Dr. Karen L. Wooley, distinguished professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University, has been selected to serve a two-year term as chairperson of the Nanotechnology Study Section within the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review (CSR).
Widely respected as a top chemist worldwide in the field of materials and polymer chemistry, Wooley joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2009 as a professor of chemistry and holder of the W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry with a joint appointment in the Department of Chemical Engineering. She was appointed as a distinguished professor of chemistry in 2011 and since making her move to Texas A&M, she has bolstered the already strong efforts under way in polymer chemistry research and helped revitalize the educational curriculum with new course offerings in polymer chemistry and nanomedicine.
Wooley’s appointment as a study section chair will run from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014. Her primary responsibility will be to oversee section efforts to assure the quality of the NIH peer review process as it pertains to nanotechnology — a major professional service commitment as well as a unique opportunity to contribute to the national biomedical research effort, according to the CSR’s Acting Director Richard Nakamura.
“Service on a study section also requires good judgment and objectivity as well as the ability to work effectively in a group,” Nakamura said. “The skill and leadership offered by the chairperson determine to a significant extent the effectiveness and efficiency of the review group.”
As the oldest of the NIH’s six centers, the CSR serves as the portal for NIH grant applications and their review for scientific merit. The center receives all research grant applications sent to the NIH and handles the review of more than 70 percent of those by organizing peer-review groups and study sections to evaluate them. The CSR also reviews all general grant applications for the NIH as well as for some other components of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Since 1946, the center has worked behind the scenes to ensure that NIH grant applications receive fair, independent, expert and timely reviews, free from inappropriate influence, to enable the NIH to consistently fund the most promising research.
Study section members are selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors.
“I would argue these are the same leadership traits that define successful university faculty: good judgment, objectivity and working effectively in groups, whether those groups are composed of undergraduate students, graduate students or faculty colleagues,” said Dr. David H. Russell, Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex Professor of Mass Spectrometry in Chemistry and head of the Department of Chemistry. “In the short time that Dr. Wooley has been here, she has been a very effective force in the academic leadership of this department.”
Wooley’s research interests include organic and polymer synthesis, novel macromolecular nanostructures for biomedical and materials applications, degradable polymers, nanoscale polymer assemblies, functional polymers and polymer modification. Her research group spans seven distinct project areas — including directing a National Heart Lung and Blood Institute-supported Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology — and has an annual budget of more than $1.2 million. She has published nearly 250 peer-reviewed articles, holds nine patents and each year delivers roughly 25 invited seminar presentations around the world.
Wooley’s many career awards include a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award (1994-99), an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (2002), two NSF Division of Materials Research Special Creativity Extension Awards (2002 and 2008), one of the NSF’s inaugural American Competitiveness and Innovation Awards (2008) and the Herman F. Mark Scholar Award (2009). She serves on the Scientific Advisory Panels for the NIH’s Nanomedicine Development Centers and the Dutch BioMedical Materials Program and is an editor for the Journal of Polymer Science, Part A: Polymer Chemistry as well as a member of several editorial advisory boards and a dozen Texas A&M committees.
Wooley earned her Ph.D. in polymer/organic chemistry from Cornell University in 1993 prior to beginning her academic career that same year as an assistant professor of chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. She was promoted to professor with tenure in 1999 and named a James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences in 2006 prior to receiving a joint appointment in the School of Medicine, Department of Radiology in 2007.
To learn more about Wooley and her research, visit here.
For more on the Center for Scientific Review, go here.