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NHLBI Mourns Robin Hill

By Susan Czajkowski

Dr. Dana "Robin" Hill, a psychologist and social science analyst in the behavioral medicine scientific research group at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, died Mar. 3 after a year-long struggle with breast cancer. Hill, who was 44 years old, is being mourned by her many colleagues and friends at the institute not only for her dedication to her work and her many professional accomplishments, but also for her kindness, generosity of spirit and positive outlook that profoundly affected the lives of everyone who had the privilege of knowing and working with her.

Hill was born in Kinston, N.C., and earned her B.A. in psychology from Dartmouth College in 1978. In 1984, she received a master's degree in psychology from the University of the Pacific, and graduated with a doctorate in medical psychology from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in 1989. She also served a psychology residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She assumed her position as social science analyst at NHLBI in 1989.

Dr. Dana "Robin" Hill

At NHLBI, Hill managed a variety of research programs concerned with psychosocial factors and health, and was known to many behavioral and social scientists for her work in stress and coping with chronic illness, minority health, women's health, smoking cessation, obesity prevention and maintenance of behavior change. She was the project officer for the Raynaud's Treatment Study, an NHLBI multicenter clinical trial that assessed temperature biofeedback and calcium-channel blockade treatments for Raynaud's syndrome. In recognition of her exceptional efforts in the study, she won an NIH Award of Merit in 1997.

Hill was active in many professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association's task force on women's health and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, serving on the society's fellowship committee and as chair for its 1993 program at the American Psychological Association convention in Toronto. She was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Health and a reviewer for numerous health-related journals. She also belonged to a number of civic and community organizations, where she worked to promote a variety of social justice issues; most recently she was a member of Action in Montgomery, a coalition of houses of worship that promote social issues. She also enjoyed Irish literature and Celtic music, and was quite knowledgeable about the history of Ireland.

Dr. Peter Kaufmann, leader of the behavioral medicine research group at NHLBI, observed, "Robin was an extraordinary individual whose special character touched so many of us that it was difficult to believe that she wouldn't ultimately 'win' her battle with cancer. The institute will miss her competence, her energy, her dedication, and above all, her unyielding conviction in the fundamental goodness of all people." At her funeral services, held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville, her family, friends and colleagues echoed these sentiments, reflecting on Hill's ability to see the good in everyone, her kindness and consideration for others, and her devotion to friends and family.

Survivors include her husband of 14 years, See-Yan Lam of Olney; her son, Benjamin Hill-Lam; her parents, Thomas and Rita Hill of Richmond; and three siblings, Artie Hill, Morgan Hill and Karen Hillman, all of Richmond. A memorial fund in Hill's name is being planned. Contributions may also be made in her name to the charity of one's choice.

NAGMS Council Member Neer Dies

Dr. Eva J. Neer, a member of the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, died on Feb. 20 at her home in Massachusetts of complications due to breast cancer. She was 62.

Neer, who had battled breast cancer for 11 years, was a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a senior biochemist in the department of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, also in Boston.

Dr. Eva J. Neer

Her research focused on understanding the molecular basis for cellular responses to external signals and analyzing the function of G proteins. In 1998, she was awarded the FASEB Excellence in Science Award for "her pioneering contributions to knowledge of cellular signal transduction mechanisms, and her leadership as mentor and educator in the biochemical and biomedical sciences."

Neer was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine as well as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She earned a B.A. in English literature from Barnard College, and an M.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

She is survived by her husband, Robert Neer, and two sons, Robert Jr. and Richard A.

In addition to being an NAGMS Council member since 1998, Neer had been an NIGMS grantee for the past 17 years. She had also received research support for shorter time periods from FIC, NIAMS and NINDS.

A scholarship fund has been established in her memory. Contributions should be sent to the Eva J. Neer Fund, Harvard University, c/o Recording Secretary, 124 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Checks should be made payable to the Eva J. Neer Fund.

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