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
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
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.
Edwards Named NINDS Deputy Director of
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.