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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

NIGMS Scientific Review Officer Trempe Retires

Dr. Mona Trempe

Dr. Mona Trempe

Photo: Soma Chowdhury

Journeying from her NIH office in Bethesda to colleges and universities around the country was once a big part of Dr. Mona Trempe’s life. In fact, she visited well over 100 colleges and universities during her 10-year career as a scientific review officer in the NIGMS Office of Scientific Review (OSR). “Site visits give you a broader view of the biomedical research and training activities taking place at our nation’s institutions of higher education,” she said. 

Recently, Trempe packed her bags and set out for one last site visit—only this time her travel plans did not involve a return flight to Washington, D.C. She had just retired and was moving to Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

Trempe’s career path began as an undergraduate student at the University of Vermont, where she fell in love with science and earned a B.S. in chemistry. She went on to receive a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles. Shortly after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in the biochemistry department at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), Trempe took a faculty position there and went on to attain the rank of full professor.

During her tenure, she founded and directed the UMMC electron microscopy facility for imaging the three-dimensional shape of large protein complexes. An advocate for research training, Trempe mentored students who participated in the NIGMS Maximizing Access to Research Careers  Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research program. She also taught high school students from local communities in Jackson, Miss., how to conduct research in a laboratory setting. 

“Mentoring students has been extremely important to me throughout my career, but I knew that I wanted to make a difference on a national scale rather than at the local level,” said Trempe. To test the waters, she took a position through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act as a “rotator” program officer in the division of molecular and cellular biosciences at the National Science Foundation in 2004. That experience convinced her to move full-time into research administration after two decades in research and teaching.

Trempe then joined NIGMS as a scientific review officer in 2006, where she managed the review of a variety of applications for research grants, cooperative agreements and training grants, including those designed to increase diversity in the research workforce. 

Throughout her career, Trempe was known for assembling review committees that included people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. “Mona recruited a wide range of scientists with a breadth of perspectives for her review panels, including researchers with a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring the next generation of biomedical researchers,” said Dr. Brian Pike, OSR acting director. “Her efforts were reflected in the quality and diversity of the programs that NIGMS supports.” 

In addition to her OSR duties, Trempe helped lead institute and NIH-wide committees and working groups. She served on the NIGMS strategic plan for biomedical and behavioral research training committee, the NIH working group on sustaining women in biomedical careers and the steering committee of the scientific review officer technical competency subcommittee.

Although Trempe’s new residence is miles away from the NIH campus, she still plans to stay connected to and involved in the scientific community. “I eventually want to work in some capacity at a local college or university,” she said. Along with settling into her new home with her husband, her retirement plans include studying Spanish, brushing up on her piano-playing skills and gardening. 

“I’ll now have a chance to learn about gardening plants that can survive in a much drier climate,” said Trempe. “I imagine that will be a huge switch from the plants that thrive in the D.C.-area humidity, but I look forward to that change and to all of the new adventures that are ahead of me.”

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