Preliminary Criterion scores do not help counteract racial gap in NIH grant awards

June 03, 2020

A new scoring approach introduced in 2009 to curb bias during the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Enhanced Peer Review process did not mitigate the gap in preliminary overall impact scores between black and white principal investigators (PIs) for the years 2014 to 2016, a new study shows. Black investigators, on average, received worse preliminary scores for all five criteria - Significance, Investigator(s), Innovation, Approach, and Environment - even after accounting for career stage, gender, type of degree, and scientific field. Elena Erosheva and colleagues also demonstrated that substantial funding gaps continue to exist between black and white applicants, with the award probability for black PIs only 55% of that for their white counterparts. Although the authors caution against making direct comparisons to work done before the NIH introduced scored criteria to increase transparency to its applicants, this finding aligns with those of a series of groundbreaking studies from Donna Ginther et al., which demonstrated large funding disparities for black PIs during the years 2000 to 2006. In the interim, the NIH introduced its Enhanced Peer Review process in 2009 to improve information and transparency for applicants, an adjustment that the researchers hypothesized should have reduced funding gaps between black and white PIs. This process requires each reviewer to provide whole-number scores (ranging between one and nine, with one being the best) based on the NIH's five criteria, which the reviewer then uses to derive one preliminary overall impact score. Reviewers are given some latitude to weigh their criterion scores as they see fit when they derive their preliminary overall impact score. The averages of these preliminary overall impact scores determine which applications are selected for discussion at Scientific Review Group meetings, after which reviewers assign the final overall impact scores that decide an application's fate. To evaluate whether there are differences in how preliminary criterion scores of black and white applicants are combined to produce preliminary overall impact scores, Erosheva et al. performed multilevel modeling on preliminary scores from 54,740 NIH grant applications. The results demonstrate that preliminary criterion scores fully account for racial disparities in preliminary overall impact scores, although they do not explain all of the observed variability. "Overall, we conclude that preliminary criterion scores absorb rather than mitigate racial disparities in preliminary overall impact scores," the authors say.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Racial Disparities Articles from Brightsurf:

Racial disparities in pediatric diabetes treatment
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is the third most common pediatric chronic disease in the United States, and the risk of the disease has risen sharply in non-Hispanic Black (NHB) children in the last 20 years, data show.

Characteristics associated with racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19 outcomes
Researchers examined the sociodemographic characteristics of patients associated with racial/ethnic differences in COVID-19 outcomes.

Study highlights possible causes of racial disparities in prostate cancer deaths
New research provides insights on the potential causes of racial disparities in deaths following prostate cancer surgery.

Vaccine narrows racial disparities in pneumococcal disease
In a major public health success, the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine PCV13, or Prevnar 13, in 2010 in the United States is associated with reduction in socioeconomic disparities and the near elimination of Black-white-based racial disparities for invasive pneumococcal disease.

Racial segregation drives disparities in COVID-19 and HIV diagnoses
Across the US, COVID-19 and HIV diagnoses are lowest in primarily white counties.

New studies highlight racial disparities among stroke patients with COVID-19
Two new studies indicate that racial disparities related to outcomes exist among stroke patients, including one study that specifically examines stroke patients with COVID-19.

Racial disparities in surgery rates for esophageal cancer
Black patients with esophageal cancer are less likely to receive life-saving surgery for early-stage disease than white patients.

New study reveals racial disparities in fear of police brutality
Nationwide survey shows minorities are five times more likely than white people to worry about police brutality.

Racial disparities in drug prescriptions for dementia
Disparities in drug prescribing suggest that black and Asian people with dementia are not receiving the same quality of care as their white peers, according to a new UCL-led study in the UK, published in Clinical Epidemiology.

Racial disparities in heart failure explained
Researchers at UT Southwestern have uncovered evidence that the higher prevalence of 'malignant' enlargement of the heart among blacks contributes to the higher incidence of heart failure in this population.

Read More: Racial Disparities News and Racial Disparities Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to