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Vol. LVII, No. 8
April 22, 2005

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Scarpa To Be Next CSR Director

Dr. Antonio Scarpa was recently named new director of the Center for Scientific Review. Currently serving as the David and Inez Myers professor and chair of the department of physiology and biophysics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Scarpa plans to join NIH on July 1.

Consulting Stakeholders
"I've been a reviewer for nearly 20 years and a grantee for 30 years, so I know the system from the outside," says Scarpa. "But I'm sure I'll be surprised when I get to work." Before making any decisions, he says he wants to listen first. "For the next 3-4 months, I will use vacation days from Case to spend some time each week at NIH, talking with everyone I can to learn first hand the needs and opportunities that exist."

Dr. Antonio Scarpa at Bernina Glacier, Swiss Alps  

Scarpa also plans on talking with members of the scientific community. Doing so should come easy, since he has been an officer or board member of many scientific societies, including the Biophysical Society, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and the Association of American Medical Colleges. Over the years, Scarpa also has served on the editorial boards of 13 scientific journals and served as editor or co-editor for 5 journals.

Managing Changes
When time comes to make decisions at CSR, Scarpa says he will rely on the scientific administration skills honed during his 18-year tenure at Case, where he oversaw the development of a small physiology and biophysics department into one now ranked among the best in the country. "I've inherited staff with enormous talent and dedication," he says. "My task is to catalyze them to make effective changes that can be embraced by all the communities served by CSR."

Coming to NIH may be a surprising move, but Scarpa has a history of advancing into new areas. Beyond his diverse research efforts, he has designed houses, owned an art gallery, sold his own paintings and trekked exotic trails in Asia and Africa. One of his treks involved hiking in the mountains of the South Island of New Zealand with his wife. They were hiking along a ridge one summer when a sudden storm left them waist deep in snow. "The temperature dropped to 10 F, winds were blowing at 50 knots," he says. "And we had over 80 lbs. of gear to carry." Though it took 15 hours, they were guided safely back by the coordinates Scarpa had carefully set into his global positioning system.

NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni greets the new CSR director.  
Scarpa knows CSR will have no choice but to explore new territories, given its evolving challenges. "But like when I go climbing, I will plan carefully," he says. "Our ultimate goal will not be to simply change things but to ensure the vitality of NIH peer review as we adjust to rapid and significant changes in science, technology and the resources available."

Until Scarpa comes aboard, Dr. Brent Stanfield will remain acting CSR director as he has since October 2003, following the departure of Dr. Ellie Ehrenfeld. Stanfield then will continue to serve as deputy director. An interview with Scarpa is available on CSR's web site:

Scarpa in Brief
Scarpa received his M.D. and Ph.D. (libera docenza) in general pathology from the University of Padua School of Medicine, and he conducted postdoctoral studies at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands, and the University of Pennsylvania. Scarpa continued his research and academic career for 17 years at the University of Pennsylvania before moving to Case Western Reserve in 1986.

He is known for his biophysical research into the cellular and molecular mechanisms of ion transport and homeostasis and the metabolic consequences induced by transport. His investigations have been supported by grants from NHLBI, NIAAA and NIDDK, as well as the American Heart Association. Scarpa has more than 225 peer-reviewed publications and has edited or co-edited 9 books or special journal supplements.

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