NLM's Howard Ends 41-Year Federal Career
Frances Humphrey Howard, whom many would describe as 85 years young, has retired from NLM after a long and distinguished federal career. Since 1970, she has served as special assistant to the associate director for extramural programs. In that capacity, she has helped draw attention to medical libraries, and served as a liaison between NLM and other federal agencies, the biomedical community, private nonprofit organizations and universities.
Frances Humphrey Howard
Howard was also a driving force behind the creation of NLM's National Center for Biotechnology Information, which creates automated systems for storing and analyzing knowledge about molecular biology and genetics. She was also instrumental in the founding of a private organization, the Friends of the NLM, which supports library projects.
"Fran Howard has been a dynamo," said NLM director Dr. Donald Lindberg. "The nation, including the NLM, is much indebted to her for her tireless support of scientific hope for all who need it."
Many have benefited from Howard's advocacy. For a time, she was a foreign service officer at the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. During her time with AID and the Office of the War on Hunger, she made more than 75 speeches during a 30-country tour on foreign aid.
Frances Humphrey graduated from George Washington University in 1937 with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology. Five years later she married a classmate, Ray Howard. Both were intensely interested in health and social welfare issues, and she earned her master's in sociology while he went through medical school.
In 1941, she became First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's assistant for employee activities in the National Civil Defense Office. Mrs. Roosevelt was one of the most influential figures in Frances Humphrey Howard's life. Another with whom she had a special bond was her brother, the late Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr. She assisted in his political campaigns and, among other collaborations, joined with him to develop the Peace Corps program while she was an assistant at the International Cooperation Agency (later AID).
After she was widowed in 1967, Howard continued in her civil service and international efforts, receiving numerous citations, awards and honorary degrees. She worked for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (now HHS) during the Nixon Administration and finally ended up at NLM.
She was a trendsetter in her time, pursuing a career and having a family. And she continued to break the mold in later life, working long past retirement age. As First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton remarked in a letter of congratulations on Howard's 85th birthday, "Young and old, rich and poor, healthy and infirm have benefited from Frances' strength, wisdom and resolve. She gives new meaning to the term 'the good citizen.'"
NLM's Spann Retires After 35 Years of Service
Dr. Melvin L. Spann, associate director for specialized information services (SIS) at the National Library of Medicine, recently retired from the library, where he worked since 1976, after 35 years of government service.
SIS is responsible for information coverage and services for several areas, including toxicology and environmental health, HIV/AIDS, and directories to other information resources concerning health and biomedicine.
"During his tenure, Mel Spann was responsible for the evolution of a variety of important computer-based files at the NLM," remarked NLM director Dr. Donald Lindberg. "TOXLINE, of course, is the oldest and largest. He vigorously pushed for the development of training aids, both conventional and microcomputer-based."
These two interests came together when Spann was asked to establish and direct NLM's toxicology information outreach project to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This program was designed to increase the capacity of HBCUs to train medical and other health professionals to utilize NLM's toxicological, environmental and hazardous wastes information resources.
"I couldn't think of an individual who would be better qualified for that assignment than Mel Spann," Lindberg noted. "First, he had the scientific background he was trained in chemistry, toxicology and information retrieval. Second, he had developed and nurtured the very specialized databases that are being used in the project. And third, he had demonstrated an acute awareness of and concern for the plight of those Americans whose health was most at risk from pollution and environmental hazardous waste."
Spann joined NLM in 1976 as a chemist/information specialist. Two years later, he was appointed chief of the SIS Biomedical Information Services Branch, a position he held until becoming NLM associate director for SIS in 1995.
He received the NIH Merit Award in 1978 and the NIH Director's Award in 1984. He received the Outstanding Manager Award from the NIH chapter of Blacks in Government in 1987 for his "outstanding record of commitment to career mobility for minorities and women, acting as a mentor and role model for the next generation of employees." And he was presented with NLM's Phillip C. Coleman Award in 1995 "for continuing leadership through mentoring, dedication, and commitment to the goals of NLM."
NIGMS' Shafer Retires After 25 Years of Service
By Susan Athey
Dr. W. Sue Shafer, deputy director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, recently retired after 25 years of government service, most of which were spent at NIGMS. At the time of her retirement, she was also director of the NIGMS Division of Extramural Activities, a position she had held since 1989.
"Sue Shafer has been an essential part of this institute for so long that it is very difficult to imagine life without her," said Dr. Marvin Cassman, NIGMS director. "Her official duties were only a small part of her contributions to NIGMS. Perhaps even more valuable was her ability to deal with problems any problems in an intelligent and often unexpected way. We will all miss her presence, both personally and professionally."
Dr. W. Sue Shafer
Shafer, who identified herself as "the first person hired by Dr. Ruth Kirschstein when she became director of NIGMS," came to NIH in 1974 as a health scientist administrator in the Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease Program of NIGMS. In 1978, she became chief of the instrumentation section of the NIGMS Physiology and Biomedical Engineering Program. Her section's mission was enlarged in 1980 to include biomedical engineering. During her tenure in this position, Shafer assisted with the development of the NIGMS Shared Instrumentation Program, which provided funds for the purchase or upgrade of major analytical research instruments that might not be justifiable for a single project, but that could serve several projects on a shared basis. This highly successful program has served as a model for similar initiatives at NIH and elsewhere.
In 1983, Shafer joined what is now the National Center for Research Resources as chief of the Office of Program Planning and Evaluation. She directed activities that led to the creation of a new section within the Animal Resources Program to support biological models and materials needed for biomedical research, and she completed evaluations of the Biomedical Research Support Grant Program and the Minority Biomedical Research Support Program, which has since moved to NIGMS.
In 1987, feeling she was moving "too far away from the science," Shafer moved to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, serving first as deputy director of the Division of Basic Research and then as the division's acting director. While at NIAAA, Shafer assisted with the setup of the Division of Prevention and Treatment and the extramural arm of the Division of Epidemiology. She also helped to launch a major program that examined the genetics of alcoholism.
"All of us at NIAAA remember Dr. Shafer's contributions to our science program, especially her role in shaping our successful 10-year-old Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism," noted Dr. Enoch Gordis, NIAAA director.
Shafer returned to NIGMS in 1989 as director of the Division of Extramural Activities. Under her leadership, the division established a National Research Service Award Payback Service Center that serves several NIH components. In 1997, she was named NIGMS' deputy director.
Throughout her government career, Shafer worked to increase the number of minority and female scientists engaged in biomedical research. She made significant accomplishments in reshaping the institute's minority programs and their funding mechanisms. "Watching other people grow and succeed has been the most rewarding part of each of my jobs," Shafer noted.
During her tenure at NIH, Shafer became widely recognized by members of the NIH community and by her peers in the extramural community for her contributions to both NIGMS, and NIH as a whole.
"Sue Shafer was a very creative scientific administrator, and was highly esteemed by scientists in the academic community and by all of us at NIH," said Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, NIH deputy director. "I will miss her deeply as a colleague, a dear friend, and as one of the nicest people I know."
Shafer represented NIGMS as a member of the NIH extramural program management committee and served on numerous other NIH committees.
Among her numerous honors are a DHHS Executive Management Award, two NIH Director's Awards, an NIH Quality of Work Life Award, and most recently a Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award.
Although she has officially retired from government service, Shafer has not retired from scientific leadership and grants administration. She left NIH for the University of California, San Francisco, where she will serve as assistant vice chancellor for research administration. She said the two things she will miss most about NIH, and NIGMS in particular, as she ventures to a new life on the West Coast are the people she has worked with over the years and a sense of contributing to something important at the national level.
CSR's Nabeeh Mourad Retires
Dr. Nabeeh Mourad has retired from the federal government after 25 years of service, primarily at NIH. Since 1986, he has been at the Center for Scientific Review, where he was scientific review administrator of special study section 4 in the immunological sciences integrated review group. This section reviews small business innovative research grant applications as well as other specialized applications in the areas of immunology, virology, immunochemistry, oncogenesis, mathematical modeling of immunological systems and regional equipment resources.
Dr. Nabeeh Mourad
Prior to joining CSR, Mourad was scientific review administrator of a contract review committee in the National Cancer Institute from 1983 to 1986; and coordinator of the hematology and pathology section of the Food and Drug Administration's Division of Clinical Devices from1980 to 1983. Before that, he spent 8 years as director of a clinical laboratory, followed by 5 years as a chemist with the FDA.
Mourad received a Ph.D. in pharmacy and biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin. Then as a postdoctoral student in biochemistry at Brown University, he became the first person to crystallize the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme from human liver, and published the results. Following his postdoctoral experiences, he worked with the American Red Cross as an independent research scientist. There he discovered that platelet concentrates could be maintained for up to 4 days at room temperature without damage; previously, more than 20 percent of platelets given to patients were damaged during refrigerated preparation.
Mourad has enjoyed his position at CSR, and feels that he has contributed significantly to the scientific community. He leaves NIH with mixed feelings. He will miss the daily contact with colleagues and friends, but can now concentrate on his hobbies and interests in wine making, painting, gardening, swimming, traveling and the stock market.
OD's Ed Driscoll Ends Long NIH Career
Edward "Ed" Driscoll, special assistant to the NIH associate director for communications and public liaison, retired Nov. 1 after more than 27 years of federal service. Previously he was chief of the Editorial Operations Branch, OD, since 1986 and assistant branch chief for 10 years before that.
"I found my position in the information field to be most rewarding. NIH is at the forefront of biomedical research and I could keep abreast of the latest developments in medicine," he remarked.
Driscoll began his NIH career in April 1971 as a staff writer on the NIH Record. With the exception of a 2-year break in private industry, he was in the same office Bldg. 31, Rm. 2B03 for his entire career. He left NIH in 1974 and returned in 1976 as assistant chief of the EOB.
Previously he served with the U.S. Naval Air Reserves from 1965 to 1970 and spent a year with the U.S. Postal Service from 1964 to 1965.
Driscoll graduated from the University of Maryland in 1970 with a double major journalism and English. He also did graduate work in public relations at American University. He was an official with the Frederick County Umpires Association for 5 years.
He will settle in southern Maryland near Point Lookout. "I hope to do a lot of fishing I will be able to walk out my back door and drop a line in the Potomac," he said.
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