Should I join an NIH study section?

Alice and her friends answer questions that you don’t want to ask your preceptor, peer, or colleagues regarding your career in science.

Dear Alice,

I am an assistant professor and recently got asked to join a study section at the National Institutes of Health. I suspect it is because they need a woman. I asked two previous mentors for their advice. One said it is a lot of work, and I should not take it on at this early stage in my career. The other said that, although it is extra work, it is a great experience and encouraged me to accept the invitation. What should I do?

– Joan Dubias, Baltimore, Maryland

Dear Joan,

Although there is some truth to each mentor’s advice, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. You will learn about grant writing and new programs offered by the granting agency. More importantly, you will learn about what the study section values. By being part of any national committee, you are enlarging your network and gaining valuable experience concerning the forefront of your discipline. It is well worth the effort.

– Alice

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