News Release

Monday, January 22, 2007

NIH Center for Scientific Review to Host Open House Workshops to Improve the Review of NIH Grant Applications

Bethesda, Md. — Starting in March 2007, the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will convene the first of six one-day Open House Workshops in 2007 to solicit input from leaders of the scientific community and other stakeholders. This input will be critical to realigning and reinventing CSR’s application review groups so the $20+ billion NIH invests in biomedical research grants each year advances the most promising research.

“The rapid evolution and expansion of science has made it much more difficult for our peer review groups to keep pace,” says Toni Scarpa, CSR Director. “The broad and expert input expected from the Open Houses will help accelerate needed changes at CSR, which will help NIH better advance medical research and serve the American public and all those suffering or at risk who need new treatments, cures and preventions.”

CSR’s peer review groups have not been assessed broadly by the scientific community since the NIH Panel on Scientific Boundaries for Review (PSBR) released its reorganization plan seven years ago. Convening the Open Houses represents a systematic effort to engage stakeholders from all the many scientific disciplines to ensure their voices are heard and CSR’s review groups are properly aligned and prepared for the future.

Workshop participants also will provide input on other ongoing and proposed initiatives to improve CSR’s peer review process. Comments from each of these workshops will be posted online, and all those interested will be encouraged to submit additional input for consideration.

Scientific leaders of pertinent scientific societies and disease groups are encouraged to attend these one-day workshops, which will also include breakout sessions led by study section chairs. Scientific review administrators will be present as will NIH and CSR leaders and senior staff. Those interested in attending are asked to submit a registration form at least three weeks prior to the workshop. Online registration forms can be found at While these meetings are open meetings, scientific societies are asked to limit their participation to one or two representatives to facilitate focused and meaningful discussions.

The first Open House Workshop will focus on the alignment of CSR’s neuroscience study sections. It will be held on Friday, March 2, 2007, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at NIH’s Natcher Conference Center in Bethesda. Five additional Open House Workshops will be convened every other month during 2007 to assess additional groups of CSR study sections: behavioral and social sciences study sections, disease-based study sections, integrated biological study sections (two workshops), and biomolecular study sections.

Input received from these workshops and the public comment period will be presented to the NIH Peer Review Advisory Committee, which will guide CSR as it works to implement changes and address concerns raised at the open house meetings. This broad-based input will greatly accelerate planned, multiyear efforts to assess CSR’s review groups in accord with the principles established by the NIH Panel on Scientific Boundaries for Review.

Additional information on these workshops as well as registration forms are available via CSR’s Web site: or by contacting the Open House Project Coordinator at or 301-435-1114.

The Center for Scientific Review organizes the peer review groups that evaluate the majority of grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health. CSR recruits about 18,000 outside scientific experts each year for its review groups. CSR also receives all NIH and many Public Health Service grant applications — about 80,000 a year — and assigns them to the appropriate NIH Institutes and Centers and PHS agencies. CSR’s primary goal is to see that NIH applications receive fair, independent, expert, and timely reviews that are free from inappropriate influences so NIH can fund the most promising research. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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