Our History

The AIBS Scientific Peer Advisory and Review Services (SPARS) division is a key part of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society. AIBS advances its mission through a range of activities and events. For more information, please visit www.aibs.org.

AIBS has a long and distinguished history of serving the scientific community. As part of this service, in 1963 the AIBS SPARS division was established to perform peer review and related scientific services. The primary mission of AIBS SPARS is to provide scientific merit peer review and advisory services to a diverse group of organizations. We are committed to providing the highest-quality scientific services to our clients, and we have over 50 years of experience in providing peer review of scientific research.

AIBS SPARS

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Virtually all of our staff members have over 5 years of experience with scientific review and advisory services in various formats. Almost 50% of our staff members have 10 years or more of experience.

The majority of our staff members have educational backgrounds with a master’s degree and/or doctorate degree in a research/scientific field.

AIBS SPARS provides all manner of peer review and support services to facilitate competitive research programs. Our reviews typically focus on scientific issues such as medicine, advanced technologies, engineering, biotechnology, education, and environmental concerns. We work collaboratively with clients from the beginning to the end of the review process, developing the application templates and review criteria; receiving review materials and tracking them throughout the review life cycle; recruiting reviewers with specialized expertise; providing IT support services throughout the review process; planning all logistics for a successful review; and delivering statements summarizing the results of the review. We also provide support and administrative services for the activities of leadership groups that oversee such research programs.

AIBS SPARS prides itself on providing the most apt advisory services for each client. We employ expert, experienced staff with scientific backgrounds and specializations in project management, writing/editing, clinical research, and business.

Information Technology Services

IT project managers, trainers, programmers, and system administrators have directly supported AIBS SPARS' peer review efforts for over a decade. With an immense amount of collective experience, AIBS SPARS and IT staff can tailor the review process or support services to fit an organization’s needs. IT staff have developed client Web sites, proposal/letter of intent submission sites, surveys, secure file transmission Web sites, online review process training/orientation materials, and a proprietary, comprehensive online peer review system for the management of all review projects.

Clients employing AIBS SPARS have:

  • The option of electronic, virtual (audio and visual conferencing), and face-to-face panel meetings
  • Real-time access to proposal scores and related metadata via our SCORES® software
  • Guaranteed network infrastructure supporting all panel meetings — our systems stay online during hotel Internet outages and electrical brown-outs and short black-outs
  • Customized laptops meeting strict electronic and physical security requirements for all reviewers
  • Portable tablets for on-site client staff to communicate with each other and AIBS staff, and to review meeting progress
  • Full time, on-site (for panel meetings) IT support for reviewers and staff
  • Proposal/preproposal Web site development and management
  • Data transfer services
  • Client Web site hosting

The SCORES® Peer Review Software Suite

The Scientific Comprehensive Online Research and Evaluation System (SCORES®) suite is a collection of modern Web applications created by AIBS to manage small and large scale scientific peer review projects performed by AIBS SPARS.

The software has supported some of the world's largest biological research funding organizations via electronic review, virtual peer review panel, and on-site peer review panel meetings, and was used to evaluate over $900 million in potential scientific funding in 2011-2012.

The SCORES® software suite helps manage each step of the project: project setup and tracking, recruiting subject matter experts, recording subject matter expert critiques and evaluation criteria scores, and generating polished summary statements. SCORES® includes interfaces for all project stakeholders including subject matter experts, clients, and AIBS staff, ensuring complete, accurate, and secure information sharing throughout all project phases. Like all of AIBS's software, SCORES® follows industry best practices for security and data redundancy, and is deployed via a US Government-compliant host.

Meetings Management Services

AIBS SPARS provides logistical support for meetings of all sizes. Our staff is acutely aware of the demands placed on scientists; therefore, we facilitate all arrangements to enable participants to focus on their scientific duties rather than logistical issues. We work with many government entities and are familiar with working within regulations for travel and meeting costs.

Services include:

  • Meeting space identification, negotiation, coordination, and preparation
  • Full-service travel booking (with no upfront costs to participants)
  • Refreshments and meal arrangements
  • Reservations for sleeping accommodations
  • Per diem and mileage reimbursement, as well as reviewer honoraria payment
  • On-call staff 24 hours a day

AIBS SPARS provides the same level of meeting support and attention to detail irrespective of whether the meeting is for 5 or 500 participants.