Skip to main content
NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

CSR’s Cooper Retires After 20+ Years

Dr. Cathleen Cooper

Dr. Cathleen Cooper

Dr. Cathleen Cooper retired in September after more than 20 years at the Center for Scientific Review. For 9 of those years, she served as director of CSR’s Division of Receipt and Referral (DRR), which receives all NIH grant applications (approximately 85,000 per year) and handles their assignment to funding institutes and centers and to a locus of review, whether at CSR or at another IC. 

“The efficiencies and additional improvements she installed within the systems and processes of the DRR have had a substantial, NIH-wide impact and have contributed significantly to NIH’s mission,” said CSR director Dr. Noni Byrnes. 

Cooper also once served as CSR acting deputy director for a year and a half. One of her accomplishments includes leading development of the Assignment Request Form to automate capture of investigator preferences regarding review of their applications. 

In collaboration with the CSR Division of Planning, Analysis and Information Management, Cooper led development of the Assisted Referral Tool to help investigators and staff identify appropriate study sections for application review. 

Cooper earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in pathology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular immunology at Columbia University. Before joining CSR, she was an assistant professor in the department of cell biology and the Cancer Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Her research focused on the molecular regulation of early events in the development of hematopoietic stem cells. 

Having served in several CSR positions, including as a scientific review officer in the Immunology Integrated Review Group (IRG) and as chief of the oncology-basic translational IRG, Cooper remained at CSR for the full course of her NIH career. 

“Peer review is where the rubber hits the road,” she said, noting that she loved the “engineering aspect” of improving the efficiency and efficacy of the process of referring applications to specific study sections for review. 

“Cathie leaves a strong legacy of excellence at NIH,” said Byrnes. “Despite her work occurring quietly in the background for all those years, her efforts will benefit NIH and its grantees for the foreseeable future. She is a shining example of how everyone’s role at NIH matters and can make a big difference.” 

Cooper intends to spend her time engaging in charity work, particularly in the area of food and housing insecurity. She also plans to travel, to dive in Fiji and other beautiful places around the world, and do home renovations—an activity in which she is very “hands-on,” having remodeled a downstairs powder room herself. 

Back to Top