The motor for the most successful research system in the world, in the USA, are competitive grants of the National Institute of Health (NIH). Being appointed to an NIH reviewer panel means being recognised as an internationally renowned expert. Non-American researchers in particular are found only rarely in these bodies. An invitation to work as a reviewer is therefore seen as a considerable honour in the scientific community. The Head of the Clinical Institute of Pathology, o. Univ. Prof. Dr. D. Kerjaschki, has now been appointed for the third time as a reviewer for an NIH programme (# PAR-07-420, "Lymphatic Biology in Health and Disease").
Complex, structured applications for individual project grants (RO1), which are allocated for up to 5 years and often amount to several million dollars for the benefit of whole research groups, are subject to a strict peer review. The reviewers are selected for subject areas by the NIH, inspect the extensive applications, deliver written reports and have to defend their opinion and assessment in an open final conference of all reviewers. This system of allocating research funds has become a model for many European research promotion agencies, but in the Austrian Science Fund FWF, for example, the last and critical stage of the NIH process, competitive justification of the assessment of a project in front of all other reviewers, is currently not realised satisfactorily.