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NCRR's Mylander Bids NIH Farewell

Maureen Mylander, NCRR's public information officer, is about to experience "life after NIH" as she retires from a more than 20-year career in public information work that spans three ICDs and the OD Office of Communications. Although her service here is ending, several projects she launched including NIH Healthline (now HEALTHWise), the NIH Almanac, and NIA's Age Page series live on.

Maureen Mylander

She began writing for NIH in 1961 in the Office of Communications, OD, then left in 1965 to pursue full-time freelance writing. In 1978, she returned as a writer-editor in the NIA information office. A few years later, she moved to NEI and then to the OD Office of Communications, where she managed the monthly "From the NIH" columns for the Journal of the American Medical Association, the monthly media calendar What's Happening at NIH?, NIH Healthline and, for a brief period, the daily "current clips" news service for NIH managers. "Maureen shows unusual commitment to see projects through and to continually improve upon them," says Anne Thomas, NIH associate director for communications. A look at Mylander's accomplishments lends credence to that statement.

A prolific freelance author, she's written five nonfiction books. The latest, Gesundheit: Bringing Good Health to You, the Medical System, and Society through Physician Service, Complementary Therapies, Humor, and Joy; coauthored with Dr. Patch Adams, is under option to Universal Films and scheduled for filming in February 1998. She has written two book chapters plus scores of articles about medicine and psychology, and during the late 1970's was ghostwriter of 235 of the late Dr. Michael Halberstam's health advice columns for the New York Times Special Features Syndicate. Her articles have appeared in People, Sports Illustrated, New York, Washingtonian, Newsday, National Observer, Nation, Self, and Ladies Home Journal.

Mylander has won many writing and publications awards, and in 1990 received the NIH Toastmasters International Communication Achievement Award. An 11-minute video she produced with Trish Evans of the Medical Arts and Photography Branch won the 1994 International Gold Screen Competition of the National Association of Government Communicators in the external communications category.

In retirement, Mylander plans to divide her time between writing, traveling, and her many athletic interests, which include weightlifting, biking, running, swimming, hiking, and a most unusual sport, dragonboating.

"A dragonboat is a 40-foot long teak or fiberglass canoe-like craft that seats 18 people two abreast. We paddle one side or the other to the beat of a drum. A dragon head and tail are added when the boat is fully "dressed" for a race or exhibition," Mylander says. "Most women in our group at the Washington Canoe Club have vastly increased their upper body strength, thanks to this ancient oriental sport. Of course, weightlifting is essential. Our coach tells us that most women over 40 can't lift an 8-pound gallon of milk."

Given her writing aspirations, travel plans, and upcoming dragonboat competitions, life after NIH promises to be busier and better than ever for Mylander.

NINDS's Richard Sherbert Retires After 32 Years

By Shannon E. Garnett

After 32 years of government service, 30 with NIH, Richard L. "Dick" Sherbert, NINDS executive officer, has bid NIH a fond farewell. He officially retired on Aug. 1. "I have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. It is time to move on and let others have a chance," he said.

Richard L. "Dick" Sherbert

Sherbert was born in Framingham, Mass. He graduated from St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Mass., in 1959, earning a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy. He continued his education, spending 1 year of graduate study at the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, and earning a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University.

Sherbert began working for the government in 1965 as a placement specialist in the manpower division of the Department of Labor. He joined NIH in 1966 as a personnel management specialist in the Division of Research Services. Since then, he has held many positions, including personnel specialist at NIAID, NICHD personnel officer, NCI management analysis officer, and NCI deputy executive officer.

He became NINDS executive officer in 1977, where he served during all of his 20 years with the institute. In this position Sherbert had direct responsibility for budget and financial management, personnel, management analysis, program planning and analysis, legislative tracking and analysis, technology transfer, and general administrative functions. He also indirectly oversaw grant and contract management functions.

"It has been my good fortune to work with Dick Sherbert over the last 3 years," said NINDS director Dr. Zach Hall. "He has had a major influence in shaping NINDS that will last for many years. To me, he represents the very highest standard of administrative excellence. Dick Sherbert is as outstanding in his own sphere as our very best scientists are in theirs. We will indeed miss him."

Throughout his career, Sherbert has garnered many honors and awards including a Civil Service Commission Career Service Award, a DHHS Superior Service Award, a PHS Superior Service Award, and most recently, an NINDS Special Achievement Award in recognition of his 20 years of service.

Asked what he will miss most, Sherbert said, "The people...there is a very fine bunch of people in the institute. I am very proud of the administrative staff and the support they give to the scientists."

Recently, friends, family, and past and present colleagues honored Sherbert at a reception in the Visitor Information Center in the Clinical Center. They presented him with a memory book, and a gift in the form of a monetary donation to the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute, an organization that provides support to people with disabilities.

"The past 20 years working with and for Dick has been an extremely satisfying experience," said NINDS deputy executive officer John Jones. "During this time I have developed a great deal of respect and admiration for his knowledge of general administration and his management style, which is based on a commitment to fairness and encouraging subordinates to be creative and innovative. Over the years we have developed a very effective working relationship and a lasting friendship. I will miss him."

Sherbert's retirement plans include gardening and volunteering.

NIDDK Neurobiologist Phil Skolnick Retires After
25 Years at NIH

By Sharon Ricks

After 25 years as an NIH neurobiologist and more than 500 papers, Dr. Phil Skolnick, chief of NIDDK's Laboratory of Neuroscience, retired Aug. 1. An expert on ligand-gated ion channels, the principal means of signal transduction in the central nervous system, he has accepted a position as a fellow in neuroscience at Eli Lilly.

Dr. Phil Skolnick

"He's a great man," says Dr. Anthony Basile, one of the 75 postdocs Skolnick has trained. "He's made numerous contributions to the understanding of anxiety disorders and developed a new theory on the pathology of depression, which may lead to the development of drugs that have a faster clinical effect." Basile says Skolnick also made significant contributions to developing pharmacotherapy for stroke and ischemic disorders of the brain.

In 1996, over a cup of coffee with Basile, Skolnick came up with a theory that aminoglycosides, an antibiotic commonly used in developing countries, might be acting on NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors in the central nervous system and causing deafness. Basile and Skolnick found that when NMDA antagonists were administered to guinea pigs receiving aminoglycosides, the hair cells in the cochlea were very well preserved and deafness was prevented.

"His ability to perceive how basic research could be focused towards clinical applications has been the hallmark of his impressive career," says NIDDK's Dr. John Daly, chief of the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry, who has been Skolnick's mentor since 1972. Daly says Skolnick's pioneering contributions have also made a major impact on anxiolytics and antidepressants.

Skolnick graduated summa cum laude from Long Island University in 1968 and received his Ph.D. from George Washington University in 1972. He joined NIH in 1972 as a staff fellow in the pharmacodynamics section of the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases, now NIDDK. After a brief stint at NIAAA, Skolnick returned to NIAMDD in 1978. In 1983, he became chief of the neurobiology section, and in 1986, chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience.

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