11 Aug

Go back to the enewsletter The legendary region o

first_imgGo back to the e-newsletterThe legendary region of Champagne, France, was the centrepiece of Atout France‘s Champagne Soirée on Wednesday 18 October. Guests sipped at Piper-Heidsieck while learning about the wonders that can only come from the towns, villages and vineyards of the region, while the Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.Upon arrival in the lobby of Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, a woman in a crinoline-like skirt holding glasses of champagne invited guests to select a flute. Each had a diamond in the bottom of the glass, but only one was real, worth $5000 from Percy Marks jewellers and won by a guest in attendance.Guests heard from Patrick Benhamou, Regional Manager at Atout France, and members of the Champagne-Ardenne Tourisme board. A highlight of the evening was the sabrage ceremony, an always-impressive spectacle that sees a bottle of champagne opened with a sabre. The event also included the launch ‘Drinking Stars’ photo exhibition, named in honour of what Dom Pérignon is said to have exclaimed after the first sip of his effervescent accidental creation.Il n’est Champagne que de la Champagne.Champagne only comes from Champagne.Go back to the e-newsletterlast_img read more

20 Jul

NIH finds using anonymous proposals to test for bias is harder than

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country NIH finds using anonymous proposals to test for bias is harder than it looks The novel exercise, a year in the making, is so sensitive that NIH is contracting out the work to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in the outcome. There have also been technical challenges in preserving the quality of grant proposals that have been scrubbed of all identifiers.“It’s taken so long because it turned out to be much harder than I thought,” says Richard Nakamura, head of NIH’s Center for Scientific Review in Bethesda, Maryland, that is funding the new study. “We wanted to keep the sense of the science, but to do that we had to add some dummy code and other information that would help reviewers understand what was being proposed without disclosing anything about the individual applicant.” For example, NIH decided that even geographic references were a no-no.A heavy liftSome researchers who have studied the inner working of the peer-review process question whether the results will actually provide any useful information for closing the racial disparity.“I don’t think anonymization will work, but it’s the first thing that people think of,” says Molly Carnes, a professor of geriatrics and director of the Center for Women’s Health Research at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Carnes leads a team that has poked at the dynamics of peer review by recreating study sections. Among their findings is that ambiguous standards for reviewing grant proposals and comments from other reviewers can influence the panel’s assessment of the proposed research. Those variations could also lead to bias, she says, although the group has not specifically examined racial factors.Carnes, who serves on an NIH advisory body that Nakamura briefed last week on the planned study, also speculates that reviewers won’t be comfortable not knowing anything about who would be carrying out the research. “Scientists have a relentless need to categorize,” she notes. “So I suspect they will not rest easy until they know more about the applicant. Even if they have nothing else to go on, they might Google the science described in the proposal for clues about where it’s coming from.”Scientists use that information to help them assess the researcher’s chances of success, adds Elizabeth Pier, a postdoc at the center Carnes runs. “That’s just how reviewers have always operated, and any change would require a paradigm shift.”The study will compare 400 black and white applicants, matched by research topic, gender, degree, type of institution, and original score. An additional 400 white applicants will be chosen at random. The pool includes both proposals eventually funded and those that were declined. The proposals were originally submitted in 2014–15, but none remains under active consideration.The study will be done by Social Solutions International (SSI), a small, minority-owned company in Rockville, Maryland. SSI hopes to do a preliminary study this summer before launching the full effort in the fall.Nakamura decided to focus on the first step of NIH’s normal review process, in which every application chosen for review is critiqued by three reviewers and assigned a preliminary score. An analysis of the 2011 data, he notes, found that the discrepancy between black and white applicants was “due entirely to their lower preliminary score.” The analysis, he notes, found no indication of bias during the second step—discussion of each application by the study section—nor in the final stage when the proposal is approved for funding by the advisory body for the relevant NIH institute or center.In the experiment, each of the new reviewers will assess six to eight anonymized proposals. Those results will then be compared with the scores given to the same proposals by the original reviewers to see whether there are differences according to race.NIH officials will also be looking at whether the anonymization affects the current distribution of scores by gender, stage of career, or type of institution. Applications from Asian-Americans and Hispanic scientists have been excluded, Nakamura says, because the 2011 study found that they fared only marginally worse than their white counterparts.Worries about designEven so, Carnes’s team believes there is ample opportunity for bias in that second stage. Anna Kaatz, director of computational sciences at the center, says one problem arises when members disagree on the quality of a specific proposal. The ensuring discussion—their papers call it “score calibration talk”—can lead to group think that erases minority views.A second potential problem is substituting the characteristics of the applicant for the quality of the proposal. “A comment like ‘These guys have published in Nature and Science and Cell, so they must know what they are doing,’ can discriminate against someone with a great idea but who lacks the right pedigree,” Kaatz says.A lot of work has been done on how these subtle but powerful biases can affect decision-making, says Carnes, who’d like to see NIH make use of it in training its reviewers and professional staff. Nakamura says he’d welcome any information on detecting bias, adding that he hasn’t seen any studies specifically on racial disparities in the peer-review process.Despite her concerns, Carnes applauds NIH for taking what she calls an important first step. “I think it’s wonderful that NIH is willing to shine a light on its own processes,” she says. “It’s the right thing to do, and it needs to be done.” By Jeffrey MervisMay. 31, 2017 , 3:45 PM Emailcenter_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe The National Institutes of Health is trying to mask the identity of applicants in an experiment exploring racial bias in grant reviews. 派脆客 Lee/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) An effort to test whether reviewers are biased against blacks applying for grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is proving to be much harder to carry out than expected.A 2011 study commissioned by NIH concluded that black applicants were 35% less likely than white researchers to snare a grant. That disturbing finding has prompted NIH to invest $250 million in increasing the diversity of the biomedical research community as well as to look inward at possible bias in its vaunted grantsmaking system.NIH’s review process begins with an initial assessment of proposals by a handful of outside scientists. Those proposals contain lots of information on the applicant as well as the idea being proposed. But later this year a fresh set of reviewers will be asked to rate a pool of 1200 previously submitted proposals that have been stripped of all personal identifiers, including name, institution, where they were trained, and even their collaborators.last_img read more