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January 2000

New Leadership and New Initiatives at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2000;126(1):17-19. doi:10.1001/archotol.126.1.17

IN EARLY 1998, James F. Battey, Jr, MD, PhD, became Director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), joining Donald H. Luecke, MD, who was serving as Deputy Director. Under their leadership, a number of changes have been implemented at the institute. The ARCHIVES posed several questions of Drs Battey and Luecke in order to update readers of the ARCHIVES on the NIDCD's new initiatives.

As is true for all viable organizations, it is important to periodically reexamine the way(s) in which business is conducted. In our case, this relates to the "business" of conducting and supporting research and research training in all areas of science that fall within the scope of the NIDCD mission. When the NIDCD was established about 11 years ago, there were numerous opportunities to effect change, and many positive things happened. We moved forward, fueled by productivity from our research community that was complemented by other scientific advances, which were becoming increasingly important to our endeavors, as well as to those of other institutes. For example, in 1997, we joined with many of the other National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes supporting research in the neurosciences to recommend a restructuring of study sections within the Center for Scientific Review (CSR). Since the NIDCD was not involved in the early stages of these discussions, we formed a Work Group on Peer Review (WGPR) to make recommendations through the National Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NDCD) Advisory Council to the Director about improving the fairness of initial review. Those recommendations articulated principles that became important not only for the study sections reviewing applications for NIDCD research grants, but for the entire neuroscience group, and they have now been extended to the restructuring of review groups concerned with the behavioral sciences. After posting the WGPR recommendations on our Web home page, we heard many positive comments about study section changes, but also complaints about having separate and parallel review paths for NIDCD research grant applications, one in the NIDCD and the other in the CSR, reviewing similar investigator-initiated research. This prompted us to organize the Work Group on Single and Multiple Project Grants (WGSMPG) last summer. This group's draft report was discussed with the NDCD Advisory Council in October 1998 and now appears on our Web home page (http://www.nih.gov/nidcd/textonly/funding/policy/wgsmpgreport.htm). Although much is lost in trying to paraphrase the recommendations in a few sentences, the group reaffirmed the importance of the individual R01 grant, which can be used to support much multidisciplinary research. However, some research projects are so interdependent that they need to be reviewed together as a multiple-project grant application, or much would be lost. Beyond those special situations, it was noted more generally that most if not all investigators supported on multiple project or P grants (P01, P50, P60) benefited from resources available on core(s), and the NIDCD was urged to consider making such resources available on a competitive basis to other grantees as well.

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