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Vol. LVII, No. 24
December 2, 2005

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NHLBI's Fakunding Ends Long NIH Career

Dr. John Fakunding recently retired from NHLBI, where he was director of the Heart Research Program in the Division of Heart and Vascular Diseases. He was employed at the institute for 21 years and had been with NIH since 1977.

Dr. John Fakunding receives plaque upon retiring from 21 years of service to NHLBI.  

A native of California, Fakunding received a Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics from the University of California, Davis. He went on to conduct postdoctoral training in endocrine research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. His first NIH position was in the intramural program lab of Kevin Catt at NICHD.

After leaving NICHD, Fakunding went to the Extramural Review Branch of NHLBI, where he was responsible for reviewing training and career development grant applications. After joining the Division of Heart and Vascular Diseases as a program officer, he eventually was appointed chief of the DHVD Training and Career Development Branch. In that position, he was charged with identifying training and career development needs, providing new opportunities to enhance the cardiovascular biomedical workforce and support new biomedical training programs for under-represented minority scientists. He developed such programs as the Clinical Scientist Development Award, Short-Term Training for Minority Students and the Research Scientist Award for Minority Faculty.

Fakunding's co-worker, Dr. Judith Massicot-Fisher, remembers they started their work together as HSAs in the old Cardiac Diseases Branch. She said that in the ensuing 19 years, she was continually impressed by the breadth of his knowledge in cardiovascular disease and how quickly he could pick up something new. She said Fakunding seemed unflappable no matter what happened, was always in a good humor and never said anything negative about anyone.

By Fakunding's own account, quitting smoking almost cost him a job when he sought to move to the institute's program area. He was chewing a lot of gum to compensate and, unfortunately, indulged that habit during the interview. Although the interviewer noticed, and later commented on his gum-chewing, Fakunding's knowledge, skills and abilities prevailed.

Another colleague, Dr. Momtaz Wassef, leader of DHVD's atherosclerosis scientific research group, remembers Fakunding as "quite a versatile fellow." Wassef said Fakunding spearheaded a number of significant programs and further noted that his colleague's efforts were instrumental in encouraging young and minority trainees to pursue careers in science.

Fakunding recalls, "In the early days, 20 years ago or more, we mainly worried about grants and RFA meetings. Now, large, complex programs with staff involvement dominate the landscape, and there is an increasing movement towards the support of more clinical and translational research."

He looks forward to retiring to South Carolina, where he plans to enjoy pursuing his love of golf, and long beach-front walks with his wife, Patti, and their dogs.

FIC's Hrynkow Honored by Norway

The King of Norway recently honored Dr. Sharon Hrynkow, acting director of the Fogarty International Center, for her efforts to strengthen medical research cooperation between the United States and Norway. Knut Vollebaek (r), Norwegian ambassador to the U.S., presented the King's "Order of Merit" Award during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.  

NIAID's Douek Named 'Research Leader'

Dr. Daniel Douek, chief of the Human Immunology Laboratory of NIAID's Vaccine Research Center, was recently named one of this year's Scientific American 50. The award from Scientific American honors 50 individuals and organizations whose accomplishments in research and other areas demonstrate outstanding scientific and technological leadership. The magazine's board of editors selected Douek for his contributions in clarifying how HIV infections cause disease and mortality, saying "his work shows that HIV starts in the gut, home to the largest population of the virus's preferred CD4 targets — those with a receptor called CCR5. HIV attacks and kills these cells directly early in the course of the infection." Douek's research "not only sheds light on how HIV wreaks havoc, it also suggests that HIV vaccines might do well to initiate an immune response in the gut."

Edwards Named NINDS Deputy Director of Extramural Research

Dr. Emmeline Edwards was recently appointed deputy director of the NINDS Division of Extramural Research. Before coming to NIH, she was a tenured associate professor in the departments of pharmacology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She also served as program director in the division of integrative biology and neuroscience at the National Science Foundation and was the NSF representative to the Human Brain Project from 1997 to 1999.

In January 2000, Edwards joined the NINDS extramural division as a program director in the systems and cognitive neuroscience cluster, managing a portfolio of research grants focused on accelerating progress in understanding brain function and behavior. In addition, she served as scientific team leader of the cluster and as lead organizer of the NIH Cognitive Neuroscience Consortium.

Edwards has spearheaded numerous workshops and initiatives that have advanced NINDS efforts in promoting neuroimaging, neuroethics, executive function and cognitive rehabilitation in neurological disorders. She also played an important role in the development and implementation of the NIH Roadmap, the NIH Blueprint and many other trans-NIH efforts. Additionally, she served as acting deputy director of the NINDS Division of Extramural Research from March 2004 to March 2005.

Edwards earned her master's of science degree and doctorate in neurochemistry from Fordham University and completed her postdoctoral training in behavioral pharmacology and neuroscience in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Much of her research, at SUNY and later at the University of Maryland, focused on the neurobiological mechanisms of maladaptive behaviors and behavioral genetics. She brings to her new position a strong background in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, a proven track record of management and leadership skills and deep knowledge of NINDS and NIH.

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