UT Researcher, Kotb, to Chair NIH Study Section

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The UTHSC A.C. Mullins Professor in Research, Malak Kotb, PhD, has been selected to serve as chair of the Immunity and Host Defense Study Section of the National Institutes of Health for 2005-2006.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s (UTHSC) A.C. Mullins Professor in Research, Malak Kotb, PhD, has been selected to serve as chair of the Immunity and Host Defense Study Section of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 2005-2006. She is also director of the Mid-South Center for Biodefense and Security.

Study Sections are panels of experts in a particular field who evaluate the scientific and technical merit of grant applications submitted by researchers pursuing funding for their scientific investigations across the United States.

The Immunity and Host Defense Study Section reviews proposals that involve host-microbe interactions, genetics of susceptibility to infectious diseases, and immune responses to specific pathogenic organisms, (including agents of bioterrorism and emerging biological threats such as SARs, West Nile virus and flu), as well as experimental models that study host response to these agents. The panel also evaluates studies related to enhancing host protection and improving vaccine design, as well as research aimed at immune response to gene therapy agents.

“The chair’s role is to be balanced and fair in guiding the panel to make sure the best and most exciting science prevails. We must choose reviewers who are knowledgeable and unbiased because we ultimately determine where grant money is directed,” said Dr. Kotb.

“Selection to be a NIH study chair is testimony that a researcher is at the top of one’s game, the pinnacle of his or her career. The position requires a broad knowledge in diverse and interdisciplinary fields, as well as demonstrated competence and achievement through high quality publications, funding, and honors. Dr. Kotb is the epitome of that definition,” said Henry G. Herrod, MD, UTHSC College of Medicine dean, who also noted that this is Dr. Kotb’s second time to chair a NIH Study Section.

“It’s an honor to be asked; it’s like the ‘seal of approval’ from your peers and the NIH,” said Dr. Kotb. “It’s a tremendous amount of work but it’s challenging and a wonderful opportunity to serve the scientific community.”

In a related activity, Dr. Kotb was asked by NIH to be one of four scientists addressing the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Council members in May. She will discuss novel approaches to studying the human immune system and advances in translational research. In particular, Dr. Kotb will focus on the fully humanized mouse model, a collaborative effort among UTHSC researchers, Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, Maine) and Rupert Handgretinger, MD, PhD, UTHSC professor of pediatrics, who practices at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.