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Vol. LX, No. 23
November 14, 2008

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NIAMS Names Two New Extramural Division Directors

Dr. Joan McGowan
Dr. Susana Serrate-Sztein
Dr. Joan McGowan (top) and Dr. Susana Serrate-Sztein

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has named two staff members to top leadership positions in the institute. Dr. Joan McGowan and Dr. Susana Serrate- Sztein have been appointed as directors of two scientific divisions in the NIAMS Extramural Program.  

McGowan has been named director of the Division of Musculoskeletal Diseases. She also serves as director of the Bone Diseases Program, overseeing a broad portfolio of clinical research on osteoporosis and related bone disorders. She has been very active in bone health and women’s health issues at NIH, including serving as a project officer for the Women’s Health Initiative. She currently co-chairs the federal working group on bone diseases, which develops and fosters collaborative activities across government agencies in bone diseases.

McGowan has served as a member of the advisory board of the Canadian Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis and as senior scientific editor of the 2004 Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis. She was the NIH organizer of two consensus development conferences: Optimum Calcium Intake in 1994 and Osteoporosis Prevention, Diagnosis, and Therapy in 2000. Before joining NIH, McGowan was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She received her master’s degree in nutritional sciences at Cornell University and her doctorate in biomedical science at Brown University.

Serrate-Sztein has been named director of the Division of Skin and Rheumatic Diseases. She also serves as director of the Rheumatic Diseases Genetics and Clinical Studies Program, overseeing a broad portfolio of grants and contracts dealing with the genetics of rheumatic diseases and clinical studies of skin and rheumatic diseases. On behalf of the HHS secretary, she co-chairs the lupus federal working group, which promotes collaborations and information sharing across federal agencies with programs and activities related to lupus. She also serves as project officer for the PROMIS Roadmap initiative, part of NIH-wide efforts to re-engineer the clinical research enterprise.

In the early 1990’s, Serrate-Sztein served as chief of the autoimmunity section, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation, NIAID, where she managed a portfolio dealing with basic and translational research on immune-mediated diseases. Before joining NIH, she was assistant professor in the department of pathology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. She received postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Immunodiagnosis, NCI, and her clinical training is in anatomic and clinical pathology. Serrate-Sztein is a graduate of Buenos Aires University School of Medicine.

NIMH’s Rapoport Wins NAMI Award
NAMI president Dr. Anand Pandya (l) presented award to Dr. Judith L. Rapoport, chief of NIMH’s Child Psychiatry Branch
Dr. Judith L. Rapoport, chief of NIMH’s Child Psychiatry Branch, is this year’s recipient of the Mind of America Scientific Research Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Each year, the $50,000 prize is given to an outstanding researcher who has contributed to the study of serious mental illness. NAMI president Dr. Anand Pandya (l) presented the award during a ceremony at the association’s annual gala on Oct. 15 in Washington, D.C. Rapoport was cited for her outstanding lifetime contribution to the study of mental illness in children and adolescents. In accepting the award, she praised the NIMH Intramural Research Program, where she has worked for decades, as a unique place for discovery. It’s one of the few research centers in the world where scientists are able to collaborate across disciplines to conduct long-term studies, she said.

Photo Courtesy NAMI

Former NIH Official Pickett Passes Away

Dr. Betty Horenstein Pickett, former director of the Division of Research Resources and former acting director of NICHD, died recently at age 82.

Pickett, who retired from NIH in 1988, began her NIH career in 1958 as executive secretary of the behavioral sciences study section in the Division of Research Grants. From 1968 to 1978, she served as deputy director of the Division of Extramural Programs at NIMH. In 1979, she became deputy director of NICHD, and served as the institute’s acting director in 1981 and 1982. Shortly thereafter, she was appointed director of the Division of Research Resources, which was later combined with the Division of Research Services to form the National Center for Research Resources.

Upon leaving NIH, Pickett and her husband, James “Mac” Pickett, moved to Surrey, Maine. She is survived by a brother, a niece, several nephews and many grand- and great-grandnieces and nephews.

Noted Geriatrician Bernard Joins NIA As Deputy Director

Dr. Marie A. Bernard

Dr. Marie A. Bernard, a noted geriatrician and educator from the University of Oklahoma, has been named deputy director of the National Institute on Aging. She brings training as a physician, educator, administrator and investigator to the position at NIA, where she is taking a leadership role in directing the nation’s research program on aging.

“Dr. Bernard has, throughout her career, sought to support and improve the evidence base which forms the foundation for geriatrics and the care of older people,” said NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes. “I look forward to having her expertise and energy at the NIA as we continue our efforts to address the needs of a rapidly aging population.”

Bernard most recently served as the Donald W. Reynolds chair in geriatric medicine and professor and chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds department of geriatric medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. She was also associate chief of staff for geriatrics and extended care at the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Bernard recently served as president of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and as president and chair of the board of the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs. She also has participated in a wide range of committees and activities from journal editorship to board service in a number of professional medical and aging organizations. She is board-certified in internal medicine and geriatric medicine.

Bernard’s research interests have included nutrition and function in aging populations, with particular emphasis on ethnic minorities. She has written numerous journal and chapter articles on geriatric care, nutrition, medication issues and health problems among minorities.

As a member of NIA’s National Advisory Council from 2002 to 2005, Bernard became familiar with the institute’s research and grant process, from an administrative point of view. “I have been impressed with the work of the NIH, and the NIA in particular, since I was a house staff member at Temple University Hospital,” she said. “The work that comes from the institute serves as the basis for much of what we do in geriatric medicine.

“It is a great privilege for me to join the NIA team and help in developing future directions for that research,” she added. “There is quite a bit yet to do, particularly as we face the silver tsunami of baby boomers that will start turning 65 in 2011. There will be particular challenges since there will be even greater diversity in this population as a result of increased numbers of minority and ethnic elders.”

As the daughter of two Oklahoma physicians—a surgeon trained in oncologic surgery and an internist—Bernard had an early introduction to medicine when she and her sister would accompany their mother on house calls and their father into the operating room. She found her own aptitude for sciences in college and pursued the study of medicine.

A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Bernard received her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and trained in internal medicine at Temple University Hospital, where she also served as chief resident. While on faculty at Temple, Bernard discovered her interest in older people. She found that her patients were among the oldest and sickest in the practice. They were also the most interesting, she says, based not only on their medical complexity, but also on their life experiences. A mini-fellowship in geriatrics with the Geriatric Education Center of Pennsylvania clinched the career choice. “The training was an epiphany for me,” she said. “I found that there was more to the care of the elderly than management of hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease. I discovered a discrete body of research and scientific knowledge applicable to the elderly that was fascinating.”

She admits that geriatrics is not as glamorous a field as cardiology, surgery or other disciplines. “Yet,” she said, “physician satisfaction surveys demonstrate that geriatricians have among the highest career satisfaction.”

Looking ahead, Bernard believes the health care system will need to be reconfigured to address the aging population. And there will be, more than ever, a need for research and expertise in geriatrics. “Given that we can anticipate record numbers of octogenarians and centenarians, there are likely to be new challenges in understanding the aging process, geriatric syndromes and disease presentation and management,” she said. “These will best be approached through new discoveries in research on health and aging.”

Lecture Award Founder Solowey Dies

Dr. Marie A. Bernard

Dr. Mathilde Solowey, founder of the Mathilde Solowey Lecture Award in the Neurosciences, and NINDS program officer for many years, died on Oct. 4 at her home in New York City. She was 98.

The daughter of an immigrant from Eastern Europe, Solowey obtained a Ph.D. in microbiology from Columbia University. She first published on the bacterial content of New York City air in 1938. During World War II, she became a lab chief at the Department of Agriculture and checked food safety for soldiers. She later moved to Ft. Detrick and published throughout the 1940s and 1950s. She left research to join the National Microbiological Institute (forerunner of NIAID) and later moved to NINDS as a program officer. She finished her career as an administrator doing a large study with Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, then director of NIGMS, and a trans-institute team on grants peer review.

Upon leaving the government in 1972, she established an endowment through the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences to support an annual Lecture Award in the Neurosciences. The Lecture Award series has now run continuously for 34 years, with the Clinical Center always its venue. The first winner was Dr. Floyd Bloom in 1974. Winners since then have included Drs. Gerald Fischbach, Bertil Hille, Dale Purves, Phil Skolnick, Anthony Basile, Xandra Breakefield, Wylie Vale, Dennis Choi, Miles Herkenham, Jacqueline Crawley, Frederick Goodwin, Steven Hyman, Joseph LeDoux, Dennis Selkoe, Fred Gage, Roberto Malinow, Jeffrey Rothstein, Bai Lu, Susan McConnell, Earl Miller, and most recently, Lin Mei.

Solowey is survived by a nephew. “She will be remembered for her enormous generosity and her selfless service to her country and to life-sciences research,” said NIMH’s Herkenham, who has served as chair of the Solowey lecture award for the past 6 years.

CSR’s Levin Mourned

Retired Scientific Review Officer Victoria Levin was highly regarded for her work on the frontlines of children’s mental health issues.
Retired Scientific Review Officer Victoria Levin was highly regarded for her work on the frontlines of children’s mental health issues.

Retired Scientific Review Officer Victoria Levin, 74, died Sept. 4 of breast cancer. She was highly regarded for her work on the frontlines of children’s mental health issues for more than 30 years.

Levin’s colleagues at the Center for Scientific Review and within her scientific field praised her contributions not only to science, but also to humanity.

“Vicki was indefatigable, and made profound contributions to developmental science and to humanity across two decades of shepherding stellar scientific inquiry,” said CSR director Dr. Toni Scarpa.

She coordinated CSR’s psychosocial development, risk and prevention study section from May 1999 until her retirement in May 2008. But for 20 years, she held key positions at NIMH, including project officer at its prevention research branches, special assistant for children and youth activities and institute scientific review administrator for child, adolescent, risk and prevention study sections.

Reviewers who worked with her recently reflected on the impact she had on science, and on them, as they worked with her during review meetings.

“In the rough and tumble world of grant-getting and reviewing, Vicki has over and over shown a remarkable ability to bring a measure of sanity, refinement, higher purpose and nurturance,” said Dr. Joseph Allen, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. Allen served as a reviewer and chair on one of her study sections for 7 years.

“I’m not sure how the grant review process will make any forward movement at all without [her] wisdom, firm guidance and good humor,” said Bob McMahan, professor and director of the Child Clinical Psychology Program at the University of Washington’s department of psychology.

A Detroit native, Levin was the wife of Michigan Congressman Sander Levin for more than 50 years and a mother of four. She graduated with honors from Wellesley College and Simmons School of Social Work, where she received a master’s degree in psychiatric social work.

PHS Officers Promoted at Ceremony

Recently, 37 Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers who work at NIH were honored at the sixth annual PHS Commissioned Officer promotion ceremony, held in Masur Auditorium. Dr. Michael Gottesman, NIH deputy director for intramural research, and acting Surgeon General Steven Galson gave keynote remarks.

Galson and Gottesman placed the promotion boards for each officer as Rear Admiral Helena Mishoe read the officers’ personal statements describing rewarding aspects of their professions. Family members and coworkers also assisted with the promotion board placement.

Rear Admiral (Ret.) Richard Wyatt, who in past years served as master of ceremonies, was a special guest. He “passed the flag” to Mishoe, presenting her with the NIH coin in appreciation for her support and participation in the ceremony. In recognition of Wyatt’s continued support of the PHS, the planning committee and Mishoe presented him with a framed picture of the PHS anchor that sits outside of Bldg. 1 and a plaque reading, “For years of dedication and guidance.”

During the ceremony, officers who retired during the past year were recognized and 25 new officers were welcomed into the PHS. Promoted were: Dietitian Officers: Capt. Madeline Michael, Lcdr. Blakeley Denkinger; Engineer Officer: Capt. Kelly Hudson; Environmental Health Officer: Capt. Doris Ravenell-Brown; Health Services Officers: Cdr. Susan Peacock, Lcdr. Wendy Petit; Medical Officers: Capt. Terri Connelison, Capt. David George, Capt. Joseph Hibbeln, Capt. Tanya Lehky, Capt. Mary McMaster, Capt. Deborah Merke, Capt. JoAnn Mican, Capt. Lawrence Nelson, Capt. Joseph Serrano, Capt. Monica Skarulis, Capt. Jorge R. Toro, Cdr. Rachel Bishop, Cdr. Edward Doo, Cdr. Melissa Merideth, Cdr. Matthew Olnes, Cdr. Jeffrey Schulden; Nurse Officers: Capt. Victoria Anderson, Cdr. Casey Hadsall, Cdr. Lori Hunter, Lcdr. Paula Carter, Lcdr. Megan Disinski, Lcdr. Bryan Emery, Lcdr. Laura Heytens, Lcdr. Nam Hoang, Lcdr. Emmanuel Samedi; Pharmacy Officers: Cdr. Haksong Jin, Lcdr. Fortin Georges; Scientist Officers: Cdr. Richard Gussio, Lcdr. Gelio Alves; Therapist Officer: Capt. Michaele Smith; Veterinary Officer: Capt. Marvin Thomas 

NIA’s Launer Wins PAD Research Award
Dr. Lenore Launer
Dr. Lenore Launer of NIA’s Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry has won the Best Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Research Award for discovery of an association between low ankle-to-brachial index measure and increased risk for vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The PAD Coalition, an alliance of health organizations, professional societies and government agencies interested in advancing knowledge of lower extremity vascular disease, presented the award to Launer and study colleagues in September. The researchers analyzed data from the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study, a prospective, community-based study looking at dementia and vascular health among Japanese-American men ages 71 to 93.

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