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Academies Induct Four NIH'ers

Four NIH scientists are among an elite class of new inductees to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, both of which announced their 2002 honorees at the end of April.

Dr. Adriaan Bax, chief of the NMR biophysical spectroscopy section at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, won membership to both academies. Also named NAS members were Dr. Harvey J. Alter, chief, infectious diseases section and associate director of research, department of transfusion medicine, Clinical Center; and Dr. Joseph F. Fraumeni, director, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute.

In all, 72 new members and 15 foreign associates were named to NAS this year. Election to membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. NAS is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, that calls on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

Also named an AAAS fellow from NIH, in addition to Bax, is Dr. Sue H. Wickner, chief, DNA molecular biology section, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, NCI.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an international learned society composed of the world's leading scientists, scholars, artists, business people and public leaders. Its current membership stands at 3,700 American fellows and 600 foreign honorary members.

President Honors NIH Grantees

President Bush on May 9 announced winners of the 2001 National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology, the nation's highest honors in these fields; seven of the 19 individuals recognized have been or remain NIH grantees.

The science medals are awarded in six categories. NIH winners include, from the category Biological Sciences: Dr. Francisco J. Ayala, University of California, Irvine (NIGMS); Dr. Mario R. Capecchi, University of Utah School of Medicine (NIGMS, NICHD); Dr. Ann M. Graybiel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (NINDS, NIDA, NEI, NICHD, NIMH); Dr. Victor A. McKusick, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (NIGMS, NCRR, NHGRI, NIDCR); and former NIH director Dr. Harold Varmus, now president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (NCI, NIAID).

Honored from the category of Chemistry was Dr. Ernest R. Davidson, Indiana University (NIGMS, NCRR).

Among the National Medal of Technology laureates for 2001 was Dr. Sidney Pestka, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (NIAID, NCI, NCRR).

The science medals are administered by the National Science Foundation and were established by Congress in 1959. The honor has been conferred on 401 scientists since then. The technology medals are administered by the Department of Commerce and were established by Congress in 1980. Thus far, the honor has been bestowed on 120 individuals and 12 companies.

Retiree Laster Recognized

O.H. Laster, who retired from the Office of Equal Opportunity in 2000, accepts a plaque of appreciation from then NIH acting deputy director Dr. Yvonne Maddox. A fixture here since starting his NIH career as an NCI training officer and conference coordinator in 1972, Laster was appointed in 1973 by acting NIH director Dr. John Sherman to cochair a 22-member special committee to review NIH's equal opportunity programs. Thirty years later, Laster continues to consult agency leaders on diversity and minority employment issues, and on planning and development of such special emphasis programs as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday and African American History Month observances, as well as Take Your Child to Work Day activities. Maddox, who also presented Laster with a formal letter of commendation, noted that "NIH owes O.H. a tremendous debt of gratitude for his many years of hard work, creativity and commitment to the advancement of equal opportunity employment issues."

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