Cassatt Hits the Trails After 27 Years
the last 27 years, Dr. Jim Cassatt commuted
from Falls Church to NIH — sometimes traveling the roundtrip
of 38 miles on his bike. On Jan. 4, he took out the map to see
where else he'd like to go. The day before, Cassatt retired from
NIGMS as director of the Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics
"Now I'll have time to really travel," he joked, adding that he
plans to pack up his bike and hit the trails here and abroad. But
that's only after he finishes reading the book, How To Enjoy
Cassatt, 62, spent most of his career at NIH. After conducting
research on the hemoglobin protein and winning awards for his teaching
at Georgetown University School of Medicine, he switched gears.
He joined what is now the Center for Scientific Review in 1978
as scientific review administrator of the molecular and cellular
biophysics study section.
Four years later, Cassatt moved to NIGMS to administer grants
related to genetics and then to molecular structure and biophysics.
He directed CBB, as well as the program that preceded it, since
1988. The division currently has a budget of $646 million and supports
more than 1,700 research and training grants.
||Jim Cassatt in 2004 at the
finish line of an 8-day, 400-mile bike ride across New York.
Many of Cassatt's colleagues see him as a trendsetter — and
rightfully so. Aside from sporting all the coolest cycling gear,
he started many programs that the institute now considers part
of its legacy. He played an important role in creating both the
$600 million, 10-year Protein Structure Initiative and the NIGMS
Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, serving as
the center's initial (acting) director for 2 years.
As project officer for the NIH-sponsored DNA sequence database
GenBank for 7 years beginning in 1985, he oversaw its development
into a model database used by scientists worldwide. In 1992, he
engineered its transfer to NCBI, where the database now resides.
Recognizing the need for scientists trained in areas of both biology
and the physical sciences, Cassatt developed a program with the
National Science Foundation to encourage the application of mathematical
tools and approaches to the study of biology.
But Cassatt's accomplishments at NIH reach beyond the purely programmatic.
Many colleagues recognized him for his people skills, namely offering
advice and solving problems.
"My interactions with Jim predate my coming here," said Dr. Jeremy
Berg, who was an NIGMS grantee before he became the institute's
director. "My research team had a grant in CBB, and we met with
Jim for guidance. He came across as very fair-minded, clear and
judicious. My first reactions were right."
Dr. Catherine Lewis, chief of the biophysics branch in CBB, said, "You
may have thought there was no solution, but Jim always had a clever
way that was reasonable and would work."
Cassatt's talent at solving problems stemmed partly from his long
history at NIH and an extensive knowledge of the policies and culture
of the organization. But it also stemmed from his personality. "Jim
has a gift of taking the tension out of a situation," added Dr.
Michael Rogers, director of the NIGMS Division of Pharmacology,
Physiology, and Biological Chemistry and a colleague of Cassatt's
for nearly two decades. "And when he finishes, he'll ask you about
He might also extend an offer to join him on a bike ride — a
favorite activity that Cassatt actually picked up from another
NIGMS colleague. He and some of his coworkers met for casual rides
along the 45-mile Washington and Old Dominion Trail in Virginia,
which ultimately turned into training routes for 100-mile tours.
Cassatt usually brought along Twinkies and Coca-Cola, energizing
treats he craved during long rides.
When Cassatt wasn't pedaling, he might have been snapping pictures,
another hobby shared by many of his NIGMS colleagues. "In our spare
time, we talked a lot about photography," said Dr. John Norvell,
director of the PSI and one of Cassatt's longtime friends. "We
compared notes on camera equipment, and Jim always sent around
messages on the newest lenses or printers." Cassatt also shared
the final products, often taping his favorite family or vacation
photos outside his office door.
As Cassatt started to think about his future beyond NIGMS, he
said, "There are a lot of things I'll miss — helping people
solve their problems, friendly chats in the hall, the satisfaction
I felt when training fellows got their first faculty jobs and then
their first grants."
While Cassatt doubted he'd leave any lasting impression on NIGMS,
Berg differed: "With his leadership, creativity and passion, Jim
has influenced both the direction and spirit of this institute.
To his credit, CBB is in great shape as it moves forward."
NICHD Budget Officer Fried Dies After Long
Battle with Cancer
|Art Fried offers directions
to runners from the steps of Bldg. 1 at the footrace that kicked
off the 1988 Combined Federal Campaign. This was but one of
his many volunteer roles as campus citizen.
Art Fried, the longtime budget officer
for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,
died at home on Dec. 27 after a long battle with leukemia. An outgoing,
affable man who had friends across the campus, he was as much NIH
model citizen as budget official. Best known for many years as
the cheerful force behind Combined Federal Campaign kickoffs, Health's
Angels running events and blood donation campaigns, Fried said
his "good guy" role arose spontaneously: "I just couldn't say no
to anyone," he chuckled during an interview shortly before his
A native of the Bronx who lived "close enough to Yankee Stadium
that we could walk there on [baseball season] opening day," Fried
attended public high school in New Rochelle and graduated from
the University of Rochester with a degree in accounting. For the
rest of his life, a Bronx heritage or affiliation with the U of
R made anyone an instant friend.
Fried caught on with a Big 8 accounting firm right out of college — Arthur
Young (later Ernst & Young). Feeling eminently draftable for service
in Vietnam in the mid-1960's, he enlisted in the Coast Guard, with
whom he made a long career as a reservist, rising to the rank of
commander. During his 4-year stint on active duty in Miami, Fried
earned an M.B.A. from the University of Miami. "I did a lot of
work with reservists who had careers in the federal government," he
recalled. "They got me involved in the Management Intern Program
Fried arrived on campus in 1970 for a year as an MI, rotating
through four 3-month assignments that acquainted him with a then-small
NIH. "The MI program got you around NIH pretty well in those days," he
recalled. "It was a good start to an NIH career." Following the
internship, he worked briefly as a budget analyst at what was then
the National Heart Institute, and later worked for the now-defunct
Bureau of Health Manpower Education, which was a part of NIH. "Then
a good opportunity arose at Child Health," he remembered. "The
people there were just terrific, the work itself was great. Normally,
most people wouldn't stay in a job that long. But I did it." Fried
became NICHD budget officer early in 1977, which was the position
from which he would have retired on Jan. 2, ending a federal career
of some 40 years.
"Art Fried was thoroughly committed to the NIH, and to everything
it represents," said NICHD director Dr. Duane Alexander. "He was
always jovial and positive and found creative solutions to difficult
and demanding problems. He was more than willing to work the difficult
and irregular schedule required of budget officers, doing whatever
needed to be done, without a complaint."
Even though his many extracurricular activities on campus, especially
his ubiquity as a noon-hour runner in the greater NIH neighborhood,
earned him a wide acquaintance, Fried got to know this agency at
a deeper level than most when he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic
leukemia in 1994. Ironically, it was his regular blood donation
at the NIH Blood Bank that tipped him off to his illness. He kept
the diagnosis private for years, but in 1997 spoke publicly about
it in the NIH Record, crediting NIH doctors with saving
his life via cutting-edge chemotherapy.
For the past 8 years, Fried struggled with good days and bad as
the cancer alternately went into remission then recurred. "I've
been on a very gradual downward slope for a pretty long time," he
said. Reminded that he was often the first guy out of the Bldg.
31 locker room to go jogging on a 95-degree day, sometimes only
weeks after being discharged from the Clinical Center, Fried said, "I
just wanted to be an inspiration to all of you."
Since he began receiving hospice care in late November, Fried
received wave after wave of friendly visitors and callers with
his signature dry wit and positive attitude. Commenting on the
frequent visits from colleagues on the second floor of Bldg. 31's
A wing, he noted, "People have been un-be-lievable. The amount
of assistance we've had, the friendship and support, would take
a NASA-size measurement to figure out how many, many things have
been bestowed on me the last couple months. I can't begin to express
the number of people who have shown support — it's been a
love-fest, and I'm really grateful for the outpouring."
In addition to his paid and unpaid NIH work, Fried volunteered
for more than 20 years as a financial consultant to Threshold Services,
an organization involved in housing and day programs for chronically
mentally ill adults in Montgomery County. "I managed to make it
to the last board meeting," he said, noting that he was the longest-serving
volunteer for the organization.
Fried said his proudest professional accomplishment at NIH was
the people he trained. "They include two people who have become
budget officers themselves — Robyn Strachan at NIAMS and
Donna Casady, who worked for 14 years for me and is now at NIA."
He used to boast that he hadn't spent an hour of annual leave
within 200 miles of NIH in years; a family retreat at Old Saybrook,
Conn., was a favorite destination, as were the many world-wide
ski trips he enjoyed with the NIH Ski Club. A trip to Boston last
fall for his son Matt's wedding was his most recent excursion.
Pausing to reflect on life, he said, "I got to see and experience
a lot. I survived long enough to see both of my kids get married
and to get to know two grandchildren. I know there is much more
that I won't get to see, but I've been very lucky."
Fried was buried on Jan. 3 at Arlington National Cemetery. He
is survived by his wife Judy, his daughter, Carrie Mumford, and
a son, Matt Fried, and by two grandchildren.
Colleagues Mourn SIDS Research Pioneer Hunter
Jehu Callis Hunter, an NIH scientist
and administrator who studied tumor biology and helped establish
NICHD programs in maternal and child health, died Dec. 7 at age
"Jehu Hunter was an exceptional scientist who was instrumental
in establishing many of the NICHD's research programs," said institute
director Dr. Duane Alexander. "He was revered by his colleagues,
for whom he always had time, no matter how busy he was."
Before retiring from NICHD in 1979, Hunter served as assistant
director of program development in the institute's Center for Research
for Mothers and Children. In that capacity he had primary responsibility
for developing a national network of centers to research diseases
and disorders of pregnancy, infancy and childhood. Working with
then-NICHD colleague Dr. Eileen Hasselmeyer, Hunter also helped
develop a research network to investigate the causes of sudden
infant death syndrome.
Born in Washington, D.C., in 1922, Hunter graduated from the ROTC
program at Howard University in 1943. He obtained a B.S. in zoology,
graduating cum laude. During World War II, he served as
a communications officer in the famed all African-American unit,
the 92nd Infantry Division of the 5th Army — also known as
the Buffalo Soldiers. Having been deactivated after the First World
War, the 92nd was subsequently reactivated after pressure from
the African-American press, a few members of Congress and the NAACP.
Like many others in the 92nd, Hunter welcomed the opportunity to
serve his country.
"It was an ego thing," Hunter told Ebony magazine in 1995. "We
wanted to prove our mettle."
In 1985, Hunter and Lt. Col. Major Clark cowrote a history of
the 92nd, The Buffalo Division in World War II.
Hasselmeyer recalls that, after the war, Hunter sought employment
with the Pentagon. He couldn't find a position in his field, and
instead worked as a guard. When Hasselmeyer remarked that it must
have been difficult to take a position that made no use of his
scientific training, Hunter replied, "I just decided I would be
the best guard I could be."
Hunter began his NIH career in 1949, as a medical biology technician
in NCI's Laboratory of Biochemistry, where he eventually was promoted
to research biologist. While at NCI, he presented numerous scientific
papers at research meetings, and in 1962 participated in the 8th
International Conference for Cancer Control in what was then the
Hunter joined NICHD in 1965 as a scientist administrator in the
Reproduction and Population Research Branch. In 1969, he was appointed
assistant director of planning, and by 1975 was named chief of
the Office of Program Analysis. In 1976, he became assistant director
for program development for NICHD's Center for Research for Mothers
One coworker, Dr. Charlotte Catz, former head of NICHD's Pregnancy
and Perinatology Branch, remembers Hunter as "a very kind and helpful
person. I never saw him angry, and I never knew him to put anyone
off. He was one of those colleagues you truly appreciate."
Howard Hoffman, director of the NIDCD Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Program, said Hunter excelled at completing the numerous administrative
details needed for establishing the institute's research program
in SIDS. He also worked tirelessly to plan scientific workshops,
draft the necessary RFPs and ensure that researchers had the materials
"He was a diplomat extraordinaire," Hoffman said, adding that
Hunter could mediate between diverse groups and arrive at a solution
everyone could agree on.
Hunter retired from NIH in 1978, but continued to volunteer at
NICHD. He also donated time outside NIH. Hasselmeyer recalls that
he volunteered to teach his grandson Tyrone's math class. Once,
she said, Hunter came in to the office "all dressed up." When Hasselmeyer
asked why, he responded that he had just come from teaching, and
that it was extremely important that he present himself as a good
role model for the young men in his class.
Hunter is survived by his wife, Edith Francis Hunter of Chapel
Oaks, Md., two daughters, a son, two stepsons and 11 grandchildren.
NIDDK's Seeff Receives Award for Liver Research
Leonard B. Seeff, special expert and advisor in liver disease
at NIDDK, received the 2005 Distinguished Service Award from the
American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) for his
longstanding contributions to liver disease research and his service
to AASLD. Since joining NIDDK in 1998, Seeff has helped to coordinate
and supervise multicenter clinical studies on hepatitis C, nonalcoholic
hepatitis and liver transplantation. He facilitated the development
of the first trans-NIH action plan for liver disease research in
2004 and has been a leader for trans-NIH initiatives on hepatocellular
carcinoma and drug-induced liver disease. Prior to joining NIDDK,
Seeff worked in the Veterans Administration Medical System for 30
years. While at VA, Seeff worked with his mentor, Dr. Hyman J. Zimmerman,
on issues of hepatotoxicity and the use of serum enzymes; newly described
virological markers such as the Australia antigen; and serological
markers for hepatitis B, C and D. Seeff also served as principal
investigator for a series of groundbreaking studies on viral hepatitis,
which defined the incidence of viral hepatitis linked to transfused
blood. His research also revealed that most of the cases of post-transfusion
hepatitis identified in the cohort were neither hepatitis A nor hepatitis
B, but were instead a third form of viral hepatitis later named hepatitis
C. Seeff received his medical training at the University of the Witwatersrand
in Johannesburg, South Africa, and conducted his postdoctoral training
at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago and the VA Medical Center in Washington,
Former Division Director Hansen Dies
A. Hansen, 90, former director of the Division of Research
Services at NIH, died Jan. 8 in Westport, Mass., of prostate
A Public Health Service officer, Hansen was the first director
of DRS (now the Office of Research Services) and served in that
post from 1956 until 1968, receiving a Meritorious Service Medal
in 1964. After leaving NIH, he served 2 years as commissioner of
the Environmental Control Administration. From 1970 until 1973,
he was vice-president for planning and physical plant at Georgetown
Born in Guelph, North Dakota, in 1915, he attended the State Normal
and Industrial College in Ellendale, N.D., and North Dakota State
University, receiving a degree in civil engineering in 1937. He
then served in various positions as an engineer for the Georgia
state department of public health. In 1942, he received a master's
degree in sanitary engineering from the University of North Carolina
and accepted a commission in the Public Health Service, serving
as district engineer for malarial control in war areas in Atlanta,
Ga., which later became the Communicable Disease Center. He became
assistant chief of CDC in 1952.
After retirement, Hansen was an engineering consultant in Maryland
before moving to Arizona. He was active in many environmental and
community organizations there, assisting with projects for the
Nature Conservancy and Habitat for Humanity.
Survivors include two daughters, Elizabeth Kugler of Westport,
and Kristie Hansen of Chevy Chase; a sister, Frances Casanova of
Rochester, Minn., and five grandchildren. Hansen's wife Jean died
on Jan. 5 in Waukesha, Wisc.; his first wife, Mary, died in 1992.
Portier Named NIEHS Associate Director
Christopher Portier, who served as associate director of the
HHS National Toxicology Program, will assume new duties as associate
director for risk assessment at NIEHS.
NIEHS director Dr. David Schwartz initiated the change, saying
it is in keeping with the institute's renewed interest in using
environmental health sciences to understand human disease and improve
In his new position, Portier will oversee and coordinate risk
assessment activities within NIEHS, working to ensure the availability
of toxicological study results for use in national and international
efforts to assess human health risks of chemicals, drugs and physical
"We are very excited that Dr. Portier will lead this important
effort," said Schwartz. "Dr. Portier has done an extraordinary
job in overseeing the activities of the National Toxicology Program,
and has developed strong relationships with scientists all over
the world. This new NIEHS leadership role will allow him an opportunity
to merge the fields of toxicology and environmental health sciences
and prepare the world for tomorrow's health challenges."
Portier served in many prominent positions within NIEHS since
his arrival as a postdoctoral student in 1981. He led the environmental
systems biology group in the Laboratory of Molecular Toxicology
at NIEHS. At NTP he had an important role in developing the document A
National Toxicology Program for the 21st Century: A Roadmap for
the Future, released in 2005 as part of the NTP 25th anniversary
celebration in Washington, D.C.
Portier has written more than 150 peer-reviewed publications;
50 book chapters, reports and agency publications in statistics,
risk assessment and cancer research.
"Closely linking risk assessment processes to NIEHS research will
improve the nation's ability to make informed public health decisions," Portier
said. "We will be better poised to answer the basic questions inherent
to risk assessment, including: Is it possible that this substance
poses a hazard to humans? If yes, how much is dangerous? Are humans
exposed to this substance and in what ways? Given human exposures
and knowing how much is dangerous, what levels would be safe? These
are exciting times in health research and being able to focus on
bringing cutting edge research into the risk assessment arena will
be a challenging new role for me at NIEHS."
Dr. Allen Dearry, who most recently served as director of the
NIEHS Division of Research, Coordination, Planning and Translation,
will act as interim associate director of the NTP. A national search
for a permanent NTP associate director will begin in the next 3
to 6 months.
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