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NIDDK's Bob Creveling Retires

By Sharon Ricks

After nearly 40 years at NIH, Dr. Cyrus (Bob) Creveling, director of NIDDK's Office of Technology Development, retired Jan. 2. He was named an NIDDK scientist emeritus last December and will serve as 1998 president of the Washington Academy of Sciences.

"As a scholar, he's sort of a Renaissance man," says Dr. Kenneth Kirk, acting chief of NIDDK's Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry and a coworker for more than 30 years. "He is well read and his interests go beyond science into history, philosophy and religion."

NIDDK scientist emeritus Dr. Cyrus (Bob) Creveling
recently retired following nearly 40 years at NIH.

Creveling joined NIH's Heart Institute in 1957 and enjoyed friendly competition with NINDS's Dr. Irvin Kopin. Both studied catecholamine metabolism and shared information and compounds. Kopin says, "Cy made important contributions to our understanding of the basis for some of the enzyme reactions that cause the inactivation of catecholamines."

In 1964, Creveling joined NIDDK's Laboratory of Chemistry, now the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry. There, he and Kirk studied the biological properties of fluorine-substituted catecholamines and made a major discovery on the receptor selectivity of 2- and 6-fluoronorepinephrines.

"I made these compounds not having any idea what they would do," says Kirk. "And he was doing studies on adrenergic receptors. We paired up and found much to our delight that when we had fluorine in the 2-position, the analogue was selective for beta, and not active at the alpha adrenergic receptor, and if fluorine was in the 6-position the reverse was true. These analogues proved to be extremely valuable research tools.

"I am a chemist, and he's a pharmacologist," adds Kirk. "It was a kind of melting pot of science -- the sort of science that can work very well at NIH."

In the late 1980's, Creveling was asked to head a forum 1 day a month on technology development. Eventually it consumed all of his time, and 3 years ago he left the lab. "I was caught," he says. "Once you can speak legal, you're caught. It really is a different language." In 1995, Creveling's new responsibility evolved into the NIDDK Office of Technology Development with responsibility for managing cooperative research and development agreements. NIDDK's first CRADA was for about $50,000, says Creveling. Now there is one for $17 million. "It's been exciting and interesting work," he admits, "but it was much more fun to be in the lab."

Born in Washington, D.C., Creveling graduated from McKinley Technical High School in 1946, received a B.S. in chemistry from George Washington University in 1954 and a Ph.D. in 1962. He has written 142 papers and dozens of book chapters.

DCRT Assistant Director Songco Leaves

By Charles Mokotoff

After 30 years nourishing the development of information technology at NIH, Dave Songco, DCRT assistant director for engineering and programs, has moved on to the private sector. His career spanned a time when computing technology grew at an extraordinary pace; he distinguished himself by being at the forefront of new developments as an engineer, organizer and manager.

"He brings out the best in others by believing in them a little more than they believe in themselves," said Dale Spangenburg, chief of DCRT's Customer Services Branch. Excellence in customer service was Songco's passion, which he combined with technical knowledge, perspicacity in working with diverse personalities, and a flair for accomplishing projects from the ground up.

Dave Songco

DCRT recently hosted a celebration of his career, and many recent acquaintances were amazed at the breadth of his achievements, laid out in a timeline from his beginnings as a student trainee at the Bureau of the Census to his final role as DCRT's assistant director. His whole family, including parents well into their eighties, were there to wish Songco luck in his new endeavor.

"My dad retired from government service after 30 years and went on to work 25 more years as a barber," Songco told the crowd. He paid allegiance to his family, from whom he drew much of his strength and skill.

The list of names and projects on his timeline read like a Who's Who in information technology at NIH. "Dave is an accomplished engineer, an outstanding customer service advocate and a committed NIH fan. We will all miss him tremendously," said Bill Risso, DCRT's recently retired acting director. It was clear that their friendship served them both well as they led DCRT through enormous changes in IT over the past 30 years.

When Songco joined the Bureau of the Census in 1960, he was working with the huge UNIVAC machines, tape drives and line printers that dominated computing technology in that decade. After graduating, he spent 3 years at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center designing and building analog and digital systems to process data from U.S. satellites. In 1967, he moved to DCRT's newly founded Computer Systems Lab, designing computer systems for real-time data acquisition and control, clinical automation, and analysis of biomedical signals. He also designed one of the first synthesized voice terminals for the blind. At CSL he met Bill Risso and Dr. Robert Martino along with several other long time colleagues, beginning a relationship of computer research and technical management that changed the face of DCRT and kept it on the cutting edge of computing technology.

Turning to IT management in 1982, Songco established the first PC support program at NIH and collaborated with the then NIH Training Center to establish the NIH User Resource Center. Later he cofounded the NIH Scientific Computing Resource Center.

In recent years, he was a staff member of the information technology central committee that sought to reengineer IT management at NIH. He also provided leadership for the NIH architectural management group, which serves as a technical advisory network for the chief information officer.

The NIH Office of the Director is grateful to Songco for providing leadership and direction in changing their local area network from a loosely organized compendium of machines into a model LAN. For these and many other achievements, he was given four Director's Awards, two Merit Awards and many Special Achievement Awards in the course of his career.

As DCRT begins another dramatic era of change, it can look back on Songco's contribution in advancing information technology at NIH and his extensive role in helping the division through unprecedented transformations.

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