At least twice over the course of their graduate training (typically in the second and third year) CBTE trainees participate in a NIH mock study section. The session is led by the CBTE Executive Director, Dr. Jennifer Reininga-Craven, who has 10 years of proposal development, review, and editorial experience in the broad area of biomedical research. CBTE faculty participate by sharing examples of past grants for evaluation, an approach that also ensures the experience provides interdisciplinary training. The programming is offered annually during the early summer, before second year students begin their industry internships. Three sessions of nine students are facilitated.
Through this exercise, trainees gain understanding of and experience with the peer review process in an interactive group setting. Training is conducted in three phases: educational, independent evaluation, group discussion (i.e.,mock study section).
The educational phase of the exercise ensures trainees (a) are prepared to provide high-quality evaluation across review criteria for Significance, Innovation, Approach, Investigators and Environment; (b) participate confidently in the mock study section environment; and (c) have basic understanding of differences in funding mechanisms of likely relevance in industry and academia (SBIR and R01).
During their independent evaluation, trainees are assigned three research grants that they must review according to NIH criteria and using NIH reviewer forms. All trainees submit a complete review, including scores and notes on strengths and weaknesses, of assigned grant proposals prior to Study Section.
Trainees discuss their reviews as a peer group during the Mock Study Section meeting, which is run according to standard protocols, with Dr. Reininga-Craven serving in the role of SRO and meeting facilitator (e.g., Section Chair) and trainees serving as primary and secondary reviewers. Trainees are assigned one grant for which they will serve as primary reviewer, and for which they are prepared lead off group discussion of strengths and weakness. However, as noted above, all trainees review in detail, score, and discuss all proposals.