A new neuroscience review committee is born – NIA-T!
NIA’s rapid recent budget growth has underscored the importance of scientific review in advancing good research and developing the next generation of innovators. It’s also sparked an evolution you should know about: a new review committee for neuroscience-related training grants called Translational Neuroscience of Aging, or “NIA-T.”
Behind the scenes of NIA training grant review
NIA is fortunate to have a vigorous portfolio of K-type training grants for applicants across a wide range of careers and career stages, from post-docs through tenured professors. Historically, we have chartered our own standing committees, organized by topic, to review K-type grants. These are separate and distinct from committees at the NIH Center for Scientific Review. Our previous committee structure had four broad categories:
- Aging Biology – NIA-B: Reviews biological aspects of aging, typically genetic, cellular and molecular models.
- Behavior and Social Science of Aging – NIA-S: Reviews all social and behavioral aspects of aging, from advanced care planning to financial decisions and life course/demography.
- Clinical Aging – NIA-C: Reviews applications with a clinical and geriatrics focus.
- Neuroscience of Aging – NIA-N: Reviews all aspects of the neuroscience of aging, from clinical trials to basic animal and in vitro work.
After some discussion and analysis, NIA was granted approval to charter a new committee to effectively divide the NIA-N review into two new categories:
- Basic Neuroscience of Aging (NIA-N): Generally will review applications using animal models and systems neuroscience approaches to tackle aging neuroscience questions.
- Translational Neuroscience of Aging (NIA-T): Broadly will review applications using humans, human samples and secondary human data analysis to tackle aging neuroscience questions.
The need for our new approach
While NIA’s recent funding increase has meant spikes in applications for all our committees, NIA-N had the steepest surge. A few years ago, we began to mark K applications with lower preliminary reviewer scores as “not discussed,” but this alone wasn’t enough to manage the additional proposals. NIA then decided the best way to balance this extra workload with maintaining fair and equitable review for each application was to split the NIA-N committee.
The “Translational” in NIA-T doesn’t mean that those applications will need a “bench-to-bedside” aspect, but we use that term to broaden the scope of K-type apps assigned to it. This is a conscious effort to both recognize the diversity of science under review and to use the NIH’s core values of Peer Review (PDF, 773K) to achieve the best possible results.
The bottom line for applicants
So how to tell which committee is best for you? If it’s not clear where your research fits in from the descriptions above, review the committee members and their areas of expertise to help find the best match. Reviewers who are “permanent” serve a number of years on a study section, and you can find their names on the NIH’s Office of Extramural Research study section roster pages for NIA-N and NIA-T. Keep in mind, these names do not reflect the totality of reviewers for each meeting as we also recruit ad-hoc reviewers for applications outside of the existing panel’s expertise. Regardless, this information should help you decide. Be sure to note which committee you want your application routed to on your Assignment Request Form.
And finally, if you’re still not sure, then please reach out to us: We scientific review officers are here to help! We look forward to working with you as we begin this new chapter of NIA training grant review. Please leave your comments or questions below, and good luck to all with your future applications.