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Vol. LXI, No. 6
March 20, 2009

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NEI Scientists Win Ophthalmology Research Award
Dr. Emily Chew and Dr. Frederick Ferris
NEI investigators Dr. Emily Chew and Dr. Frederick Ferris

NEI investigators Dr. Emily Chew and Dr. Frederick Ferris were recently honored by the Alcon Research Institute, which bestowed on them $100,000 in unrestricted grant money to continue their research.

“We are honored to have been recognized by this illustrious group of ophthalmic researchers,” said Chew. Added Ferris, “I think I speak for both of us when I say [that] to be included as a member of the Alcon Research Institute is a highlight of our career. With this award we hope to continue making progress in the study of sight and the prevention of vision loss.”

The scientists focus on human population studies concerned with the cause, prevention and treatment of eye disease and vision disorders, with emphasis on the major causes of blindness. This includes studies of incidence and prevalence in defined populations, prospective and retrospective studies of risk factors, natural history studies, clinical trials, genetic studies and studies to evaluate diagnostic procedures. They were jointly instrumental in designing, developing and executing the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, with results that could prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration in more than 300,000 people in the next 5 years.

Chew is a graduate of the University of Toronto and serves as deputy director, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, NEI. Ferris is a graduate of Johns Hopkins Medical School and is NEI’s clinical director and director of the institute’s epidemiology and clinical research.

The Alcon Research Institute supports global advancements in eye health by honoring those who make outstanding research contributions to the vision sciences.

NIH Commissioned Corps Officers Stood Ready at Inauguration
PHS officers collaborate with HHS security personnel.
PHS officers collaborate with HHS security personnel.

The news media documented how more than 1 million people flocked to the National Mall the day that Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

Few realize, however, that the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service was on hand both to provide routine medical support and to be prepared to respond to a “mass event”—a bio-weapons exposure or other terrorist attack that might otherwise mar America’s celebration of its new President. The Commissioned Corps officers, comprised in part of NIH staff members, had set up headquarters for the event in a federal building.

The PHS officers were divided into two units. The first was stationed outdoors around the Capitol, and provided on-the-spot treatment for such routine medical events as hypothermia, injury and breathing problems. The operations chief for this team was Capt. Victoria Anderson of NIAID. Among the care providers was Lcdr. Emmanuel Samedi of the Clinical Center.

A second unit was responsible for managing the response to a “mass exposure.” The team first devised a plan for rapidly dispensing emergency medical treatment and tested the plan on Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration. Among the NIH’ers taking part in this effort were Capt. Joann Mican of NIAID and Capt. Steven Libutti of NCI, who served as operation chiefs, and Lcdr. Merel Kozlosky of the CC, who served as logistics chief, and Capt. Steven Hirschfeld, NICHD, who served as overall team commander. Other participants included Capt. Tom Thomas, OD; Cdr. Michelle Braun, NIDDK; Cdr. Daniel Singer, NICHD; Lcdr. Jeene Bailey, CC; Lcdr. Paul Sato, NHLBI; and Lt. Rachael Drabot, CC.

The teams spent the night of Jan. 19 and the day of Jan. 20 providing service outdoors and remaining on alert in the federal facility, ready for an event that fortunately never materialized.

NICHD Mourns Passing of Bialy

Dr. Gabriel Bialy, deputy director of NICHD’s Center for Population Research, died Feb. 17. During his long career with the institute, he stewarded a number of projects, from research collaborations on contraception and maternal and child health with the Indian government to research efforts to develop safer forms of oral contraception.

Having joined NICHD in 1971, Bialy was one of the institute’s longest-serving staff members. A reproductive physiologist, he began his career at Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Shrewsbury, Mass. There, he was a member of the research team that developed the first oral contraceptive. After joining NICHD, he served as chief of the Contraceptive Development Branch for nearly two decades.

“Gabe Bialy was a skilled administrator who put science first and always found a way to further promising research,” said NICHD director Dr. Duane Alexander. “His friends and colleagues knew that he often spoke his mind. They also knew that he was a profoundly kind-hearted, caring individual. We will miss him.”

Under Bialy’s direction, the branch supported research on a broad range of potential contraceptives, ranging from implants to safer oral formulations. During his tenure, the branch also supported much of the early research on drugs that block the effects of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). Produced by the hypothalamus, GnRH is the “master” reproductive hormone that sets in motion a cascade of biochemical events leading to ovulation in women and sperm production in men. GnRH analogs eventually provided the basis of infertility treatments for women and prostate cancer treatment for men. The discoverers of GnRH, supported by the Contraceptive Development Branch, won the Nobel Prize for their research.

He also worked on behalf of NICHD to forge research collaborations between U.S. and Indian researchers. In the 1980s, he worked with Indian scientists to develop new contraceptive methods for the Indian public. In the late 1990s, through the beginning of the current decade, he again worked on behalf of NICHD to further studies of reproductive health and maternal and child health in India.

Born in Lomza, Poland, in 1931, Bialy came to the United States after World War II. He received his undergraduate degree in 1953 from Ohio State University and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. In 1959, he joined the laboratory of Gregory Pincus at the Worcester Foundation. In 1968, he headed the endocrine section of the pharmacology department at Bristol Laboratories in Syracuse, N.Y.

In 1971, he joined NICHD as a health scientist administrator in the Contraceptive Development Branch. He was named branch chief in 1975, a position he held until becoming deputy director of the Center for Population Research in the early 1990s. During his career, he authored or co-authored numerous papers on reproductive biology, reproductive pharmacology and contraceptive development.

His many awards and honors include the PHS Superior Services Award, the NIH Director’s Award and the Endocrine Society’s Sidney Ingbar Distinguished Service Award. NIHRecord Icon

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