Two Years (or so) of “Open Mike”

Last year, as I reflected on finishing my first full year as NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, I noted five themes that reflected most of the content of this blog: applicant behavior, activity, and outcomes; peer review; basic science; biomedical research workforce and training; and scientific rigor, transparency, and research impact. Looking back on 2017, which was certainly a busy and active year, many of these themes continue to be at the forefront, though one in particular, the make-up and future of the biomedical research workforce, has been the center of much debate. …. Continue reading

Patents and the Relative Citation Ratio: Correlations to Assess NIH Impact

We previously referenced Ioannidis’ and Khoury’s “PQRST” mnemonic for describing research impact: “P” is productivity, “Q” is quality, “R” is reproducibility, “S” is sharing, and “T” is translation.  We wrote several blogs about “P,” productivity, focusing on publications, citations, and more recently the relative citation ratio.  Now we’ll focus on a different kind of “P” for productivity, namely patents (which arguably are also related to “T” for translation).  …. Do NIH-supported papers that are cited by patents have a higher Relative Citation Ratio than those that are not cited by patents? As a refresher, the Relative Citation Ratio uses citation rates to measure the influence of a publication at the article level…. We identified 119,674 unique NIH grants that were funded between 1995 and 2007 and that generated at least one publication…. Continue reading

The 21st Century Cures Act, and Perspectives from NIH

You may have been following news of the 21st Century Cures Act, a landmark piece of legislation with provisions for healthcare, medicine, and research. Republican and Democratic lawmakers supported this bill through its development and eventual passage, and yesterday, President Obama signed the bill into law. The Act establishes a multitude of important changes to our nation’s approach to supporting and funding health care, medical interventions, and research. Readers of this blog may be particularly interested in the many changes directly relevant to NIH’s mission. A New England Journal of Medicine Perspective essay …. Continue reading

Building Better Clinical Trials through Stewardship and Transparency

NIH is the largest public funder of clinical trials in the United States. As stewards of this research enterprise, we have been actively listening and discussing how to overcome hurdles and shortcomings that we, and others in the research community, have identified. If you’ve been following the conversation, you’ll know that NIH already has implemented some key reforms to enhance clinical trial stewardship. Today, in a Viewpoint Essay published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), we provide an overview of how these reforms, and new initiatives, fit in to the broader picture of building a better clinical trial enterprise through better stewardship, accountability, and transparency.

Figure 1 illustrates the clinical trial “lifespan”, and key opportunities for improving the quality and efficiency of clinical trials – opportunities that translate into more innovative and robust clinical trial design, and accelerated discoveries that will advance human health. NIH is leading a multi-faceted effort that addresses shortcomings and challenges throughout this lifespan, including the application and award process; the scientific review of trial applications; post-award management and oversight; sharing of trial data; and dissemination of research results information to the public. …. Continue reading

Model Organisms, Part 3: A Look at All RPGs for Six Models

We are most appreciative of the feedback we’ve received, through the blog and elsewhere, on NIH support of model organism research. In part 1 of this series, we mentioned that we asked two separate groups to analyze NIH applications and awards. In parts 1 and 2 we primarily focused on R01-based data that were curated and analyzed by our Office of Portfolio Analysis. In part 3, we show results from a broader range of research project grant (RPG) data that were prepared and analyzed by our Office of Research Information Systems. This group used an automated thesaurus-based text mining system which delves into not only public data such as project titles, abstracts, public health relevance statements, but also the specific aims contained in RPG applications. …. Continue reading

Perspectives on Peer Review at the NIH

In today’s New England Journal of Medicine, Richard Nakamura, the director of NIH’s Center for Scientific Review (CSR), and I published an essay titled “Reviewing Peer Review at the NIH.” As the competition for NIH research grants has become increasingly stiff, review scores often are pointed to as the reason for failure to obtain funding. Indeed, over the past few years, peer review has come under increasing scrutiny. Critics have argued that peer review fails in its primary mission – to help funding agencies make the best decisions about which projects and which investigators to support. …. Continue reading

Bolstering Trust in Science Through Rigorous Standards

Scientists have long considered the research process to be self-correcting; we trust that, even if scientists may sometimes make errors in the lab, those errors will eventually be discovered and corrected as others try to substantiate and extend original research findings. However, as stated in a commentary by NIH Director Francis Collins and NIH Deputy Director Larry Tabak, “A growing chorus of concern, from scientists and laypeople, contends that the complex system for ensuring the reproducibility of biomedical research is failing and is in need of restructuring.”
There are examples that indicate that our processes have room for improvement. For example, a 2008 study …. Continue reading