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Vol. LVIII, No. 12
June 16, 2006

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Really 'Gone Fishing' Now
NIDDK's Badman Retires After 30 Years

Colleagues, friends and family gathered at NIH on May 3 for the symposium, "New Insights in Iron Biology," and reception honoring Dr. David Badman, a relentless advocate for iron research. Officially
Fishermen include (from l) new retiree Dr. David Badman, Dr. Raymond Bergeron of the University of Florida, Dr. Gary Brittenham of Columbia University and Dr. William R. Weimar Jr. of South University School of Pharmacy.  
retired Jan. 1, 2005, after 30-plus years, Badman often sets his out-of-office message to read "Gone Fishing." But because he has had one hand on a fishing rod and one on an NIH Roadmap drug development project, you might not have noticed.

"I had a terrific career at NIDDK, a wonderful institute to work for, encouraging freedom to find things needing to be done and to do them," Badman said. "There's always a way to do something. You just have to figure out how."

Growing up around animals on his grandfather's Wisconsin dairy farm sparked an interest in biology that outstanding college teachers nurtured, Badman said. Hooked on science, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin and earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in zoology from the University of Florida, where Badman just may have learned a few fishing tips, too.

While teaching biochemistry and physiology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, Badman was tapped by NIH for its Grants Associate Program, which trained a select few health scientist administrators each year. During the internship, he adopted a "can-do" attitude from his mentor, Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, then NIGMS director and now special assistant to the NIH director.

"In addition to being a role model, she opened doors to interesting assignments and has always given me good advice," Badman said.

That experience induced Dr. Nancy Cummings to hire him as NIDDK hematology grants program director, "a natural" scientific segue from animal physiology, Badman explained. He would hold this job dear for 29 years.

Cummings immediately "got me involved in interesting assignments, helping me develop my abilities," Badman remembered.

A third person special to Badman is Dr. Josie Briggs, who gave him "more responsibility and made the job a lot of fun," he said.

"David's quiet fašade hides vast knowledge and resourcefulness that led me to rely heavily on his solid counsel and leadership," said Briggs, director of NIDDK's Kidney, Urology and Hematology Division. "In fact, the rest of the staff has discovered how much David did to make our jobs easier!"

NIH "has become more proactive" over the years, initiating high-risk, potentially high-gain research that may not happen otherwise, Badman said. Danio rerio (the zebrafish) is one of two such "fishing" expeditions he has been most proud to guide.

Badman receives congratulations
from grandson Christopher. The T-shirt advertises that the Florida Gators, Badman’s alma mater, won the 2006 NCAA hoops championship.

Badman and Len Zon at Boston Children's Hospital believed these aquarium pets could be useful models for human diseases. The trans-NIH zebrafish coordinating committee was formed, facilitating key advances in organ development and valuable models for diabetes, kidney disease and porphyrias.

Badman also championed iron overload research, which was not being emphasized elsewhere at NIH. Iron overload is a serious problem for about 50,000 people in the United States, mostly children with Cooley's anemia or sickle cell disease who rely on iron-rich blood transfusions, said Dr. Gary Brittenham of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

"For a long time, it felt like the research was going nowhere. But we persisted," and some of the many iron-removing compounds we screened have made it to clinical trials, Badman said.

The research he pushed "has revolutionized the field of hematology. Major advances in our understanding of iron metabolism, genetics and hematopoiesis are evidence of his influence," said Brittenham.

Badman is widely seen as not just another Washington bureaucrat.

Mohandas Narla was a young, intimidated new investigator in the 1980s. After meeting Badman, "it came very clear to me that David is a very caring individual," said Narla, now director of research at the New York Blood Center. "He deserves lots of credit for whatever success we have achieved during the last 25 years in our research programs."

We "lose a good friend," added Frank Somma of the Cooley's Anemia Foundation.

Badman "was invariably intellectually curious, interested in the science and helpful," agreed Stanford University's Dr. Stanley L. Schrier.

In retirement, Badman is traveling with his wife, Paulette, starting in Oklahoma, her family home, and eventually including Venice — to make amends for not taking her on an earlier business trip.

"I haven't heard the last of that," laughed Badman.

He's also enjoying time with grandson Christopher, best buddy and ever-ready fishing partner, and renovating his 100-year-old Victorian farmhouse near White's Ferry, "about 2 miles from the Potomac River. Except when it floods it's only 1 mile," Badman chuckled.

Wherever he is and whatever he's doing, he'll be making the best of it.

"David always tries to figure out how something.can be done, not why it can't," said Dr. Ernest Beutler at the Scripps Research Institute.

Olden Receives Honorary Doctorate from Tulane

Dr. Ken Olden (r), former NIEHS director, was awarded an honorary doctorate of science from Tulane University on May 13. The honor was made even more special because he shared the podium with two former Presidents, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Olden was honored for his "extraordinary achievements in linking environmental health sciences with public health, and bringing attention to health disparities and environmental justice." Since stepping down as institute director, Olden's laboratory research has focused on strategies to prevent metastasis of cancer by developing a greater understanding of the principles of cell adhesion.

Harlan Named Research Physician of Year

The Public Health Service has presented Capt. David M. Harlan, M.D., with its Research Physician of the Year Award for work representing the highest traditions of the service. The award recognizes him for "creativity, initiative, and accomplishment in performing research into the pathogenesis and treatment of diabetes mellitus." Harlan was recently appointed chief of NIDDK's Diabetes Branch after heading the institute's Islet and Autoimmunity Branch since 1999. A leader in the immunobiology of type 1 diabetes, he served on the NIDDK advisory council from 1996 to 1999 while directing the immune cell biology program of the Naval Medical Research Institute (NMRI). From 1996 to 1998, he headed the NMRI's combat casualty care department. He also serves as a professor of medicine at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, where he has been on the faculty since 1992.

Parley's Place Honors 2 Millionth Customer

Gene Cowgill of the Bldg. 31 concession stand congratulates NIAID's Dr. Ruchira Mitra, Parley's Place's 2 millionth customer and lucky winner of $100 cash. Named in 1992 for manager Parley van Sickle, the store handles approximately 1,000 customers a day. The official tally began in 1998, when the cash register was computerized. "It took almost 8 years to get to this point," says Cowgill, "so we wanted to honor our 2 millionth customer." The stand is part of the Maryland Business Enterprise Program for the Blind.

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