NIAID Communicator London Calls It a Career, After 37 Years
Ann London is retiring after 37 years in public service. She began her career at HHS in 1978 at what was then the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration (now the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). In that position she gained the editing skills that shaped her professional future.
She joined NIAID in May 1982 as an editorial assistant in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation, where she worked with its chief Dr. Anthony Fauci and other scientists. London loved being in the lab, working with the fellows and learning about their research and how it translated to Clinical Center patient wards. “Being a part of the energy in the early AIDS era—before the disease was even named—made NIH research real,” she said. “It was hard leaving Bldg. 10.”
After Fauci became NIAID director in 1984, London moved to Bldg. 31. She was assigned to the Office of Communications, where she continued as his editorial assistant for a few months and began her writing career. She also handled public information calls—a stretch for an admitted introvert, but she enjoyed the opportunities to engage with the public, especially patients and their families and health care providers. “I listened to their questions and stories and helped them get correct information,” she said. “Having direct contact with the public helped me to write our publications to fit their needs. It was very fulfilling.”
As a public affairs specialist in the renamed Office of Communications and Public Liaison, she managed the NIAID exhibit and publications programs. Although she no longer handled public calls, she continued to write health and science publications for the public, often using feedback from health care professionals who visited the NIAID exhibit booth at conferences. Her work included determining the needs of the institute’s diverse audiences and ensuring NIAID communication products met those needs. Some of her publications received Blue Pencil and NIH plain language awards. For a time, she also handled requests as the NIAID Freedom of Information coordinator.
After working for much of her career in the print medium, in 2012, London joined NIAID’s New Media and Web Policy Branch, part of the Office of Communications and Government Relations, as a digital information specialist. There she worked on the institute’s public web site and the intranet, not only editing content but also coding pages and optimizing web and social media content.
Throughout her career, she served on editorial, plain language and communications working groups and teams.
London looks forward to “decompressing” and to spending time with her three sons and daughters-in-law and grandson in the D.C. area, New York City and Los Angeles. She will continue to pursue her passions for helping people and for travel and the outdoors. She has visited 47 states and 20 countries. Future adventures include a long-anticipated trip to Denali National Park. Her favorite foreign destination is Italy, but always high on her travel list are her family’s roots—the Chesapeake Bay and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Fauci was unable to attend London’s retirement party, but sent a video greeting “to express how grateful I am to you for your many years serving the institute…NIAID thanks you, NIH thanks you and the whole public health effort thanks you.”