We Must Support Research to Advance Care

By Ryan Murray

August 26, 2020

Center for Scientific Review’s Elimination of Study Section Perilous to Kidney Community

The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) oversees peer review of NIH grant applications. CSR recently announced a change to study sections that will have a significant effect on the kidney community.

NIH grant applications are reviewed by content experts in study sections relevant to the application. CSR reduced the number of study sections for Gastrointestinal, Renal, Endocrine Systems  by one section. Eliminating a kidney study section results in grants being assigned to broader sections that focus on issues outside of nephrology as well. This can negatively impact the quality of the review and reduce the probability of a grant being funded.

ASN is extremely concerned that CSR’s decision will result in less kidney research being funded by the NIH.

The decision to eliminate a study section is a stark contrast to unprecedented interest across the federal government to investing in efforts to conquer kidney diseases. In a letter to CSR , ASN President Anupam Agarwal, MD, FASN noted that promoting kidney health is now a national priority, writing:

  • “NIH, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases in particular, has increased its support of pioneering research in an effort to uncover to groundbreaking discoveries that reduce the risk of kidney failure by funding the Kidney Precision Medicine Project (KPMP) and the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC). In fact, NIH-funded research that led to the discovery of the APOL1 gene that will help increase efficacy of the allocation of donor kidneys with the APOL1 gene variants.
  • KidneyX—a public-private partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and ASN—has engaged new researchers, innovators, and investors in the development of breakthrough therapies for kidney disease. Since its launch in 2018, KidneyX has run three prize competitions and awarded more than $4,000,000 in prizes. More than 360 applicants have competed for these three prizes.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center announced new payment models which included incentives to optimize kidney care for Medicare beneficiaries.”

 

Research forms the foundation for advances in care of people with kidney diseases. Kidney investigators will now likely find submitting a successful grant application to the NIH to be more challenging. Dr. Agarwal asked CSR to provide data regarding whether this change reduces the number of funded grants focused on kidney research.

Renewed governmental and private sector interest in and support for innovations in kidney care holds the promise of pivotal, transformational changes in care for those with kidney diseases. Without appropriate funding priorities that attract investigators, kidney diseases will continue as a major public health burden, researchers will be forced to turn to other priorities, and practicing nephrologists and their patients will see the number of available therapies remain stagnant.

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Center for Scientific Review’s Elimination of Study Section Perilous to Kidney Community

The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) oversees peer review of NIH grant applications. CSR recently announced a change to study sections that will have a significant effect on the kidney community.

NIH grant applications are reviewed by content experts in study sections relevant to the application. CSR reduced the number of study sections for Gastrointestinal, Renal, Endocrine Systems  by one section. Eliminating a kidney study section results in grants being assigned to broader sections that focus on issues outside of nephrology as well. This can negatively impact the quality of the review and reduce the probability of a grant being funded.

ASN is extremely concerned that CSR’s decision will result in less kidney research being funded by the NIH.

The decision to eliminate a study section is a stark contrast to unprecedented interest across the federal government to investing in efforts to conquer kidney diseases. In a letter to CSR , ASN President Anupam Agarwal, MD, FASN noted that promoting kidney health is now a national priority, writing:

  • “NIH, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases in particular, has increased its support of pioneering research in an effort to uncover to groundbreaking discoveries that reduce the risk of kidney failure by funding the Kidney Precision Medicine Project (KPMP) and the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC). In fact, NIH-funded research that led to the discovery of the APOL1 gene that will help increase efficacy of the allocation of donor kidneys with the APOL1 gene variants.
  • KidneyX—a public-private partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and ASN—has engaged new researchers, innovators, and investors in the development of breakthrough therapies for kidney disease. Since its launch in 2018, KidneyX has run three prize competitions and awarded more than $4,000,000 in prizes. More than 360 applicants have competed for these three prizes.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center announced new payment models which included incentives to optimize kidney care for Medicare beneficiaries.”

 

Research forms the foundation for advances in care of people with kidney diseases. Kidney investigators will now likely find submitting a successful grant application to the NIH to be more challenging. Dr. Agarwal asked CSR to provide data regarding whether this change reduces the number of funded grants focused on kidney research.

Renewed governmental and private sector interest in and support for innovations in kidney care holds the promise of pivotal, transformational changes in care for those with kidney diseases. Without appropriate funding priorities that attract investigators, kidney diseases will continue as a major public health burden, researchers will be forced to turn to other priorities, and practicing nephrologists and their patients will see the number of available therapies remain stagnant.

Date:
Wednesday, August 26, 2020