[Xenopus] Perceived bias in NIH grant reviews

Marko Horb mhorb at mbl.edu
Fri Jul 22 08:41:46 EDT 2016

Dear Model Organism Colleagues, 

We would first like to thank you all for your endorsement of the Model Organism Database support letter. The letter reached over 10,000 signatures and has had a clear impact at NIH. At the TAGC conference in Orlando, NIH Director Francis Collins highlighted the letter in his public presentation, and said ‘your voice is heard’. In this as well as a subsequent smaller meeting, Dr. Collins reiterated his support for model organism research as a keystone of NIH’s commitment to basic science, and affirmed the central role of the MODs in that goal. We have the attention of NIH leadership on this and concrete progress includes an upcoming meeting that will consider how best to meet the goals of the NIH institutes as well as support the MODs for their communities. 

We are now writing with a follow-up initiative that addresses grant review bias against basic or model organism research. At the meeting, community leaders raised the issue of bias against model organisms and basic research in study sections. While Dr. Collins, NIH institute directors, and leadership at the Center for Scientific Review have voiced their support for the basic science research mission of NIH, this support is not trickling down to all study sections. As a consequence, many PIs still receive NIH grant reviews with apparent bias against basic science or model organism studies. 

Dr. Collins has invited us to present to him examples of potential bias in grant reviews regarding basic research or model organism research. We would like to document the bias, identify study sections where it is present, and work with NIH leadership to change this. 

Please use the link below to provide direct quotes from NIH grant reviews (summary statements) where bias is evident. Only report on grant reviews from the past 1.5 years (i.e. reviewed in 2015 or later) should be submitted. We need to move quickly on this, so the deadline is July 29, 2016 . 

Submit at below. 

As with the MOD support letter, your action here can have a direct and tangible impact on the support of our research. We strongly encourage you to look back over your recent reviews, and to spread the word to your model organism PI colleagues. 

With best regards, 

David Bilder, President Drosophila Board of Directors 

Andrew Chisholm, President Worm Board of Directors 

Mary Mullins, Vice President International Zebrafish Society 

I've invited you to fill out a form: 

NIH grant review comments--all organisms 

NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. Both basic and applied research are important for the future of the scientific enterprise. 

Our aim is to transmit to NIH perceived bias regarding basic research or model organism research in NIH grant reviews. The goal is to identify study sections where such bias exists and reduce it. 

Please fill out a new form for each different grant. NIH grants only in past 1.5 years. Your personal information will be held in confidence and not transmitted to the NIH. 

Deadline Friday, July 29, 2016. 


Create your own Google Form 



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