Jyotika Sharma named as standing member of NIH Study Section

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Jyotika Sharma

The National Institutes of Health has selected Associate Professor Jyotika Sharma in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, to serve a four-year term as a standing member of the NIH’s Immunity and Host Defense Study Section.

The National Institutes of Health is the nation’s medical research agency and the largest source of funding for medical research in the world. Study sections review grant applications submitted to the NIH, make recommendations on these applications to the appropriate NIH national advisory council or board, and survey the status of research in their fields of science. These functions are of great value to medical and allied research in the United States.

“I am truly honored by this recognition of my expertise and the opportunity to contribute to one of the most rigorous and fundamentally important processes of the NIH,” Sharma said. “This puts UND on the map as a contributor to the national biomedical research effort and gives me an opportunity to view and assess top-quality research. I believe this will help me to provide critical input for improving the research quality of the host-pathogen group here at UND.”

The director of the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review, Richard Nakamura, said, “You have been nominated because of your demonstrated competence and achievement in your scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of your research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. Service on a study section also requires mature judgment and objectivity as well as the ability to work effectively in a group, qualities we believe you will bring to this important task.”

In addition to her work with the NIH, Sharma has been invited by the American Association of Immunologists the past two years to chair one of the sessions at its annual meeting. The AAI is one of the oldest (founded in 1913) and most prestigious scientific societies of immunologists, with 25 Nobel Laureates as past or present members. Sharma has been a member since 2005. The association has recognized the work done in her lab with several awards

Sharma’s research focuses on host-pathogen interaction and regulation of inflammation in acute and chronic inflammatory diseases including pneumonia, sepsis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; she is internationally recognized for her research on sepsis, a life-threatening medical condition that results from a systemic inflammatory response by the body to fend off a severe infection or to recover from a traumatic injury. There are currently no therapies for this condition. Since joining UND in 2011, her work on this area of research has been continuously funded by grants from the American Heart Association and by the NIH.

In November 2015, the NIH granted $1.7 million to Sharma to examine neutrophils, which are the first responders for combatting bacterial infections like pneumonia. The five-year R01 grant is the highest level of research supported by the NIH. She is also one of the three principal investigators for the $10.7 million COBRE award to the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences from the NIH to research host-pathogen interactions.

— Denis F. MacLeod, Assistant Director, Office of Alumni and Community Relations, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 777.2733, denis.macleod@med.UND.edu