come. Continue reading

Data are Available on NIH Funding Plans

Funding decisions rely heavily on peer review scores, but there is more to the story. NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) weigh those scores together with ensuring their entire research portfolio addresses the wide array of diseases, conditions, or other research areas within its mission. They also account for unmet scientific needs and build on recent unexpected breakthroughs as part of prudent planning. When public health needs emerge, such as for the opioid epidemic or a microbial outbreak, ICs must be nimble enough to respond. Training, work force, and infrastructure needs are also thrown into the mix.

We present FY 2018 data on R01-equivalent applications and R56-Bridge awards, showing percentiles for both funded and unfunded applications. Continue reading