Monday, January 8, 2018

NIH: Study section confidentiality breached?

Via Twitter, an interesting post from December 22 at one of the NIH's blogs about problems with a recent review of grant applications:
...NIH has recently determined that there has been a breach in the integrity of the panel review process of a batch of applications. 
NIH takes the integrity of peer review seriously, and we appreciate that the vast majority of individuals also take the integrity of peer review seriously. Accordingly, after much thought and deliberation, we decided we had no choice but to cancel the panel’s review. The consequences are serious: dozens of applications will need to undergo a re-review. 
When the integrity of peer review has been breached, it affects everyone. We regret that the dozens of affected applicants who did nothing wrong will face substantial delays in getting their applications reviewed and processed. We appreciate that the panel reviewers spent a great deal of time and effort reviewing dozens of applications, traveling, and participating in meetings. NIH must assure a fair process for everyone and will not stand by when the integrity of our peer review process is compromised....
Some of the comments in the post are pretty remarkable. It's not a surprise that this happened - maybe it's a surprise that it took so long? 


  1. For me there is a great irony here (and maybe for others): one thing that I thought would be a plus about scientific research was that you might be in a field that is not affected by cronyism. Sadly, it appears that who you know is as important as the science you do, whether it be in academia and industry.

  2. One of the comments posted under the screen name Nancy Andreasen. If that is actually Nancy c. Andreasen, MD, then the comments came from someone at the top of her field (department chair, AAAS & IOM member, past president of a couple psychiatry organizations, coauthor of the DSM). Those would not be the comments of a disgruntled outsider.

  3. Why is anyone shocked. This happens more frequently than you think. Reviewers get invited by applicants to give seminars when their grant is being reviewed.