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Navy blue background has diamonds and starbursts. A spotlight icon shines on a circular image of Blen Biru. A label reads "In the spotlight." Below the label is the text "Blen Biru."

by Melissa Marcus

Grant applications might give pause to some academics, but for Blen (rhymes with rain) Biru they’re just another day’s work.

From helping with applications to mastering languages, there’s little Blen can’t tackle.

We reached out to her to learn more about what she does.

Tell us about your role at CHER. What’s your position and focus?

I’m a Research Program Manager and I primarily lead pre-award efforts to submit National Institute of Health (NIH) and other grant applications. I also support CHER operations – streamlining workflows and standardizing procedures across the center.

What do you like best about working at CHER?

What I enjoy the most about my work at CHER is that we get to develop programs/ interventions that are community-engaged and locally relevant.

It’s great to be involved in work that has a positive impact in our North Carolina community and beyond.

What’s the most important thing for people to understand about what you do?

I’m available to support pre-award efforts so people can come to me for support during the pre-award phase.

I also work on streamlining center-wide workflows and am always interested in learning from and connecting with people to improve processes across the center.

What are some challenges you face?

Given that I primarily work on pre-award efforts, my team and I are mostly faced with tight sponsor deadlines and limited budget; and navigating this process can sometimes be difficult.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I’m trilingual. In addition to English, I speak my native language from Ethiopia-Amharic and French, which I studied in undergrad and a semester of study abroad in southern France.