On September 2, the NIH published a redacted version of a case study showing an example of the misuse of funds. In the example, a distinguished medical professor reportedly shared NIH grant applications with members of his laboratory, including junior non-tenured faculty, and requested them to complete his written critiques as if they were an NIH peer reviewer. These individuals had also been instructed not to disclose this request to anyone else, in addition to directly violating NIH’s confidentiality statement preventing disclosure to anyone who is not officially designated to participate in the peer review process. The resulting complaint was reported to the Dean of Research at the university, and action was taken to remove the professor from their current position, impose sanctions on future grant applications, and review past peer reviews that may have been similarly compromised.
Noting that NIH reports they were so impressed by the careful handling of the situation, this story is meant to raise awareness, encourage dialogue, and inspire creative problem solving for challenges in maintaining integrity in peer review.