places on the training of minority scientists. Subsequent questions asked respondents to provide examples of NIH programs that they feel have worked well in addressing the health needs of minority and medically underserved groups and to provide specific recommendations on how NIH might improve its approach to addressing research among these populations. Finally, respondents were asked to provide any additional comments in areas of the study charge.

Results

The majority of respondents (74 percent) reported having submitted a research proposal to NIH or its institutes at some point in their careers. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) reported having responded to an RFA or a PA from an NIH institute. More than half (58 percent) reported that they had received some form of research support from NIH. Only 16 percent reported having received research training funding from NIH or its institutes.

The survey questions tended to elicit widely varying responses. In some cases, responses appeared to be based upon a lack of information about NIH programs and resources, suggesting that outreach programs to targeted groups, such as underrepresented minority investigators, had failed to reach many of them. For example, several respondents expressed frustration that no research funds were available for minority investigators, especially young researchers transitioning from graduate or postdoctoral work to faculty positions. In fact, NCI sponsors several programs geared to young investigators and new faculty (see Chapter 3). For these survey respondents, however, the absence of such programs was viewed as detrimental to the development of ethnic minority cancer researchers, as noted in the comments of one respondent: "NIH seeks to train minority scientists yet fails to ensure adequate support once scientists reach a faculty position. A transition period of three years could make a big difference."

Peer Review and Priority Setting

With regard to the experiences of investigators applying for NIH research funds, many comments appeared to be critical of the process generally, irrespective of whether the proposal was specific to minority and medically underserved populations. "Deadlines are (after PAs) not realistic. Redundant paperwork," wrote one respondent, whereas another respondent noted, "The criticisms by and large focused on trivial details and often reflect ignorance of the reviewer in a particular field." Others found NIH staff to be unresponsive in the process. "Study section administrations



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement