Seasoned Administrator to Direct NIH Peer Review Center

National Institutes of Health

Richard Nakamura, a psychologist and longtime administrator at the National Institutes of Health, has been named director of the agency's Center for Scientific Review (CSR), which oversees the $30 billion agency's enormous peer review system.

CSR manages the 80,000 proposals that researchers submit to NIH each year; the center also oversees peer review for most proposals. Nakamura came to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1976 as a postdoc and later headed two of its grant programs for biobehavioral and neuroscience research. Starting in 1997, he served as NIMH deputy director, acting director, and, most recently, scientific director. He took over as acting director of CSR in September 2011 when the director for the previous 6 years, Anthony Scarpa, resigned.

Scarpa oversaw a controversial revamp of NIH's peer review process, including a shortened application length and new limits on resubmitting rejected applications. A recent decision by NIH to maintain its "two strikes" policy rankled some extramaural researchers. Nakamura, known as a low-key, steady-handed administrator, will likely face new stresses as his center is called upon to separate wheat from chaff in a time of intense competition for limited grant dollars.