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NIH Record News Briefs

Day Care Board Seeks Nominations

Since its inception in 1992, the NIH day care oversight board has sought to: ensure that day care programs and access to day care facilities are fairly administered, identify areas of employee concern and recommend solutions and serve as a forum for discussion of NIH day care issues.

The board is seeking volunteers to serve for a 3-year term. Membership is open to federal employees who work on the NIH campus or off-site facilities. Currently, the board meets monthly for 2 hours. Attendance at these meetings is critical. Those interested in serving may self-nominate for membership by sending a letter cosigned by their supervisor to the Director, DSFM, EPS/Suite 200. Include your name, NIH mailing address, IC, branch, section, job title and a brief biographical sketch. Also, describe why you wish to serve on the board and specify any special concerns or interests related to day care.

Membership is an official duty and may be included as a noncritical element on an employee's performance plan. Members are selected to be representative of the diverse NIH population. Voting members may not have a financial interest in NIH-sponsored day care, except that they may have a dependent enrolled in NIH day care programs.

For more information, contact Chris Steyer, 496-0436 or Carol Wigglesworth, 402-5913

Health Benefits Fair, Nov. 24

In conjunction with the 1998 Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Open Season, which runs from Monday, Nov. 9 through Monday, Dec. 14, the Retirement and Benefits Service Center is sponsoring a Health Benefits Open Season Fair. The fair will be held in Wilson Hall, Bldg. 1 on Tuesday, Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Representatives from most of the plans that are available to NIH employees will be on hand to answer questions about their 1999 benefits.

'Paperless' Council Meetings

The National Advisory Dental Research Council has begun conducting paperless meetings by having members refer to council materials online, essentially eliminating 10 books containing 500 pages of summary statements and other printed material. At the meetings, each council member is supplied with a laptop computer, part of a specially created temporary network that allows independent access to the Internet. By accessing a secure Web site called the NIDR Electronic Council Reference Page, members can retrieve the agenda, concept clearances, en bloc voting list, the NIH Electronic Council Book, and other materials. Summary statements are also available just by clicking on the corresponding project number from the en bloc list. The site also eliminates the need to mail printed materials prior to the meeting.

Management Cadre Program Hails Graduates, Solicits Recruits

NICHD deputy director Dr. Yvonne Maddox (l) gives remarks at the NIH Management Cadre Program graduation ceremony held at the Lawton Chiles International House on Sept. 17. Administered by the Division of Workforce Development and the leadership development committee, MCP is designed to train highly motivated NIH employees currently at the GS 12, 13 or 14 level to help meet future leadership staffing needs at NIH. The 18-month program provides a combination of on-the-job training, academic courses, and selected assignments to prepare individuals to compete for advancement and/or career changes to leadership positions that are primarily administrative or managerial. Valeria Shropshire (below, c) a member of the MCP class of 1998, traveled from NIEHS's campus in North Carolina to receive her certificate. Congratulating her are Steve Benowitz, director of NIH's Office of Human Resources Management, and Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, NIH deputy director. The 1998/99 MCP is now recruiting employees at grades 12, 13 or 14, who have been in a career or career-conditional full-time appointment for at least 1 year prior to Dec. 4, 1998. Application packages are available online at or by interoffice mail (to request a mailing, call DWD at 496-6211). Completed applications are due by close of business Dec. 4. For more information, contact Pauline Irwin, 402-3385 or email

Designer Mice Offer New Look at Osteoporosis

Scientists at the National Institute of Dental Research have produced genetically engineered mice that mimic many of the symptoms of human osteoporosis. The mice are missing the gene that codes for a bone protein called biglycan. The animals form less bone than their normal counterparts, and eventually develop bone pathology similar to that observed in osteoporosis patients.

The animal model is significant in two respects -- it identifies a gene that may be a risk factor for developing osteoporosis, and it provides a new testing ground for potential osteoporosis therapies. The study appeared in the September issue of Nature Genetics.

Osteoporosis is a disease marked by gradual bone loss and affects about 25 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women. Postmenopausal women are particularly susceptible because diminished estrogen levels speed up bone loss.

FAES Concerts Set, Nov. 8, 15

The FAES Chamber Music Series will present the Vienna Virtuosi at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 8 in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. On Sunday, Nov. 15 at the same hour and venue, FAES presents Trio di Parma. Tickets for each concert are $20 at the door; $10 for students and fellows. For more information call 496-7975.

Thrift Savings Plan Open Season

The Thrift Savings Plan is having another open season from Nov. 15, 1998, through Jan. 31, 1999. FERS employees who were hired before July 1, 1998, as well as CSRS employees have an opportunity to change their current election, or make an initial election.

Eligible FERS and CSRS employees may elect to contribute to the G fund (government securities), C fund (stocks), and/or F fund (bonds). FERS employees may contribute up to 10 percent of their salary each pay period and will receive matching agency contributions on the first 5 percent. CSRS employees may contribute up to 5 percent of salary, but do not receive any matching contributions. FERS employees who do not contribute receive an automatic 1 percent agency contribution each pay period. They may choose to distribute this among the three funds.

The features of the plan and directions on how to make a plan election or to change your current withholding are described in the Thrift Savings Plan Open Season leaflet, which will be distributed to eligible employees by their IC personnel office. More detailed information is provided in the Summary of the Thrift Savings Plan for Federal Employees booklet and is available in your IC personnel office.

Tool Available for Selecting Health Plan

Decision Innovations, Inc., a health care technology company, has created a Web-based decision support tool for federal employees selecting health plans. NIH's Office of Human Resource Management, Work and Family Life Center, and OPM have joined forces to acquire access to PlanSmartChoice, which will be available to all federal employees in five locations: Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and North Carolina.

PlanSmartChoice allows users to select health plan features and benefits that are important to them. The program then asks the user to rate these attributes and make some trade-off decisions. As the user goes through this exercise, the software builds a profile of that person's needs and preferences. It then matches this "preference profile" to all plans available in that individual's zip code. PlanSmartChoice shows the users every plan available and, in priority order, tells which plans best match their needs. The tool then allows the user to compare any available plans in a matrix.

PlanSmartChoice will be available to NIH'ers during Open Season through the Web site, under the button "Help Me Choose a Health Plan." It will also be available directly through

Annual Leave: Use It or Lose It

Annual leave in excess of the maximum carryover balance (in most cases 240 hours) is normally forfeited if not used by the end of the current leave year. If you have not already planned to take those excess hours of annual leave, you should discuss your leave with your supervisor now while there is still time to schedule it. Your biweekly Earnings and Leave Statement tells you how much annual leave you must use so that you will not lose it when the leave year ends on Saturday, Jan. 2, 1999.

In spite of planning, circumstances sometimes arise that prevent you from taking leave that has been scheduled and approved earlier during the leave year. In such cases, you and your supervisor are jointly responsible for ensuring that any "use or lose" leave is rescheduled in writing. This year, your use or lose leave must be scheduled in writing not later than Saturday, Nov. 21.

Should you or your supervisor have questions regarding use or lose leave, contact your human resource office or other official designated by your institute or center.

Wednesday Afternoon Lectures

The Wednesday Afternoon Lecture series -- normally held on its namesake day at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10 -- switches to Monday on Nov. 9 when Dr. James Watson gives the first Stetten Museum/NHGRI History of Genetics Lecture, "From the Double Helix to the Human Genome Project." Time remains 3 p.m., as does venue, Masur. Watson is president, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York.

A special Thursday lecture will be held Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. in Masur when Dr. Philip A. Beachy discusses "Hedgehog Protein Biogenesis and Signaling." He is professor, department of molecular biology and genetics, and HHMI associate investigator at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

On Nov. 18, Dr. Carol L. Prives, professor, department of biological sciences, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, gives the NIH Director's Margaret Pittman Lecture: "Signaling to the p53 Tumor Suppressor Protein."

For more information or for reasonable accommodation, call Hilda Madine, 594-5595.

Meeting on Gene Therapy for Arthritis

Gene Therapy of Arthritis and Related Disorders 1st International Meeting will be held Dec. 2-3 at the Natcher Conference Center. Organizers include Dr. Chris Evans of the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Susana Serrate-Sztein, NIAMS. The meeting will convene a group of international scientists working on the development and application of gene therapy technologies for the treatment of arthritis and related disorders.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is Nov. 6, and the registration deadline is Nov. 20. NIH'ers are not required to pay the registration fee, but will be asked to pay $15 for food and beverage. For information and to register, call Dr. Joan Chapdelaine at (717) 585-2211, fax (717) 585-2383. For the preliminary agenda, see the NIAMS Web site at

Auction Donations Sought

The Clinical Center department of clinical pathology has hosted a holiday fund-raiser auction to benefit the Patient Emergency Fund and Friends of the Clinical Center for 26 years. NIH'ers are asked to volunteer their services or donate items to this annual event. All donations are tax deductible. This year's version will be held Friday, Dec. 4 in Bldg. 10, Rm. 2C310 conference room and library. A coffee and bake sale begin the event at 9 a.m., followed by a silent auction and white elephant sale at 11, and pizza on sale at 11:30. The silent auction ends at 2 p.m. To make donations call Sallie Seymour, 496-3386, or Norma Ruschell, 496-4473.

NCMA Holds Seminar

The Bethesda/Medical chapter of the National Contract Management Association is hosting a "FAR Part 15 Rewrite Seminar" on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Natcher Conf. Rm. C 1/2. Speakers include Melissa D. Rider, Department of Defense, and Ida M. Ustad, General Services Administration. Registration is required. For more information call Karen Padmore, (301) 299-8655.

Open Season for FAES Insurance

The FAES Health Insurance Program is holding an open season Nov. 2-25. The program is open to those who work for or at NIH in full-time positions but are not eligible for government plans. This includes NIH fellows, special volunteers, guest researchers, contractors and full-time temporary personnel. The minimum enrollment period is 3 months. Open season is for those who did not enroll when first eligible and for current subscribers to make changes. FAES offers two programs this year: Blue Cross/Blue Shield Select Preferred Provider Plan, and Innovation Health, a health maintenance organization. Information about rates and benefits, effective Jan. 1, 1999, may be obtained from the FAES business office, Bldg. 10, Rm. B1C18.

Fellowships Offer Opportunities for Research in Japan

Through arrangements made with the Fogarty International Center, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) is offering fellowships for American researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to pursue collaborative research in Japanese universities and other eligible institutions and laboratories.

The JSPS Short-term Fellowship provides for research visits of 7 to 60 days; the JSPS Short-term Postdoctoral Fellowship provides for research visits of 3 to 11 months. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and research plans must be arranged in advance with the Japanese host. The application deadline is Jan. 15, 1999.

Full announcements, application instructions and more information may be found on the FIC Web site at: Information is also available from Dr. Kathleen Michels at email:, fax: 402-0779.

Attention All NIH Fellows

Did you know that NIH has a graduate school on campus? It's part of the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences -- FAES. Did you also know that NIH fellows are encouraged to teach courses at FAES?

This is an excellent opportunity to share your knowledge with the NIH community. FAES offers a broad range of courses that you can teach, from basic and clinical sciences to languages and photography (for a complete list of FAES courses, visit

The FELCOM subcommittee on teaching is prepared to help those interested in teaching, whether you'd like to teach an entire course yourself or be a guest lecturer. To add your name to the list of possible instructors, email Kathleen Kerr ( with your areas of interest. FELCOM will use this list to organize ideas for teaching opportunities for fall 1999 and spring 2000 semesters at FAES. "We will be making suggestions to groups of fellows with similar interests and supplying possible guest lecturers," Kerr said.

NIAAA's Keller Lecture, Nov. 19

The third annual Mark Keller Honorary Lecture Series will be held Thursday, Nov. 19 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. Dr. Ting-Kai Li, distinguished professor and associate dean for research, Indiana University School of Medicine, is this year's award recipient and lecturer. His speech is entitled, "Pharmacogenetics of Responses to Alcohol and Genes That Influence Alcohol Drinking." For more information, see the NIAAA Web site at:

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