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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

Talbot Retires After 5-Decade Tenure at NIH

Dr. Bernard Talbot

Dr. Bernard Talbot

Dr. Bernard Talbot retired in July 2021, marking the closure of a 51-year NIH career. He most recently served as a medical officer in the NCATS Division of Clinical Innovation (DCI), where he oversaw a portfolio of multimillion-dollar Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program grants. 

He joined NIH in 1970 as a grants associate in the Division of Research Grants (now CSR) and served in numerous roles across NIH. These positions included special assistant to the NIH director (1978–1981), NIAID deputy director (1981–1987) and acting director (1984) and NCRR (National Center for Research Resources) program officer (1987). Talbot joined NCATS in 2011.

Talbot earned an M.D. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed postdoctoral fellowships there and at the University of Rome.  

Talbot shared his knowledge of recombinant DNA with members of the research community and key policymakers. He was awarded a U.S. Public Health Service Commendation Medal in 1977 for his outstanding dedication and superior performance in support of NIH recombinant DNA research activities. 

Additionally, Talbot was called to testify before Congress on numerous occasions. His recombinant DNA expertise and advice were crucial in the development of the NIH Guidelines for Recombinant DNA Research through the Federal Register.

Talbot also contributed his experience and expertise on numerous government-wide interagency committees. He served as executive secretary of the industrial practices subcommittee of the federal interagency advisory committee on recombinant DNA research. Talbot was a member of the Public Health Service steering committee for the protection of human subjects, the Office of Science and Technology Policy interagency working group on biotechnology, the HHS Secretary’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Cabinet Council working group on biotechnology. 

“In the textbook entry for institutional memory, a photo of Bernie is the visual representation of this concept, and it is this aspect which will be most acutely felt,” reflected Dr. Michael Kurilla, DCI director. “Dr. Talbot’s many years of service and outstanding contributions to the NIH, the broader scientific community and the general public set the standards for a truly impactful career.”

Talbot planned to begin his retirement by traveling to Denmark with his wife for the summer. He hopes that some of those whose paths he has crossed in all his years at NIH might email him at

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