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NHLBI's Janie McClellan Retires After 42 Years

By Louise Williams

Janie McClellan says she doesn't know what she'll do now that she's retired after 42 years of government service, 30 of which were spent with NHLBI's Division of Blood Diseases and Resources (DBDR). But she doesn't sound like she'll be idle. Just a few of her plans are to: start a book club, garden, travel, spend time with her family, and become even more involved in her church and community ministries.

"I like to help people," she explained.

Helping people is what she's been doing on the job at NHLBI. She has helped countless scientists and constituents while working in DBDR's National Sickle Cell Disease Program and its thrombosis and hemostasis scientific research group (THSRG), the division's largest grant program. At the time of her retirement, she was the THSRG's program assistant.

Dr. Charles Peterson, director of NHLBI's Division of Blood Diseases and Resources, makes Janie McClellan a member of the division's Alumni Society.

Dr. Ahmed Hasan, now a program administrator in DBDR, recalled how McClellan helped him when he was still a grantee at the University of Michigan. "Before I even came here, I used to talk with Janie over the phone. She was always courteous and helpful. I developed an excellent opinion about her. She was of great help to me during my transition from academia to government service.

"I'm sorry to see her leaving for retirement," Hasan continued. "On the other hand, she deserves it. I was lucky to have her as my colleague."

McClellan, 63, was born in Litroe, a small town in northern Louisiana near the Arkansas border. At age 11, her family moved to Baltimore. She attended the all-girl Eastern High School and Baltimore Junior College.

She joined the federal government as a clerk-typist in the Civil Service Commission and then took a job at NIH, working as a ward clerk at the Clinical Center. Soon after, she returned to Baltimore to work at the Public Health Service Hospital. She served first as a unit clerk on the children's ward, then as secretary to the chief of pathology and secretary/assistant to the director of the volunteer services department.

"Working for the volunteer services department kindled an interest in me in being an advocate for the underprivileged," said McClellan. "That was the beginning of my involvement in outreach efforts."

In 1974, McClellan came back to NIH, first in the accounting department and next in the then-National Heart and Lung Institute's Sickle Cell Disease Branch. She served as secretary to the executive secretary for the national sickle cell disease advisory board and the branch's public health educator.

"I enjoyed working in the education component of the National Sickle Cell Disease Program," McClellan said. "It was meaningful work and I was able to provide educational materials to constituents, communities and universities. I helped manage the sickle cell exhibit, wrote letters, answered questions and directed constituents to the appropriate source for their needs. It's rewarding to look back and know that I made a contribution to the education effort."

McClellan also helped develop a curriculum for NHLBI's sickle cell centers and became a grant technical assistant and program assistant for the Sickle Cell Disease Branch.

Along the way, she also married — her husband, Raymond, retired after 40 years with the FDA as a chemist and program analyst — and had two sons, Carlton and Eric, both grown and pursuing careers in medicine and business.

"I'd like to travel to Portland, Oregon, to visit the grandkids," said McClellan. "I'm also blessed in that my parents are living. They reside in Baltimore and I'd like to spend more time with them."

McClellan is continuing her involvement with her church and with the Community Ministries of Rockville and of Montgomery County.

"I'm thankful for the journey," McClellan said. "I don't think of it as a goodbye to those I met over the years at NIH. I'll keep thinking of them because they were wonderful colleagues. Working in DBDR was a wonderful, unbelievable journey."

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