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Vol. LVII, No. 18
September 9, 2005
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NIDDK's Hammond Retires After 25 Years

Dr. Bob Hammond has always had one goal — to advance scientific knowledge. But his career has taken paths different from those usually followed by Ph.D. biologists with a complement of postdoctoral fellowships. On his way to becoming director of NIDDK's Division of Extramural Affairs, he tried various routes to the scientific life and learned something from each experience.

 
Dr. Bob Hammond recently retired after 25 years of service.  
Hammond says his "very broad interests" made working at the bench unsatisfying. "The lab was too narrow for me," he confesses. When he concluded a postdoc in Great Britain in 1975, he turned to teaching undergraduate biology, which he loved, but soon realized that as an academic he would have to specialize. He left Virginia's George Mason University in 1980 to become executive secretary of special review committees in NCI's Grants Review Branch.

"I loved review, and I found that teaching skills — distilling information and communicating it clearly — were handy in a review group," he explains.

After a short stint at NIA in the mid-1980s, Hammond returned to NCI as chief of Research Programs Review in 1986, and became chief of NIDDK's Review Branch in 1989. In 1996, he returned to NCI when its director set up working groups to review intramural administrative activities and programs. "Review at NCI covered so many different areas that I began to appreciate its real impact on science," he said. He also began to realize the impact of funding mechanisms, and found that creative use of existing mechanisms could accomplish funding for projects that would otherwise go begging.

One of his proudest achievements at NCI, he says, was helping facilitate funding for technology development. These applications are typically not hypothesis-driven, and therefore do poorly in traditional study sections. To address this need, Hammond and colleagues developed a "phased innovation award." The new award paired a planning grant designed to conclude with identified milestones with a second grant that then allowed the work to move forward without delay. Still subject to rigorous peer review, Hammond explains, proposals now can be solicited and submitted using an application appropriate for exploratory/developmental projects.

A gift for collaboration and a soft-spoken demeanor brought Hammond the responsibility to chair numerous NIH panels and working groups. Over the years, he sought solutions on topics ranging from computer systems, minority affairs and research integrity to molecular signatures and Title 42. This trans-NIH effort was in addition to sitting on a variety of committees focused on management, review and grants. More recently, he was a member of the NIH stem cell task force. Over the years, he found less and less time for favorite pastimes: reading the Southern writers he loves, or jamming with bluegrass groups or playing classical mandolin.

But all of the work experience contributed to his being the right man for his next move, a job he describes as "the complete position." In 1999, he became NIDDK's director of the Division of Extramural Activities, which incorporated review, grants management and contracts.

"I had fantastic support in (NIDDK director) Allen Spiegel, who recognized that DEA was a coordinating division, not simply an administrative group," Hammond says.

Among the innovations he introduced was a system that corralled onto a CD information for advisory council meetings that previously filled thick notebooks and spreadsheets.

Spiegel calls Hammond an outstanding NIH scientist/administrator who will be missed, but not forgotten. "He has in-depth knowledge of NIH processes and mechanisms, meticulous attention to detail and keen insight into how best to support and advance the biomedical research enterprise. It's a rare combination," Spiegel says.

Dave Mineo, chief of NIDDK's Grant Management Office, has worked for nine DEA directors while at NIH. He describes Hammond as "one of the best — an outstanding leader by any measure." Other colleagues call him "a consummate professional" and "a joy to work with."

"Bob's gentle, yet highly effective demeanor has allowed him time and again to achieve consensus and develop solutions to complex and often contentious issues," says Spiegel.

Although Hammond says it's been a privilege to be able to advance science as a public servant, he now needs the flexibility to pursue broader goals such as working with external groups to promote partnerships among government, academia and industry to facilitate research. "I'm not retiring so much as switching jobs," he explains.

He also hopes to have more time with his wife and two teenage daughters. With any luck, he'll also have time to read Truman Capote and maybe return to the bluegrass band he loved years ago. "I want to keep my chops up, as they say," he laughs.

NIMH Lab Chief Giulio Cantoni Dies

 
Dr. Giulio Cantoni  
Dr. Giulio Cantoni, who served as founding chief of National Institute of Mental Health's intramural Laboratory of General and Comparative Biochemistry from 1954 to 1994, and as the founding music director of the FAES Chamber Music Series, died July 27 at age 89.

A Jewish refugee from Mussolini's Italy, Cantoni pioneered understanding of methylation, a key chemical reaction increasingly appreciated as the switch that turns genes on and off in biological processes ranging from cancer metastasis to nurture's influence on nature in shaping stress reactivity.

Cantoni's discovery of the activating enzyme and intermediate compound in the methylation process, s-adenosylmethionine, was recognized in his election to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1983. An accomplished flute player, he remained active until his death in programs to bring classical music to the NIH campus, inaugurating the FAES series in 1968.

Soon after graduating from the University of Milan medical school in 1939, Cantoni fled fascist Italy for England in hopes of emigrating to the United States. But Italy declared war on Britain the day before his ship was set to sail to America in 1940, and he was detained as an enemy alien and sent to Canada as a prisoner of war. Only after protests were lodged was he eventually released to Cuba, and only with help from his old friend, the renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini, did he finally gain admittance to the U.S., arriving in New York just weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Cantoni later recounted his story in a book, From Milan to New York by Way of Hell: Fascism and the Odyssey of a Young Italian Jew.

He resumed his scientific career in the mid-1940s at New York University, where he studied the workings of streptococcal toxins. After stints at the University of Michigan and Long Island College of Medicine, he began unraveling the mechanisms of methylation while an American Cancer Society senior fellow in the late 1940s, joining Cleveland's Western Reserve University as an associate professor of pharmacology in 1950.

He arrived at NIH in 1954, establishing one of the first laboratories in the then fledgling NIMH Intramural Research Program, where he worked initially in the newly opened Clinical Center. He focused on a fundamental, but then still mysterious chemical reaction: how the amino acid methionine gets converted to a compound that can donate parts of itself, methyl groups, to a host of other compounds — a ubiquitous event in biology.

"Everyone knew it occurred, but didn't know how," recalled his longtime NIMH colleague Dr. Louis Sokoloff. Cantoni showed that s-adenosylmethionine, or AdoMet, is the pivotal player in this unusual reaction. He dedicated his career to illuminating many other secrets of the methylation process, most notably how the attachment and detachment of methyl groups play a central role in biological processes by turning genes on and off.

Cantoni was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Italian Academy of Sciences. In 1991, a symposium at NIH on "AdoMet and Biological Methylation" was held in his honor.

NHLBI's Gant-Hodnett Retires After 31 Years at HHS

Jean Gant-Hodnett recently retired from her position as a program specialist in the NHLBI Office of the Director. In her 31 years of government service, Gant-Hodnett worked for the CDC in Atlanta, the Indian Health Service, FDA/CBER, SAMHSA, NIAAA and the NIH OD Office of Human Resources. Since joining NHLBI in 2002, she provided administrative support in the office of the institute's director.

Of all of the HHS agencies where she was employed, Gant-Hodnett says that her years at NIH were the happiest because they generated many life-long friendships. In retirement, she plans to relocate to the Virginia Beach/Tidewater area with her husband, who has a large family there.

First Mansfield Fellow To Represent NIH

 
Dr. Deirdre M. Lawrence  
Dr. Deirdre M. Lawrence, an epidemiologist in the Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch, Division of Cancer Control and Population Science, NCI, has been selected as a Mansfield fellow. A graduate of Spelman College, she received her Ph.D. in toxicology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her M.P.H. from Harvard University. She is the first NIH scientist to be awarded the Mansfield fellowship.

The Mike Mansfield Fellowship, an intensive 2-year program established by Congress in 1994, enables a select group of federal employees to develop an in-depth understanding of Japan and its government. The fellowships are administered by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation through an annual congressional appropriation, with the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as grantor. Additional support comes from the government of Japan, Northwest Airlines and the Toshiba International Foundation.

Lawrence was selected for the fellowship program by a bi-national committee. This month, she will begin 10 months of full-time Japanese language and area studies training in the Washington, D.C., area, which will be followed by 1 year in Japan, working in a ministry or agency of its government. During her year there, Lawrence plans to gain an understanding of Japan's procedures for developing, implementing and evaluating its national health policies, especially cancer control policies. "I am especially interested in learning how Japan is working to reduce tobacco use and other lifestyle risk factors that are related to diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes," she said.

For more information about the fellowship, visit http://www.mansfieldfdn.org/fellow/fellow.htm.

PHS Honors NHLBI's Mishoe

Capt. Helena O. Mishoe was recently selected as Chief Professional Officer for the Scientist category. As chief scientist officer, she is responsible for providing leadership and coordination of Public Health Service scientist professional affairs for the Office of the Surgeon General and the department. She will provide guidance and advice to the Surgeon General and the scientist professional advisory committee on matters such as recruitment, retention and career development of PHS scientists. Mishoe currently serves as associate director for minority health affairs in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In this capacity, she serves as director of the Office of Minority Health Affairs, Office of the Director, NHLBI. She received her Ph.D. in microbiology from Georgetown University School of Medicine. In 1981, she joined the NIH intramural research program and moved up the ranks as staff fellow, senior staff fellow and expert in molecular biology and gene expression.


Manji Appointed Mood Program Director

Dr. Husseini Manji has been appointed director of the Mood and Anxiety Program (MAP) in the NIMH intramural program. He has served as acting director of MAP since July 2004, and is chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology in that program. Manji is a psychiatrist with a special emphasis in psychopharmacology and cellular and molecular biology. The major focus of his research is the investigation of disease- and treatment-induced changes in gene and protein expression profiles that regulate neuroplasticity and cellular resilience in mood disorders. His laboratories' scientific goals are to capitalize upon recent insights into our understanding of the signaling pathways mediating the effects of mood stabilizers in order to understand the pathophysiology of severe mood disorders and to develop improved therapeutics. He has published extensively on the molecular and cellular underpinnings of severe mood disorders and their treatments, authored numerous textbook chapters and edited a book on the mechanisms of action of various treatments for bipolar disorder. Manji serves on the advisory boards of several scientific and research organizations and is editor of two academic journals. He is also a visiting professor in the departments of psychiatry at Columbia University and Duke University.

NIGMS's Paul Wolfe Mourned

Dr. Paul B. Wolfe, a program director in the NIGMS Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology (GDB), died on July 29 of esophageal cancer. He was 54 years old.

 
Dr. Paul B. Wolfe  
During his 13-year career at NIGMS, Wolfe administered grants related to the replication, recombination and repair of DNA as well as SBIR/STTR and postdoctoral fellowship grants.

"Paul was an outstanding program director, and everyone he worked with here in the division and the investigators whose grants he handled thought very highly of him," said Dr. Judith Greenberg, GDB director. "He was extremely committed to his work; in spite of being ill, Paul still made an effort to stay connected to the institute and informed about the current scientific research of his grantees. He will truly be missed."

For several years, Wolfe led a grant writing workshop that informed NIH intramural postdoctoral fellows about the extramural NIH grant application process. He also contributed a great deal of time, encouragement and advice to grant applicants from the small business community.

A native of Cleveland, Wolfe earned a B.S. degree in biology from Elmhurst College in Illinois and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Johns Hopkins University. He conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to joining NIGMS, Wolfe was an assistant professor of biological chemistry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where his research focused on the biogenesis of membranes in yeast.

Wolfe's friends and colleagues at NIGMS remember him as a quiet, reserved man with a dry wit.

"Paul had a wonderful sense of humor and was totally dedicated not only to his family, but also to science and his grantees," said Dr. Marion Zatz, a branch chief in the division. "It is a reflection of the high regard in which he was held by his NIH colleagues that over a year of leave was donated to him in the course of his illness. His family has asked that its deep gratitude and appreciation be conveyed to the NIH community for its generosity."

An avid cyclist, Wolfe won bronze medals at the El Tour de Tucson in Arizona in 2001 and 2003. He also enjoyed sailing and hiking with his friends and family members.

Wolfe is survived by his wife, the former Phuong Mai Nguyen; four sons, Christian, Stewart, Daniel and Andrew; his mother, Marion; two brothers, David and Stewart; and a sister, Anne King.

Contributions in his memory may be sent to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care, 6701 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21204 or to the National Down Syndrome Congress, 1370 Center Drive, Suite 102, Atlanta, GA 30338. Donations should indicate that the gift is in memory of Dr. Paul B. Wolfe.

Two Honored for Nursing Research

Two NIH researchers, Dr. Susan Marden and Dr. Joachim Voss, were honored recently by the Public Health Service for their contributions to nursing research.

Dr. Susan Marden Dr. Joachim Voss
Marden, a clinical nurse scientist at NINR, was awarded the Julia R. Plotnick Publication Award for Health Policy for her article "Technology Dependence and Health-Related Quality of Life: A Model," published in Journal of Advanced Nursing in April 2005. The paper presented a new theoretical model to explain people's diverse responses to therapeutic technology.

Voss, an NINR research fellow, in collaboration with NINDS, was awarded both the Faye G. Abdellah Publication Award for Nursing Research for his article "Predictors and Correlates of Fatigue in HIV/AIDS," published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, February 2005, and the Hasselmeyer Award for Research Initiatives.

These PHS Nursing Professional Advisory Committee Awards honor the work of federal nurses. The awards were presented during the annual Nurses' Recognition Day celebration Aug. 12 at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Baltimore.

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