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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NCCIH Mourns Program Director Pontzer

Dr. Carol Pontzer

Dr. Carol Pontzer

Dr. Carol Pontzer, program director in the Division of Extramural Research at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, died July 15 after a battle with brain cancer. 

As a program director, she oversaw a grants portfolio on complementary health approaches intended to modulate immunity. This included mitigation of symptoms, such as inflammation, and use of natural product interventions in diseases such as asthma/allergy and arthritis. She was a basic scientist with expertise in immunologic, genomic and proteomic methodologies. 

Pontzer joined NCCIH in 2002. Prior to becoming a program director, she was a scientific review officer at NCCIH. 

“NCCIH not only grieves the passing of a valued scientist colleague but also mourns the great loss to her family and the scientific community,” said Dr. Emmeline Edwards, division director. “Carol was a knowledgeable, devoted and effective program director within my division and we are deeply saddened. Those within NIH and the extramural community will miss her expertise, judgment and passion for funding exceptional novel science.”

Before joining NCCIH, Pontzer worked at the department of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland. There she worked on the structure/function relationship of immune modifiers, creating a panel of type I interferons with mutations that altered receptor binding, JAK/STAT signaling and subsequent activity and toxicity.

Pontzer received her postdoctoral training at the University of Florida. It was there that she began working on structural studies of type I interferons and binding of staphylococcal enterotoxins to MHC using synthetic peptide mimetics and inhibitors. Together with Dr. Howard Johnson and Dr. Fuller Bazer, she identified and characterized the activity of a novel subtype of interferon, interferon tau.

Pontzer received a Ph.D. in biology from Marquette University. She taught immunology and microbiology for 11 years at UMD. She continued to teach immunology online until her passing. She had almost 70 peer-reviewed publications. 

Memorial services were held at St. Leo Catholic Church in Ridgway, Pa. Pontzer’s family has established a memorial fund in her name at the Ridgway Public Library, 329 Center St., Ridgway, PA 15853.

Pontzer is survived by husband Norbert, children Nicholas Pontzer, Emily Nizialek and Peter Pontzer and several grandchildren.

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