1404 NEWS >> THIS WEEK Sichuan’s threatening lakes A desert CO 2 sink? 1408 1409 After a year of gathering advice on how to improve its overloaded peer-review system, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) last week unveiled a plan to ease the workload on both applicants and reviewers and to help young investigators. The changes incorporate many recommendations from two advisory committees. But NIH rejected a suggestion aimed at eliminating an apparent bias favor-ing researchers who resubmit their grant applications after being turned down. NIH Director Elias Zerhouni asked internal and external advi-sory working groups last June to suggest ways to cope with a record number of applications, a contin-ued flat budget, and a shortage of quality reviewers. NIH’s response to their report ( Science , 29 February, p. 1169) was presented last week to the director’s advisory commit-tee by the co-chair of both panels, Lawrence Tabak, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Cell biolo-gist Keith Yamamoto of the Uni-versity of California, San Fran-cisco, who co-chaired the external group, says he’s “disappointed” that NIH rejected the advice on resubmitted proposals but that he’s “basically happy with” the overall response. NIH plans to shorten the allowed length of applications from 25 pages to 12, to focus more on the anticipated impact of the research and less on methods and other details. Proposals will be given scores on
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