of this letter. The Committee was assisted by 78 additional scientists, appointed to eight review panels, with collective expertise across the breadth of basic and applied expertise relevant to the problem of a vector-borne disease of this important agricultural crop. That expertise included plant pathology, plant science, molecular genetics and genomics, entomology, biotechnology and genetic transformation, horticulture, disease epidemiology, agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, and many specializations within those fields.
The organization of eight panels of reviewers (and the assignment of proposals to different panels) reflected the diversity of approaches encompassed within and among the 205 proposals to address the problem of HLB and other citrus diseases. Therefore, each review panel included a mixture of scientific expertise most appropriate for reviewing proposals grouped according to general research approach, as follows:
Epidemiology, Production Economics, Alternative Production Systems (19 proposals)
Insect Control (36 proposals)
Pathogen-Vector Relations and Disease Transmission (10 proposals)
Metabolomics, Proteomics, Transcriptomics, Host-Pathogen Interactions (24 proposals)
Genomics, Isolation, and Culture (26 proposals)
Pathogen and Disease Detection (25 proposals)
Disease Control (24 proposals)
Plant Transformation, Biotechnology, Screening for Disease Resistance (41 proposals)
Each of the eight panels was chaired by a member of the parent Committee. The chairman of the Committee served as an independent referee who was not involved in any of the panel reviews.
As noted earlier, the proposals were assigned to panels on the basis of predominant research approach, so some panels reviewed more proposals than others and, accordingly, some panels had more members than others. Each panel was tasked with conducting a review of each of the proposals assigned to it and for generating, for the purposes of assisting the Committee, a brief summary assessment of how well each proposal met the criteria of the program. In addition, to assist the Committee, each panel was asked to group those proposals considered to be worthy of funding into categories of high, medium, and low merit, and to the extent possible, to rank order the proposals within the groupings based on their evaluation. The panels were also asked to comment on the RFP and to give their sense of the quality of the process, and of the proposals themselves, in order to improve the assessment process for any future funding rounds.
The charge to the Committee was to: a) provide the review panels with guidance to ensure consistency in the review process; b) consider the recommendations of the panels as it examined the proposals; c) to evaluate the merits of each proposal relative to others similarly ranked across the panels; and, d) to develop a final list of proposals that would