Comparison of Peer Review Practices in Foundations and Institutes Supporting Biomedical Research Programs

EntityResearch Budget per YearTypes of AwardsApplications/Review Cycles per YearPeer Reviewer RolesReview OverviewScoring and Review Criteria
American Heart Association$149 millionResearch
Mentored clinical
6000/2Review up to 10 proposals
Teleconference 2 times a year
3- to 4-y term
3 Reviewers per proposal
Streamlining system for lower half
1–5 Scoring scale
Review criteria similar to that of the NIH
American Diabetes Association
$34 millionResearch
1000/2Review up to 10 proposals
In-person meeting

2 times a year
3-y term
2-Phase review
20%–25% advance
5-y retrospective analysis every 3 y
1–5 Scoring scale
Same review criteria as NIH
American Cancer Society
$90 millionResearch
Special initiatives
2000/2Review 6–8 proposals
In-person meeting
3 Reviewers per proposal
All proposals discussed
1–5 Scoring scale
American Lung Association
$5 millionEarly career
Senior investigator
200In-person meeting2 Reviewers per proposal
Streamlining system
25%–30% funded
1–5 Scoring scale
Same review criteria as NIH
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
$80 million (grants)
$600 million (investigators)
Science education
Early career
3200Review panel of senior researchers
Reevaluated every 5 y
4 Reviewers per proposal
Competitions held every 2–3 y
<2.5% funded
1–5 Scoring scale for new applications
A, B, C scale and category ballot for renewals
Applicants present to a panel
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
$76 millionCareer development
Translational research
Quality-of-life initiative
Therapy acceleration
100sReview 8–10 proposals
Letters of intent reviewed by phone
In-person review of grants
3-y term
Letters of intent reviewed on phone
Invited full applications reviewed in person
1–5 Scoring scale
Additional mission-related score
March of Dimes
$25 millionScholarships
Career development
1000Reviewers selected by VP of Research and Global Programs and chair
Review 10–20 proposals
In-person review of grants
6-y term
Letters of intent reviewed
80%–90% invited for full proposal
Streamlining process
1–5 Scoring scale
Same review criteria as NIH
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
$300 million7 Program areas2900Review 10–15 proposals
In-person and teleconference reviews
4–5 d/y
2-y term
National program office selects proposals for invitation to full proposalScoring scale varies depending on program
Innovation is a major criterion
Susan G. Komen Foundation
$58 millionTraining
Career catalyst
Investigator initiated
Clinical trials
1500Review by Komen scholars
In-person review of grants
Preapplications are reviewed
20%–25% invited for full applications
3 Reviewers and 1 advocate
27% Funding rate
1–5 Scoring scale
Same review criteria as NIH
Breast cancer advocate involved in review
  • NIH indicates National Institutes of Health; SCOR, Specialized Center of Research Program; and VP, vice president.