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 Award 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 award serves the promising junior investigator by:
- Supporting release time from duties during which time the awardee writes and submits an application in the area of early childhood mental health to the NIH. This support compensates the awardee's unit/department for the work from which the awardee is released. Having adequate time to develop and submit an award application is essential for early career success.
- Providing travel funds for a trip to NIH to meet program staff. This support helps the awardee 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 awardee 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 awardee 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 Award 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.