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NIH Record Retirees

CSR's Poonian Retires

Dr. Mohindar Poonian, a health scientist administrator in the Center for Scientific Review, recently retired from government service. He had been scientific review administrator for two AIDS and related research study sections since their inception in 1988; he received the Public Health Service Merit Award for Distinguished Service for his work in establishing these study sections.

Dr. Mohindar Poonian

A Fulbright fellow from Punjab University, India, Poonian received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1966. He then spent 2 years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Enzyme Research Institute, University of Wisconsin, with Nobel laureate Dr. H.G. Khorana, followed by an additional postdoctoral year in the department of chemistry, University of Pennsylvania. Following his postdoctoral training, he joined Hoffmann-LaRoche, Inc. There he held various research and supervisory positions until 1986, when he joined Igen Inc. as director of chemistry and nucleic acids probe development.

His research expertise encompasses the broad areas of organic chemistry, nucleic acids synthesis, molecular biology and diagnostic techniques. His research projects included nucleoside analog synthesis and modifications in antiviral and anticancer chemotherapy, nucleotide modification for diagnostic purposes, and chemical synthesis of a proprietary detection system for application in immunodiagnostics and DNA probe-based diagnostics. Poonian has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, and has authored several patents that were assigned to Hoffmann-LaRoche and to Igen.

In retirement, Poonian's plans include consulting, spending more time with his family — particularly his two young grandchildren — gardening, more involvement with the stock market, and reading, especially histories, biographies and autobiographies. Dr. Dharam Dhindsa, a long-time colleague at CSR, expressed the views of many others when he praised Poonian's precision, organization and scientific credentials, but even more importantly his sincerity and compassion; Poonian has been both a highly respected colleague and a good friend.

Bruce Wetzel Retires from NIH

Dr. Bruce Keirn Wetzel, who devoted a large portion of his 38-year NIH career to cell biology research, retired in December after serving most recently as a scientific review administrator at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Dr. Marvin Cassman, NIGMS director, said, "Bruce's departure is much regretted, particularly by the research communities whose issues and concerns became so much his own."

Dr. Bruce Wetzel (l) was recognized by the Shock Society for his contributions to the society and the trauma and burn injury, anesthesiology, and systems and integrative biology programs at NIGMS. Dr. Irshad Chaudry (r), past president of the society, presented the award to Wetzel at the Shock Society's 1998 annual meeting.

Wetzel is an Ohio native who trained at Harvard University in biology and microscopy. He began his NIH career in 1961 at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, where he worked as a research biologist in the Laboratory of Experimental Pathology. In 1971, he joined the National Cancer Institute as a research biologist in the Dermatology Branch. His research focused on the development, dynamics and functional significance of cellular fine structure. He consistently sought combinations of diverse cytochemical and microscopic procedures to probe the functional anatomy of individual cells, promoting the integrative value of this approach as a complement to other methodologies.

In 1983, Wetzel entered the health science administration field as an executive secretary in the special review section of the Division of Research Grants. The following year, he joined NIGMS as a scientific review administrator in the Office of Review Activities, where he managed reviews of large research and training grant applications in every area of science supported by the institute. Much of his work involved the review of grant applications in the areas of systems and integrative biology, trauma and burn injury, and anesthesiology.

In 1998, he was recognized by the Shock Society for his outstanding dedication and contributions to the trauma and burn injury research and training communities. Dr. Irshad Chaudry, past president of the Shock Society and professor of surgery at Rhode Island Hospital, describes Wetzel as "an exceptionally bright, talented, dynamic, and straightforward individual who truly cared for the grantees and went out of his way to do everything possible for the investigators." According to Chaudry, Wetzel consistently orchestrated site visits as deftly as a great conductor. In doing so, Chaudry added, "he was truly dedicated and committed to the applicants."

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