Black Scientists Applying for NIH Grants Consistently Receive Lower Scores, Says Study

A new scoring approach introduced in 2009 was supposed to diminish bias during the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Enhanced Peer Review process, but Black researchers applying for the agency’s prestigious and highly competitive R01 grants consistently receive lower scores than White applicants in the first and critical phase of consideration, a new study reveals.

Those preliminary and worse scores largely account for why Black investigators receive fewer NIH grants, said University of Washington researchers Elena A. Erosheva, a statistics and social work professor, and Carole J. Lee, an associate professor of philosophy who specializes in peer review. Erosheva and Lee, with four other colleagues, prepared the report, released this month, under an NIH contract to study the Black-White racial gap in the peer review process for the years 2014 to 2016.

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