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Vol. LIX, No. 16
August 10, 2007

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  Capt. Peter Hartsock (l) joins TV fitness guru Jack LaLanne as a White House honoree.  
  Capt. Peter Hartsock (l) joins TV fitness guru Jack LaLanne as a White House honoree.  
NIDA's Hartsock Wins President's Medal

Capt. Peter Hartsock of NIDA recently won the inaugural Platinum Medal of the President's Council on Fitness and Sports for achievements exceeding what for half a century had been honored by a gold medal.

The President's Fitness Challenge was instituted in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower and has continued under all succeeding chief executives. For the last 50 years, the highest level of achievement recognized by the challenge was the Gold Medal. But it recently became clear that a few individuals exceeded the gold standard by a considerable margin. First among these overachievers is Hartsock, who received the first Platinum Medal.

At the council's observance of National Fitness Month in May, several "legends of fitness" were recognized for lifetime achievements. They included longtime television fitness guru Jack LaLanne and aerobics godfather Dr. Ken Cooper.

In addition to Hartsock's fitness achievements, he has also been a program official in NIDA's AIDS research since it was established in the 1980's. His focus has been on international aspects of the AIDS epidemic and quantitative modeling and has earned him Surgeon General's Exemplary Service Medals.

Hartsock says one of the reasons he works out daily is that he is the oldest active ocean lifeguard on the Delmarva coast. "You have to be in shape or you don't come back alive and you don't succeed in making a rescue," he said. He is on the national board of the U.S. Lifesaving Association, the British Royal Lifesaving Society and is a governor of the British Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

"I'm not a fitness freak," he added. "I do what I do to stay alive and to be as able as possible to help others. Plus, it makes for a much better quality of life."

NLM Communications Chief Mehnert Retires

Bob MehnertBob Mehnert, director of the National Library of Medicine's Office of Communications and Public Liaison, retired last month after more than 43 years of federal service. In a career that has roughly paralleled the computer age, the Buffalo native applied his editorial and literary talents to the rise of mainframes, the Internet and podcasts. He promoted and shared the breadth of knowledge contained in NLM's print and electronic holdings with what has become a global user group.

A graduate of the University of Buffalo, he came to NLM in 1965 and, after a stint in publishing, returned in 1971 to become public information officer. He has managed the press office of the largest medical library in the world ever since.

Among many achievements, Mehnert helped launch in 1998. Today, the site is renowned worldwide by physicians and medical experts as a reliable source of consumer-friendly health information. He also led publicity efforts on behalf of, NIHSeniorHealth. gov, Genetics Home Reference and the Household Products Database, rich online resources that reflect the library's trend of disseminating the biomedical knowledge of the world, not only to medical professionals but also to the public.

As demonstrated by the fruits of his career, Mehnert's primary service is to people. By keeping NLM in the news, he kept the public in the know, spreading information as quickly as research breakthroughs and new databases became available. Most recently, working with an editorial team at NLM and contributors throughout NIH, he helped produce the new quarterly magazine NIH MedlinePlus to give people health care news they can use in their daily lives.

Though honored with the NIH Director's Award and the NLM Director's Award, among other distinctions, Mehnert received perhaps the greatest compliments from colleagues who hailed him as a talented wordsmith, the professional's professional and someone who takes the work, but not himself, seriously. He was also one of the NIH Blood Bank's most loyal donors, contributing some 185 pints through the years.

A family man first, Mehnert relishes spending time with his three daughters and seven grandchildren. He and his wife, Helene, also have one great grandchild and a second on the way. On family outings to Duck, N.C., each summer, Mehnert has long enjoyed fishing and sailing-hobbies he will continue in the coming years.

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