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NIH Record Retirees

Program Analyst Nola Whitfield Retires

By Jane DeMouy

Nola Whitfield, a program analyst with NIDDK's Office of Scientific Program and Policy Analysis, has retired after 27 years at NIH.

She completed an M.Ed. in counseling psychology at the University of Maryland in 1974. She then began her career at NIH as a special assistant to the director of extramural affairs with the National Cancer Institute. A year later, she became assistant executive secretary for review of program project grant applications, serving as liaison between grant applicants, grantees and program directors; she also recruited reviewers and scheduled site visits to facilitate grants review.

Nola Whitfield

At the same time, Whitfield played an instrumental role in developing NCI's Comprehensive Minority Biomedical Program and became its first coordinator. It was CMBP's role to generate interest in NCI research among minority investigators, an effort that often featured site visits. "Nola was unflappable, always calm and very pleasant," says Dr. Paul Okano, a colleague from NCI's national cancer program minority advisory commission, who was also a member of the site visit team. She was the one who "was the real backbone of everything, and the corporate memory for a long time."

During her tenure with NCI, she twice received awards for the sustained high quality of her work. In 1985, she received an EEO Special Achievement Award, and in 1991, an NIH Merit Award for her "originality and creativity in developing the supplemental research awards concept" to support underrepresented minority researchers.

Moving to NIDDK, Whitfield joined what is now the Office of Scientific Program and Policy Analysis. She took primary responsibility for coordinating production of the institute's annual program plan with the operating programs of NIDDK. This compendium of research advances and proposed initiatives was presented annually to the NIDDK Advisory Council and distributed widely to the NIDDK research community. In addition, she served on the NIDDK minority affairs committee and coordinated a wide range of NIDDK minority health reports. "Nola is one of those dedicated individuals whose contributions are part of the strong fabric of the NIH," says Carol Feld, NIDDK's associate director for scientific program and policy analysis.

On Whitfield's retirement, NIDDK director Dr. Allen Spiegel presented her with plaques commemorating both her NIH career and her efforts to develop the institute's programs to improve minority health and the participation of minorities in research.

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