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Take Peer Review and Make it Better?

NIGMS' Jeremy Berg has been posting some interesting data on the enhanced NIH peer review system, says Comrade PhysioProf. While he's a "big fan" of the new application format, scoring system, and critique format, PhysioProf can't help wondering if the purpose of enhancing peer review wasn't to make the system better, but to "placate the extramural community who was up in arms at the peer review outcomes that were being used to perform an intrinsically impossible task: identifying the top decile of applications." Since investigators whose grants are judged in the top quartile get mad when they're not judged in the top decile, perhaps the new peer review system is just in place to make these investigators feel that their concerns are valued and the system should be more "fair," PhysioProf says. "The most interesting, but impossible, analysis of the new reviewing system is not post-hoc analyses of what reviewers are doing, but rather a direct comparison of assigned grant percentiles between the old and new systems," he adds.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.