NIH 1998 Almanac/The Organization/CSR/
Center for Scientific Review: Important Events in CSR History
1944--Public Health Service Act (P.L. 78-410, sec. 301, July 1) authorized the
Surgeon General to "make grants-in-aid to universities, hospitals, laboratories, and
other public or private institutions, and to individuals for such research projects as are
recommended by the National Advisory Health Council, or, with respect to cancer,
recommended by the National Advisory Cancer Council." The act also authorized the
award of fellowships in the health sciences.
1946--The Research Grants Office was established January 1 under authority of
section 301 of the PHS act to administer a number of research projects transferred to PHS
from the Office of Scientific Research and Development at the end of 1945. The office was
elevated to division status at the end of 1946.
DRG was assigned responsibility for operating and administering a program of extramural
research and training through grants-in-aid of research in the biomedical and
health-related sciences (with the exception of cancer research programs operated by NCI).
DRG retained the operating responsibility until each successive institute was established
and took over the programs in its categorical fields.
The division was instructed by National Advisory Health Council to establish study
sections for scientific and technical review of research grant applications, and to
explore neglected areas of research in the health sciences.
1947--Assigned responsibility for development and administration of the research
fellowships program, DRG was renamed Division of Research Grants and Fellowships.
A Central Qualifications Board was formally established August 14 to coordinate review
of fellowship applications.
1949--Authority was delegated to DRG May 17 to make awards, and set stipends,
allowances, and travel for PHS research fellows (section 202 of the PHS act as amended).
1950--Title was changed back to Division of Research Grants with no change in
1953--A research documentation section was created for the collection, storage, and
retrieval of scientific information resulting from the research grants program.
DRG was awarded the Albert Lasker Award "for outstanding administration of a
research grants program, enabling thousands of capable scientists in hundreds of
institutions to contribute knowledge substantially advancing the Nation's health."
1956--A Health Research Facilities Branch was established to operate the
construction program authorized in the Health Research Facilities Act (P.L. 84-835).
1957--The Grants Review Branch was established to coordinate activities of the 27
study sections then in existence.
1958--Responsibility for research grant and training programs in noncategorical
areas, operated by the division since 1946, was transferred to the new Division of General
Following the transfer, the DRG reorganized to concentrate on review of research grant
and fellowship applications, coordination of all extramural programs operated by the
institutes and DGMS, and operation of the health research facilities program and grants
1959--The Statistics and Analysis Branch was established.
1961--To develop and support independent investigators of high competence, the
Research Career Program was initiated. A Career Development Review Branch was established.
The Grants Associates Program began recruitment and training of professional staff for
the extramural branches of all granting divisions of PHS, with DRG serving as a primary
The Research Grants Index was published for the first time.
1962--DRG was assigned overall responsibility for coordinating policies and
practices for administration of grants and awards for all PHS extramural programs. An
interbureau advisory committee was created to coordinate the programs and to assist the
A Policy and Procedure Office, was established in the Office of the Chief to coordinate
the review, development, and implementation of PHS policies on grants and awards. Health
Research Facilities was transferred to the new Division of Research Facilities and
1963--Codification of PHS policies and regulations led to the publication of a
1964--A DRG newsletter was initiated.
Three associate chiefs were added to strengthen management in scientific evaluation,
technical communications, analyses of extramural programs, statistical interpretations of
grant support, and staff training and orientation.
1965--The Civil Rights Liaison Office was established.
The grants manual was replaced by the "Policy Statement and Guide to Operating
Procedures for Research Grants."
DRG expanded its data processing services to include computer-preparation of
notices-of-awards and approval lists for research grants.
1966--DRG assumed additional responsibilities for review with the transfer from the
institutes of the committee on scientific publications, the NCI collaborative research
panel, the environmental sciences review committee and the review functions of six panels
of the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Medical Science program.
DRG recommended an increase in the responsibility of grantee institutions for
scientific and administrative management of research projects approved by the Surgeon
General to over 40 additional institutions for 2 years.
The Surgeon General issued the policy and procedure on clinical research and
investigations involving human subjects in February. Expanded in July, it required
institution-wide assurances to be coordinated and reviewed by DRG. Assurances from most
major grantees were received and accepted.
DRG expanded its computerized central data system to include training grants and
research career awards in an analogous pattern for research grants, and set up a
computer-based record for trainees on training grants and biographical records for
research career awardees.
The division established a general systems research section and research operations
support section under the associate director for research analysis and evaluation. The NIH
Central Scientific Classification System for research grants was installed.
1967--An Institutional Relations Office was established.
1968--DRG expanded the computer-based central data system, information for
management planning analysis and coordination (IMPAC), to include the fellowship programs
in addition to research, training grant, and research career award programs.
1969--DRG became a part of the Office of the Associate Director for Extramural
Research and Training. Grants management function was transferred to the Office of
Financial Management in the Office of the Associate Director for Administration.
DRG assumed responsibility for preparation of "Notice of NIH Conferences."
1970--DRG assumed initial review of all FDA applications for research grants.
The Research Analysis and Evaluation Office was given branch status with expanded
responsibilities as principal staff resource to DRG and NIH program officials in the
analysis and evaluation of the NIH extramural programs.
Responsibility for review of fellowship applications was passed to supporting
institutes and divisions.
1971--The computer retrieval of information on scientific projects (CRISP) system
was designed to provide scientific and associated grant identification information.
Study sections were assigned responsibility for initial review of all new RCDA
1972--An Office of Associate Director for Scientific Review was established to
coordinate all DRG activities that impinge on the review process and to assist ICDs
in devising most effective methods for review of new special emphasis programs.
The Administrative Branch was established incorporating duties of the Internal
Operations Branch and other related functions.
The institutional relations section was elevated to branch status.
The Statistics and Analysis Branch was reorganized into special projects and surveys
section, reports and data evaluation section, and an Office of Systems Planning in the
Office of the Chief.
1973--The Career Development Review Branch was abolished. An Office of Research
Manpower was established.
Grantee institutions were requested to establish central control offices for
distribution of research grant applications to their investigators.
1974--The first receipt date for new individual and institutional postdoctoral
research fellowship awards was scheduled for February 1. Review of individual fellowship
award applications was assigned to the study sections.
Research Grants Review Branch was abolished. Scientific Review Branch and Referral
Branch were established. Institutional Relations Branch was transferred from DRG to the
immediate Office of the Director, NIH, and renamed the Office for Protection From Research
DRG was assigned responsibility for conducting an ongoing inventory of clinical trials
supported by grants and contracts, and NIH intramural research investigators.
1975--Study sections were assigned responsibility for considering animal welfare in
review of grant and contract applications with attention to the departments Principles
for the Use of Laboratory Animals.
DRG developed a computerized tracking system to identify research involving human
subjects and to assure compliance by grantee investigators with departmental policy
concerning protection of human subjects.
The single review section in the Scientific Review Branch was replaced by four review
sections--biomedical sciences, clinical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and
specials--under the Office of the Chief.
1976--A new review cycle was established on January 1 for grant and award
applications to conform with the new Federal fiscal year (October 1-September 30).
1978--The behavioral and social sciences review section was changed to behavioral
and neurosciences review section.
The Extramural Associates Program was established under the Intergovernmental Personnel
Act (P.L. 91-648) to promote participation of ethnic minorities and women in NIH-supported
1979--DRG chartered four new study sections: biochemical endocrinology; chemical
pathology; diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine; and mammalian genetics.
The grants peer review study team published phase II of the report to the director,
NIH. Over 3,000 copies were sent to those who participated in the opinion poll.
An NIH review scientist registry and consultant file was officially initiated.
1980--DRG was directed to discontinue use of normalized rating scores after the
May/June council round.
1981--Eight new study sections were chartered: behavioral and neurosciences;
behavioral medicine; biomedical sciences; bio-organic and natural products chemistry;
clinical sciences; experimental cardiovascular sciences; experimental immunology; and
A Scientific Review Branch reorganization established three additional review sections:
biological sciences, manpower, and physiological sciences.
1982--The hearing research study section was chartered.
1983--The Scientific Review Branch, Referral Branch, and Office of Research
Manpower were consolidated into the Referral and Review Branch.
As a result of the congressionally mandated Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR)
Program, DRGs responsibilities increased. DRG was the central information source for
the small business community, provided the scientific merit review of SBIR applications,
and established an SBIR database for statistical studies and future mailings.
The respiratory and applied physiology study section was chartered.
1984--The Research Analysis and Evaluation Branch was abolished. A position of
assistant director for special projects was established. The neurology C study section was
1985--The reproductive endocrinology study section was chartered.
1986--A DRG study section seminar series was established, whereby section members
give scientific presentations of general interest to NIH.
The metabolic pathology study section was chartered.
1987--The Referral and Review Branch was reorganized the manpower review section
was dissolved, and the fellowship and some other study sections were redistributed. The
nursing research study section was chartered. The Reviewers Reserve, a pool of
experienced, precertified reviewers, was developed and is managed by DRG. The
divisions 40th year was commemorated and the division participated in the NIH
1988--The Statistics and Analysis Branch was reorganized and named the Information
Systems Branch. The review sections in the Referral and Review Branch were reorganized
with the addition of the immunology, virology and pathology review section and the
redistribution of several study sections.
1989/90--The DRG advisory committee was established as a council of experts outside
the NIH to advise DRG on policies and procedures.
Ten new study sections were chartered: AIDS and related research (1-7); genome;
international and cooperative projects; and physiological sciences. AIDS and fellowship
applications were given expedited review.
A local area network (LAN) was implemented to link the DRG personal computers to each
other and to the main NIH computer system. Four videotapes were made on the NIH peer
review system and application process and DRG.
1991/92--The lung biology and pathology study section and the behavioral and
neurosciences special emphasis panel were established and chartered. The Information
Systems Branch was reorganized into the data management and control section, information
systems management section, networking and telecommunications section, research
documentation section, systems analysis section, and statistics, analysis and evaluation
DRG was instrumental in enabling the "NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts" to
be distributed electronically to over 275 research institutions, and the division also
developed a computer system to enable the public to receive NIH program guidelines and
division publications electronically.
The visual sciences C study section was chartered.
The Westwood Building library, managed by DRG staff, was established.
1993/94--The NIH Grant Line, a computer bulletin board, providing information on
NIH extramural program guidelines, was expanded to include new grants and awards and
membership rosters of study sections.
CRISP, designed in 1971 to furnish scientific grant information, was issued on CD-ROM
and through the Gopher system via Internet.
The division developed and manages the revised "NIH Consultant File" to
identify potential peer reviewers.
1995/96DRG relocated from the Westwood Building where they had been since
1965, to the Rockledge Centre, located near the NIH campus in Bethesda.
The division developed DART (Division Application Review Tracker), an automated
tracking system enabling users to view and manage grant application data through the peer
The 50th anniversary of DRG and peer review was celebrated with a symposium:
"Past, Present and Future of Peer Review."
Most of the Information Systems Branch was transferred to the Office of Extramural
Research in the Office of the Director, NIH.
1997-- In August 1997, DRG became the Center for Scientific Review (CSR). The name
change reflects the centers primary mission--scientific review of grant
applications--and was intended to signal an expanded mission to include development and
implemenetation of flexible and innovative ways to refer and review all scientific areas. In accordance with this change, the center was organized into three review divisions (molelcular and cellular mechanisms; physiological systems; and clinical and population studies) plus the
Division of Receipt and Referral and the Division of Management Services. The Office of
Planning and Outreach and the Office of Policy and Analysis were also established.
Under a new director, Dr. Ehrenfeld, CSR began a thorough examination of its IRG and
study section organization. In this endeavor,
CSR is receiving assistance from two types of external advisory committees: 1)
oversight groups for each IRG (The first one, Cell Development and Function IRG, is operating as
a pilot.); and 2) the Panel on Scientific Boundaries for Review, which has been
established to consider broader issues.
A related activity involves integration of the review activities of the former ADAMHA institutes (Mental Health, Drug Abuse, and Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) into CSR. The toxicology study sections (CSR) and
alcohol-related IRGs (Alcohol Abuse) have been reorganized, and parallel efforts are under
way in the neurosciences, in the behavioral sciences, and in AIDS research.
CSR has been actively involved in the NIH responses to the administrations emphasis on streamlining and reinvention. All aspects of the review process as well as the receipt
and referral process are under study or experimental testing for improved efficiency and