Longtime NIH Leader Breithaupt Mourned
Gahan Breithaupt, 64, a longtime leader at NIH, passed away on Aug. 31 from complications related to lymphoma. Despite facing the challenges of a treatment process that lasted for more than a year, the executive officer at NIAMS maintained his trademark upbeat and positive presence.
“Gahan’s dedication to NIAMS was extraordinary,” said NIAMS acting director Dr. Robert Carter. “He personified those qualities that our institute values: doing our personal best and working together to create the conditions for everyone to do their best.”
Breithaupt, who served as associate director for management and operations, is the second high-level NIAMS leader to die in less than a year. Former NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz passed away in December.
The loss of two such experienced and respected voices in the institute over such a short time span tested the resolve of the NIAMS family, Carter said. But he noted that NIAMS employees pulled together in a way that reflected Breithaupt’s dedicated efforts toward fostering a collaborative environment for the institute.
Breithaupt joined NIAMS in 2004 after serving as acting executive officer and chief information officer for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Before NIH, he spent more than two decades holding various leadership positions at the Internal Revenue Service.
In 2010, Breithaupt won the rank of meritorious executive in the Senior Executive Service for sustained superior accomplishment and noteworthy achievement and excellence in management and efficiency in the public sector. Among his other honors was the NIH Director’s Mentoring Award earned in 2007 for his strong commitment to mentoring staff from diverse backgrounds across NIH.
Rick Phillips, NIAMS deputy associate director for management and operations, worked under Breithaupt for several years. Phillips said Breithaupt approached all challenges with an open mind and an even temperament. He noted, “Gahan was acknowledged by his peers as a man of unimpeachable integrity, always willing to serve where needed to advance the mission of both NIAMS and the NIH.”
Breithaupt is survived by his husband Jeffrey Chappell as well as siblings and his extended family.