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NIGMS' Monaghan Retires After 40-Year Government Career

By Susan Athey

Ruth Monaghan recently retired after 40 years of government service, 35 of which were spent with the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and its predecessor. At the time of her retirement, Monaghan, the last of NIGMS' founding employees, was deputy chief of the Grants Administration Branch and supervisor of its National Research Service Award Payback Service Center.

Ruth Monaghan

"Ruth Monaghan was one of the most skilled, knowledgeable, and genuinely helpful grants management officers at NIH. She was always available for advice both to grantee institutions and to investigators, and this advice was given in the most pleasant manner," said Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, NIH deputy director and former director of NIGMS.

Monaghan began her NIH career in 1957 after briefly working for the Department of the Navy. Starting as a GS-4 secretary in what was then the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness, she worked for the executive secretary of the neurology training committee.

Two years later, Monaghan transferred to the newly created Division of General Medical Sciences. It was there that she found her niche in the field of grants management.

In 1960, she moved to the Bureau of State Services in Washington, D.C., as a grants assistant. She transferred back to NIGMS shortly after the institute was established in 1963. For the next 34 years, Monaghan dedicated herself to working with NIGMS grants, holding progressively more senior positions.

Reflecting on her career at NIH, Monaghan claimed it was "simply a matter of working up the ladder" and "doing whatever needed to be done and fielding whatever problem happened to come up."

She fondly remembered her "early days" at NIH, including the period of time she worked in the Stone House for NIGMS' predecessor. She reminisced about the days of grants management prior to computers, calling it "awing" how far the field has progressed.

"We used to make multiple award statements with carbon copy paper, then later on ditto," Monaghan explained. "Some days we would come home covered in ditto ink. We went from ditto to photocopying to computers."

She served on the committee that developed the first PHS Grants Manual as well as the committee that did the original conversion of award statements to a computerized system. She also played an integral part in the start-up of the NIGMS Minority Access to Research Careers Program.

Former coworker Dr. Charles Miller, who worked with Monaghan for more than 30 years, remembered her as "a highly dedicated person who gave tremendous assistance over the years.

"Ruth has been a key person in grants management and its dealings with all aspects of the institute," he said.

Dr. Sue Shafer, director of NIGMS' Division of Extramural Activities, said, "Ruth's knowledge and ability in the field of grants management brought a positive attitude to stewardship and accomplishing our mission," adding that Monaghan has been a great resource around NIGMS over the years. "If there was a problem or a new job, Ruth was always sent in to the rescue," said Shafer.

Monaghan received numerous awards during her career, including an NIH Merit Award in 1980 and an NIH Director's Award in 1992.

As for the future, she looks forward to having more time to "enhance her cooking skills," and plans to take a part-time job with a local business. She has always loved to travel, so future plans will undoubtedly include some small trips, and maybe one as far away as Australia.

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