Randall Urban, MD
Vice President for Research &
Chief Research Officer

Dr. Randall Urban

Dr. Randall Urban leads a diverse research community in the bold mission to improve medical practice through progressive translational research endeavors. He has 145 peer-review publications, is the Principal Investigator of UTMB's Clinical and Translational Science Award, and has 3 major research interests funded by the NIH and private foundations. In addition to Vice President for Research and Chief Research Officer, Dr. Urban is Vice Dean for Clinical Research in the John Sealy School of Medicine, Professor of Internal Medicine, Director of the Institute for Translational Sciences, and Fellow, John P. McGovern Distinguished Chair in Oslerian Medicine.

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The Strategic Research Plan, which is used by leadership to  develop a path forward through goals, objectives and tactics, has broad input. It includes six integrated health communities that bring together researchers, educators, clinicians and community members to use prevention and treatment to transform illness to health. Read more.

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Announcing a Simplified Review Framework for NIH Research Project Grant Applications

NIH recently announced a simplified review framework to be implemented for grants with receipt deadlines of January 25, 2025, and after.

The simplified framework is expected to better focus peer reviewers on the key questions needed to assess the scientific and technical merit of proposed research projects: “Can and should the proposed research project be conducted?”

To achieve this, the five current review criteria (defined as Significance, Innovation, Approach, Investigator, and Environment; derived from NIH peer review regulations 42 C.F.R. Part 52h.8) are being reorganized into three broader factors to help reviewers focus on crucial questions that determine scientific merit. Reviewers will consider all three factors in determining the overall impact score, which reflects their overall assessment of the likely impact of the proposed research.

  • Factor 1: Importance of the Research (Significance and Innovation), factor score 1-9
  • Factor 2: Rigor and Feasibility (Approach), factor score 1-9,
  • Factor 3: Expertise and Resources (Investigator and Environment), either rated as sufficient for the proposed research or not (in which case reviewers must provide an explanation)

A significant concern being addressed in the simplified framework is the potential for general scientific reputation to have an undue influence on application review. By changing the evaluation of Investigator and Environment to a binary decision of sufficient or not in the context of the proposed research, Factor 3 aims to help mitigate this potential biasing influence.

Review the Extramural Nexus Blog Post for the full details of this announcement as well as the November 3 webinar.  A summary of the changes also can be found in the November 28 UTMB-RDP monthly meeting presentation.

What does this mean for UTMB investigators?

From the November 3 webinar, this new framework will not affect how project grants are assembled or submitted, nor will it change the grant components typically included in project grant applications.

Bookmark the NIH Simplified Peer Review Framework page to remain updated on progress toward implementation of this new framework. 

NIH Simplified Review Framework Frequently Asked Question