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Thread: NIH Peer Review of Grant Applications for Clinical Research

  1. #1
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    NIH Peer Review of Grant Applications for Clinical Research

    NIH Peer Review of Grant Applications for Clinical Research
    Theodore A. Kotchen, MD; Teresa Lindquist, MS; Karl Malik, PhD; Ellie Ehrenfeld, PhD

    JAMA. 2004;291:836-843.

    Context Support of research to facilitate translation of scientific discoveries to the prevention and treatment of human disease is a high priority for the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Nevertheless, a perception exists among clinical investigators that the NIH peer review process may discriminate against clinical research.

    Objective To describe recent trends and outcomes of peer review of grant applications to NIH requesting support for clinical research.

    Design and Setting Peer review outcomes of grant applications submitted to NIH by MDs were compared with those of non-MDs, and outcomes of applications involving inclusion of human subjects were compared with those not involving human subjects. Analyses were carried out using an inclusive definition of clinical research and after stratifying clinical research into specific categories.

    Main Outcome Measures Median priority scores and funding rates.

    Results Between 1997 and 2002, on average, 25.2% of total grant applications (ranging from 27 6

  2. #2
    Thanks, Max, for posting this. Let me point out some salient statistics pointed out by this article in the Journal of American Medical Association.
    1. <LI> 1997-2002 represent some of the best years of NIH funding because these were the years that the NIH budget was being doubled, increased by 15% almost every year. We must remember that only about half of the $28 billion of the NIH budget goes to fund research outside of NIH. These results represent the best of times.
      <LI> Despite the fact that it was the "best of times" for NIH funding, only 25.2% or about a quarter of grant applications were funded per year. The number of applications ranged from 27,607-34,422 applications per year submitted by MDs. In 2002, MDs were very favorably funded at a 31.4% rate compared to non-MDs at 29.1% rate.
      <LI> Many of the MD grants, however, were not R01 (investigator initiated research awards) but probably grants such as career development or fellowship awards (K-series). If only R01 grants were considered, MDs (23.9% funding) did worse than non-MDs (28.1% funding).
      <LI> Investigator-initiated clinical trial applications had significantly lower funding rates than any of the categories examined. The authors concluded that this may have been due to concerns about safety or privacy of human subjects being the cause of less favorable outcome.

    Several other factors may have contributed to the lower funding rate of clinical trials. First, clinical trial grants are typically significantly larger than other grants. Given the choice of funding five basic science grants and a clinical trial, reviewers may have subconsciously chosen the former as higher values. Second, MDs who are seeking clinical trial funding may have less experience with NIH grant funding than MDs who are applying for funds to study mechanisms of disease or PhD's applying for basic science funding. Experience does matter in getting NIH grants. Third, clinical trials have to meet several different and more difficult criteria for funding than basic or mechanism-oreinted applications, such as access to the drug or cells and ability to show that sufficient numbers of patients can be recruited. If the grant does not demonstrate these capabilities or the reviewers don't think that it can be accomplished, they turn down the grants.


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