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Vol. LX, No. 11
May 30, 2008

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NHLBI Senior Investigator Ginsburg Dies

Dr. Ann Ginsburg
Dr. Ann Ginsburg

Dr. Ann Ginsburg, a senior investigator and chief of the section on protein chemistry within NHLBI’s Laboratory of Biochemistry, died of cardiac arrest on Feb. 25. She was 76.

“Passionate about science, involved and intense, Ann made an indelible impression on all who knew her,” said Dr. Boon Chock, chief of the Laboratory of Biochemistry. “She leaves behind many who will miss her expertise and scientific support, her enthusiasm and friendship.”

Ginsburg arrived at NIH with her husband, Victor Ginsburg, in the mid-1950s as one of the first waves of husband and wife duos who have contributed so much to NIH. The move to Bethesda interrupted her studies for a Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley with Dr. Howard Schachman, a pioneer in ultracentrifugation techniques and a renowned protein physical chemist. She worked for 3 years as a chemist in the laboratories of Drs. B.L. Horecker and W.F. Harrington at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases and the National Heart Institute, respectively. Her doctoral research (1964, George Washington University) under the guidance of Dr. W.R. Carroll revealed for the first time that protein unfolding can be described as a reversible two-state transition. Results of this study are widely cited in textbooks.

Ginsburg joined the Laboratory of Biochemistry in 1966 to work with Dr. Earl Stadtman to study protein structural changes induced by binding of metal ions, substrates and allosteric effectors and the resulting effects on the catalytic activity of the enzymes in the E. coli glutamine synthetase cascade. Strong-minded and independent, Ginsburg flourished in Stadtman’s lab, stimulated by the high-caliber scientific action going on around her and supported by a gifted and generous mentor who encouraged her to publish independently.

She established herself as an expert on protein structure and metal ligand-induced conformational changes using spectral techniques and hydrodynamic measurements. Using differential scanning calorimetry, Ginsburg determined changes in free energy provoked by ligand-protein interactions that are associated with reversible transitions from one protein conformational state to another.

“She had the well-deserved reputation for being meticulous in her studies and the interesting data that she generated was a benchmark for work in the field,” said Dr. Alan Peterkofsky, a scientist emeritus at the NHLBI Cell Biology and Physiology Center who described Ginsburg as a friend and collaborator for more than 40 years.

Ginsburg was highly respected for her work with the Model E ultracentrifuge, a monstrous analytical instrument that required great care and knowledge, as well as considerable strength and stamina, to operate. She was sought after by researchers throughout NIH to help analyze and sort out conformational differences in their protein samples, with Ginsburg herself running the Model E and carrying out data analysis. This pattern persisted for nearly 30 years until she retired the last Model E operating in the U.S.; the advent of high-speed computers paved the way for newer and more user-friendly instruments.

“Ann maintained an active research program, involving collaborations throughout the NIH and took on extracurricular duties as scientific reviewer and editor, while simultaneously for 10 of her last 15 years taking care of her ailing husband,” noted Dr. Michael Maurizi, chief of NCI’s biochemistry and proteins section. “She was a kind, brave person and an accomplished scientist. Ann’s free-spirited nature and love of life were evident to anyone who saw her cruising around the county in her Pontiac LeMans and later her [BMW] with the top down.”

Ginsburg served on a number of editorial boards, was an executive editor for the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics for 20 years and was honored with a volume dedicated to her upon her retirement from the board in 2004.

She is survived by her son, Mark, her daughter, Lisa, and six grandchildren. Her husband preceded her in death. Donations made in Ginsburg’s name will be accepted by the World Wildlife Fund.

NIAMS’s Steven Honored by Microscopy Society

Dr. Alasdair Steven The Microscopy Society of America recently named Dr. Alasdair Steven, chief of NIAMS’s Laboratory of Structural Biology Research, its 2008 Distinguished Scientist for the Biological Sciences. The international award, given annually since 1975, recognizes researchers with a long-standing record of achievement in the field of microscopy or microanalysis. A theoretical physicist early in his career, Steven switched to molecular biology and in 1978 joined NIH to start a small group specializing in computer- enhanced electron microscopy. That group has grown considerably, becoming in 1990 the laboratory he heads today.

NIAMS’s Breithaupt Wins Award

Gahan Breithaupt
Gahan Breithaupt, associate director for management and operations at NIAMS, has won the 2008 Supervisor/Program Manager of the Year award by the eastern region of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources. He was honored for contributing to and successfully applying sound human resource management principles in carrying out his program responsibilities. Breithaupt joined NIAMS in July 2004 and during his tenure initiated a Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness Program consisting of annual retreats and follow-up workshops for NIAMS managers. He came to NIH in 1996 as chief information officer for NINDS. During his 7 years at NINDS, he also served as acting deputy director of the Division of Extramural Research and as the institute’s acting executive officer. Prior to joining NIH, his professional experience included 17 years with the Internal Revenue Service in various information technology management positions including a 3-year assignment in Indonesia as a senior information systems consultant to the Indonesian government.

NIH’ers Nab 2008 NAGC Honors

The National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) recently announced the winners of its 2008 Blue Pencil/Gold Screen Awards competition. NIH communicators won 12 NAGC awards, which annually recognize the best writing, editing, photography, speechwriting, video and other communication specialties produced by local, state and federal governments. Below are categories and winners that included NIH’ers.

External Magazine. Award of Excellence—Findings September 2007, NIGMS contributors Alison F. Davis, Emily Carlson, Alisa Zapp Machalek

Feature Article. First Place—“Dogging Sepsis,” NIGMS contributors Alisa Zapp Machalek, Alison F. Davis, Ann Dieffenbach

Soft/Hard Cover Book 21-49 pp. 1st Place—So Far Away: Twenty Questions for Long-Distance Caregivers, NIA contributors Freddi Karp, Janice Schuster, Vicky Cahan. Award of Excellence—Computing Life, NIGMS contributor Emily Carlson

Technical or Statistical Report. 2nd Place—The Health and Retirement Study: Growing Older in America, NIA contributors Susan Farrar, Vicky Cahan, John Vance, Freddi Karp

Special Purpose Publication. 2nd Place—Stay Safe in Cold Weather! NIA contributors Freddi Karp, Jann Keenan, Vicky Cahan Writer’s Portfolio. 1st Place—Carmen Phillips, NCI Cancer Bulletin

Web Site I. 2nd Place—Antimicrobial (Drug) Resistance, NIAID contributors Tori Matthews, Krista Townsend

Web Site II. 2nd Place—NIA’s Spanish Language web site, contributors Max Handelsman, Mike Nescot, John O’Grady, Camilo Toledo. Award of Excellence—Pathway to Product Development web site, NIDCR contributors Eleni Kousvelari, Bob Kuska, Jody Dove, Rosemarie Hunziker

E-Newsletter. 1st Place—NCRR E-Reporter, contributors Joyce McDonald, Craig Hicks, Laura Bonetta. Award of Excellence—NIH Research Matters, NIH OCPL contributors Harrison Wein, Vicki Contie, Lauren Conte, Alyson Olander.

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