NIH Taps Health Science Professor for Scientific Review Group

Sora Tanjasiri
Dr. Sora Tanjasiri

Six-year term ends June 2022.

For more than 60 years, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported research that has bettered the lives of millions of people in the U.S. and across the globe. Burn victims recover with the help of artificial skin. Blood-thinning drugs prevent strokes and save lives. Ninety percent of children survive the most common form of childhood leukemia.

Today, the NIH has tapped Dr. Sora Tanjasiri to help identify studies that will narrow the healthcare gap for communities with inadequate medical services.

The Health Science professor and department chair was appointed to the NIH’s Health Disparities and Equity Promotion Study Section of the Center for Scientific Review. In this role, Tanjasiri will help advance medical breakthroughs for underserved populations by evaluating the scientific and technical quality of grant proposals submitted to the NIH. Her six-year term begins this month and will continue through June 2022.

 “I am looking forward to helping identify the most significant and innovative proposals; ones that can make important contributions to our understanding of health disparities and achieving health equity,” said Tanjasiri. “It is both an honor to serve and give back to NIH.”

The NIH is the largest public funder of medical research in the world, investing more than $30 billion annually in studies aimed at helping people live longer and healthier lives. Research studies fueled by NIH grants have led to new ways to diagnose and treat cancer, HIV, depression and countless other illnesses. Future medical advancements depend in large part on the thorough and unbiased evaluation of grant proposals reviewed by scientist like Tanjasiri.

NIH grant applications must pass a rigorous, two-level peer-review process before funds are awarded. The initial peer review is conducted by a group of scientist—some hailing from international institutions—who specialize in the grant applicant’s discipline. First-level reviewers prepare written critiques before attending private meetings where the project’s significance, the applicant’s expertise, and other criteria are carefully rated. Applications with the highest overall score in the NIH’s nine-point scale advance to the next peer review level. Grant applications that pass both rounds are then presented to the NIH for a final funding decision.

Tanjasiri will join the Health Disparities and Equity Promotion peer review group, which evaluates applications for research projects designed to help reduce health disparities among low income, LGBT, immigrant, and other marginalized communities. Tanjasiri and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Yale, Columbia, and other distinguished institutions will review hundreds of applications per year and provide an in-depth analysis of up to 40 proposals.

As with all NIH peer reviewers, Tanjasiri was appointed to her post for her technical expertise and scientific achievements. Since joining the College of Health and Human Development in 2003, Tanjasiri has focused on the health needs of diverse populations and garnered more than $15 million in grants to fund research focused on reducing cancer health disparities in underrepresented communities. Her research has been widely published in peer-reviewed journals and she has presented at conferences nationwide. Tanjasiri directs Cal State Fullerton’s Health Promotion and Research Institute and co-leads the $1.8 million Health Careers Opportunity Program.