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Nursing Research Leader Bloch Dies

Dr. Doris Bloch, formerly special assistant to the director of the National Institute of Nursing Research, died of congestive heart failure at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda on Aug. 10. She was 75 years old.

Dr. Doris Bloch
Bloch is considered a giant among nursing research leaders because of her work in the early development of federal programs in nursing science. According to Dr. Ada Sue Hinshaw, who was NINR director when Bloch worked there, "She was a strong, relatively quiet, very bright colleague and friend. She was a mentor for many of us and guided us through our first RO1 grant applications." Hinshaw added, "Without the strong foundation she was instrumental in building, nursing research and research training programs at NINR would not have met with such outstanding success."

In 1986, Bloch led nursing research and research training staff from the Division of Nursing, HRSA, to NIH's then National Center for Nursing Research, which later became an institute. She was chief of the Program Planning and Evaluation Office and later moved to the special assistant to the director position in 1990. Among her major achievements was producing the plan to develop priorities for the National Nursing Research Agenda that became the guiding policy during the early years of the nursing institute.

"Although I worked with Doris only briefly," said Dr. Patricia Grady, current NINR director, "I admire her contributions to nursing research and specifically to this institute. We still benefit from her innovations. Even though she retired in 1994, she continued to keep up with NINR activities and helped reconstruct the history of federal nursing programs, an invaluable contribution that was based on her first-hand experience."

Bloch was a native of Berlin. She escaped Nazi persecution by hiding in The Netherlands with the aid of families in the Dutch countryside. While she and her sister survived, her parents died in Auschwitz. Her story is recorded in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

As an illustration of her courage and perseverance, following high school in Holland, Bloch immigrated to the U.S. and enrolled in Mount Holyoke College, even though she did not speak a word of English. After graduating with a B.A. in zoology, she completed her nursing education at Yale University, earning a master's degree in nursing, followed by master's and doctoral degrees in public health at the University of California at Berkeley. She went on to forge a distinguished career in public health, which included service in the then Tanganyika, Kenya and the Philippines. After returning to the U.S., she joined the Division of Nursing at HRSA in 1971.

Bloch was a dedicated fan of the arts, including film, and it was after a pleasant evening with friends viewing the film Winged Migration that she fell and fractured her hip. As Hinshaw put it, "She survived the hip surgery, but her heart, taxed by a life of service, could not sustain her."

NIH Mourns Death of Nobuko Tasaki

Nobuko "Noko" Tasaki
Nobuko Tasaki, 88, wife of NICHD neurophysiologist Ichiji Tasaki, died Aug. 12 of heart disease. "Noko," as family and friends knew her, was the constant work companion of Dr. Tasaki, a noted researcher at NIMH and later, at NICHD. For nearly 70 years, Mrs. Tasaki worked closely with her husband, serving as his lab assistant and partner, making several important technical contributions in the field of neurophysiology. There were few days that Mrs. Tasaki was not working with her husband in his lab, and they even skipped vacations. On the day she died, she collapsed just after leaving his lab in Bldg. 13.

A native of Japan, Mrs. Tasaki attended college in Tokyo. In 1951, she and her husband came to the United States to do research at Washington University in St. Louis. In 1953, Dr. Tasaki began his career at NIH. Realizing that if she ever wanted to see her always-working husband she was going to have to join him in the lab, Mrs. Tasaki began assisting him in his experiments. Over the years, he often jokingly called her his "supervisor."

During their long research careers together, Mrs. Tasaki made many important technical contributions of her own. She developed a method of making micropipettes by hand before the process was mechanized. She and her husband used these micropipettes to make neurophysiological recordings — an innovation that enabled researchers to take readings inside the cell. The couple made the first in vivo recordings from afferent primary auditory nerves of the guinea pig. This allowed them to demonstrate that traveling mechanical waves arise in the guinea pig cochlea in response to sound pressure. It also allowed them to record cochlear microphonics, which are sounds produced by active hair cells within the ear. This work led to the development of the field of audiology, indirectly providing the basis for diagnosing and treating many hearing disorders.

When Dr. Tasaki began researching the physical and chemical processes that occur in nerve membranes, Mrs. Tasaki developed a novel method to load the tip of the intracellular electrode (which is necessary to make accurate intracellular recordings) with potassium chloride (KCl) solution. Mrs. Tasaki first filled the electrode tip with alcohol and then replaced it with KCl under a vacuum. She also was adept at micro-dissection of single axons, from which the couple made intracellular recordings. In recent years, Mrs. Tasaki focused on helping Dr. Tasaki make pH and electrical measurements of nerve properties, while continuing to help prepare solutions and wash glassware. She was especially talented at creating figures and drawings and prepared all of those in Dr. Tasaki's books and articles.

Throughout their research career, Mrs. Tasaki was a constant source of encouragement and emotional support for her husband, whose deepest desire has been to understand fundamental physical mechanisms governing nerve excitation. In addition to her husband, Mrs. Tasaki is survived by two sons, Akira Tasaki of Tsukaba, Japan, a retired physics professor, and Keiji Tasaki, an engineer who works at NASA; two grandsons; two granddaughters; and four great-grandchildren.

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