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Vol. LVII, No. 12
June 17, 2005

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NCI's Stephenson Ends Long Career

Patricia Stephenson recently retired after 33 years of government service, 31 at NIH and the past 18 years with the National Cancer Institute.

She started her federal career at the Department of State in 1966. During her first year as a clerk, she was selected to travel to foreign embassies to help with administrative tasks while President Lyndon Johnson met with the top leadership. She visited the U.S. Embassy in London, worked at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia, and for the undersecretary of state at the Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. The trip took her around the world.

In 1968, she left to marry and start a family.

From 1974 to 1986, she worked in various institutes, OD, NIAAA and NINDS as a secretary, technician and administrative officer. She joined NCI in 1987 and in 1996 became the deputy for the Bldg. 41 Administrative Resource Center, Office of Management, NCI. Stephenson was responsible for the day-to-day administrative activities for intramural research laboratories.

"I will truly miss and always value my NIH work experience, especially my time with the cancer institute," she said. "These past years have brought my appreciation for NCI even closer to home, being a cancer survivor. Not only have I had the pleasure to serve people, but I have also had the opportunity to receive the best care from the incredibly talented doctors at this remarkable research institution. I'm going to miss everyone, especially the people I have worked with in my current office for the past 18 years. It's like leaving family."

Stephenson's plans for retirement include taking long trips in the family's motor home, playing even more senior softball and spending more time with the loves of her life — her husband, children and five grandchildren.

NCI’s Manuel Torres Retires

Manuel J. Torres-Anjel, a program director at the Cancer Imaging Program, has retired.

In 1988, he arrived at NIH to manage the epidemiology subcommittee of the AIDS research review committee in charge of the evaluation of the AIDS clinical trial units and group, the Community Clinical Research Centers, the Woman/Infant Transmission Study and their respective statistical/data centers.

Torres then moved to NCI, where he became manager of the cancer clinical investigations review committee, which reviewed the large cancer clinical trial groups. He became a program director at the Biomedical Imaging Branch, the forerunner of the present Cancer Imaging Program. Torres organized the first imaging inter-institute meetings that nowadays are well established. He always emphasized the cordial and productive relations between review and program staffs.

He was active since their inception in the Small Business Innovative Research and STTR programs, attending national conferences and giving "one-on-one" sessions all over the country.

Torres was also an active member of the EEO community at NIH; he was known for the motto, "Women and minorities, and particularly the women of the minorities."

Torres is a graduate of the National University of Colombia, with professional and graduate studies at Tulane, Michigan State and the University of California, Davis. He has written more than 200 publications, many in peer-reviewed journals. Torres is also a published poet and fiction writer.

Torres has also done hospice work through Hospice Caring of Montgomery County, with emphasis on Hispanic patients at the Clinical Center.

Burke Says Goodbye After 41 Years

"The intramural program has been a place in which scientists are encouraged to explore new avenues of research, to do things that are hard or even impossible to do in other venues," said Dr. Robert E. Burke, senior investigator in the Laboratory of Neural Control, NINDS. "This is a privilege few scientists experience and I will treasure it always."

Burke, who recently retired after 41 years of service — all with NINDS — received his undergraduate degree from St. Bonaventure University in New York in 1956, and his medical degree with honors from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1961.

He was led to pursue a career in neurology research during his first year of medical school via the influence of his neuroanatomy professor, Dr. Wilbur Smith. Burke describes Smith as "a charismatic individual who inspired even the majority of students who had no special interest in neurology." In fact, Burke was so inspired that he spent the following summer as a student fellow in Smith's lab, studying autonomic reflexes. He enjoyed the experience so much that he took a year off to work in Smith's lab again on a project involving supraspinal control of monosynaptic reflexes in cat spinal cord.

During that time, another professor, Dr. Lucy Frank Squire, became aware of Burke's spinal cord research and suggested he contact her brother, Dr. Karl "Kay" Frank, a world renowned neurophysiologist at NIH. Frank, who was one of only two scientists doing intracellular recording in the spinal cord, invited Burke to visit NIH, which turned out to be a "life-changing event" for the young scientist. Frank gave Burke an open invitation to join his lab and 6 years later, after completing his residency in medicine and neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Burke joined the spinal cord section of NINDB (now NINDS) as a Public Health Service research associate.

"NIH is now very different from what it was in the 1960's," said Burke. "Back then, NIH was expanding, many senior scientists had arrived relatively recently, and there was tremendous intellectual ferment, not least because of the influx of large numbers of young physicians like myself. The atmosphere was one of intellectual freedom where one was encouraged to try new things. Many of my friends went on to distinguished careers in academic medicine and biomedical research elsewhere but relatively few of us stayed on here. I did so because the intramural program in NINDS was an ideal venue for the kind of exploratory, hands-on science that I wanted to do. It remained so for most of my time here, for which I am most grateful."

Burke moved to the Laboratory of Neurophysiology in 1968, and later became a medical officer in the Laboratory of Neural Control in 1969. He served as chief of that laboratory from 1975 until December 2004, and became senior investigator there in January 2005 — the position he held at retirement.

"At age 70, with 41 years on the job, many people would say that retirement is overdue," said Burke. "I will miss most my friends of many years and our discussions of shared memories and present gripes. I will also miss the daily interactions with my colleagues in the lab, and especially our weekly free-for-all lab meetings."

In retirement, Burke and his wife plan to move to Taos, N.M., which he describes as an interesting community surrounded by magnificent scenery. There his wife will continue her writing career and Burke will pursue a life-long interest in astronomy. "I would hope that someday you will see some of my astro-photographs in Sky and Telescope magazine," he said.

OD’s Jo Prather Is Mourned

Josephine Prather, an NIH staff member for almost 43 years, died Mar. 11. She had retired from NIH in February 2002.

Prather began her federal service — all spent at NIH — in 1959 at the Clinical Center, as a clerk-typist. More than 23 years later, in November 1983, she accepted a file clerk position in the Office of the Director. She moved into higher positions in OD and in 1994 was selected as one of the first technical information specialists to work in the Executive Secretariat, NIH director's files, where she served until her retirement.

Throughout her career, Prather sought knowledge about the broad activities of NIH programs. This helped ensure that information would be readily accessible to future generations of scholars and government staff members through searches of official records. But an equally important contribution to NIH was her skill at mentoring new employees. She leaves a long and deep NIH legacy, as she contributed to both program and human resources.

While Prather's dedication to her work was unquestionable, she was even more dedicated to her family, especially her two granddaughters, Ashley and Sydni. In addition to them, she is survived by her mother, Lucille McDonald; two children, Stephanie Davidson and Brent Prather; her sister, Burnetta Washington; and her brother, Russell Palmer. Prather saw the opportunity to devote more time to her family as one of the biggest benefits of retirement. She was also involved in the life of her church — Seneca Community Church in Germantown, Md., where she served for many years as president of the senior usher board. In the last 2 years, she also had found great enjoyment in the African American Book Club in Gaithersburg.

Hackett Takes DAIT Post

Dr. Chuck Hackett was recently appointed deputy director of NIAID's Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation. Since joining DAIT in 1996, he has served as head of the molecular and structural immunology section in the Basic Immunology Branch and later as chief of the Asthma, Allergy, and Inflammation Branch. Before coming to NIH, he served on the faculties of the Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania, and as director of cellular immunology at ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corp., in Palo Alto, Calif.

CSR’s Dhindsa Inducted into College of Fellows

Dr. Dharam S. Dhindsa
(c) of the Center for Scientific Review was inducted recently into the College of Fellows at the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). He was honored for "significant contributions to public service." He is congratulated by Dr. Don Giddens (l), president of AIMBE, and Dr. Kenneth Diller, chair of AIMBE's College of Fellows. Dhindsa joined the NIH Division of Research Grants (now CSR) about 30 years ago to coordinate the reviews of grant applications for the reproductive biology study section. From 1984 to 2004, he also served as a referral officer. In 2004, he became deputy chief of the surgical sciences, biomedical imaging and bioengineering integrated review group. He has also coordinated the reviews of the bioengineering technology and surgical sciences study section since 2003.

Condon Receives Federal Executive Honor

Dr. Timothy Condon, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has received the President’s Meritorious Rank Award, an honor bestowed each year on a small group of career senior executives for their long-term accomplishments. In addition to his duties as deputy director, he serves as director of the institute’s Office of Science Policy and Communications.

Chin Named NIDCD Branch Chief

Dr. Ling Chin has been named chief of NIDCD's new Translational Research Branch, Division of Scientific Programs. She will develop a program that links the institute's research developments with tangible, real-world applications. Translational research is "bench-to-bedside" research that transfers knowledge from basic studies to practical advances in health care, as well as "bedside-to-practice" research to bring research results to implementation in a timely manner.

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