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Vol. LVIII, No. 17
August 25, 2006

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Kelty Retires After 20 Years as NIA Director of Extramural Affairs

After growing up in New York City, Miriam Friedman Kelty moved to tiny Yellow Springs, Ohio, to attend Antioch College. Her earliest academic interests were music and art, yet from the periphery, psychology and biology caught her attention. She finished her education crisscrossing the Atlantic to the University of Paris and back to Rutgers University for a doctoral degree in psychology and psychobiology.

At her retirement party, Dr. Miriam Kelty (l) accepts a certificate of recognition from NIA deputy director Dr. Judith Salerno.  
It was with this eclectic blend of education, experience and travel that Kelty came to Bethesda in 1968. She became a research psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health and now, nearly 38 years later, she is bidding farewell to her government career but not to her favorite NIH activities and friends.

For the past 20 years, Kelty has been director of extramural affairs at the National Institute on Aging, where colleagues admire and will miss her. "Her contributions have been immeasurable," says NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes, who paid tribute to her at a recent meeting of NIA's advisory council.

Reflecting on her NIH career, she says, "NIH is a wonderful workplace. As an intramural investigator, I had the freedom to pursue my own ideas and draw on extraordinary resources to support my work. In the extramural environment, I was exposed to a very broad range of science and colleagues who were both scientists and teachers of other scientists. NIH provides an opportunity to appreciate what is going on nationally and internationally in developing and mature areas of science."

Early in her career, Kelty conducted research on brain and behavior interactions, specifically on hormones and reproductive behavior in birds and research on sleep in animals and humans. She was also involved in developing standards for the provision of mental health services in the late 1960s at NIMH. She was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1986 and a fellow of the American Psychological Association in 1976.

In the 1970s, Kelty worked for the congressionally mandated National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. She contributed to reports on research with fetuses, children, prisoners, people who have questionable capacity to consent and other vulnerable populations. The best known among the many products of the commission is the 1979 Belmont report on ethical principles for research with humans. Later at NIH, she drew on her expertise in bioethics to develop the bioethics interest group and bioethics resources web sites.

In 1978, Kelty returned to NIH to work as a scientific review administrator at what is now the Center for Scientific Review. She was responsible for initial administrative and scientific review of research in child and adult development and aging. She led the creation of a separate study section for aging research as chief of the 20 behavioral, neuroscience and epidemiology study sections.

"My biggest contributions during my NIH career were at the interface of science and administration," she reflects. "As an SRA and division director in what is now CSR, I oversaw review of the rapidly growing field of neuroscience and developed new study sections to handle the expansion of the emerging field. I ventured into new territory when I became involved in electronic research administration."

In 1986, she moved into the position she would hold for the next 20 years, director of extramural research for NIA. She helped shape operations and the research agenda of the then-young institute, focusing on basic aging processes, age-related diseases and special problems and needs of older persons.

Chances are that if you know Kelty, she has had a positive effect on your career. She has mentored many young scientists from as early as elementary school through post-graduate stages and beyond.

"I have a long history of mentoring," she says. "As a psychologist, I have a commitment to human potential. Both the individual and the field benefit when people are able to achieve what they want."

Kelty has participated in networks for grants associates, extramural associates and the extramural staff training program as a speaker and mentor. "We talk a lot about how to develop your career at NIH," she says.

Old friends will still see her on campus in occasional consulting jobs, but she intends to enjoy traveling with her husband, Edward, and rediscovering an old passion — art, pottery and sculpture in particular.

Baker Joins NIAMS

Dr. Carl Baker has joined the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases as program director of skin biology and diseases. His portfolio in the institute's extramural program includes keratinocytes and skin stem cells, hair follicle development and disorders, wound healing, immunology and immune-mediated disorders of skin, genetic diseases of skin and the development and testing of therapies for skin diseases. Before joining NIAMS, he spent 24 years at the National Cancer Institute, most recently as chief of the cellular regulation and transformation section, Laboratory of Cellular Oncology, Center for Cancer Research.

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