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NIGMS Program Director Chin Retires

Dr. Chin

Dr. Jean Chin

Dr. Jean Chin, a program director in the NIGMS Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics (CBB), has retired after 23 years of service. Over that time, she handled research grants in multiple scientific areas, including nucleic acid-protein interactions and viral assembly before focusing on membrane proteins and lipids. 

Chin was known as a champion for the research supported in her portfolio, a strong supporter of basic research and a mentor for junior colleagues at NIH. 

She earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Dartmouth College and was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard, working on regulation of the interactions of sterols—a naturally occurring subgroup of steroids. She joined NIH in 1991 as a senior staff fellow in NICHD’s Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch. 

Chin began her career with NIGMS in 1994 as a program director in CBB. She was an early supporter of research on the structural biology of membrane proteins and a co-leader of the NIH Common Fund structural biology program. 

Chin was also the NIGMS point of contact for the Academic Research Enhancement Award R15 program—a mechanism to enhance the research environment at schools that have not been major recipients of NIH support—and was influential in making the R15 a standard, renewable award. She also was frequently invited to speak at meetings of organizations such as the Council on Undergraduate Research and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. She informed investigators from smaller institutions about how NIH and its peer review system works and how to improve their applications. These activities, along with her other grant responsibilities, enabled her to help thousands of investigators over her career.

“I really enjoyed going to my investigators’ talks and their posters, especially their students’ posters,” said Chin. “It was really fun because they’d be so proud to introduce their students and postdocs. Before I knew it, these trainees became faculty members themselves and I’d find myself working with the second and sometimes even the third generation of scientists.”

In her free time, she and her husband Donald Schneider, another long-time NIH employee (retired, part-time contractor at the Center for Scientific Review), ride their tandem bicycle around the mid-Atlantic area on weekends and take cycling vacations across the country and abroad. 

“I have long known Jean for her sunny optimism and leadership,” said Dr. Peter Preusch, acting director of the Cell Biology and Biophysics Division. “We’re wishing her the best and happiest two-seated retirement possible.”—Chris Palmer

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