As the romance novel Grant Denied opens, the heroine's
application to NIH has been turned down. She confronts the scientific
review administrator "Grant Norris" on the phone then barges in
to see him. But he is "not at all like the monster she'd expected
to challenge. He was young, athletic and handsome, and he looked
good in khaki pants, a silk shirt and a bright tie."
The applicant impresses too: ".He debated whether he should hold
her for security."
|Mike and Kathie Radtke have now been happily
married for almost 3 years.
There are ups and downs along the way, but the book ends with
Grant belatedly declaring his love for Eve, the former grant applicant. "Eve
rested her head against Grant's shoulder and allowed her tears
of joy to flow. No longer worried, no longer alone, she felt her
spirit soar. She'd found her true love."
Fiction, yes, but the novel includes a dedication to a real scientific
review administrator in the Center for Scientific Review: "For
Dr. Mike Radtke — With appreciation for the good thoughts
you sent my way."
Recently confronted with these words on the frontispiece of Grant
Denied, Radtke didn't deny his role. He helped the writer, Jennifer
Sinclair, a friend, with descriptions of how CSR carries out its
role in screening and judging the grant applications NIH receives.
He even jokingly suggested some romance novel plot turns. To his
surprise, she used them. The novel was published by Commonwealth
Publications in 1996.
But that's not the end of the story. Fiction eventually turned
real: Seven years after the book was published, Radtke, a widower,
was phoned by a chemist who had gotten a poor score from his bioorganic
and natural products chemistry study section. She was every bit
as irate as the fictional applicant, even though another of her
grant applications had recently been greeted with enthusiasm in
another integrated review group. As he often does, Radtke suggested
that the unhappy applicant learn more about the review process
by volunteering as an ad hoc review participant. She did.
Sometime later, after the review meeting was over and the study
section post-meeting emails were history, the two met off-campus.
Despite their angry beginnings, they found they liked each other.
As Radtke tells it, "The rest is history." He and Kathie dated,
and "of course, as soon as I kissed her" his study section could
no longer review her applications or those of her university. They
have now been happily married for almost 3 years, and between them
have four grown children. One, Alesia Booth, works in NIH personnel.
Kathie is now a tenured associate professor at the University
of Maryland, Baltimore County and has two active NIH grants. Neither
was reviewed or influenced by Radtke, he is quick to add.