NIH GUIDE, Volume 23, Number 39, November 4, 1994

P.T. 34


  Grants Administration/Policy+ 

National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide an applicant who

feels that some aspect of the handling or peer review of his/her

grant application has been inappropriate, biased, or wrong with two

sequential opportunities (respectively referred to as "rebuttals" and

"appeals") to have his/her concerns addressed.  The first opportunity

is after receipt of the summary statement that documents the results

of the initial review of an application's scientific and/or technical

merit.  If the applicant submits a letter rebutting the review to the

program administrator who is responsible for the application, that

letter will usually be made available to the National Advisory

Council/Board of the relevant NIH Institute/Center/Division (ICD) for

consideration, if the ICD staff cannot handle the concerns

administratively.  The Council may recommend that the application be

deferred and rereviewed, if the applicant's objections are deemed to

have merit.  However, should the Council not recommend deferral and

rereview but concur with the initial review and deem that it should

stand, then the applicant has a second opportunity to have his/her

concerns heard, by submitting a formal appeal of the Council's


"The PI and the applicant institution, represented by the

institutional official authorized to sign applications, must jointly

sign an appeal and send it to the NIH Peer Review Appeals Officer.

The official representative's signature indicates that the applicant

institution endorses both form and substance of the appeal" (ref: NIH

Manual Chapter 4518).  The appeal letter must explain fully the

reasons for the disagreement, append supporting documentation, and be

sent to:

NIH Appeals Officer

Office of the Director

National Institutes of Health

Building 1, Room 328

Bethesda, MD  20892

Two points that are important for applicants considering an appeal to

weigh for themselves concern the possible outcomes and the timing of

the appeal process.  The most favorable possible outcome for an

applicant in an appeal case can only be a decision that the

application in question be rereviewed, since appeals cases examine

only whether there were any flaws in the peer review process.  The

other possible outcome is that the review of the application was not

substantially flawed and any minor flaws in the review did not affect

the recommendation regarding the application.  In that case, the

review would stand and the application would not be rereviewed.  As

the conduct of an appeal case involves several steps of process and

review, it may take at least four months (or one review cycle) to

complete.  Thus, given, the possible outcomes and the timing of the

appeal process, an applicant may wish to consider whether

deficiencies in the review of his/her application were substantive

enough to have had a major deleterious effect on the review of the

application and, if not, to revise and resubmit the application


Applicant concerns about the acceptance for review, responsiveness to

a Request for Applications, other receipt issues, or the referral of

their application, when submitted prior to the initial review, are

entirely the responsibility of the Division of Research Grants (DRG)

or of the ICD assigned to review the application (as indicated on the

computer-generated notice of assignments sent to applicants).  This

DRG or ICD process also provides two opportunities for applicant

concerns to be addressed.

As they are actions that are external to the peer review process,

decisions regarding the funding of applications may not be appealed.


For additional information about the peer review appeal process or to

discuss a particular matter, contact Dr. Janet Cuca at 301/496-5358.


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