Each year Congress appropriates billions of dollars to fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Did you ever consider how the money is distributed? With a budget of roughly $30 billion per year, the decisions that most strongly influence allocation of NIH funds are made by peer review by groups of professional scientists who typically are themselves funded by NIH. Is peer review really the best way to fund biomedical research? Are there intrinsic problems that compromise it? Could changes in peer review improve the quality of research?
These and other issues are discussed by Dr. Keith R. Yamamoto, an active scientist who has been involved in NIH peer review for almost 25 years, most recently leading an overall evaluation that produced key changes in the process.