The Training Page: FARE Awards

FROM THE FELLOWS COMMITTEE

FARE Awards Recognize IRP Research Excellence

The results are in and more than 200 NIH trainees will be receiving $1,000 travel grants. They are winners of the Fellows’ Award for Research Excellence (FARE), awarded annually to recognize the outstanding scientific research performed by graduate students, postdocs, and clinical fellows in NIH intramural research program (IRP) groups. The awards are sponsored by the NIH Fellows Committee (FelCom), the scientific directors, and the Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE).

The FelCom FARE subcommittee is one of eight subcommittees that make up FelCom and is run entirely by postdocs. Organizers are responsible for recruiting more than 350 judges to evaluate over 900 submitted abstracts.

“As scientists, we all have to write and critically review manuscripts, grants, etc.,” said 2016 FARE committee member Emily Vogtmann (National Cancer Institute). “I was able to be a part of the whole process from abstract solicitation to review. This [experience] will be very helpful going forward as a reviewer of all types of work.”

Because Vogtmann works at the Shady Grove Campus in Rockville, Maryland, she found participation useful for networking with people on the main campus in Bethesda. “Now when I get some e-mails on the NIH-Fellows LISTSERV, I actually know some of the people!” she said.

The top 25 percent of abstracts are chosen for FARE awards. One of the 2016 FARE recipients was John Gallagher (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), who is being mentored by Stadtman Investigator Audray Harris. Gallagher’s work examines self-assembling protein nanoparticles, which are revolutionizing the design of vaccines. “Nanoparticles like these are proving to be among the best candidates to build a universal flu vaccine,” he explained. “By efficiently activating B-cell receptors, they can guide the immune system towards conserved epitopes on hemagglutinin.”

 Using cryoelectron microscopy, Gallagher and colleagues described the molecular organization and epitope disposition of the nanoparticle. “It’s amazing to zoom in to about 100,000-times magnification and see what they’re doing,” said Gallagher. “It makes the process of vaccine design surprisingly tangible.”

FARE recipients each receive $1,000 to attend a scientific meeting, where they will present their research either as a poster or as a seminar. Although Gallagher typically attends Biophysical Society meetings, he is considering presenting his work at a meeting more geared toward vaccines this year.

To find out how to be on the FelCom FARE subcommittee, e-mail FARE@mail.nih.gov. To see who won for 2016 and to apply for 2017, see https://www.training.nih.gov/felcom/fare. Applications will be accepted in February and March 2016.