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Vol. LIX, No. 5
March 9, 2007

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NIH Mac Guru Gannon Retires

Joe Gannon
Shown here surrounded by various models of his beloved operating system, Mac expert Joe Gannon retired recently from CIT.
That loud wailing, gnashing of teeth and muttering of oaths you hear are the collective despairing cries of the roughly 8,000 Macintosh users at NIH. guru Joe Gannon has left the premises. He who since 1995 has coached thousands agency-wide to zap their P-RAMs (reboot, essentially) and tame their wild Jaguars, Panthers and Tigers (names of Mac operating systems) retired from the Center for Information Technology on Dec. 31 after serving more than 17 years with the federal government.

"I take pride in what I do," he said 2 days before leaving the NIH Help Desk. "If I saved each scientist even 5 minutes a day, then maybe I've helped research move a little farther ahead. That's what my job is all about at the end of the day, supporting the incredible medical research that goes on here every day."

It’s Gannon’s attitude toward customer service — as well as his wide range of Mac knowledge and seemingly unending store of patience — that is most lauded in the scores of congratulations (and good-natured laments) he received when he announced his retirement.

“Joe Gannon will be most sorely missed after his retirement,” said Dr. Dale Graham, CIT technical manager, NIH Intramural DataBase. “Even though I think of myself as somewhat of a Mac expert, there were often times when I needed to turn to him for his advice and/or experience to work through some knotty problem. And he was tenacious at worrying away at a problem until there was a solution. That knowledgeability and stick-to-it-iveness was a valuable asset to the NIH Help Desk that will be difficult to replace. In addition, he continued to watch over the BRMUG [biomedical research & Mac users group] list and get timely information to the community at the NIH, going above and beyond the call of duty. He was wonderful to work with and patient and pleasant, no matter what!”

In 1995, Gannon was browsing notes from Washington Apple Pi, a local community of Macintosh users. He ran across an announcement in search of a Mac specialist at NIH’s Division of Computer Research and Technology. Looking to leave the world of corporate VPs he’d worked in for more than a decade, Gannon called the contact.

NIH portal administrator Charles Mokotoff, who wrote the note that brought Gannon here, recalls, “I was thrilled when the [then DCRT] help desk decided to employ a Macintosh computer technician at the front line and even more happy in our choice of Joe Gannon. Joe is a die-hard Mac fan, totally loyal to the operating system and wonderful computers that Apple has produced over the years. He is as tenacious as a bulldog in tracking down customer issues and I suspect has never left a stone unturned in attempting to find solutions. He made my job significantly easier by sending only the thorniest of problems up to a next tier. His is a tough act to follow and he will be sorely missed. I wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Assigned primarily to help users navigate through hardware, software and network problems, Gannon expanded his job over the years to teach courses, test drive new systems and software, maintain PUBNet (a bank of NIH resources for Mac users) and offer consultations on system upgrades. He estimates he’s answered well over a thousand calls each year. His popular Macintosh Tips & Tricks class came to be practically a prerequisite for anyone working in the campus’s alternative-PC universe (about 75 percent of NIH’ers use that other operating system). In fact, on occasion Gannon taught a special edition of the course in Bldg. 1 for then NIH director Dr. Harold Varmus and other top science and administration officials.

“Actually, many (most) of the scientists at the NIH use Macs because of their superior ability to handle graphical data, their reliability and their ease of use (not to mention their immunity to those nasty viruses and worms that infect PCs),” notes Dr. Michael Gottesman, NIH deputy director for intramural research. “However, Mac support has been dwindling among the IT community and Joe has frequently been a lifesaver when complicated software, hardware and network problems come up. He is the ‘go-to’ guy at NIH for complicated Mac-related problems and it is difficult to imagine how we will manage without him. He’s also a source of all kinds of useful shortcuts and Mac-lore and a pleasure to work with. We will miss him.”

Gannon sort of fell into the computer business by accident. Ever a gadget-guy interested in electronics, he persuaded his Army battery commander to send him to radar maintenance school. He spent 4 years in the Air Force and 3 years in the Army. Later he took up a corporate career, working in such companies as Wang Laboratories. He was using an early model Mac — the Mac SE — to run Excel spreadsheets when he decided that Apple had the edge in design, ease of use and performance. He’s been a man ever since.

Last fall, Gannon enrolled in a 3-day retirement seminar where he learned that an optimal time to give up his help desk chair would be the end of 2006. With only a small amount of hesitation, he decided to go. With Gannon’s work ethic as his legacy, coworkers across the agency agree he will be missed no matter what operating system you prefer.

“Joe’s expertise on all things Macintosh has been a constant through many years,” says Charles Havekost, former chief of the Network Systems Branch customer support section for DCRT and current HHS chief information officer. “On occasion he’d have a laugh at my expense, knowing that I am — gasp — a Windows user, but it was always good natured and I knew that Joe’s unabashed Mac advocacy was part of what made him great at support. Every time I’ve had a Macintosh question, Joe Gannon has been ready to help. If he’s retiring, I’m going to need his home phone number.


Quinlan, Former Secretary to NIH Directors, Retires After 36 Years

Margaret C. Quinlan

Margaret C. Quinlan, most recently an animal welfare program specialist and former secretary to several NIH directors and other top officials, recently retired from the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare after 36 years of federal service, 30 with NIH. “I’ve been blessed to work with wonderful, warm people, the most ethical and moral individuals,” she said.

Quinlan “started at the bottom,” filing fellowship applications in the Division of Research Grants’ Career Development Review Branch, “a good place to get your feet wet.” As a divorced mother of three, she appreciated how family-friendly that office was, offering both flexibility and training to help her advance; within 3 years she was detailed to Bldg. 1. She soon moved to the Executive Secretariat and then the immediate Office of the Director, where she spent the next 15 years.

“I was known for my Rolodex,” she said. As secretary to the NIH director, she worked with Drs. Robert Stone, Donald Fredrickson and James Wyngaarden, as well as acting directors Dr. Ronald Lamont-Havers and Dr. Thomas E. Malone.

“Dr. Bob Stone hired me,” she recalled. “He was ahead of his time in tracking the director’s correspondence and installing a dictation system.” While keeping up with these innovations, she also helped sort the mail, including “desperate letters seeking help, so we sent them to the correct institutes and they answered them, God bless ’em.” She named a litany of colleagues who helped along the way: “I don’t know if I had an illustrious career, but I worked with superb people at all levels. In the Clinical Center, you ran into parents whose children were saved. We weren’t any of that — we were admin, we ran interference, but you knew [the patients] could be you; you knew that could be your child. Whatever you could do for the clinicians and researchers to help them, you found a way, because you knew what the mission was.”

A sixth-generation Washingtonian, Quinlan moved to Silver Spring at age 4 and still resides in the family home. She attended parochial school at the Academy of the Holy Names and Montgomery College. She received many employee honors, including quality increase awards and the NIH Director’s Award, as well as special achievement awards from the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, where she was detailed for 3½ years.

After her stint at OSTP, she became secretary to assistant secretary for health and human services Dr. D.A. Henderson, who earlier in his career had led the World Health Organization's global smallpox eradication campaign. She then spent 6 years as initial staff/office manager in the National Bioethics Advisory Commission under President Bill Clinton.

In July 2001, she returned to NIH, finding her niche in the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, from which she recently retired. Her OLAW supervisor, Carol Wigglesworth, lauded Quinlan at her Jan. 3 send-off: “In spite of the fact that she has not supervised a staff or had an impressive job title,” said Wigglesworth, “she has had an extremely distinguished career. She has worked for a number of high-level people in important jobs, but as we know these people don’t just waltz into these positions and succeed. They have people like Margaret behind them who take care of the myriad details...I might add that has probably not been on a job interview in many, many years...because instead of seeking positions, she had some of these people begging her to come work for them! She would think about it, then call them back and say, ‘Well, okay, if you need me that badly.’”

Quinlan brought to her work an ability to marshal and organize resources, then quickly adapt to changing conditions. She helped usher in changes that many now take for granted. “I love computers,” she said, “so I got involved in obtaining machines in some NIH offices.” Back in the days of DOS, she took a class, devoured PC computing magazines and then worked with management and IT to develop the necessary configurations for several offices: “I got to pick what kind of computers we would get, how much memory to install. At OSTP, I put WordPerfect on our staff’s machines over Christmas week, when it was quiet and they could learn without too much pressure. It was like advising my family at home and I loved it.”

And now? She’s exploring how she can teach seniors to use computers: “It would open up a whole world for them,” she said. Whatever she does, she’ll infuse it with her abiding work ethic and generous spirit. “In my short lifetime, I saw people who wore polio braces. My sister’s friend wore Coke-bottle glasses. Measles got that girl’s eyes, and my grandchildren will never even know what measles are. That’s the difference NIH has made in people’s lives.”

Farewell 'Foot Machine'
Freeman Decides To Take a Hike, Again

Gary Freeman
Gary Freeman will get dropped off by his wife Mar. 18 at Georgia’s Amicalola Falls State Park to begin his second thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He’ll be a “nobo,” or northbound hiker until late August.

When he retired from a 20-year career with the Maryland Division of Public Safety in 1984, Gary Freeman treated himself to a lifelong dream - he hiked the Appalachian Trail. It took him 4 months and cost him almost 30 pounds, but it put him where he is happiest - in the wilderness.

When he began a second career at NIH in 1990, he predicted that the next time he retired, he would hike the trail again. On Mar. 18, the 2,175-mile trek from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine begins anew. Freeman, 62, retired from NIH on Jan. 31 and reclaimed the trail name that served him well 23 years ago — “Foot Machine.”

I have always wanted to hike the trail again,” said the Hagerstown resident, whose 20½ years in federal service were spent mostly at NIH, with stints in the Army and Internal Revenue Service. While he would like to have remained at NIH, where he has made many friends over the years, he realized,“I can [hike] it now — I’m not sure I can do it at age 65.”

Freeman started out as a federal officer in the old Police Branch and rose through the ranks as a training administrator, then traffic management specialist and finally program specialist in charge of NIH’s parking permits, the Transhare program subsidizing employees’ use of public transportation and encouraging alternative modes of commuting including carpools, buses, bikes and — feet.

During the Christmas holiday, he realized that if he didn’t tackle the AT now, he might never get another chance. Within the past year and a half, Freeman has had hip-replacement surgery and had four stents placed in his chest. But he doesn’t anticipate being hampered by either procedure. “I’m ready,” he says.

While it’s true that camping gear nowadays is far lighter, more resistant to weather and more comfortable
than in 1984 (in addition to being more expensive, Freeman points out), the 2007 thru-hike will be harder for a number of reasons.

“There are more choices, more options to consider,” he said. “The last time it was just grab your stuff and go. It was so much easier the first time.”

Though he admits that a GPS tool and cell phone might be helpful, he nixed both; the latter because he finds a telephone antithetical to being out in nature, and the former because it weighs too much.

Only his trusty cookpots survived the rigid vetting of his old gear, based mostly on weight; hikers are known to file their toothbrushes down to just the head and a stub to save an ounce. “I’ll be able to go a lot lighter this time,” he said, allowing that a digital camera made the cut, especially since he won’t have to tote film.

Because there is simply no improving upon macaroni and cheese dinners, PB&J lunches and oatmeal breakfasts, Freeman will hew to those classics, but plans to augment them with various protein powders. He expects to lose about twice as much weight as during his first hike, but also plans to take more time to finish.

My one regret about the last time was that it was a little too quick. It will probably take longer this time because I’m older.”

Freeman expects to complete his journey by the end of August and has already built into his schedule a series of days off when he can leave the trail and visit some beloved trailside towns — Damascus, Va., Pearisburg, Va., Monson, Me., among them — as well as collect packages of food and clothing mailed by his wife and quartermaster Mary, who will join him for brief stretches of the hike.

She and I both enjoy hiking,” he said. While the Grand Canyon, which they have hiked twice, remains their “crown jewel” of national parks, the couple plans to return eventually to Utah’s Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, perhaps as summer volunteer campground supervisors, in retirement.

“My wife wants to hike bits and pieces of the Pacific Crest Trail next fall, after I get back from the Appalachian Trail,” Freeman said.

The Foot Machine (which derives from the names of two companions from his last AT hike) says it’s not just his name that changes out on the trail. “When I’m out in the mountains, I don’t know what it is — I’m a completely different person. It’s something I really enjoy doing.” He offers a favorite quote about the AT commonly attributed to Harold Allen, who worked in the 1920’s to establish Shenandoah National Park: “Remote for detachment, narrow for chosen company, winding for leisure, lonely for contemplation, the trail leads not merely north and south, but upward to the body, mind and soul of man.”

In addition to revisiting some of their favorite parks in retirement, the Freemans plan to indulge another passion — volksmarches, which take them on walking tours of many parts of the country. “We may consider relocating if something appeals to us,” Freeman said.

NIAID AIDS Expert Hoff Retires

Dr. Rod Hoff

Dr. Rod Hoff, senior epidemiologist for international research in NIAID’s Division of AIDS and chief of its International Research Branch, recently retired from the federal government to start a new phase in his career.

During his 16 years at NIAID, he worked on national and international aspects of HIV/AIDS. In the mid-1980s he developed a novel technique for determining the seroprevalence of HIV in childbearing women, which helped produce the first national estimates of HIV infection in the United States. He organized and directed two clinical research networks for evaluating vaccines and other preventive interventions for HIV/AIDS. Hoff also led an NIAID program that has provided long-term support to research organizations in developing countries to enhance their capacity to conduct HIV/AIDS studies relevant to their populations.

“Dr. Hoff has contributed greatly to responding to the global health challenges of our times,” said Dr. Kenneth Bridbord, director of extramural programs at the Fogarty International Center. “One of Dr. Hoff’s greatest legacies will be his contributions to HIV/AIDS research and research capacity in many developing countries, which is essential if we are to ultimately conquer HIV/AIDS.”

Hoff saw HIV/AIDS research at NIH expand from a primarily domestic program to the international cooperative effort it now is. Sixteen years ago, the international programs NIAID had were focused on tropical diseases. “When the Division of AIDS was established, the focus was clearly on the domestic epidemic,” he said. “The scope of the epidemic wasn’t clear at that time. By the end of the 1980s, there were new drugs, but their effectiveness was not fully known and the cost was prohibitive, particularly for developing nations.”

Results of studies showing that the HIV/AIDS epidemic was worldwide surprised researchers and sparked interest in broadening international efforts. While there was a need to develop clinical trial sites in the U.S., it was equally clear that the increasing prevalence of infection in the developing world required attention. “We started a series of programs, including the Partnership for AIDS Vaccine Evaluation, followed by a network set up specifically to test the HIV vaccines — the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.” Hoff became chief of the international branch at that time and began developing international and domestic infrastructure for testing experimental vaccines.

“The challenges for international researchers are many,” he said. “The process of developing the infrastructure is only partially complete. The wish of many countries, for good reason, is to train their own investigators. In the 1990s, we started thinking about how to train and encourage investigators so they can apply for grants and do their own research.”

The program that evolved from these concerns was the Comprehensive International Program of Research on AIDS (CIPRA), started in 2000. This program has awarded grants to institutions from developing countries at all levels of scientific progression. There are several small grants that “just get people started in planning studies with good clinical practices,” noted Hoff. CIPRA also funded a few larger projects, giving the investigators the opportunity to design, conduct and analyze the data from their own studies. At the end of 5 years of funding, he stated, “all had achieved remarkable success. Not only are the grantees participating in their CIPRA studies, their work has gained the notice of other international research organizations. They have come a long way by themselves.” This investment has led to the development of significant scientific capacity. As an example, he cited a CIPRA site in China, which now can do SARS research as well.

Hoff is hopeful about the future of HIV/AIDS research. “I think we made a real contribution to the infrastructure that will continue to be used. Scientists can now take this to the next level with the new and exciting things that are coming along.

“This job has always been fun,” he said. “We’ve left some tracks in the journey here. In retrospect you can always think of ways that you could have done things better, but all in all, it is remarkable what has happened in these 16 years.”

Hoff has joined the Regional Emerging Diseases Intervention (REDI) Center in Singapore, an intergovernmental organization jointly supported by HHS and the government of Singapore. The REDI Center facilitates the exchange of information and expertise worldwide on surveillance, prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases.

NIDA Retiree Segal Mourned

Doralie Segal

Doralie Segal died on Feb. 5 in Chapel Hill, N.C., after a 6-year illness. Originally a scientific investigator with the FDA, she joined NIDA's Medication Development Division in 1988. During her tenure at NIDA (through 2000), she directed a project to oversee clinical trials for buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid addiction. Her expertise was instrumental in helping gain FDA approval for buprenorphine.

In her spare time, she was an avid runner, with a 2001 world ranking of 15th in her age group for the 1,500-meter distance. Segal also wrote numerous articles on health and fitness for the Washington Post health section.

She is survived by her husband, Bruce Segal, and three daughters, Chandra Denenberg Zieff, Amy Abelson and Rochelle D. Schwartz-Bloom, a NIDA investigator at Duke University.

NIGMS Grantee Whitesides Honored

Dr. George M. Whitesides

NIGMS grantee Dr. George M. Whitesides of Harvard University is the 2007 Priestley Medalist. The annual award recognizes distinguished service to the field of chemistry and is the highest honor bestowed by the American Chemical Society. Whitesides is one of 71 scientists who will receive ACS awards this year. Of these, 25 are NIH grantees, including 19 supported by NIGMS, reflecting the institute's commitment to chemistry and chemical biology research. The award recipients will be honored at ceremonies during the spring and fall ACS meetings. Profiles of the award winners appeared in the January and February issues of Chemical & Engineering News.

 

Ballard, Atkins Chosen for Young Leadership Academy

Jacque Ballard and Harold Atkins
Harold Atkins and Jacque Ballard will attend the Young Leadership Academy.

Jacque Ballard, a contracting officer for NCI’s Office of Acquisition, and Harold Atkins, human resources specialist for the Office of the Director, were recently selected to the Young Leadership Academy, under the auspices of Blacks In Government and the USDA Graduate School.

The graduate school selected 70 people from hundreds of applicants. Ballard has more than 37 years of federal service at NIH and is the immediate past president of the agency’s BIG chapter. Atkins has 8 years of service and took over as chapter president in January. YLA partnered with the graduate school to form a vehicle within BIG to develop professional and personal leadership skills. The program’s goals include helping participants communicate, organize, develop strategic thinking skills and increase productivity and potential. Other objectives of the program include team-building and peer-coaching. These objectives have been identified by the Office of Personnel Management as executive core qualifications.

YLA graduation will occur in August 2007 at BIG’s annual national training conference. Graduates will receive continuing education units for the program and be certified for leadership competencies by the USDA Graduate School.

Miller Named Chair of NIH-RAID Program

Dr. Tom Miller

Dr. Tom Miller, program director of technology development at NINDS, has been named leader of the NIH-RAID (Rapid Access to Interventional Development) pilot program. He takes over following the recent extension of this program.

“The NIH-RAID pilot program provides a cost-effective tool to assist the ICs in supporting their intramural and extramural pre-clinical translational research efforts,” he said. “We believe that NIH-RAID has the potential to have a significant impact on the preclinical development of therapeutics across the full spectrum of disorders affecting the public health.”

The NIH-RAID pilot, similar to the National Cancer Institute’s RAID program, was established as part of the NIH Roadmap to make available, on a competitive basis, certain critical resources needed for the development of new small-molecule therapeutic agents. NIH-RAID is not a grant program, but allows PIs access to the resources of NCI’s Developmental Therapeutics Program (including production, bulk supply, GMP manufacturing, formulation, development of an assay suitable for pharmacokinetic testing and animal toxicology) and the assistance of NIH in establishing and implementing a product development plan. Funds to support the projects come from both Roadmap and institute budgets.

Co-sponsorship is critical to provide the expertise needed in specific disease areas and to ensure appropriate avenues for subsequent translational efforts. To date, seven projects have been supported. The next deadlines for proposals are June 1, 2007, and Jan. 4, 2008. The NIH-RAID pilot is intended for use by foreign and domestic laboratories and not-for-profit organizations, including NIH’s intramural programs.

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