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National Institutes of Health Peer Review: Challenges and Avenues for Reform

In: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 13

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  • Pierre Azoulay
  • Joshua S. Graff Zivin
  • Gustavo Manso

Abstract

Executive SummaryThe National Institute of Health (NIH), through its extramural grant program, is the primary public funder of health-related research in the United States. Peer review at NIH is organized around the twin principles of investigator initiation and rigorous peer review, and this combination has long been a model that science funding agencies throughout the world seek to emulate. However, lean budgets and the rapidly changing ecosystem within which scientific inquiry takes place have led many to ask whether the peer-review practices inherited from the immediate postwar era are still well suited to 21st-century realities. In this essay, we examine two salient issues: (1) the aging of the scientist population supported by NIH and (2) the innovativeness of the research supported by the institutes. We identify potential avenues for reform as well as a means for implementing and evaluating them.
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Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Azoulay & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Gustavo Manso, 2012. "National Institutes of Health Peer Review: Challenges and Avenues for Reform," NBER Chapters,in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 13, pages 1-21 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12715
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    1. Benjamin F. Jones, 2009. "The Burden of Knowledge and the "Death of the Renaissance Man": Is Innovation Getting Harder?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 283-317.
    2. Pierre Azoulay & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Gustavo Manso, 2011. "Incentives and creativity: evidence from the academic life sciences," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(3), pages 527-554, September.
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