Lori Zeltser, PhD Appointed to Leadership Position on NIH Committee

Congratulations to Lori Zeltser, PhD, on her appointment as Chairperson of the Integrative Physiology of Obesity and Diabetes (IPOD) Study Section under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Center for Scientific Review. 

This honorific appointment bespeaks Dr. Zelter’s wide recognition as an outstanding research scientist. She has been a member of this committee since 2017. Her term begins this Fall and goes through June 2022. The role will give Dr. Zeltser a unique opportunity to contribute to the national biomedical research effort. 

The IPOD Study Section reviews grant applications to the NIH dealing with etiology and treatment of metabolic disturbances associated with obesity and diabetes, involving endocrinology, molecular/genetic, biochemical, neuroanatomical, systems biology, dietary, metabolic and integrative physiological approaches. Emphasis is on integrative systems approaches to elucidating peripheral and central regulatory pathways of carbohydrate, lipid and energy homeostasis in animals and cellular models.  The committee oversees that awarding of ~ $XM of grants each year. 

The Chairperson is appointed by the NIH as an individual who is highly respected amongst peers, and can quickly, accurately and fairly sum up and guide the discussion. The skill and leadership offered by the chairperson determine to a significant extent the effectiveness and efficiency of the review group. 

“What I hope I am able to achieve is to have grant reviewers focus on what is exciting and innovative science,” said Dr. Zeltser. “This is an exciting time, because the emergence of powerful techniques in a variety fields is accelerating our research efforts in ways that did not seem possible only a few years ago. While the IPOD study section reviews many excellent proposals in this field, the NIDDK typically funds only the top 12-16%. Our challenge is to somehow differentiate between these strong proposals to provide useful guidance to the NIH. In this environment, it is easy to focus on technical flaws in the experiments and to use them to justify a lower score. What the NIH could end up funding, if we are not careful, is technically perfect grants that are safe. I want to make sure that we don’t unnecessarily shoot down some riskier and potentially innovative ideas just because they have some minor technical flaws.  My ultimate goal is to help foster an environment where the study section can identify and promote those grant proposals that have the potential to exert the greatest impact on obesity and diabetes research.”

Dr. Zeltser is an Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology in the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. Dr. Zeltser graduated from Princeton University and received her Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University. She continued her research training in development neurobiology as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of Andrew Lumsden at Kings College London and Claudio Stern and Thomas Jessell at Columbia University. Her laboratory studies developmental influences on the formation and function of neuronal circuits regulating food intake and body weight.

“Dr. Zeltser is an innovative and rigorous investigator whose excellent grasp of the basic science and literature in areas for which this Study Section is responsible make her an ideal Chairperson,” said Rudolph Leibel, MD, Co-Director of the Berrie Center and the Christopher J. Murphy Memorial Professor of Diabetes Research. “It should be noted that the Chair of this committee from 2015 to 2016 was Anthony Ferrante Jr., MD, PhD, the Tilden-Weger-Bieler Professor of Medicine, Chief of Preventive Medicine & Nutrition, and a longstanding member of the Berrie Center. Recognition of Berrie Center personnel in this way is an important reflection of the Center’s reputation.”

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