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Vol. LVIII, No. 13
June 30, 2006

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NEI Investigators Receive Post-Katrina Awards

In spite of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, New Orleans-based NEI Early Treatment of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ETROP) Study investigators achieved 100 percent follow-up with children in the study. Some of the children had been relocated with their families to other states such as Mississippi and California.

Shown are Dr. Maryann Redford (l), NEI project officer for the ETROP study, Dr. William Good (second from l), principal investigator from study headquarters in San Francisco, and Dr. Robert Hardy (r), PI from the coordinating center in Houston, presenting ETROP Inspiration Awards to Dr. Robert Gordon (c), PI in the New Orleans study center, and Debbie Neff (second from r), New Orleans study center coordinator.  

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding disorder that affects an estimated 14,000 to 16,000 premature, low-birthweight infants each year in the United States. The ETROP study assesses early treatment versus conventional management of high-risk ROP. Infants are examined by ophthalmologists at 6 months, 9 months and annually until 6 years of age.

Johns Hopkins Honors NHLBI's Knutson

Dr. Jay Knutson, chief of the optical spectroscopy section of the Laboratory of Biophysical Chemistry, NHLBI, has been elected to the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars. He and 14 other scientists and clinicians were honored during the society's 37th induction ceremony on May 24, and again at the university's commencement ceremony on May 25. The society — the first of its kind in the nation — inducts former postdoctoral fellows and junior or visiting faculty at Johns Hopkins who have gained marked distinction in their fields of physical, biological, medical, social or engineering sciences or in the humanities. Knutson is a leader in the development of laser-driven high-speed optical instruments and techniques used in the life sciences. Most recently, he applied femtosecond lasers to the study of water organization around proteins, the binding of DNA-controlling receptors inside cell nuclei and the energy production process within heart cells. Knutson's technical innovations have allowed researchers to make advances in the fields of biology and medicine. From 1980 to 1984, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the department of biology at Johns Hopkins.

NIGMS Adds Three to Scientific Staff

Three scientists recently joined NIGMS to manage grants on aspects of genetics, physiology and chemical biology.

Dr. Charles Dearolf, a program director in the Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology, is responsible for research grants on DNA replication and transposable elements as well as a range of postdoctoral fellowships. Before joining NIGMS, he was a scientific review administrator in the Center for Scientific Review. Earlier, Dearolf was an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, where he conducted research on the developmental and molecular genetics of Drosophila. He earned a B.A. in natural sciences and a Ph.D. in biology, both from Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Sarah Dunsmore, a program director in the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry, is handling grants in the areas of inflammation and innate immunity, sepsis and cellular signaling. She comes from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where she studied epithelial cell function in the mammalian lung. Dunsmore earned a B.S. from Vanderbilt University with majors in molecular biology and mathematics and a Ph.D. in physiology from Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Miles Fabian, also a program director in the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry, is managing research grants in the areas of bioorganic and medicinal chemistry, as well as some of the division's postdoctoral fellowships. He comes from Ambit Biosciences in San Diego, where he was a founding scientist and where he developed a bacteriophage display-based drug screening platform targeting eukaryotic protein kinases. Fabian earned a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Nebraska and a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Charles Dearolf Dr. Sarah Dunsmore Dr. Miles Fabian

Turkeltaub Named NIAMS Deputy Extramural Director

Dr. Madeline Turkeltaub has been appointed deputy director of the NIAMS Extramural Program. Previously, she had been clinical research project manager for NIAMS, as well as coordinator of the Office of Research on Women's Health's Specialized Center of Research program. She came to NIH from the Health Resources and Services Administration in July 2004.

Firoved To Serve as Science Policy Fellow

NIAID's Dr. Aaron Firoved has been chosen through a competitive application process as the 2006-2007 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) congressional science policy fellow. He currently is a postdoctoral Intramural Research Training Award recipient working in Dr. Stephen Leppla's laboratory on anthrax toxin-mediated pathology. The ASM fellowship is designed to provide a public policy learning experience, to demonstrate the value of science-government interaction and to bring technical backgrounds and external perspectives to the decision-making process in Congress. In September, Firoved will enter a program administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in which fellows undergo orientation, attend weekly seminars and are assisted in finding placement as a special legislative assistant within a congressional office or committee. Fellows then spend 1 year working in legislative and policy areas.

NIAAA's Holmes Honored

Dr. Andrew Holmes received the 2005 Young Investigator Award from the International Behavioral and Neural Genetics Society on May 22. The award recognizes the contributions of exceptional young scientists to the field of behavioral and neural genetics. Holmes is chief of the section on behavioral science and genetics in the Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience, NIAAA. His principal area of research interest is studying how stress affects risk for neuropsychiatric disorders, including addictions. As part of the award ceremony, he gave a lecture titled, “The ascent of mouse: using mice to understand the causes and cures of neuropsychiatric disease,” at the society’s annual meeting in Vancouver.

Former NIMH Psychologist Rubinstein Is Mourned

Dr. Eli A. Rubinstein, a scientist who was an authority on the effects of TV violence on children, died in Chapel Hill, N.C., on May 15. He was 87. He served for 20 years in various senior research and administrative positions in federal agencies in Washington, D.C., including the National Institute of Mental Health from 1958 to 1971.

At the time he left federal service, Rubinstein was assistant director for extramural programs and behavioral sciences at NIMH and the highest ranked psychologist at the institute. One of his last responsibilities there was coordination of a 3-year national program of research on television and social behavior. The results were summarized in 1972 in a report by the Surgeon General's office.

Over his career, he published more than 100 articles and books on such topics as research in psychotherapy, the status of mental health manpower, the qualities of science administration and developments in the behavioral sciences. His major publications since 1975 were on policy issues relating to findings on the effects of television on the viewer. He co-edited the book The Media, Social Science and Social Policy for Children (1985) and Big World, Small Screen (1992). He also testified before various congressional committees on the effects of televised violence.

Born in New York City in 1919, Rubinstein received his Ph.D. in psychology at Catholic University in 1950. His last formal position was as adjunct research professor of mass communications at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, from 1971 to 1978. His federal career was distinguished by the fact that he began in 1940 as the lowest grade clerk and ended his service, 30 years later, at the highest grade level, GS-18. He is one of only a handful of civil service employees ever to have accomplished that feat.

Rubinstein is survived by three children — NCI's Dr. Lawrence V. Rubinstein of Rockville as well as former NIH'ers Dr. Donald H. Rubinstein of Guam and Betsy Rubinstein of Chevy Chase — and three grandchildren.

NIH Colleagues Mourn Former Institute Director Whedon
By Jane DeMouy

Dr. G. Donald Whedon, who directed the institute known today as the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases from 1962 to 1981, passed away May 4 at his home in Clearwater, Fla. He was 90. Whedon's 19-year tenure made him one of the longest serving institute directors in NIH history.

"He was terrific, a very scholarly man, and very hard-working," Dr. Ruth Kirschstein said of her old friend. Now senior advisor to the NIH director, Kirschstein recalled an incident when she and Whedon both headed institutes. The NIH director had called a Saturday morning meeting of institute and center directors that Whedon missed because he could not be reached at home. Later, Kirschstein noted, attendees discovered that Whedon was unreachable because he had been in his NIH office all that morning. "He was a very good director," she remembered.

Established in 1950 as the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, NIDDK became the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases in 1972, then the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in 1981, reflecting the expanding research mission and growing budget Whedon oversaw. The institute became NIDDK in 1986.

A widely respected expert in calcium metabolism, Whedon left Cornell University Medical College, where he was studying calcium balance in polio patients, to become chief of the Metabolic Diseases Branch of NIAMD's intramural program in 1952. As a researcher, he contributed to the knowledge that loss of calcium was responsible for osteoporosis. In 1956, he was appointed assistant director of NIAMD and became director in 1962.

"Don Whedon presided over the formative years of NIDDK," said Earl Laurence, a retired NIDDK deputy director. When Whedon retired in 1981, the institute's budget was four and a half times larger than in 1962. As the Space Age blossomed in the early 1970s, Whedon became a key advisor to NASA on potential metabolic changes that space travel might engender. He and his colleagues conducted the first studies to evaluate the effects of weightlessness and confinement on Gemini VII astronauts before any other country examined these issues. He later was principal investigator in a series of Skylab studies that showed that lengthy exposure to weightlessness resulted in significant loss of calcium.

"Don was one of the pioneers in understanding the effects of space flight on bone metabolism," said Jay Shapiro, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Kennedy-Krieger Institute of Johns Hopkins and a former colleague of Whedon's. NASA awarded Whedon its Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award in 1974 and an Award of Merit in 1996. "He was a very nice guy, and a careful scientist," said Dr. Ed Rall, an NIDDK scientist emeritus and former NIH deputy director for intramural research.

During his nearly two decades of service, Whedon guided the institute through important developments in disease management and treatment. He recognized and promoted the significance of nutrition and developed the metabolic chamber for use in obesity research. He worked for the establishment of dialysis for people with end-stage renal disease and the funding to support it. "He was very direct, but reserved," observed Shapiro. "He was widely admired."

Under Whedon's watch, the institute initiated research and development contracts to support studies of chronic renal disease, according to former NIDDK director Dr. Phil Gorden. "Don recognized the need to develop mechanisms to support these innovative forms of research," he added. During Whedon's tenure, the institute also established its Epidemiology and Clinical Research Program in Phoenix as well as Clinical Research Centers for diabetes research.

Whedon wrote papers on bone metabolism in patients who were immobilized by convalescence or paralysis and numerous others on metabolic and kinetic studies of bone disorders, human energy metabolism and space medicine. In addition to his NASA awards, he received a PHS Superior Service Award in 1967 and honorary Sc.D. degrees from his alma maters. He graduated from Hobart College in 1936, and from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1941. Hobart honored him in 1967 and the University of Rochester did so in 1978. He is survived by a daughter, a son and two grandchildren.

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