FIC’s Eiss Is Mourned
Rob Eiss, 69, a long-time member of the Fogarty International Center team, passed away at his home in Silver Spring, Md., in late October.
“Rob loved to hike and swim and, in his younger years, had numerous travel adventures, including counting tigers in India, hiking through the African jungle to observe Silver Back gorillas, and two close calls—one with a running hippo and one with a hungry crocodile,” recalled his sister, Susan Eiss.
Eiss held a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from Oxford University. He served Fogarty in a variety of capacities beginning in 1993 as a program officer in the Division of International Relations, and later as director of the Office of International Science Policy and Analysis.
From 2000 to 2003, Eiss took on the role of associate director for planning and budget at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and from 2005 to 2007 he served as CEO of the Center for Management of Intellectual Property in Health Research, a non-profit based in Oxford, UK, that partnered with the Medical Research Council of South Africa. Eiss returned to Fogarty in 2007 as senior advisor to FIC’s director.
“Rob was a leader, a negotiator, an organizer, a representative, and a visionary, who understood Fogarty and recognized the vital potential for global health research partnerships,” said Fogarty Acting Director Dr. Peter Kilmarx.
One of Eiss’s most significant contributions was leading the creation of FIC’s strategic plan for 2000-2003, which reoriented the center’s programs and its focus toward addressing communicable and emerging chronic diseases in low- and middle-income countries. This plan provided the analytic framework for NIH investments in Africa that ultimately led to the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria, an alliance created to control and eventually eradicate malaria in Africa.
Eiss also served as a member of the NIH global health research team and as an advisor to former NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. Eiss organized annual NIH workshops for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and tightened the bonds between NIH and one of its most productive external collaborators. He also set agendas for meetings of the Heads of International Research Organizations and prepared NIH presentations and briefings.
“Rob’s ideas shaped Fogarty’s and NIH’s global footprint as we know it,” said Kilmarx.
As a representative at the National Science and Technology Council subcommittee on international science & technology coordination, Eiss ensured that global health was prominently featured in the biennial report on international cooperation. As a lead writer for the council, he authored reports on U.S. government science and technology relations with Russia as well as on European economic integration and science and technology cooperation. Eiss also advised the WHO Science Council; worked on an initiative to help strengthen the genomic research workforce in Africa; and acted as NIH lead on issues related to the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
Eiss was preceded in death by his parents, Herman and Alice Eiss, and is survived by his nephew Kevin Newcomb, niece Emily Newcomb, and brother-in-law Larry Newcomb in addition to his sister, Susan.
The family requests those who wish to send flowers instead make a donation in his name to the Children’s Inn at NIH, where his frequent volunteer work made him a familiar face. https://childrensinn.org/ways-to-give/.