Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, was invited by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to serve as Chair of a study section. The invitations to serve as study section member and Chair both come at the discretion of NIH. The study section took place between July 19th-20th. The NIH provides the largest amount of research funding in the United States, and, like other agencies funding research, the NIH asks scientists to serve as reviewers of grant applications.
When faculty members submit any NIH grants, they are peer reviewed in a confidential, formal meeting called a study section. Most grant applications submitted to the NIH are reviewed by their Center for Scientific Review, or CSR. Grant applications are assigned by the CSR to study sections that consist of 20-40 scientists who review applications in a specific field of study. Study section members are selected by NIH based on their expertise related to the grants being reviewed in a given cycle. The study section that Dr. Valentovic chaired is part of the NIH National Institute of Digestive, Diabetes and Kidney Disease (NIDDK). She was the alternate chair of the same study section when it met in Washington, DC in March 2011. The proposals this section reviews are all in the areas of liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal health.
Each study section is managed by a CSR Scientific Review Officer (SRO) employed by the NIH. This officer is the person who initially asks scientists to participate in a study section. SRO’s use a variety of different sources to draw section members, who include authors of recent publications, speakers at scientific conferences, scientists recommended by other section members, and scientists who have received NIH grants. University deans and professional organizations may also volunteer scientists to be added to CSR’s database of potential reviewers, searchable by expertise. Scientists who are members of study sections usually have a strong record of publishing research, major peer-reviewed grants, and extensive research experience. Those who participate in study sections enjoy many professional benefits, including exposure to the newest research, the ability to broaden scientific exposure to other fields, improving one’s success rate in obtaining grants, and gaining valuable professional and mentoring experience. Congratulations to Dr. Valentovic!