When a grant proposal is submitted, a panel of experts will examine it for merit before making a final decision. But what happens when those ‘experts’ deny the very existence of the disease they purport to study?
Memorably, a recent grant proposal was submitted to Canada’s CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) to study ME/CFS, but was rejected on the principle that ME/CFS is not actually an illness.
Many people raised concerns with CIHR about the review of the previous catalyst grant application, including #MEAction members and #MillionsMissing Canada. Recently, Canadian activists and patients learned that there is another catalyst grant competition underway with CIHR. When they conveyed their concerns to CIHR, they received the following reply:
“If you know of anyone who would be interested in reviewing for this particular competition, feel free to send me their names. The competition team will be in touch with the ones they feel have the required matching expertise to review the applications that come in to provide them with more information about the timing of the reviews and when they anticipate the committee meeting to happen etc.”
We need good grant reviewers. Therefore:
- If you are interested in being a reviewer for this or other ME/FM competitions, please contact Margaret Parlor at [email protected], and she will put you in contact with CIHR.
- If you can think of someone whom you think would be a good ME/FM reviewer, encourage them to contact Parlor, or send Parlor their name and area of expertise via email.
- NOTE: the reviewer does NOT have to live or work in Canada to be considered.
CIHR did give some indication of the work involved:
Regarding the catalyst funding opportunity which has been posted recently,… a committee will be put together to review applications that will be submitted. Depending on the number of applications received for this specific competition, we would typically assign 4-10 applications per reviewers and provide them with 4-6 weeks to complete their reviews and submit them via our on-line portal. Then we invite the reviewers to discuss their reviews with the rest of the committee either via a teleconference call or in person. We cover the cost of travel when the meeting is face to face but the meetings can go on for a full day (again it depends on the number of applications that we receive).
Reviewers can be from three categories:
- Research Experience
- Review Experience
- Knowledge, Expertise and Lived Experience
The final say will, of course, be up to CIHR, but as a community it is vital that we suggest qualified individuals who have made a study of ME, CFS, or fibromyalgia. With a better quality of reviewer to choose from, we increase the likelihood that knowledgeable individuals be chosen. Without these suggestions, we may well end up with another Shorter.
Note: While #MEAction encourages comments below, please remember to also email your suggestions to [email protected]! Thanks so much to Margaret Parlor of National ME/FM Action Network for coordinating the effort!