The National Institutes of Health (NIH) selected Beau Meyer, DDS, MPH, for a two-year Loan Repayment Award in a pediatric program through the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Meyer’s primary mentor is Kimon Divaris, DDS, PhD.
“This award means a great deal to me. I view it as a great honor to be recognized by the NIH in this way,” said Meyer. “After applying and failing to win an award last year, winning one this year provides some personal validation to all the work I’ve done with Dr. Divaris and the ZOE grant.”
The NIH Loan Repayment Program (LRP) was established by Congress and designed to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. The awards allow scientists to maintain a research career without worrying about the increasing costs of advanced education and training in medicine and clinic specialties.
“This is a fantastic career development opportunity that offers great synergies and alignment between Beau’s research interests and the larger research program that we currently operate across the state,” said Divaris. “It’s really great to see Beau’s hard work, dedication and enthusiasm about this research being rewarded.”
The NIH receives more than 5,000 applications for LRP awards each year. Approximately half of those applicants are selected for an award. Each LRP award provides financial relief by repaying up to $35,000 per year of a researcher’s qualified educational debt in return for a commitment to engage in NIH mission-relevant research.
“In a way, the loan repayment is sort of icing on the cake for what I am doing and will allow me to continue to work on my career passions without having to worry about my student loan debt,” said Meyer. He hopes it will also expedite his repayment timeline and allow his family to establish roots in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Divaris believes Meyer will now be able to leverage the geographic heterogeneity in early childhood oral health and the community-level factors influencing it using quantitative methods, such as geographic information system mapping, and qualitative methods such as in person interviews, for the ZOE project.
“Ultimately, this award contributes to our larger vision of putting together the puzzle of community influences on health and wellness in early childhood,” said Divaris.
The mission of the NIH Division of Loan Repayment is to enhance the quality and diversity of the scientific community through incentives for biomedical and behavior researchers and trainees. The LRP represents an important investment by the NIH in the future of health discovery and the wellbeing of the nation.