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Vol. LXI, No. 17
August 21, 2009
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Milestones

Dr. Ahmed Elkashef Dr. David Gorelick
Dr. Ahmed Elkashef Dr. David Gorelick

NIDA Scientists Honored

Dr. Ahmed Elkashef and Dr. David Gorelick of the National Institute on Drug Abuse are among the first physicians in the United States certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine, a new independent medical specialty board. ABAM has begun to certify addiction medicine physicians from several specialties, including emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, preventive medicine, psychiatry, neurology and surgery. There was previously only addiction-related board certification for psychiatrists, offered by the psychiatry and neurology board. ABAM sets standards for physician education, assesses physicians’ knowledge and requires and tracks life-long continuing education.

NICHD Branch Honored
NICHD’s Reproductive Sciences Branch recently received the 2009 Barbara Eck Menning Founder’s Award from RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. The award was bestowed for the branch’s research leadership in the field of infertility. The Founder’s Award is the highest honor presented by RESOLVE annually to an individual or group demonstrating leadership in the field of infertility or infertility resolution. Shown are (from l) Charisee Lamar, Koji Yoshinaga, Richard Tasca, Susan Taymans, Louis DePaolo, Estella Parrott, Esther Eisenberg and Stuart Moss.

NICHD’s Reproductive Sciences Branch recently received the 2009 Barbara Eck Menning Founder’s Award from RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. The award was bestowed for the branch’s research leadership in the field of infertility. The Founder’s Award is the highest honor presented by RESOLVE annually to an individual or group demonstrating leadership in the field of infertility or infertility resolution. Shown are (from l) Charisee Lamar, Koji Yoshinaga, Richard Tasca, Susan Taymans, Louis DePaolo, Estella Parrott, Esther Eisenberg and Stuart Moss.

NIDCD Council Welcomes Five New Members

NIDCD director Dr. James Battey (l) welcomes new council members (from l) Dr. Karen Friderici, Dr. Rickie Davis, Brenda Battat, Dr. William Brownell and Dr. John Niparko.
NIDCD director Dr. James Battey (l) welcomes new council members (from l) Dr. Karen Friderici, Dr. Rickie Davis, Brenda Battat, Dr. William Brownell and Dr. John Niparko.
NIDCD director Dr. James F. Battey, Jr., welcomed five new members to the National Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Advisory Council during its meeting on June 5. The term for council members is 4 years.

Brenda Battat is executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, in Bethesda. She is responsible for leading the largest national consumer organization of people with hearing loss in the United States.

Dr. William Brownell is the Jake and Nina Kamin chair in the department of otorhinolaryngology and communicative science at Baylor College of Medicine. His research interests include sensory neurophysiology, auditory neural networks and cochlear biophysics.

Dr. Karen Friderici is a professor in the department of microbiology and molecular genetics at Michigan State University. Her research interests include hearing loss, genetics of hearing and molecular pathology of genetic diseases.

Dr. John Niparko is the George T. Nager professor and director of the division of otology, neurotology, and skull base surgery in the department of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His research interests include language development, communicative disorders, hearing restoration and audiology.

Named an ex-officio member is Dr. Rickie Davis, who leads the hearing loss prevention team at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He also serves as adjunct assistant professor in the department of biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati.

NIGMS Grantees Win Presidential Award

Four directors of NIGMS-supported programs are among those named recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The annual awards recognize institutions and individuals who have been leaders in encouraging minorities, women and people with disabilities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The recipients, all biology professors at their institutions, are Dr. Frank T. Bayliss, Jr., San Francisco State University; Dr. Goldie S. Byrd, North Carolina A&T State University; Dr. Mary Anne Nelson, University of New Mexico; and Dr. Steven B. Oppenheimer, California State University, Northridge. They direct NIGMS Division of Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) programs aimed at creating a diverse scientific workforce through undergraduate student training, student and faculty development and research at minority-serving institutions.

Also among the recipients is the MORE-supported Leadership Alliance, an academic consortium of 33 institutions that seeks to develop underrepresented minority students into outstanding leaders and role models in academia, business and the public sector.

The awards were established by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 1996 and are administered through the National Science Foundation. Awardees will be honored at a White House ceremony in the fall, where they will receive a $10,000 grant and a commemorative Presidential certificate in recognition of their mentoring activities.

Since the awards program began in 1996, 18 individuals and 3 organizations supported by MORE have been recognized with the honor. For a full list of MORE winners of the Presidential mentoring award, see www.nigms.nih.gov/Minority/PresidentialAwards.htm.

Freedman Named Chief of NCI Branch

Dr. Andrew N. Freedman
Dr. Andrew N. Freedman has been named chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Branch in NCI’s Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program. The branch supports research on clinical, environmental and genomic factors that influence cancer progression, recurrence, new primary cancers and mortality.

Freedman joined NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences in 1997 as a molecular epidemiologist. He also directed molecular, clinical and translational epidemiology studies within the Health Maintenance Organization Cancer Research Network; Department of Veterans Affairs medical system; and NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program. He is internationally recognized for his work in molecular cancer epidemiology and cancer risk prediction.

His research interests include developing prediction models for cancer risk and prognosis, developing benefit/risk indices for pharmaceuticals used to prevent and treat cancer and identifying factors related to cancer treatment outcomes.

Freedman earned his Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Buffalo, Roswell Park cancer division. He also received an M.S. in social and preventive medicine from the University of Buffalo and a B.S. in biology from the University of Binghamton.

Grantee Eisenbarth Wins Banting Medal

Dr. George S. Eisenbarth

Dr. George S. Eisenbarth, former NIH fellow, long-term grantee and executive director of a diabetes research center at the University of Colorado, has won the American Diabetes Association’s Banting Medal for outstanding scientific achievement.

Eisenbarth’s research career, spanning nearly three decades, has been dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of autoimmunity and clarifying the roles of susceptibility genes and environmental triggers that underlie type 1 diabetes. His contributions were pivotal in clarifying and confirming the autoimmune nature of type 1 diabetes, a concept that was not well accepted even 25 years ago, and paved the way for clinical trials to prevent the disease in those at risk.

Eisenbarth developed a model depicting the progression of type 1 diabetes in stages beginning with genetic predisposition, then moving to immunologic abnormalities, metabolic abnormalities, overt diabetes and eventually the loss of C-peptide, a marker for insulin production. Over the years, his discoveries have shed light on aspects of each stage in the model.

“Type 1 diabetes is hard-wired in our genome,” Eisenbarth says. His studies showed that certain genetic variants coding for human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) on white blood cells are linked to both increased and decreased risk of diabetes. His work following first-degree relatives of people with type 1 diabetes and collaborations with Dr. Marian Rewers and others on the NIH-funded DAISY study, which screened thousands of newborns with HLA typing, helped scientists identify the variants that confer the greatest risk for type 1 diabetes. For some people, the risk of developing type 1 diabetes exceeds 80 percent.

Eisenbarth’s research also shed light on the specific autoantibodies that help predict the development of type 1 diabetes. He accurately proposed that two or more such autoantibodies in the blood significantly raise the risk of diabetes.

Earlier in his career, Eisenbarth was a postdoctoral fellow in NHLBI’s Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics, headed by Nobel laureate Dr. Marshall Nirenberg. “Marsh Nirenberg, my mentor at the NIH, introduced me to monoclonal antibody technology,” Eisenbarth said. “I collaborated with Barton Haynes, then a fellow in Anthony Fauci’s lab, to produce some of the first monoclonal antibodies to T cells. It was a very nice collaboration between the two labs and a direct introduction to human immunology. When I was getting ready to leave NIH, I had decided I would work on diabetes and autoimmunity upon returning to Duke for my first faculty appointment. Dr. Abner Notkins of the dental institute very kindly introduced me to techniques for measuring islet autoantibodies,” he recalled.—Joan Chamberlain

NICHD Mourns Loss of 35-Year Employee

Deborah Elaine Bernhards

Deborah Elaine Bernhards passed away on July 8 after a 14-year battle with melanoma. She served NIH as a biological laboratory animal technician for over 35 years, working with squirrel monkeys and common marmosets.

She began her federal career in 1974, and since 1993, had worked in the unit on developmental neuroethology in the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology at NICHD. She studied the area of vocal communication and behavior of primates and has co-authored several papers on the topic.

Bernhards was the first to identify and report “caregiver” calls in squirrel monkeys. The calls are a specialized communication by female monkeys to induce infants first exploring their surroundings to return.

“Without her knowledge and expertise, many significant advances in the field would not have been made,” said Dr. John Newman, head of the neuroethology unit. “She was also a good friend and valued colleague who will be missed.”

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