NMSU Professor To Advise National Institutes Of Health Director

Mar 26, 2014

  New Mexico State University Regents Professor Elba Serrano is among 20 people selected by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins.

“It is a great honor and responsibility to serve on the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director,” Serrano said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the well being of our nation’s biomedical research and human health mission, especially during this difficult economic period.”

Serrano, a professor at NMSU for 22 years, has brought in more than $15 million in external research funding to the university. She has received numerous honors and awards and serves on a number of national advisory boards.

“I enjoy bringing the insight accumulated from years as a neuroscientist, NIH study section roster member, and R01-funded investigator who also teaches and trains students at a minority-serving institution in a state that historically has received very little competitive research funding from NIH,” she said. “In my mind, whenever I sit at the table, all my NMSU students are there with me!”

The committee, which provides advice to the NIH director, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Assistant Secretary for Health, consists of authorities who are knowledgeable in the fields of research pertinent to the NIH mission, as well as individuals who represent the academic and private sector research community. The group is asked to make recommendations on a broad range of topics such as resource allocation, program development, NIH policy, responsible conduct in research and workforce development.

“Service is a challenging and exciting task because although members represent academia, the private sector research community, and the general public, we reflect collectively about the priorities and impact of NIH programs and policies,” Serrano said. “For this reason committee discussions are lively and engaging. I have found that the many diverse perspectives allow for a deeper analysis of the issues -- this is the power of diverse team thinking.” 

The committee meets twice a year and also reviews and makes recommendations on applications for grants and cooperative agreements for research and training for projects that show promise of making valuable contributions to human knowledge. 

“Many of these topics are very pertinent to my work as a biomedical researcher, NMSU professor, and director of student training programs for biomedical workforce development (RISE, BP-ENDURE),” she said. “For example, I joined the committee in June 2013, and since then we have discussed the Presidential Brain Initiative, bioethics and broadening participation in research.”

Serrano encourages those interested to learn more about the group at