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Vol. LXI, No. 10
May 15, 2009

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NCI’s Lowy Elected To NAS

Dr. Douglas R. LowyDr. Douglas R. Lowy, deputy director of NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, is one of 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 15 countries elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

The election was held Apr. 28 during the business session of the 146th annual meeting of the academy. NAS is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

Congress Directs NCI to Establish Rabson Award

Dr. Alan S. RabsonDr. Alan S. Rabson, deputy director of NCI, was recently honored by Congress for his continuing years of service to NIH.

The House appropriations committee directed NCI to establish a fellowship titled the Alan S. Rabson Award. The honor acknowledges Rabson’s work over the past 53 years as a pathologist, researcher, administrator and clinical advisor and highlights his numerous discoveries in virology and authorship of more than 100 scientific journal articles. It also recognizes his life-long dedication to helping cancer patients and their families cope with their diagnoses. The congressional directive also honors the service of Rabson’s wife, Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, who has served as acting director of NIH, director of several institutes and is now a special advisor to the NIH director.

Kirschstein already is the recipient of another congressional honor. In 2002, the National Research Service Award Program was renamed the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Program as a tribute to her years of exceptional service to the nation. Under this congressional authority, NIH awards individual postdoctoral fellowships to promising applicants with the potential to become productive, independent investigators.

NCI plans to establish the new Rabson award soon.

Retirement Holds New Challenges for NIA’s Monjan
Dr. Andrew Monjan
While acknowledging he will miss his coworkers and grantees, Dr. Andrew Monjan said his job has primed him for retirement.

“I’m going to retire while my ratings are still high,” declared Dr. Andrew Monjan, leaning back in his chair in his Wisconsin Ave. office. “It’s time.” As chief of the Neurobiology of Aging Branch in the Division of Neuroscience at NIA, he has been instrumental in the development and monitoring of research on the aging brain. He is retiring after 26 years with NIH.

“Andy has been an advocate for sleep research both at NIA and trans-NIH and is well respected by the sleep community,” said Dr. Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, director of NIA’s Division of Neuroscience. She adds that sleep research has been a central focus of Monjan’s research portfolio. He has also served on the sleep disorders research advisory board of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research and as executive secretary of the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research. He also worked with NASA on several joint conferences and initiatives, including STS-90 (Neurolab) and STS-95. On flight STS-95, 77-year-old former astronaut John Glenn underwent space-related aging studies that included the effect of space travel on bone and muscle.

“Andy is unflappable,” Morrison-Bogorad said. “We shall miss him greatly.”

Over the course of his career here, Monjan received an HHS Public Health Service Award for High Quality Work Performance, three NIH Director’s Awards, including one for a multi-center clinical trial in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, three NIA Merit Awards, three NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research Director’s Awards, and a NASA Group Achievement Award to the Neurolab Spacelab mission science team.

Monjan earned a B.S. degree in psychology in 1960 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and was awarded a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Rochester in 1965. He completed a 2-year postdoctoral appointment at Rochester’s Center for Brain Research, studying visual neurophysiology. This was followed by appointments in the departments of psychology and physiology at the University of Western Ontario (1966-1969) and the department of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health (1971-1983), where he earned an M.P.H. in 1970.

In 1983, Monjan joined NCI to support the development of an extramural research program on the epidemiology of AIDS. Drawn by the challenges of health science administration, he moved to NIA in 1985 to help build programs aimed at understanding the aging process.

Monjan is known for his keen sense of humor and dry wit and also for his fondness for daring activities, including scuba diving in shark-filled waters, sailing and hiking.

“He seems to relish pushing himself to new limits in order to experience more fully the world around him,” said Molly Wagster, chief of NIA’s Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch. “He downplays the annoyances and perils and emphasizes the excitement and fun of a new experience. It’s the same way he conducts himself at work.”

Monjan says he finds scuba diving physically and intellectually challenging. The fact that he dives in caverns in remote locations does not worry him. “Sharks won’t bother you as long as you don’t bother them,” he noted. In retirement, he and his wife will continue to travel—they recently returned from a trip to Antarctica— and to sail on a boat he has had since 1973. “A day on the water is like another day of life,” he said. “It’s calm, peaceful and invigorating.”

While acknowledging he will miss his coworkers and grantees, Monjan said his job has primed him for retirement. “I’m going to retire to use what I’ve learned about aging,” he said.

NIAID’s Morens Elected AES Head

Dr. David MorensDr. David Morens, senior scientific advisor to NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci, was recently elected president of the American Epidemiological Society. Founded in 1927, AES is characterized by an elite membership of leaders in the field of epidemiology. The AES mission is to provide a scientific forum for senior epidemiologists. The society has counted among its members Wade H. Frost, Alexander Langmuir, Jonas Salk and Abraham Lilienfeld, among other notable people in the field.

NIDA’s Rapaka Earns International Award

Dr. Rao S. RapakaDr. Rao S. Rapaka, chief of the Chemistry and Physiological Systems Research Branch in NIDA’s Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, was the first recipient of the Lifetime Research Achievement Award of the International Symposium on Organic Synthesis and Drug Development held at Nanjing University in Nanjing, China.

Nobel laureate in chemistry Dr. Aron Ciechanover of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Israel presented the award. The symposium was sponsored by Nanjing University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry and NIH. Rapaka was cited for his original research and his foresight in promoting new frontiers of research by the organization of symposia and developing new announcements.

In addition to being cited for his work in medicinal chemistry and drug development, he was honored for enhancing the emerging area of “lipidomics.” Rapaka recognized the importance of this field and organized the first international symposium on lipidomics at NIH. He later planned four more symposia in Italy and Hungary on the topic. Previously, Rapaka organized a series of Indo-U.S. symposia.

Prior to this award, his contributions to medicinal chemistry have been recognized numerous times: He is the first recipient of the Achievement Award from the American Peptide Society, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Achievement Award and the Michael Morris Award from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence.

Biophysical Society Honors NIGMS’s Berg

NIGMS director Dr. Jeremy Berg (r) received the 2009 Distinguished Service Award from the Biophysical Society at its annual meeting in Boston recently. The award, presented by then-society president Dr. Harel NIGMS director Dr. Jeremy Berg (r) received the 2009 Distinguished Service Award from the Biophysical Society at its annual meeting in Boston recently. The award, presented by then-society president Dr. Harel Weinstein, recognizes service in the field of biophysics and contributions beyond achievements in research. The society cited Berg “for his active and continuous support for biomedical research in general, and biophysics in particular, and the successful and creative leadership he has demonstrated in these activities.” Berg’s research focuses on the structural and functional roles that metal ions, especially zinc, have in proteins. During the meeting, Berg also joined former U.S. Congressman John Porter, chairman of Research!America, in a panel discussion of science policy in the Obama administration.

NCI Section Chief Brady Mourned

Dr. John N. Brady
Dr. John Brady, in 1995

Dr. John N. Brady, 57, chief of the virus tumor biology section of the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology, died Apr. 27 of colon cancer.

Brady studied interactions that influence viral and cellular gene regulation, viral pathogenesis and oncogenic transformation. His career included noteworthy studies of DNA tumor viruses and retroviruses. He published more than 200 research papers in journals, served on editorial boards for several virology journals and was named to the advisory board for the International Retrovirology Association.

Brady also managed to find time to serve as president of the Montgomery County Baseball Association, an organization that promotes baseball for youth.

Brady joined the Center for Cancer Research in 1984. In 1998, he received an NCI Intramural Award for Innovative Research and, in 2002, the NIH director named him an NIH senior biological research scientist, an appointment reserved for researchers with outstanding achievements. In his lab, he was dedicated to mentoring many undergraduates and fellows who have since flourished in science. In 1996, he added teaching to his career, being appointed adjunct professor at George Washington University Institute for Biomedical Sciences.

Brady’s research career began at Kansas State University, where he earned a Ph.D. for work on the molecular structure of polyoma virus. During the early stage of his career, he focused on SV40 transcription regulation.

He is survived by his wife, Laraine, and two sons, Matt and Kevin.

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