ATS Supports NIH’s Proposed Simplified Review Framework for Research Project Grant Applications

The ATS has issued comments in support of the NIH’s proposed revisions to the peer review process in an attempt to address undue bias. The proposed new scoring criterion would reduce the current five review criteria to three.

In its comments, the ATS supported the combining of Significance and Innovation criteria as a welcome change toward the overall goal of simplifying the scoring process.  The ATS also noted that some Patient Advocacy Groups have removed Innovation as a singular evaluative criterion for their research funding decisions.

The ATS also suggested that although the move to combine categorial scoring of Investigator and Environment criteria can potentially reduce biases, the effectiveness thereofwill be critically dependent upon reviewer training for the criteria’s implementation. Without appropriate and ongoing training and oversight, this change could introduce new or additional biases. The ATS strongly encourages new measures to provide reviewer training in the new scoring system and would appreciate understanding how the training will be accomplished with assurances that the impact of the new changes will be measured to ensure that the stated goals are achieved.

Finally, the ATS re-iterated its 2020 request to NIH to elevate the Recruitment and Retention Plan to Enhance Diversity to scorable status for all new and renewal Institutional Training Grants across all NIH Institutes and Centers. The ATS believes that scoring these plans will effectively recognize programs that have successfully implemented plans to recruit and retain under-represented minority scientists and, for those that have not, encourage them to do so.

Last Reviewed: March 2023