Reviewers have a broad range of scientific expertise and background. They are experts in the field, but perhaps not in the exact area of your application.
Once you've identified possible study sections/scientific review groups that fit your application well, look at the rosters for the review group. While you can learn something about the make up of the scientific review group, it is never appropriate to contact reviewers about the review.
Reviewers are looking for:
- Exciting ideas
- Realistic aims and timelines
- Brevity with things that everyone knows
- Noted limitations of the study
- A clean, well-written application
Become familiar with the review criteria for the type of application you are submitting. For research grants, the overall impact score reflects an assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved. This takes into account the significance and innovation in the application as well as its feasibility and rigor.
Become familiar with NIH's emphasis on rigor and reproducibility and how this affects review.
Check out the Insider's Guide to NIH Peer Review for Applicants for more information.