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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

NINDS Alumnus Spector Mourned

Dr. Novera Herbert Spector

Throughout his life, Dr. Novera Herbert Spector enjoyed travel and sampling local foods.

Dr. Novera Herbert Spector, who had retired from the Division of Fundamental Neurosciences, NINDS (1978-1995), died on Nov. 15 in Carlsbad, Calif. 

He was born on Aug. 23, 1919, in Cincinnati and graduated in 1941 with a biology major from the City College of New York. After working as a machinist, union activist, contractor and scientific instruments salesman, he returned to graduate school to get his Ph.D. in physiology (1967) at the University of Pennsylvania. 

His professional appointments included the Medical College of Virginia (1966-1969), University of Lyon (1969-1971), Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (1971-1976), National Science Foundation (1976-1978) and NIH (1978-1995). During his NIH tenure, he remained active in research and graduate teaching with temporary and adjunct appointments at several institutions in the United States and Europe. He maintained his professional contacts and continued writing after his retirement and move to Southern California. A lifelong fencer (U.S. Fencing Hall of Fame and CCNY Athletic Hall of Fame), he started fencing clubs wherever he found himself, including at NIH.

His graduate and early professional research focused on the roles of the central nervous system (especially the hypothalamus) in control loops affecting temperature and body mass regulation and in drug addiction. Starting in the mid-1970s, his research increasingly dealt with the influences of the nervous system on the immune system. He is credited with coining the word “neuroimmunomodulation,” and participated in founding the International Society for Neuroimmunomodulation. He used his NIH position to encourage this then-nascent field of nervous system-immune interactions, for which he received the NIH Director’s Award in 1990.

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