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Vol. LlX, No. 6
March 23, 2007
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NIGMS's René Receives Mentoring Award
Dr. Anthony René, NIGMS assistant director for referral and liaison, displays mentoring award with Dr. Clifton Poodry, NIGMS MORE division director.
Dr. Anthony René (r), NIGMS assistant director for referral and liaison, displays mentoring award with Dr. Clifton Poodry, NIGMS MORE division director.

As a student in the racially segregated South, Dr. Anthony René attended predominantly African-American schools. Prohibited from going to the local state college in his hometown of Lake Charles, La., he attended Southern University, a historically black university in Baton Rouge. There, met one of his first mentors, who provided him with an opportunity to conduct research and encouraged him to pursue a Ph.D. in the sciences.

"I'm not sure I would have had the courage or confidence to go to graduate school without the direction and advice I received from my mentors," René said. "My parents received very limited schooling in rural Louisiana — even a college education was something beyond their imagination."

Today, as assistant director for referral and liaison at NIGMS, oversees programs that offer internships, training and research support for high school, college, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. A large part of his career focuses on recruiting underrepresented minorities into biomedical and behavioral research careers.

"I was lucky to have had great mentors, and now I have an opportunity to 'pay back,'" he said.

René was recently honored for his "unparalleled commitment to fostering the success of underrepresented students in the sciences" by the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). He was among three recipients of the society's 2006 Distinguished Awards, which recognize individuals who have dedicated themselves to science, education and mentoring. Renéaccepted the society's Distinguished Professional Mentor Award at a recent ceremony during the SACNAS national conference in Tampa.

Dr. Robert Pozos, a biology professor and director of two NIGMS Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) programs at San Diego State University, was also among the honorees.

"I am delighted that a former NIGMS advisory council member and an NIGMS employee were recognized with awards for their lifelong contributions to mentoring," said Dr. Clifton Poodry, director of the MORE division. "Mentoring is key to improving diversity in the next generation of biomedical scientists."

NINDS Mourns Former Contracting Officer Denney

Patricia "Patty" Denney

Patricia "Patty" Denney, a former contracting officer in the Research and Development Contract Management Branch, NINDS, died Jan. 31 at age 58. She retired from NIH in September 2005 with 25 years of service.

As contracting officer, she was responsible for the negotiation and award of a significant number of research contract initiatives critical to the NINDS mission. Of note are a $25 million contract to establish an innovative translational research program to accelerate the development of a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy and a $15 million contract with Coriell Medical Research Institutes for the NINDS Human Genetics Resource Center.

A recent message posted on Coriell's web site acknowledges Denney's work on the contract. "Her hard work to lessen the burden of neurological disease is apparent in this repository which in part serves as a living memorial to her, and all people who have suffered from neurological illnesses," the message reads in part.

For more than 10 years, Denney also served as contracting officer for NINDS's scientific meeting and conference logistical support services contracts. These contracts, which have been in place since the early 1990s, are multi-million dollar awards. Services under these contracts support research meetings, conferences, workshops and data and safety monitoring board meetings sponsored annually by NINDS. Denney worked with the Small Business Administration and many small and disadvantaged business concerns to make sure they received a fair and equal opportunity to compete and receive contract awards for these services.

"Quite simply, Patty was the heart and soul of our branch," said Kirkland Davis, chief of the branch. "She was the most dedicated and committed person that I've ever had the privilege of working with. It was truly an honor, and a personal blessing, to have had the opportunity to work with Patty, but more importantly to be able to call her my friend."

According to Davis, shortly after Denney retired, she was presented with a plaque from the NINDS contracting office. "This was our attempt to summarize and to share with her what she meant to us," he said. The plaque said, "We salute you for your many years of tireless dedication; we salute you for being our pillar of strength; we salute you for making the CMB, NINDS what it is today; you have set the example and left behind the footprints for us to follow; you have touched each of us in such a special way — we are all the better because of you."

Although most of her federal career was spent at NINDS, Denney also worked at NHLBI and at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

She is survived by her husband Edward; son Christopher, of Fanwood, N.J.; daughter Mary Ellen Ehrsam, of Westfield, N.eight sisters, four brothers, a grandchild and many other relatives, including a sister-in-law, Sue Rogus, who works at NHLBI.

NIDDK Postdoctoral Fellow Chen Dies

Dr. Yng-Gwen Chen

Dr. Yng-Gwei Chen, a postdoctoral fellow in NIDDK's Laboratory of Chemical Physics (LCP), died on Mar. 6 in a car accident en route to the Biophysical Society annual meeting in Baltimore. She would have been 31 years old on Mar. 25.

Chen came to the United States from Taiwan to study physics and received her doctorate from the University of Maryland in fall 2004. Her enormous scientific curiosity and interest in physics, biology and the life sciences led her to NIH in January 2005. During her time at NIH, Chen served as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Gerhard Hummer, chief of the theoretical biophysics section of the LCP.

The Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences has established an emergency fund to assist Chen's family. Donations in the form of checks payable to the FAES can be sent to the following address: FAES, Bldg. 60, Suite 230. Write "Dr. Chen emergency fund" on the memo line of the check.

NIDDK Council Welcomes Seven New Members

NIDDK Council New Members
NIDDK acting director Dr. Griffin Rodgers (front, c) meets with new council members (front row, from l) Lisa Richardson, Dr. William Mitch and (back row, from l) Dr. Anthony Schaeffer, Dr. Mark Magnuson, Dr. James Freston, Dr. Charles Elson and Dr. Patrick Tso.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recently announced the appointment of seven new members to its advisory council. They are:

Dr. Charles O. Elson, chair in gastroenterology and vice chair for research in the department of medicine, University of Alabama, Birmingham.

Dr. James W. Freston, chair of clinical pharmacology and professor emeritus, University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

Dr. Mark A. Magnuson, professor of molecular physiology and biophysics and director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Dr. William E. Mitch, professor of medicine and director of the division of nephrology, Baylor College of Medicine.

Lisa H. Richardson, national emeritus chairperson of the board for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, Inc., New York City.

Dr. Anthony J. Schaeffer, professor and chairman, department of urology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University.

Dr. Patrick Tso, professor of pathology, associate director of the Cincinnati Obesity Research Center, director of the Cincinnati Mouse Diabetes Phenotyping Center, director of the Center for Lipid and Atherosclerosis Research, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

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