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Equity is the Buzzward, Including NIH Funding

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

Recent data shows:

  • 2% of NIH-supported institutions get about 53% of all research project grant dollars

  • 10 top-funded institutions each get more dollars than do each of 35 to 40 entire states

With the goal of improved equity, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published the executive summary for a revised framework for peer reviewers for the NIH-R21 grants.

New framework

The new 3-factor structure for grant reviews includes:

  • Importance of the Research

  • Feasibility and Rigor

  • Expertise and Resources

Removal of criterion scores of Expertise and Resources removes consideration of an author/institutions “research track record."


Proponents say the proposal aims focus on scientific merit while reducing biases. Opponents say the new structure is merely a cosmetic reshuffling of existing criteria, and institution “track record should be considered.”

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