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Professor Robert C. Klesges Named Chair of NIH Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section

Dr. Robert Klesges
Dr. Robert C. Klesges

Robert C. Klesges, PhD, MS, BA, AA, professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), is the new chair of the Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section for the Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Members of the study section, which reviews grant applications and clinical, community and population research studies, are chosen based on their competence and achievement in their chosen specialty. They are selected for research accomplishments, publication in scientific journals, history of NIH funding, and honors.

As chair of the study section, one of several dozen standing sections, Dr. Klesges will play a key role in assuring the quality of the NIH peer review process for grants that total hundreds of millions of dollars annually and involve large-scale community intervention efforts.

“We review 80 to 100 grant applications three times a year, and we give a numerical score to each one,” he said.  “The NIH then often funds based on those scores.”

According to Dr. Klesges, NIH study sections “have the responsibility for shaping the science, not for things you’ll be reading in journals today, but for the things you’ll be reading in journals five or six years from now.” His term as chair commences with a meeting in October, and will end June 30, 2016.

Dr. Klesges is the principal investigator for five NIH-funded studies and one study funded by the Department of Defense. He is  a longtime and well-respected contributor and researcher in the fields of smoking cessation, weight management, cancer prevention in young adults, and health promotion in underserved populations. He has studied tobacco control issues and smoking cessation issues at multiple institutions since the 1980s.

Dr. Klesges has contributed to seven Surgeon General’s Reports on Smoking and Health, including the seminal one in 1988 that concluded that nicotine was as addictive as heroin.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University, and earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Wyoming. He then became a faculty member at North Dakota State University; and later spent 20 years on the faculty and as a researcher at the University of Memphis. In 2004, Dr. Klesges joined the faculty of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and was a consultant for the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center’s Nicotine Dependence Center.

Since 2006, Dr. Klesges has been a professor in the UTHSC Department of Preventive Medicine, as well as an associate member of the Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He is also the director of the Center for Population Sciences at UTHSC.