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Peer Review of Research Proposals and Progress Reports

AIBS SPARS organizes expert peer reviews of research proposals and progress reports. The goal of this peer review work is to provide agencies with independent, impartial scientific and technical merit assessments upon which to base funding decisions. We believe that the peer review process leads not only to better scientific results, but also to the best use of research resources. Funding agencies that make awards based on the results of peer review can assure taxpayers and donors that their dollars are well-spent.

AIBS SPARS provides a full range of peer review services, depending upon the needs of the client. For some of our clients, we function as an extension of their in-house staff, assisting with the process from research topic conception and issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP), to delivery of review critiques and notification of funding (what we do not do is make funding decisions - that is always up to the funding agency itself). For other clients, our role is centered on convening review panel meetings, facilitating the review, and presenting the results to the funding agency. Once projects are funded, we also facilitate regular progress reviews. Depending on specific needs of the client, reviews may be large or small, and might involve a panel meeting or be conducted by mail and/or teleconference

Specific services include, but are not limited to:

  • RFP development and publication
  • Responding to questions from potential submitters
  • Development and hosting of online proposal submission and dissemination systems
  • Proposal receipt and processing
  • Online progress report receipt
  • Identification and recruitment of expert reviewers
  • Review panel meeting planning and facilitation
  • Organization of reviews by mail
  • Logistical support for panel meetings - accommodations and travel arrangements, payment of honoraria, expense reimbursement, review of all meeting expenses before billing the client
  • Onsite meeting support
  • Editing of critiques
  • Report of peer review panel findings

We handle all sizes of reviews, from several proposals or progress reports to several hundred. Examples of our peer review work are presented below.

Large-Scale Panel Proposal Reviews

Military Infectious Diseases Research Program (Intramural Program Proposal Review)-1998 to Present

Since 1998, AIBS SPARS has been responsible for the peer review of intramural proposals received by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) Military Infectious Diseases Research Program (MIDRP). In 2006, AIBS facilitated the review of over 100 proposals and over 200 status reports.

For the most recent reviews, proposals were hosted on a panel-specific, password-protected Web site to enable rapid dissemination to reviewers. AIBS facilitated review panel meetings, during which proposals were scored and assessed by the reviewers. Proposal critiques were edited, given a quality assurance check, and delivered to the MIDRP staff within 9 weeks of proposal receipt. Beginning in 2003, draft critiques were delivered to the MIDRP staff prior to the panel meetings, to better facilitate discussions of the proposed research between the principal investigators and reviewers at the panel meetings.

Program Military Infectious Diseases Research Program - 2006
Proposals Submitted129
Peer Review Panels Convened7
Critiques Delivered to USAMRMC Within 9 weeks of proposal receipt
Panel Areas
  • Viral and Rickettsial Diseases
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV Vaccines
  • Bacterial Diseases
  • Drug Development
  • Anti-malarial Drug Development
  • Malaria Genome
  • Malaria Vaccines
  • Insect Vectors of Infectious Diseases
  • Diagnostics of Infectious Diseases

Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program - 1999 to Present

AIBS SPARS also conducts peer review for the USAMRMC's Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP), a component of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (formerly the Defense Health Research Program). In 2006, 637 research proposals were reviewed at a series of panel meetings involving 22 peer review panels, with an additional 12 proposals reviewed by mail and teleconference. To meet the client's specific needs, critique generation of favorably scored proposals was expedited, and critiques were delivered within 7 weeks of the panel meetings. The most highly rated proposal critiques were delivered within 4 weeks.

Program Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program - 2006
Research Projects Reviewed 649
Peer Review Panels Convened 22, plus 12 teleconference/mail reviews
Critiques Delivered to USAMRMC Staggered delivery. All critiques delivered within 7 weeks.
Panel Areas
  • Advanced Proteomics
  • Alcoholism Research
  • Autism
  • Autoimmune Diseases such as Scleroderma and Sjogren's Syndrome
  • Blood-Related Cancer Research such as
  • Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Multiple Myeloma
  • Childhood Asthma
  • Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research
  • Childhood Cancer Research
  • Diabetes Research
  • Duchenne's Disease Research
  • Eye and Vision Research
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Interstitial Cystitis Syndrome
  • Kidney Cancer Research
  • Lupus Research
  • Antibiotic Resistance
  • Neurotoxicity of Mefloquine
  • Rehabilitation (Face and/or Eye Injury)
  • Respiratory Infection Including Associated Respiratory Disease
  • Drug Abuse
  • Probenecid and Other Drugs
  • Human Performance Optimization
  • Radio-Protectants
  • Mental Health Resiliency
  • Osteoporosis and Bone-Related Diseases
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Paget's Disease
  • Post traumatic Stress Disorders
  • Social Work Research

Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI)-2001 to Present

Since FAMRI's inception, AIBS SPARS has provided peer review and related support services to the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI), which sponsors scientific and medical research for the early detection, prevention, treatment and cure of diseases and medical conditions caused from exposure to tobacco smoke.

In 2006, AIBS SPARS held a panel meeting in the Washington, DC area. Five peer review panels were convened to review 200 research proposals and 12 renewal applications. FAMRI continues to express great satisfaction with the services provided by AIBS SPARS.

Program Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute
Proposals Submitted 200
Peer Review Panels Convened 5
Panel Meetings 1
Critiques Delivered to FAMRI Within 2 months of panel meetings
Panel Areas
  • Molecular Basis of Diseases Associated with Environmental Tobacco Smoke
  • Epidemiological Aspects of Diseases Associated with Environmental Tobacco Smoke
  • Centers of Excellence for the Study of Environmental Tobacco Smoke
  • Early detection, treatment, and cure of diseases that include:
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)/emphysema
  • Cancer of the larynx
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Cancer of the oral cavity
  • Sinusitis
  • Bladder cancer
  • Aggravation of asthmatic conditions and allergies
  • Kidney cancer
  • Other lung diseases or respiratory ailments
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stomach cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cervical cancer
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Complications in pregnancy and infertility

Neurotoxin Exposure Treatment Research Program (NETRP) - 2006

Program Neurotoxin Exposure Treatment Research Program (NETRP)
Proposals Submitted 90
Peer Review Panels Convened 5
Panel Meetings 2
Critiques Delivered to FAMRI Within 1 month of on-site meeting
Panel Areas
  • Physiologic Function of alpha-Synuclein
  • Dopaminergic Neuronal Function
  • Parkinson's Disease (PD) Biomarkers
  • Exercise and Neuroprotection
  • Environmental Influences on Mitochondrial Function
  • Neuronal/Glial Interaction in PD
  • Tremor Development
  • Non-Dopaminergic Therapy Development
  • Epigenetic Modification
  • PD Model Development
  • PD Diagnosis Criteria

Smaller-Scale Panel Proposal Reviews

Technologies for Metabolic Monitoring - 2005

The Technologies for Metabolic Monitoring (TMM) program includes the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, NASA, and NIH/NIDDK. The Military Operational Medicine Research Program (MOMRP) of the USAMRMC funding decisions were made with input from the AIBS critiques, which were key factors in the decision-making process. AIBS provided the critiques in the very short time frame required by MOMRP.The Technologies for Metabolic Monitoring (TMM) program includes the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, NASA, and NIH/NIDDK. The Military Operational Medicine Research Program (MOMRP) of the USAMRMC funding decisions were made with input from the AIBS critiques, which were key factors in the decision-making process. AIBS provided the critiques in the very short time frame required by MOMRP.

Year 2005
Program Technologies for Metabolic Monitoring
Proposals Submitted 64
Peer Review Panels Convened 1
Critiques Delivered to USAMRMC One month after the Panel review meeting
Panel Area Glucose monitoring technology: solving technological barriers to the rapid development of next generation minimally invasive devices for long term monitoring of key metabolic markers such as glucose, lactate, and fatty acids; managing tissue responses to implanted sensors; improved algorithms for closed loop glucose management; strategies to overcome skin barrier properties and physiology affecting through-skin measurements; approaches to improve sensor analyte response characteristics including sensitivity and specificity; novel approaches to integrated sensor and signal responses for more efficient biosensors; physiological data relating analyte measurements in various tissue compartments to blood glucose management and/or acute physiological responses (e.g., neuroglycopenia).

Depending on client preferences and the nature of the review, research proposal and progress report reviews are sometimes accomplished by mail (combined with teleconferences, as needed), rather than an in-person panel meeting.

Mail Reviews of Research Proposals and Progress Reports

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News from SPARS



Scientists Review Peer Review


You and your colleagues at AIBS did an absolutely first rate job in running this review.

— Tinnitus Review, 2011

The review panel was thorough, fair and comprehensive.

— Tinnitus Review, 2011

It was remarkable and very different from traditional NIH study sections.

— CDC Reviewer, 2011

You did a great job putting together a wonderful panel: knowledgeable and passionate with their work, ready to go an extra mile to help new investigators in Africa.

— CDC Reviewer, 2011

We always benefit from critical review of works in our field-it makes us better writers - it points out where confusion and inconsistencies make scientific writing hard to understand or follow. It is always a good thing to critically review others' work!

— Raptor Biologist, 2011

With face-to-face reviews, I meet other scientists with interests and knowledge different than my own, which provides me a resource for my own work.

— Cell Biology NYStem reviewer 2010

I enjoy the discussion and learn from the expertise of other scientists. I also benefit by preparing better grants.

— Hematologist/Oncologist, NYStem reviewer 2010