Victoria S. Levin Grant

In 30 years of distinguished service at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Victoria S. Levin's career centered on fostering scientific research that addressed children's mental health. Upon her retirement there was an exceptional outpouring of tributes from the many distinguished scientists with whom Vicki worked over these years. The tributes vividly highlighted two hallmarks of Vicki's life work. First, they acknowledged Vicki's passion for scientific research examining development in the very first years of life, years that form a critical foundation for the development of lifelong mental health and well-being, and which play an important role in the prevention of mental disorders. Second, they praised her unique capability for encouraging new scientists, instilling them with confidence that they could achieve the high standards required to secure their first major funding from the NIH. The Victoria S. Levin Grant for Early Career Success in Young Children's Mental Health Research is established to continue Vicki's legacy in these two areas. Its aim is to foster early success in achieving federal funding for research that is informed by developmental science to address concerns affecting the early foundations of children's mental health and well-being. Broadly defined, this area of research addresses all aspects of the development of competence and risk for children from all types of backgrounds.

The grant serves the promising pre-tenured, junior investigator by:

  1. Supporting release time from duties during which time the grantee writes and submits an application in the area of early childhood mental health to the NIH. This support compensates the grantee's unit/department for the work from which the grantee is released. Having adequate time to develop and submit a grant application is essential for early career success.
  2. Providing travel funds for a trip to NIH to meet program staff. This support helps the grantee develop meaningful contacts with NIH program staff who can guide the application preparation and revision (funding usually requires two application submissions).
  3. Providing a pre-review of the candidate's NIH application. This support allows the mentor and grantee to benefit from an external critique of the NIH application prior to its submission. In our experience, this pre-review heightens the chances of early success in the first round of review and the mentor is able to guide the grantee in responding to reviews.

Aiming to heighten the chances of early success in achieving federal funding for developmentally-informed research that addresses the early foundations of children’s mental health and well-being, the Victoria S. Levin Grant for Early Career Success in Young Children’s Mental Health Research was created to honor and carry forward this focus of Victoria S. Levin’s life work.

We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Pilyoung Kim is the recipient of the 2014 Victoria S. Levin Award. Dr. Kim is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Denver. Her selected mentors are Drs. Elysia Davis and Seth Pollak.  Dr. Kim received her BA in Psychology and English Literature from Korea University in South Korea, her EdM in Human Development & Psychology at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University. Dr. Kim completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Developmental Affective Neuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health. Her long-term research career trajectory is to examine the early life origins of socioeconomic disparities in health from a neurobiological perspective. Her current work focuses on the prospective effects of perinatal exposures to poverty-related chronic stress on the neural systems in new mothers and infants. She aims that the knowledge gained from her research will advance understanding of specific neurobiological processes by which poverty is associated with magnified risks for parental depression, harsh parenting in new parents, and for mental illness for infants and young children.

2014 Levin Recipient Announcement
2013 Levin Recipient Announcement
2012 Levin Recipient Announcement
2011 Levin Recipient Announcement

The deadline for applications was September 1, 2015; the grant will be announced in November, 2015. For your reference, you may view and print the following documentation: Levin Grant Information, Applicant Eligibility, and Required Application Elements (files to be uploaded).