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Vol. LIX, No. 9
May 4, 2007

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Veteran Journalist Strait Named NCMHD Communications Director

George A. Strait, Jr.
Award-winning journalist George A. Strait, Jr., is the new director of communications at the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

"Mr. Strait brings a multitude of broadcasting, strategic communications and administrative experiences to the NCMHD that will serve the center and the NIH well," said NCMHD director Dr. John Ruffin.

Strait has an extensive and diverse career in communications. He has served as associate vice chancellor for public affairs at the University of California, Berkeley, where he oversaw university communications, media relations, government affairs, Cal parents and visitor services. Before joining UC Berkeley, Strait chaired the board at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation for improving the lives of the disadvantaged. At the Dr. Spock Co., an Internet resource for parenting and childcare, he served as vice president of content and media.

Most of Strait's career has been spent in broadcast news. For 22 years he was a correspondent at ABC News where he covered various beats, from the White House to the peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa. In 1983, he became the first medical and health reporter in network television news history. In January 1993, Strait was named correspondent in charge of directing ABC's coverage of the national health care reform debate. He was ABC's chief medical correspondent until he left the network in 1999.

"In many ways I feel my entire career has led me to this post," Strait said. "Dr. Ruffin and I agree that for the NCMHD to fulfill its mission, communications must be an integral part of every aspect of the center's research and outreach operations."

Strait also taught science reporting and broadcast journalism at Columbia, Rutgers and Wesleyan universities. In 1975, he helped found the National Association of Black Journalists. Strait co-anchored, wrote and produced the critically acclaimed "Black in White America," a documentary on race. In addition, he investigated the syphilis experiments on African-American men in Tuskegee, Ala., producing "The Deadly Deception," which aired on the PBS broadcast NOVA. His achievements have earned him a number of honors in journalism, including the Overseas Press Club's Edward R. Murrow Award for a 10-part series on health care in the Soviet Union; and two Alfred I. DuPont Awards-one for a ground-breaking series on women's health and another for the first look at HIV among African Americans.

A native of Boston, Strait graduated from Boston University with a B.A. degree in biology and completed an M.S. program in biochemical genetics at Atlanta University. He is married and has two sons.

CSR's David Says So Long

Bobbie David
"It's amazing what we got accomplished without computers," says Bobbie David, looking back on her 41½ years of federal service. Exactly 1 month out of high school, she started as a grants clerk in the Division of Research Grants, which is now the Center for Scientific Review. "It was a lot of filing and typing," she recalls. "If there was a paragraph left out of a summary statement, we had to cut and paste and copy it on facsimile machines...which produced copies that would crack and crumble over time."

New responsibilities came as did Xerox machines and other welcome innovations, such as Wite-Out. David soon became a grants technical assistant (GTA) and worked one-on-one with a series of scientists who coordinated different application review groups. Dr. Mike Radtke was one of them and remembers her as "a stickler for NIH policy who kept me out of trouble." He explained that "back then, the better GTA you had the better you were, and many of us would request study section assignments based on who the GTA was."

David eventually rose in the ranks of GTAs to become a lead trainer, helping staff learn to use the early computers, such as the Displaywriters, which were called "toasters" because of the 8-inch disks they used. She then became an IRG lead, assisting staff with computer-related duties while helping a chief of one of CSR's integrated review groups. Later, David became a review technology assistant, working with others to develop documentation, train professional and support staff and troubleshoot. She explains that she tackled each new task "like a dog with a bone...if I didn't have the answer I dug until I got one."

At her retirement party, a number of people thanked David for helping them. One former coworker told her how much it meant to his career that she had helped him learn to type. "I had forgotten all about that," she says. "You do things automatically and don't realize how they affect people. There are so many people I wanted to thank, but some are no longer around.

"Don't wait," she advises. "Let someone know when they do something special."

Handley Named NIAID Associate Director For International Research Affairs

F. Gray Handley

F. Gray Handley joins NIAID as associate director for international research affairs and acting director, Office of Global Research. He will coordinate and facilitate international research activities for NIAID, assuring the institute has a well integrated, scientifically productive program of international research cooperation. Handley will give special attention to research opportunities and the strengthening of research capacity in resource-poor countries. He joins NIAID after having served since 2002 as the U.S. Embassy health attaché and HHS Southern Africa regional representative in Pretoria, South Africa. Prior to that, his career has included many global health and biomedical research management positions, including serving as associate director for prevention research and international programs at NICHD; U.S. science attaché and HHS South Asian representative in New Delhi, India; associate director for international relations at FIC; and public health advisor for the U.S. Department of State. Handley received his M.S.P.H. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Gillen Named NIAID Special Assistant to Deputy Director for Science Management

William Gillen
William Gillen has joined NIAID as a special assistant to the deputy director for science management. He has almost three decades of experience in management and administration of NIH, PHS and HHS operations. Most recently he was responsible for coordinating the review of NIH programs and activities by the HHS Office of Inspector General and U.S. Government Accountability Office and establishing NIH policies and procedures for the use and protection of classified national security information. Gillen has experience in administrative operations, budget analysis, program evaluation and emergency preparedness planning. He is a graduate of St. Louis University and the University of Arizona and is a member of the first class of Presidential Management Interns.

NHLBI's Mishoe Promoted to Rear Admiral

Dr. Robin Barr
Dr. Helena O. Mishoe has been promoted to the rank of rear admiral in the Public Health Service. She is one of only nine individuals currently at the level of flag officer at NIH. She was also selected by the surgeon general to serve as chief professional officer in the scientist category. As chief scientist officer, she is responsible for providing leadership and coordination of PHS scientist professional affairs for the Office of the Surgeon General and the department. She provides guidance and advice to the surgeon general and the scientist professional advisory committee on matters such as recruitment, retention and career development of PHS scientists. Mishoe currently serves as associate director for minority health affairs in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In this capacity, she directs the Office of Minority Health Affairs in the Office of the Director. She has a substantial research and research-administration career in molecular biology, hematopoiesis and stem cell transplantation and biology. A promotion ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, May 18 in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10. A reception will follow. For more information, call Stephanie Smith, (301) 451-5081.

Weidman Joins NIGMS's Office of Scientific Review

Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Weidman
Dr. Margaret "Peggy" Weidman recently joined NIGMS as a scientific review administrator in the Office of Scientific Review. Her duties include managing the review of selected research training, Minority Opportunities in Research and center grant applications. Weidman was formerly an associate professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri where she also served as director of the graduate program and trainer for the M.D.-Ph.D. program. Her research focused on understanding how proteins in mammalian cells move in and out of the Golgi complex. She earned a B.S. in chemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle. She conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University and Princeton University.

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