NET NEWS: NIH Tests First E-Grants

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Science  31 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5646, pp. 757
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5646.757b

Finally plunging into the digital age, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is testing an online grants application that will end the frenzied ritual of mailing off stacks of paper copies.

This month, NIH received its first batch of 14 “experimental e-grants” from a few volunteer institutions. More institutions will soon be added, and most of NIH's 37,000 basic R01 grants should be paperless within a year. The agency lags behind the National Science Foundation (NSF), which over 9 years has moved its entire grants process online. But NIH will “leapfrog ahead” in technology, says John McGowan, who heads NIH's electronic research administration. For example, whereas NSF has a Web-based form, scientists applying to NIH have several options, including custom software—sort of like TurboTax—that makes it easy to package graphics and text.

Already, principal investigators (PIs) can see their grant status and peer-review scores on NIH's Web site. Nearly 3000 of NIH's 50,000 or so PIs have registered since July, says McGowan. “It saves a lot of time,” says biochemist Suzanne Jackowski of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

By eliminating paper, NIH hopes to slash grant review time, now as long as a year, to 6 months or less, McGowan says. Sign up at:

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