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Vol. LIX, No. 21
October 19, 2007
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What's in a Name?
Annual Campus Relay Gets Competitive, Creative Juices Flowing


  Christy Dewitt of #86 Derminators takes the baton from Garrett Dejesus (c) as Ashesh Thaker of team #85 Hughes Your Daddy (l) dashes past.  
  Christy Dewitt of #86 Derminators takes the baton from Garrett Dejesus (c) as Ashesh Thaker of team #85 Hughes Your Daddy (l) dashes past.  
There's always more than one competition during the annual NIH Institute Challenge Relay. There's the run, of course, but there's also the challenge of adopting the wittiest name. This year's race, held on Sept. 20, did not disappoint. Although no prizes for this genius are awarded, its creative process bears examination.

For some teams, it's just a matter of working with the letters you're given. Take your IC's initials and, er, run, like these teams: C uS Run, To Run OER Not to Run, eNIGMaS, Over Early Racers, I'm ODd.

Some names incorporate the name of someone else, say the head of a section or lab: Wurtz Possible Runners (for NEI senior investigator Dr. Robert Wurtz), Gottesman's Gang (for NIH deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman), Blair Swift Project (for NIMH principal investigator Dr. James Blair) and Hughes Your Daddy (for NIH neighbor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute).

Or you can use your work to inspire you.

Race to the finish—Nick Knuth (r) of Biomechanicals just edges out Cameron Dezfulian of Nitrite XP for third place. The Velocity Raptors’ Mary McLaughlin hands off to Chad Koratich.
NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni (l) prepares to start one of two relay heats as racers take their marks.

Top left: Race to the finish-Nick Knuth (r) of Biomechanicals just edges out Cameron Dezfulian of Nitrite XP for third place.

Top Right: The Velocity Raptors' Mary McLaughlin hands off to Chad Koratich.

Above: NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni (l) prepares to start one of two relay heats as racers take their marks.

"I was one of the original founders of the Bolting Electrons, along with two other people," said Jeff Lengyel of NCI. "At that point in time we just thought [the race] would be a fun thing to do and a good excuse to do a little exercise outside of lab. My lab does cryo-electron microscopy, so my supervisor, Sriram Subramaniam, came up with the name Bolting Electrons. Our first year [2004], we came in a very impressive third place. The following year we also came in third. We were bolting indeed!"

Last year, Lengyel took a break from the Electrons to create a new team. For the last several years, he has been both an NCI postdoc and a grad student in a joint graduate partnership program with the University of Cambridge and NIH.

"I thought it would be good to start an annual Oxford/Cambridge relay race team because I thought it would be a good way to foster graduate student interaction," he explained. "We decided to call the team 'the Roundabouts' as roundabouts are common circular roads in England. The Roundabouts came in ninth in 2006, while the Bolting Electrons came in second. This year I returned to the Bolting Electrons and we came in second."

Former Electrons captain Rachid Sougrat of NICHD's Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch also changed squads. "This year I moved to another lab," he said, "and the name of my team is Goal G, since we work on the Golgi apparatus, an organelle that was first described by Camillo Golgi more than 100 years ago."

First place Rapid Relaxation (from l) Ava Asher, Tony Gill, Tyler Jones, Peter Bandettini and Eliana Bonifacino claim bragging rights in the 24th Institute Challenge Relay.
The 2nd place Bolting Electrons include (from l) runners Jeff Lengyel (NCI), Megan Dennis (NHGRI), Ari Halper-Stromberg (NCI), Patricia Zerfas (OD), Adam Bennett (NCI), NCI/LCB lab chief Dr. Michael Gottesman and LCB section chief Sriram Subramaniam.
Taking 3rd place were Biomechanicals (from l) Vipul Periwal, Hollie Metcalfe, Will Heuett, Karen Ong and Nick Knuth.

Top: First place Rapid Relaxation (from l) Ava Asher, Tony Gill, Tyler Jones, Peter Bandettini and Eliana Bonifacino claim bragging rights in the 24th Institute Challenge Relay.

Middle: The 2nd place Bolting Electrons include (from l) runners Jeff Lengyel (NCI), Megan Dennis (NHGRI), Ari Halper-Stromberg (NCI), Patricia Zerfas (OD), Adam Bennett (NCI), NCI/LCB lab chief Dr. Michael Gottesman and LCB section chief Sriram Subramaniam.

Bottom: Taking 3rd place were Biomechanicals (from l) Vipul Periwal, Hollie Metcalfe, Will Heuett, Karen Ong and Nick Knuth.

2007 NIH Challenge Relay Results Top 40
Place
Team#
 
Name
Time
1
84
  Rapid Relaxation 13:54
2
09
  Place 14:10
3
01
  Biomechanicals 14:21
4
14
  Nitrite XP 14:22
5
16
  Spit Fires 14:29
6
68
  Goal G 14:33
7
60
  Wurtz Possible Runners 14:48
8
41
  Proud Snail Hunters 14:57
9
62
  Blair Swift Project 15:09
10
50
  Decibelles 15:22
11
08
  Catch Me If You Can-cer 15:39
12
80
  Rate Limiting Steps 15:43
13
85
  Hughes Your Daddy 15:48
14
69
  Eyes on the Prize 15:54
15
22
  Runners of Interest (ROIs) 15:57
16
79
  Beauty and the Geeks 16:11
17
77
  Five Women 16:15
18
87
  Anything but Last Place 16:18
19
91
  Long Legged Crazy Mental Runners 16:24
20
03
  Ezruns

16:27

21
30
  Kiss Meiosis 16:31
22
34
  The Roundabouts 16:41
23
24
  Clinic 8 Velocity Raptors 16:44
24
56
  Cancer Chupacabraas 16:49
25
83
  CD5 Runners 16:50
26
35
  FIC Globetrotters 16:51
27
88
  Gottesman's Gang 16:53
28
06
  Move Your Fatty Acids...Faster 16:55
29
26
  Snot Docs 16:56
30
17
  Apoptotic Buddies 17:01
31
42
  The FastA's 17:05
32
12
  The Running Buffers 17:10
33
82
  Clot Busters 17:12
34
39
  Racey Ears 17:13
35
52
  Distortion Products 17:14
36
86
  Derminators 17:16
37
07
  Running With Immunity 17:29
38
65
  Eye Ai Aie 17:30
39
29
  Bad Breath All Star 17:31
40
02
  Spin Doctors 17:36
         

John E. Ingeholm of NIMH's Laboratory of Brain and Cognition noted, "Our team name [ROI] is a play on words of a step used in analyzing our neuroimaging data. Areas that are expected to contain activity based on a hypo-thesis are called 'Regions of Interest.'"

Isabelle Suffia (2nd from l) of V “eye” P takes the handoff from Arrash Yazdani (l); Snot Docs’ Todd Wilson prepares to pass the baton to Nayoung Kim (r).
Zerhouni holds the standard for I’m ODd team members (from l) Tim Hays, Tom Gill, Ravi Sawhney, Penny Burgoon and Camelia Owen.
Morgan Mandingo (l) and Nick McBride of the Roundabouts successfully negotiate the exchange.

Top: Isabelle Suffia (2nd from l) of V "eye" P takes the handoff from Arrash Yazdani (l); Snot Docs' Todd Wilson prepares to pass the baton to Nayoung Kim (r).

Middle: Zerhouni holds the standard for I'm ODd team members (from l) Tim Hays, Tom Gill, Ravi Sawhney, Penny Burgoon and Camelia Owen.

Bottom: Morgan Mandingo (l) and Nick McBride of the Roundabouts successfully negotiate the exchange.

 

For the second straight year, OD's Office of Communications and Public Liaison-which handles the way NIH comes across to outsiders- chose Spin Doctors for its race handle. V "eye" P of NEI, FIC Globetrotters, Running with Immunity of NIAID and Catch Me if You Can-cer were easier to figure out, but still clever ways of referring to work.

Quite a few groups describe the runners themselves in the team name.

"Velocity Raptors comes from the word 'velociraptor' and has nothing to do with our work in clinical research," explained Cathy Rehm, whose teammates all work in the NIAID 8th floor outpatient clinic in the CRC and also run informally apart from the NIH relay. "It has more to do with the fact that some of us are 'fast dinosaurs.' The name was decided upon prior to any of the members even suggesting that we would be participating in the NIH relay. Since we already had the shirts printed, and plenty of team members, we decided to use what we had already in place."

Then there are the names not even team members can explain.

"The name Supersonic Pancakes came to us in 2006," said Alexey Iskhakov of NLM/NCBI, remembering the details only vaguely. "There were two Russian women who formed a whole Russian team that consisted of Russian-speaking people from the former USSR. I do not know how they invented that name. I think that it is better to ask them about it."

"'Pancake' was Sveta's contribution," interjected teammate Leonid Khotomliansky, clearing up (or further muddying) the issue. "'Supersonic' was a collective thought. I personally was trying to ban 'pancake' from the name, but failed and it stuck there eventually, which now seems to be a good thing. So I'm glad I failed that time."

Still researching the name's origin, Iskhakov added, "Seems that 'pancakes' is a free translation of the Russian word 'bliny'-Russian-style crepes." Okay.

As for the winners of the 24th Institute Challenge Relay, which consists of five loops around Bldg. 1 (and completed in two heats because so many teams registered), Rapid Relaxation finished first in 13:54.

"That was just about the course record," said Randy Schools, president of the R&W Association, which, along with NIH's former Health's Angels Running Club, manages logistics for the race.

The Bolting Electrons took 2nd place at 14:10 and the Biomechanicals rounded out the top three at 14:21. NIH Record Icon

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