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NIH Record


Ernest Allen, Grants Pioneer, Dies

Dr. Ernest Allen, one of the architects of the NIH grants programs, died May 5 in Augusta, Ga. He was 94. "Our country has lost a most creative and distinguished science administrator," said Dr. Martin M. Cummings, National Library of Medicine director emeritus, who knew him for more than 50 years.

Dr. Ernest Allen

When Allen retired in 1981, he was widely recognized throughout the biomedical community as the intellectual author of the NIH peer review grants system. He began his career in the Public Health Service in 1943 and served as chief of the NIH Division of Research Grants until 1960. He later served as director of the PHS Office of Extramural Programs and as deputy assistant HEW secretary for grants administration policy. He was NLM associate director for extramural programs from 1973 to 1981.

Allen accepted the Lasker Award of the American Public Health Association in 1953 for his work in inaugurating the nation's biomedical research grant program and for charting its successful long-range development and growth.

He had bachelor and master's degrees from Emory University, and received honorary doctor of science degrees from that institution and from Clemson University. He received numerous honors from the department, PHS, NIH and NLM.

"His extensive experience in grants administration was extremely important in NLM's development of productive and effective extramural programs," said Cummings. "Above all, Ernest Allen was a compassionate leader and humanistic colleague. He will be remembered as a bedrock of integrity and effective human relations."

NIAMS Mourns Scientist Victor Chen

By Janet Howard

NIAMS scientist Dr. Victor Chen, 57, died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage on Feb. 17. He was a special expert in the Laboratory of Physical Biology, where he set up a new nanotechnology facility that includes atomic-force microscopy, laser tweezers and real-time confocal microscopy.

Dr. Victor Chen

Shortly before his death, Chen earned an NIAMS Staff Recognition Award "for contributions to the reorganization of the infrastructure of LPB that expedited the progress in establishing cutting edge nanotechnology in life sciences and fostering an interactive research environment."

Chen received a B.S. in physics from the University of Michigan in 1963. In 1972, he earned a Ph.D. in biophysics from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

That same year, he was hired as a research associate at Michigan State University. In 1974, Chen became a professor at Case Western Reserve University, where his research interest was in membrane excitation and cell motility.

In 1979, he returned to SUNY-Buffalo, where he was director of the undergraduate biophysics program; his research interests were video microscopy and ion channels.

Chen launched K.H.C. Associates in 1988, consulting in quality control confocal microscopy. In 1991, he began working at the Brooklyn Veterans Administration Hospital as a research biologist, where his specialty was the study of mesangial cells and myo-cytes using the patch clamp technique.

From 1996 to 1997, Chen was a research associate in the lab of Dr. Kuan Wang at the University of Texas at Austin. When Wang left UT to join NIH, Chen followed him to NIAMS's Laboratory of Physical Biology.

Wang, LPB chief and Chen's longtime friend, said, "Victor was a gentleman scientist and had an extraordinarily broad knowledge of physics and biology. Most importantly, he knew how to apply physics to biology. He shared his brilliant ideas and insight freely, with contagious enthusiasm. A brainstorming session with Victor was always an enlightening, enjoyable and — at the same time — humbling experience. His friendliness and openness significantly enriched the research programs at LPB and the lives of those who worked with him. We will miss him."

Chen authored numerous books, and published extensively. He is survived by his wife, May, and sons, Brian and Michael.

NIDCR Mourns Lois Salzman

Dr. Lois Salzman, special assistant to the director, NIDCR, died of cancer May 3 at Suburban Hospital. She was 64. A microbiologist and biochemist, she worked at NIH for 34 years as a researcher and science administrator. More recently, she had collaborated with NIDCR director Dr. Harold Slavkin on a series of columns for the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Dr. Lois Salzman

"The vision and realization of a monthly article for JADA was made possible through a unique collaboration between Dr. Salzman and me," said Slavkin. "Untiringly, and with enormous enthusiasm, Lois explored and analyzed the scientific literature and the latest accomplishments from relevant federal and state agency activities. She provided invention, novelty and a critical 'way of knowing' the world of science. She leaves an enormous legacy for all of us including the lasting memory of her dignity and remarkable spirit when dealing with adversity."

A native of Philadelphia, Salzman graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in zoology and chemistry, and then received a master's degree in microbiology from Columbia University. She earned a Ph.D. in microbiology and chemistry from Georgetown University.

She joined NIH in 1965 as a postdoctoral fellow at NCI studying the formation of intermediates in the replication of phage lambda DNA. She then spent 16 years as an independent research chemist in NIAID's Laboratory of Biology of Viruses, and then served as special assistant to the scientific director for that institute. Salzman's work focused primarily on the biochemistry and molecular biology of parvoviruses, a field in which she was a recognized expert.

In 1985, she joined NIDCR as special assistant to the director of the Division of Intramural Research and became the deputy director of the institute's intramural program in 1988. In 1993, she joined the Office of the Director and since 1994 was a special assistant to the director. With the arrival of Slavkin in 1995, she began a partnership with him to produce the JADA column titled "Insights on Human Health." She contributed to 38 columns addressing such diverse topics as biomimetics, taste, antibiotic resistance and gene therapy.

During her career at NIH, Salzman also contributed to one of the first conferences on AIDS research and edited the book, Animal Models of Retrovirus Infection and Their Relationship to AIDS, which resulted from the conference. She had received the NIH Director's Award for outstanding service.

Salzman will be remembered for much more than her scientific expertise. She was respected and liked by her colleagues for her warm sense of humor and positive outlook. Among her coworkers at NIDCR she was known for the mini-seminars she conducted to explain the science and to answer questions about topics highlighted in the JADA columns.

"Lois was an exceptional human being in many ways," said NIDCR deputy director Dr. Dushanka Kleinman. "I will always remember her very special dedication to those around her, her interest in transferring the excitement of science to others, and her wonderful intellectual curiosity."

To honor her contributions to science and to NIDCR, the institute is establishing a memorial lecture that will focus on Salzman's scientific interests.

She is survived by her husband, retired D.C. Superior Court Judge Richard Salzman of Washington, D.C.; two sons, John M. Salzman of Bethesda, and Andrew H. Salzman of Washington, D.C.; her mother, Elizabeth Wallace, and two sisters, Jane Russ and Ruth Gunn, all of suburban Philadelphia.

The family asks that expressions of sympathy take the form of donations to the Children's Inn at NIH.

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