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NIH Record


NIH's Ophelia Harding Is Mourned
By Harriet Greenwald

Ophelia E. Harding, who retired in 1995 after 40 years of federal service spanning both clinical and administrative work at NIH, died from a severe systemic infection on Sept. 12 at Suburban Hospital. She turned 68 on Sept. 11.

Ophelia E. Harding

Widowed at 22 and left with two young daughters after her husband was killed in an accident, she then went to the Burdick School of Nursing in Washington, D.C., and in 1954 graduated first in a class of 50. In 1955, she came to NIH to work as a surgical nurse on the Clinical Center's 10 East surgical cancer research unit. Dr. Alfred S. Ketcham, chief of surgery, wrote in 1965 that she was "loved and respected by all the patients with whom she has contact; she is similarly respected by the ward physicians." Flora V. Moore, now retired from PHS, who worked with Harding at the CC, described her as the best nurse she had ever known because "she took care of the whole patient. She cared so much and showed it."

In 1972, after 17 years in nursing, she became the resident manager of the apartment house (Bldg. 20) at 120 Center Drive. She also oversaw the other NIH living quarters, consisting of three houses and six duplexes on the campus, as well as five houses at the Poolesville animal center. Because of her thoughtfulness, judgment and friendship, she and the campus residents became one extended family. Dr. Alan Rabson, deputy director, NCI, who has lived on campus a number of years, summed up all the residents' feelings: "Ophelia was a truly wonderful woman who helped all with whom she worked."

Harding received numerous citations and certificates in appreciation and recognition of her exemplary contributions to NIH. She retired in 1995 because of health problems.

Everyone who came in contact with her was struck by her indomitable faith in spite of her health problems and her devotion both to her family and to her job. She took great joy in life in good times as well as the more difficult. She will be remembered as a sincerely kind and exceptionally able person.

She is survived by her mother, Hazel Neal; two brothers, Hugh and La Verne Neal and a sister, Othella Butt; two daughters, Nancy Harding and Sharon May; and three grandsons, David Villeta and Brian and Kevin May.

NINDS Mourns Neuroimaging Pioneer Di Chiro
By Shannon E. Garnett

Dr. Giovanni Di Chiro, chief of the NINDS Neuroimaging Branch, died of cancer on Aug. 26.

Dr. Giovanni Di Chiro

An internationally recognized leader in radiological research, Di Chiro pioneered the use of advanced neuroimaging methods to study diseases of the central nervous system. Among his professional accomplishments are his contributions to imaging of cerebrospinal fluid circulation (he was the first to demonstrate, in humans, the circulation of this fluid by imaging), spinal cord arteriography (he was the first to demonstrate a spinal cord tumor using this technique), positron emission tomography (PET) of brain tumors, and nuclear magnetic resonance studies of the central nervous system.

Di Chiro was born in Vinchiaturo, Italy, in 1926. He received his doctor of medicine (summa cum laude) from the University of Naples in 1949, at the age of 23. He went on to sharpen his neuroradiologic, clinical and investigative skills in Sweden and France, and then completed his residency training at Boston City Hospital.

He returned to Naples in 1954 to organize and direct the x-ray department of the Neurological Institute at the University of Naples. In 1958 he became chief of the neuroradiology section at the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness (now NINDS). Di Chiro's section was later enlarged to become the NINDS Neuroimaging Branch. His career at NIH spanned a period of nearly 40 years.

Di Chiro helped build NIH's first PET scanner and, under his direction, both PET and MRI became established techniques at NIH. One of his major achievements was devising PET procedures for the study of glucose utilization in humans, a development that opened the door to studies of the functional anatomy of the human brain.

In addition to his extensive research duties, Di Chiro also served as professor of radiology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and clinical professor of diagnostic neurosurgery at George Washington Medical School.

His scientific achievements were recognized by many honors including the first Distinguished Scientific Medallion awarded by the Institute of Clinical PET in 1994, and the Gold Medal of the American Society of Neuroradiology in 1996.

Di Chiro was the founding editor of the Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography and led the publication to a position of prominence and respect among international radiology publications.

"In addition to his scientific accomplishments, Giovanni will be remembered for his enthusiastic support of young radiologists, his lively discussions with colleagues of research and clinical problems, and his generosity in sharing expertise and establishing collaboration," said NINDS director Dr. Zach Hall.

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