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Vol. LIX, No. 24
November 30, 2007

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Diversity Council Celebrates ‘Many Voices, One Mission’

Join the NIH Diversity Council in celebrating “A Time for Diversity: Many People, Many Voices, One Mission” through a series of events:

  • Art of Diversity, a retrospective of posters from special emphasis observances and events. Posters are on exhibit through Dec. 12 in the lobbies of 6001 Neuroscience Center and 6701 Rockledge 2.
  • The Face of Diversity, a gathering for NIH employees to meet and share information with members of NIH employee and affinity groups, will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 5 in the Clinical Center south lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Science of Diversity, a retrospective of NIH intramural research posters, will be displayed Dec. 3-7 at the Lister Hill Center, Bldg. 38A. Informal 10-minute briefings on the impact of diversity and health disparities on scientific research will be held in Lister Hill Auditorium from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

For more information about these events, contact Dr. William Elwood, NIH Diversity Council chair, (301) 435-1503 or Sign language interpreters will be provided. For reasonable accommodation needs, call Carlton Coleman at (301) 496-2906 or via the Federal Relay Service, 1-800-877-8339.

2008 Open Season Reminder

The Benefits Open Season for federal employees began Nov. 12 and will continue through Dec. 10. The open season covers the federal health, dental and vision insurance programs as well as Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Eligible employees now have the opportunity to start, change or cancel their enrollment during open season. Remember, to contribute to an FSA in 2008, you must enroll or re-enroll during the open season. For details about the Benefits Open Season, visit the Benefits and Payroll Liaison web site at openseason/openseason.htm or call (301) 496-4556.

Holiday Food Safety Urged

The holiday season is upon us and the Community Health Branch, Division of Occupational Health and Safety, Office of Research Services reminds everyone to take extra time and include food safety in holiday food preparations. Office parties, family gatherings and community celebrations can present unique food safety challenges. Cooking food properly and then holding and serving that food at the appropriate temperature is important, along with good hygienic practices, and can reduce the potential for food-related illnesses. For more information, visit or contact the Community Health Branch, Food Safety Program manager at (301) 496-2960.

Democracy Plaza Gets Blood Pressure Machine

A blood pressure monitoring station is now available for NIH employees in Democracy Plaza. The device is located in Democracy II, Rm. 700LR (the seventh-floor lunch room). For more information about the machines, contact the Division of Occupational Health and Safety, (301) 496-2960.

NICHD Director Alexander Honored

Dr. Duane Alexander
NICHD director Dr. Duane Alexander recently received the Distinguished Service Award for 2007 from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. He was honored for his significant contributions to the field of women’s health. Under his leadership, the institute has sponsored research on HIV infection, transmission and treatment in women and children. NICHD studies of infertility treatment have advanced the field of reproductive medicine. Alexander was named NICHD director in 1986.

STEP Forum on Autism, Dec. 11

The staff training in extramural programs (STEP) committee will present a Science for All forum on the topic, “Autism: What Do We Know Now?” on Tuesday, Dec. 11 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Lister Hill Auditorium, Bldg. 38A.

Recent studies suggest that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may occur in about one out of 150 children. ASD is typically diagnosed in early childhood, although some of the related conditions may not be diagnosed until a child enters school. ASD manifests itself in many different ways that range from non-verbal learning disorders to pervasive developmental disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome and frank autism.

What populations are most at risk for having ASD? How are autism spectrum disorders characterized? Is the prevalence of ASD truly increasing?

This forum will address the prevailing theories and current research on ASD, discuss early diagnosis, co-occurring medical conditions and options for interventions to lessen symptoms and improve functionality.

HHS Limits Color-Coding on New NIH ID Badges

A potentially contentious issue regarding the issuance of a unique NIH identification card to identify employees who are non-U.S. citizens has suddenly become a non-issue. As part of HHS’s compliance with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12)—the federal mandate requiring a government-wide identification process including employment suitability for all federal employees, contractors and affiliates—HHS originally proposed including a blue-striped ID badge to identify all non-U.S. citizens working at NIH as “foreign nationals.” Their rationale was that it would serve as an added security measure.

Following discussions with NIH, the department agreed to drop the “foreign nationals” designation for all HHS agencies, leaving only two badge categories—employee and contractor. The new badges, also known as Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards, will be distinguishable by a white stripe for federal employees and a green stripe for contractors and organizational affiliates. Badges of employees designated as “emergency responders” will also include a narrow red stripe toward the bottom of the card.

The foreign-national designation was originally part of guidance released by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, the agency responsible for crafting the department’s standards for PIV cards.

Testing of the new PIV card is currently under way in other HHS agencies. Some NIH employees could begin receiving these new ID cards before the end of 2007; however, rollout at NIH will begin in earnest at the beginning of the new year. The expectation is that all employees and contractors will be issued their new PIV cards by October 2008.

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