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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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. Elisabeth Conradt is the recipient of the 2015 Victoria S. Levin Award. Dr. Conradt is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah. Her selected mentors are Drs. Catherine Monk and Seth Pollak. Dr. Conradt received her BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Oregon. She completed an NIH-funded post-doctoral fellowship in Childhood Mental Health at Brown University. The goal of her research is to understand the interplay between prenatal stress, epigenetic processes, and infant social and emotional development in efforts to guide targeted interventions that may ultimately prevent the development of problem behavior in early childhood. She is currently studying how the quality of the intrauterine environment may shape child mental health trajectories in part via epigenetic processes. These findings are the first step in a programmatic line of research that will yield new insights into the developmental origins of vulnerability to psychopathology in early childhood.
The deadline for the 2015 grant has now passed. Applications for the 2016 grant will be available here on July 1, 2016. The deadline for applications is September 1, 2016; the grant will be announced in November 2016.