Administrative Changes to Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Study Sections

Funding News Edition: October 19, 2022
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NIH’s Center for Scientific Review (CSR) regularly evaluates its study sections under the Evaluating Panel Quality in Review (ENQUIRE) process. Through ENQUIRE, CSR assesses whether the function and scope of existing panels result in successfully identifying high-impact science, with special consideration of emerging areas of science, and then makes administrative adjustments to hone the study sections.

ENQUIRE: Step-by-Step

The ENQUIRE process relies heavily on bibliometric data, early-stage investigator submission and success rates, as well as stakeholder input. An external evaluation panel of senior scientists, with expertise spanning multiple study sections, receives data on the panels under evaluation, current study section guidelines, and sample abstracts and aims. The external evaluation panel then assesses whether the scope of existing study sections is optimal to identify the most promising research.

Next, CSR convenes an internal panel comprising NIH program staff. The internal panel considers the recommendations of the external panel as well as information on the function of the study sections, such as reports from site visits. The internal panel determines whether the panels function in a way that supports the optimal identification of high-impact science. Recommendations are then presented to CSR’s Advisory Council for input and approval. Changes to study sections can include sunsetting study sections, modifying guidelines of current study sections, and formation of new panels.

Learn more about the process A Brief Background of Study Section Evaluation and an Introduction to ENQUIRE.

Recently, CSR turned its attention to Microbiology and Infectious Diseases study sections.

Where there were 10 study sections before, there are now 11. Several study sections have been renamed to reflect shifting scientific priorities. Across the cluster, CSR refined the study section descriptions to provide transparency and improve their usefulness as referral guidelines for application assignments. Standing members of the initial 10 study sections will be placed on the new or modified panels based on their scientific expertise.

The updated arrangement of scientific expertise is documented in ENQUIRE Cluster 14—Microbiology and Infectious Diseases: Published Study Section Guidelines.

CSR carried out the same process for two other clusters of study sections relevant to NIAID researchers: Molecular and Cellular Basic Sciences and Epidemiology and Population Sciences. Refer to ENQUIRE Cluster 7—Molecular and Cellular Basic Sciences: Published Study Section Guidelines and ENQUIRE Cluster 17—Epidemiology and Population Sciences: Published Study Section Guidelines, respectively.

The key reason that you, as an applicant for research funding in these areas, should review the guidelines linked above is that you can Use the PHS Assignment Request Form to help steer your investigator-initiated application to an optimal study section. It’s important that your application’s peer reviewers possess expertise appropriate for evaluating the scientific aims of your project; while NIH relies on automated processes and referral staff to guide application assignment, you may suggest a study section that matches your area of research.

Going forward, CSR will monitor the new study sections to ensure NIH’s high standards for scientific review quality are upheld. Contact CSR if you have questions about the ENQUIRE process.

If you need help identifying a study section appropriate to your investigator-initiated research, follow our instructions to Contact an NIAID Program Officer.

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