News FocusPeer Review

NIH Invites Activists Into the Inner Sanctum

Science  26 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5410, pp. 1999-2001
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5410.1999

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Under pressure from advocacy groups to open up the grant-review process, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is adding lay members to some peer-review "study sections"--particularly those dealing with potential therapies. Some scientists worry that NIH is "diluting" expert advice, but others who have served on study sections with laypeople say that the lay members serve as a "reality check," raising issues that scientists wouldn't have thought about, and that by serving on study sections they can become allies of scientists rather than critics.