NIAMS Appoints Scientific, Clinical Directors
||Dr. John O’Shea
||Dr. Dan Kastner
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin
Diseases has appointed Dr. John O'Shea as scientific director and
Dr. Dan Kastner as clinical director.
O'Shea has served as chief of the NIAMS Molecular Immunology and
Inflammation Branch since 2002. He graduated from St. Lawrence
University, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1974, and received his M.D. degree
from the University of Cincinnati in 1978. He has made numerous
contributions in the area of immune cell signaling, ranging from
basic observations to explaining and treating immunological diseases.
His work provided insights into the early steps in T cell- and
Fc-receptor signaling. He cloned the human protein tyrosine kinase
Jak3, and showed that this kinase is an essential element in cytokine
signaling. He also shed light on transcription factors employed
by key immunoregulatory cytokines, work that led directly to a
paradigm in cell signaling and transcriptional control. Importantly,
he extended this work in two clinically relevant ways: he showed
that mutations of Jak3 are the basis of autosomal recessive forms
of severe combined immunodeficiency, and collaborated to develop
a selective Jak3 inhibitor, which effectively blocks transplant
rejection and thus represents a new class of immunosuppressants.
In addition to serving as clinical director, Kastner is also the
NIAMS director of translational research. He has served as chief
of the NIAMS Genetics and Genomics Branch since 2002. He received
his B.A. degree in philosophy summa cum laude from Princeton
University in 1973, and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Baylor
College of Medicine. His laboratory played a leading role in defining
the genetics and pathophysiology of an inherited group of disorders
characterized by recurrent episodes of fever and inflammation.
His group mapped and cloned the gene for familial Mediterranean
fever. Later, the group discovered mutations in a tumor necrosis
factor receptor as the cause of an inflammatory disorder they named
and clinically characterized: TNF receptor-associated periodic
syndrome. More recently, his laboratory co-discovered mutations
in the protein cryopyrin in patients with neonatal-onset multisystem
inflammatory disease. Kastner's group was also the first to propose
the now widely accepted concept of autoinflammatory disease to
describe certain disorders characterized by hyperactivity of the
innate immune system.
O'Shea and Kastner are internationally recognized scientists at
the forefront of basic, translational and clinical research. Both
have received numerous honors and awards and have mentored and
trained scores of fellows who have gone on to be leaders in their
NCI's Robert Miller Is Mourned
Dr. Robert Warwick Miller, 84, scientist emeritus at the National
Cancer Institute, died on Feb. 23 at his home in Bethesda. After
receiving his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, Miller trained
in pediatrics, radiation medicine and epidemiology, earning a doctorate
in public health at the University of Michigan. In 1961, he joined
NCI as chief of the Epidemiology Branch, where he carried out pioneering
research on childhood cancer. The relationships he discovered between
birth defects and certain tumors (e.g., Wilms tumor) provided important
insights into the genetic mechanisms underpinning cancer. Throughout
a distinguished career spanning 45 years at NCI, Miller stressed
the importance of alert clinical observations in providing initial
clues to cancer etiology, and the value of interdisciplinary approaches
that integrate the epidemiologic, clinical and basic sciences. A
memorial service in his honor will be held on Saturday, Apr. 29 at
1 p.m. in the Clinical Center's Lipsett Amphitheater. For more information,
contact Mindy Kaufman, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics,
(301) 496-1611, email@example.com.
CSR Employee Award Encourages Innovation
| Dr. Robert Warwick Miller
The Center for Scientific Review has created a new Explorer Award
to encourage staff at all levels to think creatively and come up
with ideas that will make a difference.
"Innovation is priceless to any organization," says Dr. Toni Scarpa,
CSR director. "We must think beyond current practices and perceived
limitations to develop new ways of doing things and working together."
| CSR director Dr. Toni Scarpa
(second from l) meets with Explorer Award winners (from l)
Nancy Hafele, Tom Tatham and Richard Panniers.
The first biannual Explorer Award recently went to three CSR employees
who developed computer short-cuts to quickly assemble information
that used to take weeks to do manually.
Nancy Hafele, Richard Panniers and Tom Tatham split the $10,000
prize that goes with the new award.
Scarpa said their innovations, collectively dubbed "the Magic
Macro," are enabling CSR to more rapidly incorporate reviewer critiques
and discussion into the summary statement, thereby speeding its
release to applicants and the NIH institutes and centers. These
innovations, Scarpa said, "have an impact not just on CSR but also
on NIH-wide review operations. They will be invaluable in our efforts
to shorten the review cycle."
There were 20 nominations for the award, which Scarpa set up to
encourage innovation at a time when grant applications have soared
and applicants ask to get their results as soon as possible. He
says the value of the ideas and efforts nominated are "worth many,
many times the value of the prize."
Panniers and Hafele independently began working on the improvements
2 years ago, developing processes that automatically added summary
statement headings and adjusted formatting.
Tatham more recently combined his colleagues' ideas, added coding
to standardize the wording of headings to automatically insert
application descriptions and to streamline the resulting macro
(a series of commands or actions that can be triggered by a single
key or symbol). Review administrators can now start finalizing
summary statements within a day or two of review meetings, rather
than wait the week or more that the old "cut and paste" methods
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