Becoming a Peer Reviewer for NIGMS


NIH’s Center for Scientific Review (CSR) is not the only locus for the review of grant applications–every institute and center has its own review office, as well. Here at NIGMS, the Office of Scientific Review (OSR) handles applications for a wide variety of grant mechanisms and is always seeking outstanding scientists to serve as reviewers. If you’re interested in reviewing for us, here’s some information that might help.

What does OSR do?

Each year, our scientific review officers (SROs) schedule around 55 meetings to review 700-800 applications representing every scientific area within the NIGMS mission. The number of reviewers per panel ranges from 5 to 30, depending in part on the type of applications.

We organize reviews for grant programs that include undergraduate, predoctoral and postdoctoral research training and education; large-scale research projects; research centers; research capacity- and diversity-building; and research career development. We also handle applications in response to requests for applications.

With the exception of the research training and education programs, we do not have standing review groups. Most of our review meetings are one-time special emphasis panels that may meet in person or convene by phone or video. The diversity of science we review often means that different expertise, and thus different reviewers, must be assembled for every review.

What does NIGMS look for in a reviewer?

The general qualifications for being a reviewer are your own current or recent research funding from NIH or another organization, a track record of published research and an interest in a broad range of science. Reviewers must be committed to objectivity and fairness and be willing to provide thoughtful and constructive critiques. We also want our panel members to represent diverse institutions and backgrounds.

Why should I be a reviewer for NIGMS?

All reviewers, whether for CSR or an NIH institute or center, get valuable firsthand experience in how the peer review process works and what other scientists think about and discuss when reviewing applications. Past NIGMS reviewers have noted that they enjoyed learning about science outside of their research areas and serving the biomedical research community. Others have said that the experience helped build their scientific credentials. Many have told us that they would be happy to participate again.

How does NIGMS identify potential reviewers?

Our primary source is NIH Commons account information, which helps us identify and contact potential reviewers with the expertise and other qualifications we’re seeking. We also look at recent grant history and institutional affiliations to avoid conflicts of interest. If you’re interested in reviewing for NIGMS, it’s important to keep your Commons account up to date and make sure it’s complete (see the Personal Profile Overview tutorial Link to external website).

What else should I do if I’m interested in reviewing for NIGMS?

Let us know by sending your CV attached to an email message with the subject line “Volunteer Reviewer.” In the message, include a summary of your broad and specific areas of scientific expertise, the primary techniques you use and any types of applications you’re particularly interested in reviewing (e.g., training, research capacity-building).

If you’re invited to review, the SRO will guide you through the process and try to make it as clear and easy as possible, especially for new reviewers.

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