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Vol. LXI, No. 23
November 13, 2009
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Milestones

Grants Policy Guru Hahn Honored
By Manju Subramanya

Marcia Hahn, director of the grants policy division at the NIH Office of Extramural Research, recently received the Joseph F. Carrabino Award from the National Council of University Research Administrators.
Marcia Hahn, director of the grants policy division at the NIH Office of Extramural Research, recently received the Joseph F. Carrabino Award from the National Council of University Research Administrators.

The first time Judy Fredenberg spotted Marcia Hahn, the latter was knitting while waiting to present at a regional meeting. “Not only did I glean a considerable amount of NIH-related information from that meeting, I left with the shawl pattern,” said Fredenberg, interim director of research and sponsored programs at the University of Montana. “This willingness to go above-and-beyond epitomizes Marcia Hahn: Whether her project consists of fiber or a complex grants policy, it is knit together in an inclusive, deliberative fashion, one stitch at a time.”

Kudos such as that have landed Hahn, director of the grants policy division at the NIH Office of Extramural Research, many awards during her 26-year federal career, including her most recent—the Joseph F. Carrabino Award from the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA). The award recognizes a federal partner who has made a significant contribution to research administration.

This honor is noteworthy, said her boss, Joe Ellis, director of the NIH Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration, because Hahn was nominated by her peers in the research community outside of NIH. “It is the first time that someone from NIH has received this award,” he said. “It is very meaningful to us that she is the first person recognized.”

Ellis described Hahn as tireless (starting her workday at 5:30 a.m.), dedicated (not letting a bout of food poisoning keep her from delivering a presentation in Boston a few years ago) and a wonderful communicator with an incredible depth of knowledge of NIH grants policy and federal policy and how they interact.

Since coming to OER in 2001, after 18 years at NIGMS, Hahn has played a major role in several key initiatives—developing policies for ARRA grants, enhancing peer review, the transition from paper grant applications to electronic and overseeing the grants policy resources needed by applicants such as application guides.

“She is a go-to person for us to understand the implications of a proposed action,” said Megan Columbus, acting director of communications and outreach at OER and program manager for electronic submission of grant applications, who has often turned to Hahn for answers to thorny policy questions. “Her historical perspective keeps us from rehashing discussions and we move forward quickly.”

At the many seminars she attends at the national level, Hahn is seen as the voice of authority on NIH grants policy. “It is impossible for us to interface with her at these meetings because she is inundated by people who want a direct answer just from her,” Ellis said with a smile.

“Hers is a familiar face in New England and her presentations are always packed,” wrote Vivian Holmes, assistant director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, in her letter nominating Hahn for the Carrabino award.

“She is knowledgeable, she is responsive, she understands the unique and delicate balance of federal partnerships,” said Fredenberg, chair of the NCURA committee that selected her for the award. “[Hahn’s] nomination reflected the high degree of respect and appreciation shared by many of us in the university research community.”

Hahn received the award at a luncheon during NCURA’s 51st annual meeting on Oct. 22 in Washington, D.C.

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