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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

Guadagno Retires from CSR

Dr. Guadagno and husband Dr. Micklin in front of their Christmas tree

Dr. Mary Ann Guadagno, shown with husband Dr. Michael Micklin, recently retired from CSR.

Summer 1996 was a watershed season for Dr. Mary Ann Guadagno, who retired recently as a senior scientific review officer (SRO) in the Center for Scientific Review. She had become an SRO in the National Institute on Aging and had launched a new phase of her career. And she met Dr. Michael Micklin, also a new NIH hire at the time.

A mutual colleague invited Guadagno and Micklin to lunch in their first days on the job. “Then at every meeting I would go to at NIH, he would be there,” she recalled. “The universe was pushing us together.” They often talked about shared professional and music interests. In 1998, Guadagno had cancer and asked Micklin for rides after several treatments. In 2006, they married.

Micklin passed away on Feb. 22. Although he had Parkinson’s disease, his death was unexpected and still difficult for Guadagno and his many friends, family members and colleagues to cope with. “The outpouring of support was tremendous,” Guadagno said. “He was a real hero to so many people.”

Guadagno attended the State University of New York at Buffalo, then Ohio State University, where she earned her master’s and Ph.D. in applied economics. She wrote her dissertation on the gap in life insurance planning for divorced women with children. “It was a dismal situation for a lot of women, with the courts not taking life insurance assets into account,” she said. Her research contributed to greater attention to the issue, including federal legislation.

Guadagno joined the University of Minnesota faculty and planned on a career in academia. During a faculty internship at Nationwide Insurance, however, she became involved in several cutting-edge projects and remained in its Life Insurance Co. for 6 years.

From 1989 to 1996, Guadagno worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). She moved to NIH when an NCHS colleague became a program officer and suggested she apply as an SRO.

Guadagno mostly worked in CSR after 2001, but also welcomed the challenge of different assignments. In 2006, she was NIH loaned executive to the Combined Federal Campaign. She also directed the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts in the Office of Extramural Review. At CSR, she developed ways to assess stakeholder satisfaction and CSR performance metrics through surveys, focus groups and interviews. 

“Mary Ann brought special expertise to CSR in behavioral and social fields,” said Dr. Richard Nakamura, director of CSR until April 2018. “She was very helpful to make sure we have a sound process and helped develop a real feedback loop.”

This past year, with Micklin’s passing and her own retirement, a watershed of another kind occurred in Guadagno’s life. In September, she fulfilled Micklin’s wishes to scatter his ashes in Puget Sound at a spot he cherished.

“This was not what I expected at the beginning of 2018,” she acknowledged. She plans to find new ways to apply her research and evaluation skills to contribute to peer review, stakeholder satisfaction, organizational performance metrics and executive decision support systems. She also is seeking ways to support others who are caregivers to Parkinson’s patients.

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