Grant Review Process for the NIH

Daniel Bednarik

NIH Research Center

An important component to grants with the NIH is their peer review process.  This system has been set into place to ensure that the projects that are funded are of the highest caliber and will yield the most rewarding results.  This careful review process contributes greatly to the overall excellence and success of the NIH and their continued success with projects.  The system is called a dual peer review system, and is sanctioned to align precisely with the Public Health Service Act, section 492, specifically.  Similarly, the system is meant to follow the federal regulations that oversee the, “Scientific Peer Review of Research Grant Applications and Research and Development Contract Projects.”  Beyond this, the NIH prides itself on reviewing applications for grants in a manner that is without bias, as well as fair and timely.

The review process for any grant applications consists of multiple levels.  The first level of review is a the hands of the Scientific Review Group, which is made up in majority by experts in prominent research areas and relevant scientific niches, who simultaneously are not federal scientists.  If the application is reviewed and accepted by this first level of reviewers, it moves on to the second level of the review process. This second level is conducted by the Institute and Center National Advisory Councils or Boards.  These councils are made up of representatives who are experts in the field of science, as well as public representatives, who earn their place on the board due to either personal interest, expertise or activity within areas of study revolving around health and disease.

The application must be reviewed by both levels, and only receives funding if both levels suggest that the project receive funding.  Being recommended by both groups, however, does not guarantee that the project will then receive funding.  The NIH has set up such a rigorous process in order to ensure that these projects will be worth their money and time.  Any scientist who receives funding from the NIH should be honored that their project was accepted by such a rigorous organization.