By Ashlynn Neumeyer: 

The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) will host the Association for Clinical and Translational Sciences (ACTS) Mock Study Section for the next three years, debuting in March 2019. The goal of the ACTS meeting is to support and advance translational science, or the translation of research and discoveries in the lab into therapies and solutions that improve human health.

The Mock Study Section is a formal workshop that replicates for participants the review process for how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) decides which grant applications will be funded. During the event, scientific review officers and committee co-chairs lead the review and discussion of previously submitted applications for a variety of NIH grants to talk through why some applications received funding and others did not. To ensure the event’s success, each session is monitored by experienced co-chairs and scientific review officers from the NIH.

Indiana CTSI Director Anantha Shekhar, MD, PhD, said being selected to lead the ACTS’ Mock Study Section is a great honor that speaks to the quality and expertise of faculty and staff working at the Indiana CTSI, a statewide research partnership among Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame.

“The ability to apply for and secure NIH funding is essential to the success of a translational scientist’s research program,” said Dr. Shekhar, who is also executive associate dean for research at IU School of Medicine and associate vice president for research and clinical affairs at IU. “The Indiana CTSI is privileged to take on hosting duties for the Mock Study Section to help researchers across the country continue their work to improve human health.”

Lane Coffee, PhD, MS, manager of the Indiana CTSI Connecting Researchers And Translational Expertise (ICReATE) program, which provides resources and expertise for researchers at any stage their project, will serve as the faculty lead for the Mock Study Section, and Julie Driscol, also a manager of ICReATE, will serve as the staff lead.

Dr. Coffee, who is also an assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine at IU School of Medicine, said he looks forward to engaging faculty and trainees in this important work to help researchers improve their NIH grant applications.

“​The Mock Study Section is an excellent opportunity for researchers to get an inside look at an NIH grant study section,” he said. “It’s a unique exercise because this first-hand knowledge is not traditionally part of training for pre-doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. We simulate the process, during which the scientific review officer and review committee score and discuss each application, which helps researchers better understand how their grant applications are reviewed by the NIH.”

Dr. Coffee said being on the “other side” of the review process gives researchers more information about what NIH grant reviewers are looking for, which helps them to become better grant writers. As a result, researchers who participate in the Mock Study Section have the opportunity to increase the strength and competitiveness of their applications for NIH funding.

The next Mock Study Section will be held at the ACTS Translational Sciences 2019 meeting from March 6 to 8 in Washington, D.C.

About the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute

The Indiana CTSI brings together the state’s brightest minds to solve Indiana’s most pressing health challenges through research. It is a statewide partnership among Indiana University, Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame and numerous life sciences businesses, government entities and community organizations. The Indiana CTSI engages with the public at every level of research—from basic science to patient care. It has been continuously funded by multimillion dollar grants from the National Institutes of Health since the Indiana CTSI’s founding in 2008 and is housed at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

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