Celia Fisher, Ph.D., the Marie Doty Professor of Psychology and director of the Center for Ethics Education at Fordham, has been named to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) panel to identify research grants with the best scientific design and potential impact.

Since research money from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was made available this spring, the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review (CSI) has received a more than twice its usual number of applications, or approximately 21,000, for just 200 new research challenge grants. The flood of applications has forced the NIH to call on the greater scientific community for help in evaluating the applications.

Celia Fisher, Ph.D.

As a member of the Distinguished Editorial Panel on Behavioral and Population Sciences, Fisher spent July 20 and 21 in Washington D.C. helping to select applications across a broad range of disciplines that were judged highly in the first wave of reviews.

“Our job was to provide broad expertise and objective assessment to ensure the process fairly identifies those projects that qualify for this very important funding,” said Fisher, the recipient of several NIH grants. “The stimulus money will provide a real boost to support critical research needed to advance scientific knowledge and application.”

The NIH’s mandate is to fund some $200 million in grants lasting two years or less, to stimulate job creation, preservation and economic activity in the biomedical and bio-behavioral sciences. To receive the funds, the grants must be awarded before the end of September, for funding during the 2010 academic year and beyond.

According to CSI communications director Don Luckett, the NIH was so overwhelmed with applications that it had to enlist the help of approximately 500 faculty and research scientists around the nation for 30 second-stage review panels in order to meet the September deadline. The NIH looked for experts who could re-review the science and put additional focus on a project’s significance and impact, he said.

“This two-stage scientific review process allows us to efficiently provide high-quality reviews of the many challenge grant applications on an accelerated schedule,” said Luckett. “It is heartening to see how scientists like Dr. Fisher have volunteered to help ensure we identify the most promising research.”

The NIH includes 27 institutes and centers and operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Fisher served as chair of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Human Studies Review Board from 2006 to 2009. She has also served on the Secretary of Health and Human Service’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections.


Janet Sassi is editor/associate director of internal communications. She can be reached at (212) 636-7577 or [email protected]