Nutrition Research Peer Review at the National Institutes of Health

HRD-81-95: Published: Jun 1, 1981. Publicly Released: Jul 2, 1981.

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A study was conducted to determine whether the peer review system at the National Institutes of Health (NIH): (1) provided adequate peer review of applied research proposals and research proposals using innovative approaches; (2) used qualified individuals to review nutrition-related proposals; (3) funded nutrition-related grant proposals less frequently than other grant proposals; (4) funded researchers with prior NIH support more readily than previously unsupported researchers; and (5) favored researchers from institutions with substantial prior support from NIH.

GAO found that all grant proposals submitted to NIH were peer reviewed in a similar manner whether the proposals were for basic or applied research or were considered to be innovative or non-innovative research approaches. The curricula vitae of individuals serving in the peer review system for nutrition research grant proposals indicated that they were qualified to review such proposals. Data on the type of research funded, prior NIH research support, and the total funding level of institutions employing NIH grant recipients show that differences exist in the percentage of grants awarded to researchers in various categories. However, these data do not lead GAO to conclude that there has been a bias toward any category of researcher or institution.

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