ATA Grants: Call for Tinnitus Patient Reviewers

The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) is seeking patient reviewers to participate as lay experts on tinnitus, bringing their experience and perspectives to the evaluation of research grant proposals submitted to ATA’s Innovative Research Grants Program. Patient reviewers provide crucial input to the panel, which consists of members from the ATA’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). By representing those most directly affected by tinnitus, patient reviewers ensure that research selected for funding has the greatest potential impact for patients. The perspectives and opinions of patient reviewers bring relevance and practicality to the grant review process and are valued by scientists.

The selection process for patient reviewers begins with the submission of an application form, followed by a telephone interview with ATA staff for eligible applicants. Once approved to serve, your name will remain on our patient reviewer listing for a minimum of three years and you will be contacted each year to determine your availability.

The number of patient reviewers required each year is dependent upon grant funding and the number of research proposals received; hence, participation cannot be guaranteed. Individuals selected as patient reviewers do not receive compensation.


The ATA funds the Innovative Research Grants Program and solicits proposals from scientists around the world with the overall goal of funding high-impact, high-gain innovative projects that other agencies may not fund due to insufficient data criteria. The program, which is funded through donations, is grounded in seed grants that enable researchers to obtain significant data for innovative pilot studies, which is a prerequisite for applying for more substantial funding from federal institutions. Investigations may focus on such areas as treatment and intervention, measures in screening, detection and diagnosis, epidemiological studies, and neurobiology/genetics.

The ATA conducts a 3-tier review process for submitted proposals: SAC Small Panel Peer Review, SAC Full Panel Review, and ATA Board Review. SAC Small Panel Peer Review is a process by which scientists with specific expertise assess the scientific and technical strengths of the proposals according to an established set of evaluation criteria. The patient reviewer joins this panel.

Programmatic Review occurs after the SAC Small Panel Peer Review and uses the results of the SAC Full Panel Peer Review to make final funding recommendations to the ATA Board of Directors.

SAC Small Panel Peer Review

The SAC small panel peer review carries out the application review and consists of 2 scientists and 1 patient reviewer such as yourself. Each panel may review 3 applications in total. Small panel peer review meetings take place so reviewers can discuss and provide overall scoring of the applications. Both scientists and the patient reviewer do the following:

  • Evaluate assigned proposals and provide written critiques of the impact of the proposals, each from their own perspective
  • Participate in panel discussions
  • Rate the quality of the applications

Patient Review Role

Patient reviewers are individuals who have experience with tinnitus and who exhibit accomplishments and commitment to education and/or advocacy. Patient reviewers represent the perspective of tinnitus patients in the scientific peer review process. Comments made by patient reviewers in the peer review process help to broaden the discussions by including issues such as the quality of life for those living with the condition, psychosocial needs, and/or ethical issues.

Patient reviewers will participate in SAC small panel peer review to help evaluate proposals, provide written analysis, score grant applications, and provide constructive feedback.

Patient Reviewers' Responsibilities for Small Panel Review

If you are selected to participate in the small panel peer review process, you will be assigned to work on a panel and may review up to 3 full length applications in 2023, for which you will be asked do the following:

  • Participate in an orientation for ProposalCentral
  • Prepare written comments on the assigned applications prior to the peer review meeting
  • Provide the patient perspective during the panel discussions
  • Participate in review of applications
  • Vote on the merit of applications
  • Adhere to conflict-of-interest and confidentiality procedures

Patient reviewers are not expected to serve as scientists or to evaluate the scientific content of the applications.

Meeting Logistics

SAC Small Panel Peer review meetings are assembled for formal discussions of the applications, at which time scientists and patients present their comments during discussion. Following deliberation, the panel scores each application’s merit. Panel meetings will take place via teleconference.

Program Eligibility

To serve as a tinnitus patient reviewer you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be living with tinnitus or be a family member of a person living with tinnitus.
  • Have at least a high-school education or its equivalent.
  • Be fluent in listening, reading, speaking, and writing in English.
  • Be proficient in basic computer and web browser functions, including having an updated operating system and the knowledge to update your computer if needed.
  • Have an interest in expanding your scientific knowledge about tinnitus
  • Represent the views of the tinnitus patient community, not just your personal experience.