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NICHD Mourns Administrator Whalin
By Marianne Glass Miller
Dr. Michael E. Whalin, a scientist and administrator at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, died unexpectedly on July 5. He was 49 years old.
"All of us are shocked and saddened by Dr. Whalin's unexpected passing," said Dr. Duane Alexander, NICHD director. "Dr. Whalin was a gifted administrator who inspired teamwork and camaraderie among his colleagues. He was fair-minded, fun-loving and compassionate, and he will be greatly missed."
Born and raised in Alabama, Whalin served in the Navy from 1973 until 1977. He attended the University of South Alabama, where he received his undergraduate degree and, in 1990, his Ph.D. in basic medical sciences/pharmacology. From 1990 to 1992, Whalin was a postdoctoral fellow at the FIDIA-Georgetown Institute for the Neurosciences.
Whalin came to NICHD in 1992, joining the Division of Intramural Research as a National Research Council biotechnology/neurobiology associate. In 1995, he was an IRTA fellow in the Office of the Scientific Director, section on growth factors.
From 1998 to 2003, Whalin was a health scientist administrator in the Developmental Biology, Genetics and Teratology Branch, where he was responsible for programs on developmental genetics and genomics. During his time there, he developed a growing interest in policy issues and was recruited to spend part of his time in the institute's Office of Extramural Policy, headed by Dr. Susan Streufert. Eventually, he decided to specialize in policy, and joined Streufert's office in 2003.
At a memorial gathering in his home, friends and colleagues joined with Whalin's wife, Kate McLeon-Whalin, in sharing their remembrances of Mike, both professional and personal. Many people spoke of his love of music, particularly classical guitar. "Music was a big part of his life," said Hewitt. "Michael kept a guitar in his office. He would come in early, make a pot of strong coffee, then go into his office, close the door and practice his guitar for a while."
According to his NICHD colleagues, Whalin's knowledge and expertise, along with his great sense of humor and wit, made work easier for everyone with whom he came into contact. "Michael was always there to turn to for help and partnership," said Streufert. "This is a great loss for the whole institute. Without Michael, there's no music."
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