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Douglas To Direct VRC Strategic Planning

Dr. Gordon Douglas has joined the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center as director of strategic planning. He will guide research strategies for potential HIV vaccine candidates. He will also be involved in collaborations among the VRC, academia and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries that will foster and facilitate HIV vaccine development efforts, and will advise on research efforts at NIH in other infectious diseases and cancer.

Douglas is an expert in vaccine research and infectious diseases. His accomplishments were recognized in February, when he was awarded the Maxwell Finland Award for Scientific Achievement by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. This award recognizes scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the understanding of infectious diseases or public health.

"Gordon Douglas has an unparalleled record of achievement and experience in vaccine development. He began his career as a scientist at NIH, and it is fitting that he should return here to public service having served in major leadership roles for academic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry," said Dr. Gary Nabel, VRC director. "We are most fortunate that he has agreed to devote his energies to the mission of the VRC of developing vaccines for HIV and other infectious diseases. His experience and vision will be invaluable to our efforts."

Douglas comes to the VRC from Merck & Co., Inc., which he joined in 1990 as senior vice president for medical and scientific affairs. He served as president of Merck Vaccines from 1991 to 1999, and took a short retirement before accepting his new post at the VRC. In addition to his distinguished career at Merck, Douglas has held many academic and clinical positions. He was professor of medicine and head of the infectious disease unit at the University of Rochester School of Medicine; professor and chairman of the department of medicine and chief of the division of general internal medicine at Cornell University Medical College; and physician-in-chief at New York Hospital. He is a member of several professional societies including the Institute of Medicine, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (president 1991-1992) and the Association of American Physicians. He coauthored the Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases in 1980 and was awarded the R.R. Hawkins Award from the Association of American Publishers for "most outstanding professional and scholarly book." Douglas has served on the board of directors for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative since 1994 and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases since 1992. He is also a reviewer for journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine and Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Kunos Named NIAAA Scientific Director

Dr. George Kunos has been named scientific director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He originally joined the NIAAA intramural program in 1987 as chief of the Laboratory of Physiologic and Pharmacologic Studies and subsequently became head of the section on pharmacology. He rejoins the institute from the Medical College of Virginia, where he held the position of chairman, department of pharmacology and toxicology and was an NIAAA grantee.

Highlights of his research accomplishments are discovery of the mechanism of inverse regulation of alpha-adrenergic and beta-adrenergic receptors and development of the first radio-labeled affinity probe for alpha-adrenergic receptors. This probe was used to document the molecular mass of alpha-adrenergic receptors in the liver. Kunos was the first scientist to describe the role of beta-endorphin in actions of centrally active antihypertensive agents such as clonidine and alpha-methyldopa. He also provided the first evidence that the effects of alcohol on the neural circuits that control blood pressure and heart rate are mediated by GABA receptors in the brain stem and that endogenous cannabinoid receptors play an important role in cardiovascular regulation. His laboratory demonstrated that the hepatotoxic effects of alcohol are due, in part, to inhibition of IL-6 signaling and that the Raf/MAP kinase cascade is involved in regenerating rat hepatocytes.

Kunos has published more than 105 articles in leading journals and has trained 24 postdoctoral fellows and 9 graduate students who themselves now occupy respected positions. He is internationally recognized as a leading scientist and has received numerous honors and awards.

Kunos plans to diversify the intramural program by initiating new lines of research to better understand the biology of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The new initiatives are expected to generate more interactive research among scientists within NIAAA and at other NIH institutes. They include the establishment of a facility to develop novel transgenic/knockout animal models, as well as research groups working in the areas of protein structural biology, behavioral science and liver biology. Kunos also plans to recruit a leader for NIAAA's clinical program and enhance opportunities for intramural postdoctoral fellows.

Musser Named Chief of New Rocky Mountain Lab

Dr. James M. Musser has been named chief of the newly established Laboratory of Human Bacterial Pathogenesis at NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratory facility in Montana. Prior to his appointment, he was a professor of pathology and director of the Institute for the Study of Human Bacterial Pathogenesis at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. His research focuses on the molecular basis of host-pathogen interactions in group A Streptococcus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The author of numerous scientific journal articles and book chapters, Musser was recently recognized by the American Society for Investigative Pathology with the Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Award.

Ruffin Appointed Head of NN/LM Office

Dr. Angela Ruffin has been appointed head, National Network of Libraries of Medicine Office, in the library operations division of the National Library of Medicine. She has 10 years of successful experience coordinating outreach programs for the NN/LM office, starting with the first round of Grateful Med outreach projects in 1990. For the past several years, she has also played a key role in NLM's Partners in Information Access for Public Health Professionals initiative. Prior to joining the NLM staff, Ruffin taught at several schools of library and information science and served as media coordinator for the Durham (N.C.) City Schools.


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