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Wong Says Farewell After 46 Years at NIH

In today's fast-paced, job-changing society, it is unusual to find someone who has worked in the same job for even 5 years. Doris Wong is a noteworthy exception, having spent the last 46 years of her career as a microbiologist in NIAID's Laboratory of Infectious Diseases (LID). She is leaving now only because she is retiring.

Doris Wong
Wong, born in Philadelphia, got a B.A. in microbiology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her first job after graduating was at Temple University Medical School, where she taught bacteriology to medical technology students. She later worked at Merck Sharp & Dohme. In 1957, she came to the Washington area with her new husband, who had accepted a job here. After arriving, she took a job at NIAID and never left.

Wong has seen many changes at NIH over the years, not only in administration but also in the field of microbiology. She sees the biggest scientific changes in the fields of molecular biology and virology and the different laboratory techniques associated with them. In moving from large glass test tubes to microtiter plates, everything in the lab became "miniaturized."

According to Dr. Robert Chanock, former LID chief, "Doris was the mainstay of the respiratory viruses section for 6 years before moving to the hepatitis viruses section. She has been unquestionably the most dedicated, credible member of the technical staff, and I would rate her as a technician-plus! I shudder to think of how the respiratory virus and hepatitis viruses programs might have floundered without her."

Dr. Robert Purcell, LID co-chief and hepatitis viruses/molecular hepatitis section chief, has been working with Wong since 1963, "through thick and thin — I have gotten thicker, she has stayed thin!" He said that her work contributed to the discovery of two of the five recognized hepatitis viruses as well as to the development of vaccines for three of the viruses. During her time at NIH, she has co-authored 54 publications and was senior author on three.

Co-workers in the LID hepatitis section say Wong is "an inspiration," "a rare combination of kindness, generosity, and a never-ending source of information and skill." "There are not enough words to say how much we will miss her here at NIAID," they add.

Wong attends the Chinese Community Church in Washington, D.C., and is looking forward to devoting more time to the volunteer work she and her husband already do for the church, such as fundraising. She also designs jewelry, a hobby she will pursue more vigorously after retirement. In addition, Wong plans to take classes and visit the museums at the Smithsonian Institution and get a home computer to keep in touch with her many friends and colleagues still at NIH as well as those who have moved on to institutions across the United States and around the world.

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