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Vol. LXI, No. 19
September 18, 2009
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Milestones

Dr. Philip S. Wang

Wang Named NIMH Deputy Director

Dr. Philip S. Wang has been named deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health. A psychiatrist, he had been director of NIMH’s Division of Services and Interventions Research (DSIR) since 2006.

Before joining NIMH in 2006, Wang was on the faculty at Harvard Medical School in psychiatry and health care policy, where he was an NIMH grantee and one of the nation’s leaders in health services research and the economics and epidemiology of medication treatment.

“During the past 2½ years, Phil has repositioned DSIR to support innovative and high-impact research for diverse populations with mental disorders,” said NIMH director Dr. Thomas Insel. “Among recent notable initiatives are efforts on cost-effectiveness models, adapting state mental health systems as experimental laboratories for health care reform and the collaborative Army study on suicide, the largest such effort in NIMH history.”

Wang is a recipient of the American Psychiatric Association’s Health Services Research Scholar Award and is one of the most highly cited scientists in areas as diverse as depression in the workplace and noncompliance with anti-hypertensive medications.

“His interests in comparative effectiveness, mental health care reform and health disparities make him an ideal leader for the NIMH in this era,” said Insel.

Wang completed his undergraduate, medical school, psychiatry residency as well as master’s and doctoral training in epidemiology at Harvard University. He was principal investigator of the NIMH-sponsored Work Outcomes Research and Cost-effectiveness Study, a large-scale trial to examine the return-on-investment of enhanced depression care for workers. He also served as a voting member on FDA’s psychopharmacologic and endocrinologic and metabolic drugs advisory committees, its neurological devices panel and on the NIMH services research and clinical epidemiology study section. He currently chairs the WHO world mental health study services research work group. Wang is an author of approximately 150 scientific publications.

Nilsen Joins OBSSR
Dr. Wendy Nilsen
Dr. Wendy Nilsen

Dr. Wendy Nilsen recently joined NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research as a health science administrator. She brings a strong background in clinical psychology with an emphasis on children in the child welfare and court systems. Her diverse work history includes research and community consultation and training, as well as committee positions in New York State’s child welfare system. Previously, she was an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. At OBSSR she will focus on the science of behavior change.

Nilsen received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Purdue University. She also completed a National Research and Service Award postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester. Her training in clinical psychology focused on developmental psychopathology with an emphasis on child maltreatment and family systems.

Nilsen’s research has focused on the psychological and social functioning of children and families involved in the child welfare (Child Protective Services and foster care) and court systems. She has been the principal investigator on multiple studies, including a Patient-Oriented Career Award from NIMH. Active research areas include interventions to improve the functioning of school-age youth in foster care, evaluation of community-based child abuse programs, cross-cultural assessments of childhood sexual abuse and the relationship between trauma exposure, family functioning and current psychological status.

In New York, Nilsen has also been an active member of numerous committees targeting the lives of children and families. In 2007, she was appointed to serve on the New York State Citizen’s Commission, which provides congressionally mandated oversight for the child welfare system. She also was the co-leader of the Babies Can’t Wait/Teens Won’t Wait program, a continuing education program focusing on the needs of maltreated children and adolescents.

NIDDK’s Jacobson Honored by Societies

Dr. Kenneth A. Jacobson

Dr. Kenneth A. Jacobson, chief of the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry and the molecular recognition section, was inducted into the American Chemical Society’s Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame Aug. 19 at the society’s annual meeting. Jacobson, one of only four NIH researchers—all at NIDDK—ever to receive this honor, was recognized for his contributions to the pharmacology of purinergic cell surface receptors and their major impact on the development of potential new therapies. His research has led to experimental drugs in clinical trials or under preclinical consideration for cystic fibrosis, liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, dry-eye disease, blood-flow blockage to the heart, stroke and asthma. His work was also recently recognized with the Pharmacia-ASPET Award in Experimental Therapeutics from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and with the Sato Memorial International Award from the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan and the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences.

Matthew To Direct NINDS Translational Research

By Shannon Garnett

Dr. William D. Matthew

NINDS recently named Dr. William D. Matthew as director of its Office of Translational Research (OTR). He will lead the institute’s efforts to translate results of laboratory research into treatments for neurological disorders.

“Moving treatments for neurological disorders from the lab bench to the bedside is one of the most important missions of the NINDS and also our most formidable challenge,” said NINDS director Dr. Story Landis. “Dr. Matthew’s experience in academic research and in drug development—and especially his ability to bridge those two worlds—will energize and focus our translational research efforts.”

An untold number of potential therapeutic drugs disappear into a critical gap between academia and industry. NINDS’s OTR aims to close this gap and accelerate drug development for neurological disorders. OTR replaces NINDS’s Office of Technology Development and will build on the institute’s existing programs in translational neuroscience research. Matthew was selected to lead OTR because his career ranges from academic neuroscience research to all stages of the drug development process.

Before joining NINDS, he was vice president of R&D partnering and business development at UCB, an international biopharmaceutical company based in Brussels. He earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, San Francisco, and has served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School and Duke University Medical Center.

Early in his career, Matthew helped pioneer the use of antibodies as tools for neuroscience research and as therapies for neurological disease. As a doctoral student, he developed antibodies that could be used to isolate and characterize proteins inside nerve cells. As a professor at Harvard, he was among the first to develop antibodies that modulate the function of proteins critical for neural activity. Antibodies of this kind are now used to treat multiple sclerosis and are under investigation in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

In 1990, Matthew moved to Duke to help establish the neurobiology department. In 1998, he became scientific director of the George and Jean Brumley Neonatal-Perinatal Research Institute in Duke’s department of pediatrics.

In 2001, Matthew was recruited to Schwarz Pharma, a mid-sized German-based drug company. He played an integral part in building Schwarz Biosciences, a new research and development division. During his tenure, Schwarz Pharma developed three new drug products for U.S. and European markets: Neupro (rotigotine)—a skin patch for stable, continuous relief from the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease; Vimpat (lacosamide)—a drug for treatment-resistant epilepsy; and Toviaz (fesoterodine)—a drug for symptomatic relief from overactive bladder.

As director of OTR, Matthew will oversee several NINDS and NIH-wide translational research initiatives, including the NINDS Cooperative Program in Translational Research and the NINDS Anticonvulsant Screening Program.

“In the time since I began my career, neuroscientists have gained key insights into many neurological disorders and created many opportunities for new treatments,” said Matthew. “My goal is to tap into the unique strengths of researchers, physicians, patient advocacy groups and industry and government leaders so that we can turn those opportunities into realities.”

Intern Awards Recipients Unveiled at Graduation Ceremony

The NIH Training Center and administrative training committee recently held the 51st annual NIH Intern graduation ceremony for the intern class of 2009. The Intern Programs graduated its first class of administrative fellows, making this year’s graduating class the largest yet with 66 graduates. Each year, the training committee presents awards to graduating interns, their mentors and supervisors who have all contributed to the development and overall success of the programs. The following interns and supporters received awards:

Intern of the Year—Virginia Hill, presidential management fellow (PMF).

Intern Innovator—Molly Puente, PMFIntern Collaborator—Jacob Hoots (PMF) and Sheria Washington, management intern (MI)

Intern Leader—Rebecca Brown (PMF) and Justin Hentges, administrative fellowship program (AFP)

Peer Recognition—Virginia Hill (PMF),William Martin (AFP) and Jessica Ryan (MI)

Outstanding Supervisor—Ellen Rolfes (NHGRI) and LaVerne Stringfield (OD)

Outstanding Mentor—Denise Fioravante, NIA and Anita Linde, NIAMS

Outstanding Advocate—Tim Wheeles, NHLBI

Congress Recognizes NEI’s 40th Anniversary, Decade of Vision

The National Eye Institute has been celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2009 with NIH-wide events and scientific symposia. Congress also recently recognized this milestone and the crucial role of NEI in vision research and eye health. The U.S. House and Senate passed resolutions that acknowledged NEI’s four decades of leadership in basic, clinical, preventive, epidemiologic and collaborative vision research. In addition, they declared the years 2011-2020 as the “Decade of Vision,” to maintain public health awareness of eye-related conditions and emphasize the importance of federal support for vision research.

This summer, the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) hosted a Capitol Hill reception recognizing the 40th anniversary of NEI. The reception brought together members of Congress and their staff with the vision community and its coalition partners. AEVR is an educational foundation dedicated to educating Congress and the public about the value of eye and vision research.

NEI was established by Congress in 1968 and currently contributes to over 1,600 grants and training awards made to scientists at more than 250 medical centers, hospitals and universities. To learn more about NEI, visit www.nei.nih.gov.

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