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Peer Review Process

Peer Review: A First Step in Identifying Investigations with Promise

One of the most complicated, crucial first steps in lupus scientific research is to verify which investigations are of merit — endeavors worthy of funding.

It is not an easy task.  Just imagine if researchers handed over all of their data to the average person.  The chances of the findings being understood would be highly improbable — and substantiation of the study’s conclusions would be downright impossible to give. 

In lupus research — as in all areas of scientific inquiry — the answer is peer review.  All studies, even ones that hold the greatest promise, require validation from the top experts in the field.

Applying for ALR Funding

“We ask the investigators who apply for ALR research grants to clearly define how their research will result in new therapies or improved approaches to medical management in the shortest timeframe possible"
Mary K. Crow, MD, Chair, ALR Scientific Advisory Board and Professor and Senior Scientist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

All investigators applying for ALR funding must submit a proposal through a competitive peer-review process that we modeled after one used by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — the federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

At that point, an ALR scientific panel — comprised of world authorities with relevant expertise — reviews the proposal in terms of scientific and technical merit.  The panel then ranks it according to rigorous criteria.

The standards of evaluation are specific to the ALR.  We look for originality, innovation, novelty, and relevance to our mission of preventing, treating, and curing lupus.

For more detailed information on each stage in the flow of information—from application submission to study section review, to the Scientific Advisory Board’s (SAB) review and recommendation to the Board of Directors, please see the next section.

The Review Process

  • The ALR plays an active role in directing its support by sending out requests for applications to noted scientists and leading institutions.
  • Applications are assigned a primary and secondary reviewer.
  • The primary reviewer writes a complete in-depth critique of the application, focusing on several key areas including: impact, appropriateness of method and design, originality, qualifications of the investigator(s), availability of support services, suitability of facilities, and appropriateness of budget.
  • This summary concludes with a recommendation for funding.
  • The secondary reviewer also provides a written summary and recommendation.
  • Both reviewers are responsible for making an oral presentation to the committee regarding an application.
  • Other written critiques are sometimes solicited from ad hoc experts, when required.
  • All study section members are asked to read every application to facilitate discussion and complete a review of each project.

After this initial stage, the SAB reviews the top scoring applications.  Comprised of leading lupus experts, the SAB conducts a second level of review and provides funding recommendations to the Board of Directors. This multilevel review system ensures that the ALR supports only the best projects that fulfill the organization’s mission. The Board of Directors makes the final funding decisions.

For a current list of ALR Funded Investigators, Click here

The ALR is able to leverage research by encouraging collaboration between investigators.  Each year, the ALR hosts its Collaborative Scientific Meeting, where ALR-funded scientists meet and share their data to build upon one another’s efforts.  This interaction allows ALR researchers to identify synergies that advance their work at an even faster pace.


1.5 million

people in the U.S. have Lupus.

90 million

dollars committed to lupus research by the Alliance for Lupus Research.


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