Overview of the grant review initiative

All grant proposals that AMED receives are carefully evaluated to assess their suitability to receive funding. The former-director of AMED, Makoto Suematsu, talks about AMED’s purpose and the key role that international reviewers play in reviewing grant proposals for medical projects.

There are three steps in the application and evaluation of grant proposals. The first is the submission of proposals by researchers seeking funding for their projects. Japanese and non-Japanese researchers based in Japan are eligible to apply for grants. There are also grants for early-career researchers called Young Investigator Grants. A grant application outlines the aim of the project, the stage of the research and development process it addresses, and the intended plan of attack. In the financial year 2018–19, AMED received 3,717 proposals for grants of which 761 were successful.

Grant proposals are assessed in the following steps. For each submitted proposal, international reviewers (AMED reviewers) provide a peer-review of the grant proposal documents. AMED reviewers are needed at this stage in order to provide a broader perspective than Japanese reviewers alone can offer. An evaluation panel of AMED experts then reviews the documents during the final evaluation stage and selects the awardees. Find out more about the role of AMED reviewers here. Interviews are then conducted in person by the evaluation panel (and so doesn’t involve AMED reviewers) with the applicants to gain a deeper understanding of their ideas and plans. An assessment committee decides whether to accept the proposal. Accepted applications enter the pre-award stage. During this stage, research plans and budgets submitted by applicants are reviewed, and if they satisfy the grant conditions, a funding agreement will be signed and the grant application progresses to the post-award stage.

AMED’s work does not stop with the awarding of grants; the agency provides support for grant awardees as well as monitors the progress of funded projects. In particular, site visits and mid-term reviews of funded research are conducted.

The infographic below depicts how AMED is organized and the various fields that receive support from AMED grants.

Infographic: How does AMED operate?