Center for Scientific Review
The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) is the gateway for NIH grant applications and their review for scientific merit. We receive all grant applications for NIH, as well as for some other parts of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and we organize the peer review groups or study sections that evaluate the majority (75%) of the research grant applications sent to NIH. Since 1946, our mission has been to assure that NIH grant applications receive fair, independent, expert, and timely reviews—free from inappropriate influences—so NIH can fund the most promising research. These efforts have enabled NIH to fund fundamental, cutting-edge research that has led to new treatments and cures for diseases for millions of Americans.
Interest in Diversity
CSR’s Scientific Review Officers are continually working to increase the diversity of our pool of 17,000 external scientists who serve on the review groups that evaluate over 60,000 NIH grant applications a year. Our training of reviewers that include individuals from underrepresented backgrounds and women emphasizes fairness and impartiality in their evaluations of grant applications and collegial discussions of the merits of each application regardless of the demographics of the applicant. In support of diversity in the biomedical workforce, CSR study sections review most applications for fellowships to enhance diversity and many applications for other diversity-related grants.
The Center plays a key role in addressing concerns about potential bias in NIH peer review. CSR supports and works with the NIH Subcommittee on Peer Review, which is helping to address research that showed racial disparities in NIH funding. With its guidance, CSR has conducted a survey of a diverse group of new investigators to identify policies and practices that may support competitive grant applications; sought ideas from the public for the detection of possible bias in the peer review process via an America COMPETES Act challenge; and developed a study to detect possible bias in peer review by anonymizing grant applications.
In addition, CSR has a Diversity Committee that includes staff members who help to promote diversity at CSR and in the larger extramural community. The Committee works with diversity-focused societies, organizations and conferences to provide peer review presentations and workshops and to share information from these communities with CSR.
Two programs of particular interest are the ACD Diversity Working Group Subcommittee on Peer Review and the Early Career Reviewer Program. See also the CSR's Early Career Reviewer Program Video.
The NIH Center for Scientific Review produces the scientific impact scores that serve as the basis for the majority of NIH grant award decisions. We believe that diversity matters at all levels — among applicants, reviewers and NIH staff. Why do we value and pursue diversity at CSR? It brings new perspectives and ideas into our community that spark creative solutions to our problems and adds a dynamic energy to all we do. We also are driven in daily efforts to recruit more scientists from underrepresented groups to serve on our peer review groups, which evaluate NIH grant applications. These individuals are helping to invigorate our efforts to provide fair and expert reviews so NIH can fund research with the best hope for advancing science and health.