Scott C. Mitchell, JD

Tinnitus research advocates, Scott C. Mitchell, JD, and James O. Chinnis Jr. PhD, recently participated in the evaluation of research proposals submitted to the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) sponsored by the Department of Defense, according to a statement released by the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), Portland, Ore.

Mitchell and Chinnis were nominated for participation in the peer review process by the ATA. As consumer reviewers, they were full voting members of the scientific peer review panel, along with prominent scientists and clinicians. The Fiscal Year 2009 PRMRP received a $50 million congressional appropriation to fund research across 19 topic areas, including tinnitus. This is the second consecutive year that tinnitus research proposals have been eligible for funding under this program.


James O. Chinnis Jr. PhD

Consumer reviewers are asked to represent the collective view of their community including survivors and patients, family members, and people at risk for the disease. Specifically, they are asked to score and comment on the potential impact of the proposed study on issues such as disease prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life after treatment. Mitchell and Chinnis joined a group of 65 consumer advocates who participated in the scientific peer review of applications submitted to the FY09 PRMRP and participated in the review of each research application on the panel. 

In a statement released by ATA, Chinnis said that the program has resulted in a number of proposals that would have been impossible to conduct even just a few years ago. The quality and focus of several proposals were well above that of even the most insightful past proposals, helping to put tinnitus research into the front ranks of medical research. Mitchell, who served his second term as a consumer reviewer, noted that the proposals covered the spectrum of open questions regarding tinnitus, which emphasized that tinnitus treatment can be approached from many different angles—someday soon, perhaps we will be able to customize tinnitus therapy to the individual patient, he added.

Consumer advocates and scientists have worked together in this partnership to evaluate the scientific merit of research proposals submitted to the various programs managed through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) since 1995. Captain E. Melissa Kaime, MD, director of the CDMRP, said in the statement that the consumer reviewers on each panel helped the scientists understand the patient’s perspective and provided valuable insight into the potential impact of the proposed project.

The FY09 PRMRP challenged the scientific and clinical communities to address one of the FY09 congressionally-directed topic areas with original ideas that foster new directions in basic science and translational research; novel product development leading to improved therapeutic or diagnostic tools, or improvements in clinical policies/guidelines; or clinical trials that address an immediate clinical need.

The program sought applications in laboratory, clinical, behavioral, and epidemiologic research as well as public health and policy; environmental sciences; nursing; occupational health; alternative therapies; ethics; economics; and strategic research, such as studies designed to shape the development of or to validate clinical policy or guidance.

[Source: American Tinnitus Association]