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Center for Scientific Review (CSR)

Thursday, September 4, 2003

Donald Luckett
(301) 435-1111

Ehrenfeld to Step Down as CSR Director

Ellie Ehrenfeld, Ph.D., today announced that she will step down from her post as Director of the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the end of September.

"I came to NIH to assess the peer review process and effect changes to accommodate the rapidly changing scope and practice of biomedical research," said Dr. Ehrenfeld. "We completed the design of the first total reorganization of CSR's review committees, and we are in the process of implementing the new study sections. I am extremely gratified by the support and generous participation of an outstanding team of NIH staff and many others from the extramural research communities."

Dr. Ehrenfeld will continue in her position as Chief of the Picornavirus Replication Section in the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the institutes of the NIH.

"Ellie has done a tremendous job," NIH Director, Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., said. "She helped initiate and advance a number of important initiatives that transformed and modernized the way NIH conducts peer review."

In her seven years as Director of CSR, the center experienced a dramatic increase in workload. In this period, the number of NIH and other Public Health Service applications submitted to CSR increased by 70 percent — from 38,579 applications to an estimated 66,000 in fiscal year 2003.

During her tenure as director of CSR, Dr. Ehrenfeld also oversaw the addition of new and innovative programs in an effort to keep pace with the rapidly changing nature of biomedical research.

Under her leadership, the center established working groups of external experts to periodically evaluate the effectiveness of CSR's Integrated Review Groups (IRGs) and their component study sections.

In response to the dramatic growth in biomedical and behavioral research, the center initiated a comprehensive reorganization of CSR's scientific review groups. Entitled The Panel on Scientific Boundaries for Review, the resulting teams of experts completed the design for 23 new IRGs and their study sections. The CSR Advisory Committee is now overseeing implementation efforts.

CSR incorporated new technologies to allow the electronic submission and review of NIH grant applications. Now all incoming applications are scanned into digital form and CSR study section reviewers can receive their applications on compact discs. In addition, most reviewers now use the Internet-Assisted Peer Review System to submit and read critiques.

CSR recruited a special advisor, Theodore Kotchen, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Associate Dean for Clinical Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin, to serve as a liaison to the external clinical research communities. His role is to examine CSR practices and suggest new approaches to reviewing clinical research proposals.

In addition to her work within CSR, Dr. Ehrenfeld has been active in trans-NIH activities. She has acted as an advisor to the NIH Director on issues related to developing new ways to attract, review, and fund high-risk and innovative research applications.

Dr. Ehrenfeld earned a BA degree, cum laude, in chemistry from Brandeis University, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Florida. She conducted postdoctoral research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Department of Cell Biology, and subsequently served on the faculty there.

In 1974, she became Associate Professor in the Microbiology and Biochemistry departments at the University of Utah School of Medicine, rising to the position of Professor of Biochemistry and Cellular, Viral and Molecular Biology. In 1992, she became Dean of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, where she served until coming to NIH.

Dr. Ehrenfeld's studies of polio and related viruses helped elucidate the biochemistry and cell biology of viral RNA replication and the mechanism of virus-induced inhibition of host cell protein synthesis. Her research was supported continuously by the NIH for 25 years, and she was an NIH Merit awardee. She has maintained a small laboratory and continued her virus research during her administrative appointments.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Bill Joklik Lectureship Award, American Society of Virology; the Outstanding Professor Award, University of Utah School of Medicine; the Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award; the U.S. Public Health Service Career Development Award; honorary membership, Association of Microbiology of Chile; and the Merck Faculty Development Award.

The Center for Scientific Review organizes the peer review groups that evaluate the majority of grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health. CSR also receives all NIH and many Public Health Service grant applications and assigns them to the appropriate NIH Institutes and Centers and PHS agencies. Additional information on CSR is available on our Web site (http://www.csr.nih.gov) or by calling 301 435-1111.

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