publication date: Jul. 5, 2019

Guest Editorial

It’s time to rethink peer review policies—and consider an “Earth Shot Program”

Wafik El-Deiry

Wafik S. El-Deiry, MD, PhD, FACP

Director, Joint Program in Cancer Biology

Brown University and Lifespan Cancer Institute

Associate Dean, Oncologic Sciences

Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University

American Cancer Society Research Professor


At a recent NIH study section that I chaired, we had many applications that we reviewed as a group before the meeting. At the meeting, we were required to discuss over 50% of the grants.

In recent years, the number of grants being discussed at meetings has been steadily increasing, as the number of submissions has been growing.

Assigned reviewers give thorough reviews, and then there’s a general discussion, summary and voting, along with recording of scores and discussion of the budget. Recent mandates include discussion of scientific premise, rigor and reproducibility, authentication of resources, sex of mice used, along with the various review criteria.

Occasionally, discussions are lengthy, and sometimes, as a result, a consensus is reached with originally divergent scores. The meetings can go for long hours, reviewing the grants, and include administrative instructional time, breaks, and time for meals.

Reviewers come to these meetings having already spent many hours of their personal time reviewing assigned grants, each with detailed, written critiques that applicants get … Continue reading It’s time to rethink peer review policies—and consider an “Earth Shot Program”

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