All applications for Arthritis Foundation research awards are impartially and critically evaluated by scientific peers to ensure funds are used for the very best research.
The process is driven by a review committee, made up of nine study sections, consisting of scientific experts who specialize in a particular area of investigation. The sections include: Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Cellular Immunology, Clinical Immunology, Clinical/ Therapeutics/Outcomes, Inflammation, Molecular Biology & Genetics, Molecular Immunology, and Technologies/ Biomechanics.
Each year more than 100 volunteer scientific experts participate in the peer review process. These individuals are selected because of their standing within the scientific community. Criteria for their selection is holding a position as a faculty member at an accredited academic institution or research center, track record of winning grants (from NIH and others), and standing in the scientific community. Postdoctoral Fellowship applications are reviewed by a separate panel of experts who are distinguished specifically because of their track record in training new scientists and arthritis investigators.
Each expert reviews the proposals independently and then the study sections meet to discuss each grant application. Reviewers rate the potential impact of the project on arthritis, experimental methods and design, originality, investigator qualifications, availability of support services, suitability of facilities, and budget.
Each grant is reviewed specifically by at least three different individuals and the entire committee evaluates their critiques and offers any additional opinions. Following the review a statistical analysis is carried out to ensure that different teams are consistent in their overall reviews. The standard NIH scoring system is used to rank grants. Ratings are averaged and placed in order of their rank, with only those about a committee established threshold approved for funding.
Although many grants are approved on their scientific merit, only grants for which there are funds available receive an actual financial award. Through the years, the amount of funded research has, in general, represented about a half as much as was approved for funding. Unfortunately, this means excellent, original, scientifically sound research remains unfunded.