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NIH Record

Retirees

Brody Bids Farewell

Doris Brody

Doris Brody recently retired after more than 20 years of service, 19 of which were spent at NIH. She began her federal career in 1977, working first for the Veterans Administration and then for the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1978, she joined what was then the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke as a writer in the Office of Scientific and Health Reports. She transferred to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in 1980, and at the time of her retirement was a public affairs specialist with the Public Information Office. Brody received numerous awards during her career, including a PHS Special Recognition Award, a National Association of Government Communicators Blue Pencil Award, and an Award of Achievement in the International Technical Publications Competition.

Disque Retires After 31-Year Career

By Danielle Warfield

Patricia Disque recently retired from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences after 31 years of government service, the first 20 of which she spent at the Division of Research Grants (now the Center for Scientific Review). At the time of her retirement, she was chief of the grants records management and council preparation unit in the Division of Extramural Activities.

Patricia Disque

"Pat Disque's contribution to NIGMS, while largely invisible to the outside world, reached to the heart of our mission. Her management of the immensely complicated process of assuring that more than 3,000 grant applications per year were brought to advisory council review was crucial. Her dedication, meticulous attention to detail and ability to cope with the unexpected have stood us all in good stead," said Dr. W. Sue Shafer, NIGMS deputy director and director of the Division of Extramural Activities.

Disque began her career at NIH in 1966 -- just 2 days after graduating from high school. While many of her classmates were headed to the beach, Disque, who was an expert typist and shorthand pro, was headed to the Westwood Bldg. to start working as a GS-3 grants clerk in the Research Grants Review Branch, DRG.

In 1970, she moved to Virginia Beach, Va., where she worked as a secretary in a bank's bookkeeping department, but she returned to the area and NIH later that same year, assuming her old position at DRG. After working her way up to the position of grants technical assistant, Disque made a lateral move to NIGMS in 1987, where after less than a month she was promoted to supervisory grants assistant. "I found my niche, it was a niche I liked, and I stuck with it because I liked it," Disque said of her work in the field of grants management and council preparation.

Carol Tippery, chief of the NIGMS Grants Administration Branch, called Disque an "extremely conscientious" employee with "a wonderful work ethic."

"We always knew that our council meeting would come off without a hitch because Pat was in charge," Tippery said.

Disque was the recipient of numerous awards during her NIH career, including an NIH Merit Award in 1991.

She served for many years on the NIH advisory committee for women, and was one of the first group of people to go through the NIH Training Center's Career Curricula Program, which offered training in targeted areas such as budget or grants management to selected participants to help bridge the gap between support and professional staff positions.

Although her husband encouraged her to take a break from working, Disque said she is "too practical" for that. "I'm not going to give it up yet and stay home -- at least not for a couple more years. I'd rather just leave one door and go into another," she said. Her plans for the future include finding a full-time job closer to home with fewer responsibilities. "I'm looking for something different. I've had a lot of years where the job ruled me. I want to have a job where I can walk out the door and not take the job home with me." However, she added, "I want to keep asserting myself and grabbing hold of things."

DCRT Acting Director Risso Retires

By Joan Chamberlain

Bill Risso well remembers the crisp summer morning in 1968 when he maneuvered his Pontiac GTO down a shaded, 2-mile driveway in rural New Hampshire to begin the long drive south to Bethesda, a new job, and a new life. "And a fascinating journey it's been," he says.

Bill Risso

Thirty years later, he is poised to begin another new life, leaving behind an accomplished career in the Division of Computer Research and Technology, first as an engineer who designed NIH's earliest computer networks and most recently as DCRT's acting director.

"Most of those years were pure fun," he told DCRT staff recently. "I wrote operating systems, designed electronics, worked with CT scanners, and tried my hand at administration and management. In the process I learned a little about running a truly professional data center, keeping critical applications alive, managing a help desk, and designing a real network. I've worked alongside some of the best research intellects in the world."

Throughout his career, Risso introduced many scientists to the benefits of computing in research. His most vivid memories center on the work that brought him closest to research and patient care at NIH. Before computerized monitors became a routine presence in hospital rooms, he spent many all-nighters in the Clinical Center's surgical intensive care unit "babysitting" systems he helped design as they tracked patients' fluids and vital signs. In the mid-seventies, he worked with Dr. Ralph Johnson of NCI to improve cancer radiotherapy by merging computing algorithms with the new diagnostic power of CT scanners. He helped build DCRT's fledgling image processing unit into a premier facility that now reconstructs the 3-dimensional structure of viral capsids.

Risso joined DCRT in 1968 as a PHS Commissioned Corps officer and graduate of Dartmouth College, where he had earned a master of engineering degree working under the late John Kemeney, codeveloper of the computer language BASIC. As DCRT's deputy director from 1991 to 1996, he sought new ways to apply computing to NIH's business processes. In his recent role as DCRT acting director, he oversaw the division's transition to a major federal data center.

"Bill has provided a steady hand and exceptional leadership and support in guiding DCRT through some tumultuous times over the past several years," said Perry Plexico, chief of DCRT's Computing Facilities Branch. "Let's hope we've absorbed enough of his wisdom to carry us successfully into the future."

A member of the NIH information technology central committee (ITCC), Risso helped forge recommendations for NIH director Dr. Harold Varmus on the security, operations and organization of information technology at NIH. "Bill's expertise in IT and thorough understanding of the NIH were instrumental to the success of the ITCC report. He contributed the 'big picture' IT viewpoint, which not only helped provide a context for the committee's deliberations but also helped shape our final recommendations," said Colleen Barros, NIA executive officer and ITCC chair.

Far from the world of computing, Risso pursued several other interests over the years, one of which evolved into a separate career for a time. An accomplished chef and graduate of Bethesda's L'Academie de Cuisine who graced many a DCRT holiday party with his gourmet creations, he left government in the mid-eighties to run a country inn and restaurant in Vermont with his wife Sharon.

As he begins his next "sabbatical," Risso weighs job offers in the private sector with trying new culinary ventures and enjoying his outdoor hobbies -- skiing and flyfishing. The choices are many, the possibilities enticing. A new year, another car, a different highway.

And a fascinating journey it will be.

NCI's Sanders Retires After 35 Years

By Patti Fetsch

After more than 35 years of federal service, Eliza J. Sanders will retire on Jan. 30. She joined NIH in 1962 as a research assistant at the Auburn Bldg., a rental facility in Bethesda. In 1973, she came to the NIH campus as a biology laboratory technician, performing tissue culture techniques. In 1979, she worked as assistant to the Federal Women's Program manager and the EEO specialist for NCI. From 1981 to 1983, Sanders provided technical research to the chief of the cellular immunity section. In 1983, she joined the cytopathology section, Laboratory of Pathology, NCI, as a histopathology technician, a position she held until retirement.

Eliza J. Sanders

Sanders is originally from Norlina, N.C. She graduated from high school in Warrenton, N.C., in 1958, and attended college at the University of the District of Columbia and Montgomery College. Her husband, Charles Sanders, and daughter, Karen Smith, are also NIH employees. Her son Charles is employed at NASA.

Sanders plans to spend her retirement enjoying her home in Laurel, Md., and relishing more time with her family, especially her grandchildren. In addition, she will golf, garden, travel and continue active participation in her church. She says she will miss her coworkers and the "treats" in the cytology lab each day, and notes the many changes in her 35 years at NIH, particularly the availability of parking, the increase in the number of buildings on campus, and the introduction of universal precaution safety procedures.

The cytopathology section will miss her warm smile and cheery disposition, and wishes her all the best. Her work ethic and positive attitude were great assets to the Laboratory of Pathology.


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