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Vol. LX, No. 6
March 21, 2008

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Longtime Scientist, Administrator Rall Dies

Dr. Joseph "Ed" Rall

Dr. Joseph “Ed” Rall, thyroid expert, former NIH deputy director for intramural research (DDIR) and a scientist who in the 1950s built a legendary endocrine group in the newly created National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases before serving for nearly 20 years as scientific director for that institute and its various transformations into NIDDK, died Feb. 28. He was 88.

“In addition to Ed’s savvy as a manager and scientific recruiter, mentoring young scientists from around the world, he was a true scientist to the core, typically found reading scientific journals religiously front to back in his lab and office,” said Dr. Michael Gottesman, current DDIR. “Under his direction, his institute, with its modest intramural program, became a major contributor to new discoveries in biomedical and clinical research.”

During his tenure as scientific director, Rall was a supporter of Dr. Marshall Nirenberg as he sequenced the DNA code, Gottesman recalled. “This was a period of intense intramural collaboration that had begun under Ed’s predecessor, DeWitt Stetten, which Stetten later called ‘NIH’s finest hour’ and which earned Nirenberg the Nobel Prize in 1968. “

Ed also oversaw the work of Christian Anfinsen, who won a 1972 Nobel Prize for protein chemistry; Martin Rodbell, who won a 1994 Nobel Prize for work done in the 1970s on GTP-binding and G proteins; and Baruch Blumberg, who performed a part of his prize-winning research at NIAMD in the 1960s before moving to the Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia and winning a 1976 Nobel Prize.”

Rall was a member of the National Academy and the first person at NIH named to the executive rank in the Senior Executive Service. He wrote more than 160 journal articles.

His first major contribution to science, said Gottesman, came in the late 1950s, as a graduate student at the Mayo Clinic and then postdoc at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, where Rall was among the first to use radioactive iodine to study thyroid function. With his long-time friend and NIH colleague Jack Robbins and others, Rall introduced hormone treatment to thwart the development of thyroid nodules and cancer from radiation fallout from atomic bomb testing near the Bikini Atoll. “The programs they developed for prevention and treatment of these radiation-related problems have become standards of care, applied by Ed and his NIDDK colleagues to the near-meltdown at Three Mile Island and for the disaster at Chernobyl,” Gottesman noted.

Rall served as acting deputy director of science from 1981 to 1982 and then as the first DDIR from 1983 to 1991 before his return to the lab and then retirement in the 1990s.

“Often in my own role as DDIR, I ask myself, ‘What would Ed do?,’” said Gottesman. “Ed’s life was synonymous with science. He lived and breathed science and he eloquently championed and defended the scientific process within the Intramural Research Program and beyond. He was one of the lions of NIH and he will be greatly missed.”

Rall’s first wife, Caroline Domm Rall, whom he married in 1944, died in 1976. His second marriage, to Nancy Rall, ended in divorce.

Survivors include two children from the first marriage, Priscilla Rall of Rocky Ridge, Md., and Edward C. Rall of Kensington, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

NCI Appoints Reid Branch Chief

Dr. Britt Reid

Dr. Britt Reid has been named chief of the Modifiable Risk Factors Branch (MRFB) of the Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program (EGRP) in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, NCI. The MRFB focuses on cancer factors that may be modifiable such as diet and nutrition, alcohol, physical activity and energy balance, tobacco, infectious diseases, physical and chemical agents and medical exposures.

Reid joined NCI in 2007 as a program director in MRFB. Prior to joining EGRP, he was an assistant professor in the department of health promotion and policy at the University of Maryland Dental School, where he was director of a graduate course on applied scientific evidence, an epidemiology consultant for the NIH-funded Data Resource Center and global data director for the Special Olympics oral health program. Reid also was a principal investigator for two NIH-funded grants addressing head and neck cancers and co-investigator for two additional NIH-funded grants addressing the impact of comorbid conditions on health outcomes. He also served as a reviewer of epidemiology and cancer content for seven scientific journals and two NIH study sections. He has authored or coauthored 27 manuscripts in peer-reviewed scientific journals since 2000.

Prior to his academic career, Reid practiced clinical dentistry in Washington, D.C., and as a naval officer in support of the Fleet Marine Force in Japan. He received his D.D.S. from the University of Michigan and Ph.D. in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

NIGMS Grantee Slaughter Wins Presidential Award

Dr. Gayle Slaughter

Dr. Gayle Slaughter, director of several NIH-funded minority programs at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, was among the latest recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The annual awards recognize influential institutions and individuals who have been leaders in encouraging minorities, women and people with disabilities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Slaughter is assistant dean for graduate education at Baylor, where she directs two NIGMS Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) programs and an NHLBI training grant aimed at increasing the number of minority biomedical and behavioral scientists.

She was recognized for pioneering Baylor’s Summer Medical and Research Training Program and for her “success in recruiting and retaining graduate students, especially from underrepresented groups.” She is credited with mentoring more than 500 minority students.

Slaughter was among 10 individuals and 1 institution who received the awards during recent ceremonies at the White House. The awards, established by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and administered through the National Science Foundation, consist of a $10,000 grant and a commemorative Presidential certificate.

Since the awards program began in 1996, 14 individuals and 2 organizations supported by MORE have been recognized with the honor.

“The substantial number of awards to MORE grantees is gratifying,” said Dr. Clifton Poodry, director of the MORE program. “It indicates that we are funding some of the most dedicated and effective mentors out there.”

For a full list of MORE winners of the Presidential mentoring award, see—

Kopstein To Head CSR Office

Dr. Gayle Slaughter

Dr. Andrea Kopstein has joined the Center for Scientific Review to head its Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation.

“Dr. Kopstein brings impressive analytic and leadership skills, and we’re pleased she will be leading efforts to plan and assess our many initiatives to enhance CSR’s peer review operations,” said CSR director Dr. Toni Scarpa. He noted that Kopstein has nearly 30 years of experience planning and evaluating federal health science programs. “And she was the top candidate recommended by a trans-NIH search committee, which conducted a nationwide search,” he added.

Kopstein comes to CSR from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, where she was chief of the Quality Improvement and Workforce Development Branch within the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. This was one of three progressive terms as chief of branches within the center. She formerly led the Practice Improvement and Program Evaluation Branches.

Before becoming a branch chief, Kopstein was a survey statistician working on the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, first at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and then SAMHSA. Early in her career, she spent 11 years at the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working on multiple national data-collection efforts. She received her Ph.D. in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins and her masters in public health from the University of Texas.

Crystallography Expert Smith Joins NIGMS

Dr. Ward Smith

Dr. Ward Smith recently joined NIGMS as a program director in the Structural Genomics and Proteomics Technology Branch of the Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics. His responsibilities include helping to direct the Protein Structure Initiative, a network of research centers that are making protein structure determination faster, easier, cheaper and more useful to a broad range of scientists. Smith was formerly a protein crystallographer in the biosciences division at Argonne National Laboratory, where his research focused on the structure and function of biological macromolecules and structure-based drug design. Prior to that, he was an associate director in the department of structural biology at GlaxoSmithKline. Smith earned a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the University of Michigan. He conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Los Angeles.


Schwartzberg Wins AAI Investigator Award

Dr. Pamela L. Schwartzberg

Dr. Pamela L. Schwartzberg, senior investigator and head of the cell signaling section of NHGRI’s Genetic Disease Research Branch, will receive the AAI-BD Biosciences Investigator Award from the American Association of Immunologists (AAI).

The award recognizes Schwartzberg’s outstanding early-career research contributions to the field of immunology and her high-impact observations in the broad field of T-cell signaling. Her work utilizes genetic and biochemical approaches to dissect signaling pathways in T cells and determine the roles these pathways play in lymphocyte development and function.

“To be in the same category as some of the other awardees is an incredible honor,” Schwartzberg said. “I was not trained as an immunologist, and I really have learned from my colleagues on the NIH campus. Their feedback has been invaluable.”

Schwartzberg’s selection reflects the appreciation in the immunology community for contributions from a genomics researcher. It recognizes her accomplishments to date and her promise of success in the future. She will accept the award on Apr. 7 at the 95th annual meeting of AAI in San Diego, where she has been invited to deliver a lecture to mark the honor. The award includes a plaque, $3,000 and travel support to attend the meeting. AAI is the largest professional association of immunologists, with a membership of more than 6,500 scientists.

Star Named NIDDK Division Director

Dr. Ward Smith

Dr. Robert Star has been named director of the Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases, NIDDK. He has been acting director of the extramural research division since September 2006 and was appointed director on Feb. 26 after a nationwide search. Star oversees a $400 million program of grants and contracts.

“Dr. Star is an exemplary and creative physician-scientist, leader and manager. A scientific leader, not just a manager,” said NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers. “He rolls up his sleeves, steps up to tough issues and attracts problem-solving, talented scientists from within as well as outside NIH to craft solutions.”

Star was a postdoctoral fellow at NIH in the mid-1980s before joining the faculty of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. In 1999, he returned to NIH as a senior scientific advisor for kidney disease and to run a lab studying acute kidney injury. In 2002, he became senior advisor for clinical research in the NIH Office of Science Policy and Planning. There he worked on NIH Roadmap for Medical Research initiatives to re-engineer the clinical research enterprise. He also led training and career programs for clinical researchers and helped develop the clinical and translational science awards.

Especially interested in translational research, Star’s own intramural work on early identification, prevention and pre-emption of sepsis and acute kidney injury will continue. His research has produced more than 100 published manuscripts and he has written 8 textbook chapters and holds several patents.

Star graduated summa cum laude in applied mathematics from Harvard College and cum laude from the Harvard Medical School-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program in Health Sciences and Technology. His did his internship and residency in internal medicine at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago.

Star has received honorary awards and research support from NIH, FDA, biotech and the Young Investigator Award recognizing excellence in nephrology research, jointly awarded by the American Society of Nephrology and the American Heart Association. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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