Enhancing Peer Review: Expectation for Service on NIH Peer Review and Advisory Groups

Notice Number: NOT-OD-10-089

Key Dates
Release Date:  May 7, 2010

Related Announcements
February 20, 2015 - Reinforcing Service to the Biomedical Research Community. See Notice NOT-OD-15-035.

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH), (http://www.nih.gov)

The NIH peer review system (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/peer_review_process.htm) is the foundation of the NIH extramural research enterprise, and its continued excellence depends on our ability to recruit and retain the most accomplished, broad-thinking and creative scientists and experts to serve as peer reviewers. Such qualified individuals are needed to serve on Scientific Review Groups (or “study sections”) in the initial peer review of applications for funding and R&D contract proposals.  In addition, such qualified individuals are needed to serve on NIH National Advisory Boards or Councils, which perform the second level review of applications for funding and provide advice and recommendations on matters of significance to the policies, missions, and goals of the IC they advise.  Our commitment to engaging the best reviewers forms a basic tenet of the NIH Enhancing Peer Review effort (http://enhancing-peer-review.nih.gov/index.html).

In addition, the NIH relies on the service of equally accomplished and thoughtful scientists and experts as appointed members of NIH Boards of Scientific Counselors (BSCs) and Program Advisory Committees (PACs).  BSCs review and evaluate research programs, projects, and investigators in the NIH intramural laboratories, and PACs provide advice on specific programs, future research needs and opportunities, management policy issues, and future extramural initiatives.

Principal Investigators (PIs) who receive research grant support from the NIH are an enriched source of such highly-qualified individuals.  Therefore, the NIH calls upon investigators who have received research grant funding from the NIH to serve on NIH study sections and advisory groups when invited to do so.  However, this expectation for service is entirely voluntary and an inability to serve has no impact on an investigator’s ability to compete for grant support. 

Review service is defined in two ways, and each is an opportunity to make important contributions to the NIH extramural research enterprise.  One level of service is a full, multi-year term (i.e., typically 12 meetings) on an NIH chartered study section or Advisory Council or Board.  Reviewers serving in this capacity provide the foundation and continuity for permanent committees in the NIH review system. The second level of review service is continuing participation averaging at least one meeting per year, either as a temporary member of a permanent committee or as a member of an ad hoc committee.  Reviewers serving in this capacity provide expertise needed to review certain applications or for a special review.   

Individuals who possess expertise in areas supported by the NIH and who wish to volunteer to serve in the NIH peer review process should send an email to the Reviewer Volunteer mailbox(ReviewerVolunteer@mail.nih.gov) with a brief description of their areas of expertise and a copy of their biosketch.

With this new expectation for service, the NIH thanks the many thousands of individuals who have served, or who have yet to serve, the NIH through our peer review system and other NIH Advisory Groups.  The NIH is particularly grateful for the dedication of so many in the extramural scientific community who serve graciously when needed.


Questions about this Notice should be directed to:

Sally A. Amero, Ph.D.
NIH Review Policy Officer
Office of Extramural Research