SfRBM leaders met with key representatives from the NIH Center for Scientific Review in Bethesda, MD on December 9 to discuss how the society can provide a readily accessible pipeline of redox expertise for study sections. SfRBM emphasized the importance of redox biology to a vast array of disease processes as well as an anticipated positive trend of our research in next few years. SfRBM presented data that illustrated the current challenges facing redox-related applications and the lack of qualified study section researchers available to review them.
Of NIH's 180 current standing study sections, over 25% could benefit from redox representation yet either fail to have redox expertise on their roster or redox biology keywords in their listed "Topics" or "Shared Interests and Overlaps". Importantly, approximately 50% of the top 20 study sections receiving redox-related applications neither "advertise" by using redox-related key words nor have redox biologists on their roster. For example, Neural Oxidative Metabolism, Mitochondria and Cell Death Study Section (NOMD), Pathobiology of Kidney Disease Study Section (PBKD) and Tumor Cell Biology Study Section (TCB) all fit this category.
To address the discordance between application focus and representation, CSR indicated that there are opportunities for SfRBM to identify strong reviewers in redox biology to fill some of these gaps. CSR also announced that they are rolling out a new database specifically for societies to make direct reviewer recommendations. SfRBM will be reaching out to members to identify those who would have an interest in serving as a reviewer and would meet CSR prerequisites including a strong publication and research funding track record.
SfRBM also agreed to help CSR diversify the composition of their panels - a topic that was identified as critical to their mission. CSR representatives advised SfRBM how individual redox researchers can improve how they identify their expertise in research grants submitted to NIH. Many investigators may pay little or no attention to this opportunity when submitting a grant application. They pointed out that using "redox biology" alone may not be the best as it is very broad. More specificity in the researcher's profile is crucial in CSR finding reviewers for grant applications. CSR advised paying particular attention to these seemingly trivial details as well as using current terms relative to the field and avoiding terms from 20 years past.
SfRBM's delegation included Phyllis Dennery (President), Holly Van Remmen (President-Elect), Eric Kelley (Advocacy Chair), Chris Kevil (Redox Biology journal co-editor in chief) and Kent Lindeman (Executive Director).