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Aldrich, First NICHD Director, Dies

Dr. Robert A. "Bob" Aldrich, NICHD's first director, died on Sept. 16 at age 80 from complications of diabetes. He served as NICHD director from March 1963 to October 1964.

Dr. Robert Aldrich

"During his brief tenure here, Dr. Aldrich helped chart the course for the NICHD," said Dr. Duane Alexander, current institute director. "I am deeply saddened by this loss and offer my sincere condolences to his friends, family and colleagues."

In 1962, Aldrich was asked by the Kennedy administration to help found and staff NICHD. While at the institute, Aldrich helped establish NICHD's research centers on the prevention and treatment of congenital and acquired disorders that cause mental retardation and other disabilities.

"The new institute is one of the most sophisticated efforts any nation has ever made in studying the progress of growth," Aldrich said in a February 1963 article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

Born in Evanston, Ill., he graduated from Amherst College in 1939, and received his doctor of medicine degree in 1944 from Northwestern University. After 21/2 years in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War, Aldrich served 3 years as a resident at the University of Minnesota hospitals, and served from 1949 to 1951 as an associate and consultant in the section on pediatrics of the Mayo Clinic. After teaching pediatrics at the University of Oregon, he moved to Seattle to chair the University of Washington Medical School's department of pediatrics in 1956, where he remained until becoming NICHD director.

After leaving NICHD, he returned to the University of Washington Medical School in 1964, to head the division of health resources and serve as president of the university's faculty senate in 1968. In 1970, he became vice president for health affairs at the University of Colorado, then returned to the University of Washington in 1980 to work in the Graduate School of Public Affairs.

He is perhaps best known for founding the organization "KidsPlace," dedicated to making cities more hospitable to the needs of children. He also wrote on the topic of making classrooms more suited to children's needs.

Aldrich was also an avid camper and steelhead angler. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Marjorie Aldrich, his sister, Cynthia Rowe, his brother Stephen Aldrich, two sons, and eight grandchildren.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Aldrich Professorship, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, 1959 N.E. Pacific Street, Seattle, WA 98195.

Research Pioneer Huebner Mourned

The NIH community mourns the passing of Dr. Robert J. Huebner, a pioneer contributor and award-winning scientist who helped shape research agendas in virology, microbiology and epidemiology during a distinguished 40-year career in the Public Health Service at NIH. Huebner, who had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for 16 years, died on Aug. 26 in a hospital in Coatsville, Pa. He was 84. He had been in a Pennsylvania nursing home since 1991.

Dr. Robert Huebner

"We are saddened by the death of Dr. Huebner," said NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci. "Under his leadership, the institute's Laboratory of Infectious Diseases became a world center for discovery and investigation of respiratory tract viruses and for the study of the oncogenic potentials of certain viruses. He was consistently in the forefront of the search for the basic causes of disease."

Huebner left NIAID as chief of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases in 1968 to become chief of NCI's Laboratory of Viral Carcinogenesis.

A native of Ohio, he earned his medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1942. During World War II, he joined the Public Health Service as a medical officer and served on a Coast Guard vessel in Alaska.

During his career at NIH from 1944 to 1982, Huebner helped isolate and describe many important microbial causes of human disease. He isolated the etiological agent and defined the epidemiology and natural history of rickettsialpox; conducted important studies of the epidemiology and transmission of Q fever; and defined coxsackie A viruses as the causative agent of herpangina.

With his colleagues, Huebner discovered and defined the hitherto unknown adenoviruses group and devised a unique concept for an oral, enteric-coated, live virus vaccine that proved highly protective against disease caused by adenovirus type 4 and type 7. He also explored viruses that cause cancer in animals in research that stimulated his formation of concepts that led to the present understanding of oncogenes.

"Working with Dr. Huebner was extraordinarily exciting," recalls Dr. Robert Chanock, chief of the Laboratory of Infectious Disease in NIAID's Division of Intramural Research. "Dr. Huebner was a risk taker. He was always willing to take huge leaps to gain scientific knowledge. He had an open mind and would listen to anyone who had an idea, no matter what station in life that person might hold. That kind of scientist is rare." Chanock was hired by Huebner in 1957 and succeeded him as laboratory chief in 1968.

"He made sure he had people in the laboratory who could fill in the gaps," adds Dr. Janet Hartley, who also came to NIAID in 1953 under Huebner's tutelage. "His knowledge and his unshakable belief in the promise of science inspired many young scientists during his long NIH tenure. The list of people he mentored forms the nucleus of science departments and medical institutions all over the world -- in Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Israel and Turkey."

Huebner was the recipient of the Presidential National Medal of Science, the PHS Distinguished Service Award, the Rockefeller Public Service Award, the Kimble Methodology Research Award and the Pasteur Medal. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1961 at a time when biomedical scientists were significantly under-represented in the academy.

Survivors include his wife, Harriet of Rockville, Md., 8 children and 11 grandchildren; 3 brothers and 4 sisters.

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