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Vol. LIX, No. 23
November 16, 2007

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Three NIGMS Grantees Receive 2007 Gairdner Awards

Dr. C. David Allis Dr. Harry F. Noller Dr. Thomas A. Steitz
Dr. C. David Allis Dr. Harry F. Noller Dr. Thomas A. Steitz
Three long-time NIGMS grantees were among five recipients of the 2007 Gairdner Foundation International Award. “The 2007 awards reflect the importance of basic discoveries that lead to a better understanding of human disease and the development of treatments and cures to alleviate them,” said Gairdner Foundation president Dr. John Dirks.

Dr. C. David Allis, head of the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics at Rockefeller University, was honored for his research on chromatin structure and the role of histone modifications in regulating gene expression and maintaining genome stability.

Dr. Harry F. Noller, director of the Center for Molecular Biology of RNA at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Dr. Thomas A. Steitz, Sterling professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University, were recognized for their separate studies on the structure and function of the ribosome.

In addition, NCI grantee Dr. Dennis J. Slamon of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine was honored for his research on the breast cancer drug Herceptin.

The foundation established the awards in 1957 to recognize the achievements of medical researchers whose work contributes significantly to improving the quality of life. Since its inception, the prize has honored 283 scientists worldwide, 68 of whom have gone on to win Nobel Prizes. Awardees received $30,000 in Canadian funds at an Oct. 25 ceremony in Toronto.

NIH Welcomes ‘Emerging Leaders’

James Peterson (rear, l) ELP program manager, welcomes new Emerging Leaders at NIH. They include (front, from l) Amanda Linehan, Jewell Washington, Mammah Borbor, Anissa Brown and (rear, r) Cornelius Moore
James Peterson (rear, l) ELP program manager, welcomes new Emerging Leaders at NIH. They include (front, from l) Amanda Linehan, Jewell Washington, Mammah Borbor, Anissa Brown and (rear, r) Cornelius Moore.
NIH recently welcomed five interns who are participating in the HHS Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). They have diverse professional and educational backgrounds, some with multiple advanced degrees in fields such as social work, public health, biological sciences and business administration. They have worked in various capacities in the areas of child welfare, veterinary medicine, cell physiology, health literacy and bone marrow donations. They currently work in offices at NCI, NIDDK, NIAAA and Office of the NIH Director.

The ELP class of 2009 had to compete with some 2,500 highly qualified candidates from all over the country for a few spots in this 2-year leadership development program. Only the top 2 percent of applicants were hired.

The program requires interns to spend 12 months conducting rotational assignments throughout various HHS operating divisions. The interns spend the first 6 months in their NIH home offices before embarking on successive 3-month rotations of their choice throughout HHS. The interns then return to their home offices at NIH for the last 6 months of the program.

In addition to regular work assignments, the interns are required to participate in three formal HHS leadership training sessions per year, which are modeled after HHS competency standards and the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program. They must also complete a 6-month group project.

There are currently 21 ELP alumni at NIH. For more information about the program, contact James Peterson at the NIH Training Center, (301) 451-7302.

NIGMS Retiree Van Lenten Mourned

Dr. Lee Van Lenten
Dr. Lee Van Lenten, a former program director and branch chief in the NIGMS Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry, died on Sept. 11 after a brief illness.

He retired in 1995 after 24 years with the Public Health Service, 19 of them with NIGMS. At the time of his retirement, Van Lenten administered research grants in the areas of physiology and trauma and burn injury. He also managed the NIGMS Medical Scientist Training Program, whose graduates receive the combined M.D.-Ph.D. degree.

During his career with PHS, Van Lenten was awarded two Commendation Medals and an Outstanding Service Medal. He was also the recipient of a Golden Apple Award from Georgetown University Medical Center students for teaching biochemistry. A native of New Jersey, he received his A.B. from Colgate University and his M.D. from Yale University School of Medicine.

During retirement, Van Lenten enjoyed gardening, traveling to Europe and helping to maintain the Rockville United Church building.

He is survived by his wife, Beth; a daughter, Deborah; a son, Thomas; and two granddaughters.

Memorial gifts may be mailed to Community Ministries of Rockville, 114 West Montgomery Ave., Rockville, MD 20850 or the Children’s Inn at NIH, 7 West Drive, Bethesda, MD 20814-1509.

NIH Welcomes New Interns

NIH recently welcomed new NIH Management Interns and Presidential Management Fellows. They are (from l) Fettina Bryant, Sheria Washington, Jacob Hoots, Alan Jackson, Jane Knisely, Virginia Hill, Brian Haugen, Aaron Bell, Andrea Reuss, Molly Puente and Jessica Rodriguez.
NIH recently welcomed new NIH Management Interns and Presidential Management Fellows. They are (from l) Fettina Bryant, Sheria Washington, Jacob Hoots, Alan Jackson, Jane Knisely, Virginia Hill, Brian Haugen, Aaron Bell, Andrea Reuss, Molly Puente and Jessica Rodriguez.
Eleven new Management Interns (MIs) and Presidential Management Fellows (PMFs) recently began 2-year career development assignments at NIH.

The NIH Management Intern Program, established 50 years ago, has graduated over 400 interns and provides a variety of experiences in administrative career fields for highly motivated employees. Through a series of rotation assignments, training, mentoring and career-planning, interns gain hands-on experience in a variety of fields. Joining the program in 2007 are: Aaron Bell, Fettina Bryant, Alan Jackson, Andree Reuss, Jessica Rodriguez and Sheria Washington.

In addition to the MI Program, NIH participates in the PMF Program, administered by the Office of Personnel Management. PMF targets graduates from the nation’s leading colleges and universities who have an interest in leadership and management in the federal service. During their program, PMFs explore rotational opportunities at NIH and also participate in training, mentoring and career-planning activities. Joining the program in 2007 are: Brian Haugen, Virginia Hill, Jacob Hoots, Jane Knisely and Molly Puente.

Many MI and PMF graduates have gone on to become NIH administrative managers. Janet Dudrick, a 2001 PMF graduate who is now assistant director for management in the Office of Management, says the intern program adds value to NIH: “It is a win-win for all. As an intern with the ability to rotate around and work in different job environments, I had the opportunity to work on projects I never would have had an opportunity to touch and further broadened my skill set.”

Dudrick now enjoys having interns rotate through her office. “They bring energy and a fresh perspective,” she said, “often creating a synergy that helps push a project forward.”

For more information on the intern programs, visit

Szabo Receives Biophysical Society Award

Dr. Lee Van Lenten
Dr. Attila Szabo, chief of the theoretical biophysical chemistry section in the NIDDK Laboratory of Chemical Physics, was one of 14 recipients of the 2008 Biophysical Society awards. He was honored for developing novel theoretical analyses for a wide variety of experiments and bringing leadership to the service of biological physics. Szabo and the other recipients will receive their awards at the joint Biophysical Society annual meeting and IUPAB International Biophysics Congress awards ceremony next February at the Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif.

Pacak Receives Heimann Lecture Award

Dr. Lee Van Lenten
Dr. Karel Pacak has received the 2007 Peter Heimann Lecture Award from the International Association of Endocrine Surgeons for his work related to pheochromocytoma. He received the honor recently in Montreal during International Surgical Week 2007. Pacak, who is chief of the section on medical neuroendocrinology, NICHD, spoke on “PET Technology in Endocrine Oncology.” He is also adjunct professor of medicine at Georgetown University and at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. His work focuses on diagnosis, pathophysiology and molecular biology of pheochromocytoma. Together with other colleagues from NIH, he introduced the use of plasma metanephrines and 18-F-fluorodopamine positron emission tomography in biochemical diagnosis and localization of pheochromocytoma. In 2005, Pacak established the first international symposium on pheochromocytoma and served as its first president.

New Appointments at NCMHD

Dr. Francisco Sy Dr. Ileana Herrell
An award-winning epidemiologist and an advisor to four U.S. Presidents have recently been named to lead NCMHD offices. Dr. Francisco Sy (l), a longtime senior health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and team leader in the HIV/AIDS Prevention Branch, is the new director of extramural activities and scientific programs. Dr. Ileana Herrell, a consultant to the WHO and ILO in Geneva and member of several White House task forces on health and health policy, is new director of scientific strategic planning and policy analysis. Calling them “unique public servants,” NCMHD director Dr. John Ruffin said Sy and Herrell bring the kind of scientific rigor and public health fervor needed to lead the center’s efforts to eliminate health disparities in this country.

Alumni Association Ends Successful Run After 18 Years

Dr. Francisco Sy
At its final meeting on Oct. 6, the NIH Alumni Association celebrated a successful 18-year run by reflecting on a number of accomplishments, including continuous publication of a newsletter, NIHAA Update.
Association President Charles “Chick” Leasure, Jr., congratulates Update editor Harriet Greenwald, who oversaw printing of 40 issues and served as the association’s executive director for all 18 years.
The association’s last gathering included (from l) current president Leasure and past presidents Cal Baldwin, Dr. Joe Held (who died 3 weeks later, on Oct. 29), Paul Van Nevel, Dr. William Gay and Dr. William Jordan.

Dr. Francisco Sy

Wyatt Receives Surgeon General’s Highest Honor

Dr. Lee Van Lenten
Dr. Richard G. Wyatt (r), deputy director of the Office of Intramural Research, was awarded the Surgeon General’s Medallion by acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu (l) at a ceremony on Sept. 27. This is the highest award the surgeon general bestows. The honor recognizes Wyatt’s 36 years in the Commissioned Corps, from which he retired on Sept. 1. He will continue in his OIR post; he has served that office since 1984.

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