Bethesda, MD - Earlier this month, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) sent comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) regarding proposed changes the biosketch, a key component of the application for federal funds. The biosketch provides NIH program administrators and peer reviewers with information about an investigator’s training, prior research, and current projects. A personal statement (added in 2010) requires investigators to describe why their experience and qualifications make them particularly well-suited to serve as key personnel for the proposed project. In May 2014, NIH released plans to roll-out additional modifications to the biosketch, with full implementation expected by January 2015.
While appreciative of enhancements that could streamline biosketch development, such as allowing investigators to link to a complete list of their published works via publicly available digital databases, FASEB outlined specific concerns with the proposed modifications. The increased risk for unintended bias in favor of established investigators was the major reservation due to the new format’s reliance on an applicant’s description of the “scientific impact” of his or her prior research. “Although intended to provide a forum through which investigators could describe the context of their individual efforts within larger projects, FASEB is concerned that the new biosketch format may lead to increased emphasis on an investigator’s past accomplishments rather than the merits of the current proposal,” stated FASEB President, Joseph R. Haywood, PhD.