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Vol. LXI, No. 25
December 11, 2009
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Milestones

Shurin Assumes Role of Acting NHLBI Director
Dr. Susan Shurin  

Dr. Susan Shurin assumed the role of acting director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute on Dec. 1. She follows Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, who resigned as NHLBI director to serve as president and CEO of Brigham and Women’s /Faulkner Hospitals in Boston.

“Dr. Shurin’s extensive experience in managing large research programs, particularly clinical programs, her research expertise and her familiarity with and within the institute all will serve her and the organization well as she guides the NHLBI through this period of transition,” wrote NIH director Dr. Francis Collins in a Nov. 20 announcement to staff.

Shurin joined NHLBI as deputy director in February 2006, coming from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She was involved in multiple intramural and extramural activities and was responsible for oversight of the institute’s clinical research portfolio. While serving as deputy director in October 2009, Shurin also assumed the role of acting director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. That post has now been taken by Dr. Alan Guttmacher.

Before joining NHLBI, Shurin was professor of pediatrics and oncology at Case Western Reserve; director of pediatric hematology-oncology at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital; director of pediatric oncology at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center; and vice president and secretary of the Corporation at Case Western Reserve University.

60 Minutes Interviews NIDA’s Volkow

On Nov. 17, NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow (l) was interviewed by CBS’s Katie Couric (r) for an upcoming 60 Minutes segment on cognition enhancing drugs. The interview took place at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where Volkow conducts her brain imaging research. It will air in the near future, although a date has not yet been determined. On Nov. 17, NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow (l) was interviewed by CBS’s Katie Couric (r) for an upcoming 60 Minutes segment on cognition enhancing drugs. The interview took place at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where Volkow conducts her brain imaging research. It will air in the near future, although a date has not yet been determined.

NIDDK Retiree Ziffer Mourned

Dr. Herman Ziffer, an NIDDK scientist who retired in 2002, died Nov. 6 after a long illness.

A native of New York City, he graduated from City College of New York in 1951 with a bachelor of science degree, then attended the University of Indiana where he obtained his master’s degree in 1953. In 1955, he was awarded a Ph. D. from the University of Oregon where he worked with Prof. Leroy Klemm on the synthesis of polycyclic aromatics.

In 1955, he joined the National Aniline division of Allied Chemical Corp. where he worked until April 1958, when he joined Dr. Ulrich Weiss at NIH’s National Institute of Metabolic Diseases. Here he began work on spectroscopy, particularly optical rotatory dispersion and circular dichroism as applied to various aspects of asymmetry. During this period, in now-classic studies, a new type of asymmetry, arising from skewed dienes, was discovered by Ziffer and his collaborators.

Ziffer worked independently at NIDDK until he retired in 2002 for reasons of ill health. He published on photochemistry, asymmetric synthesis, enzymatic synthesis and modifications, neurotoxins and anti-malarial drugs including synthetic modifications of artemisinine. He supervised a synthesis of both enantiomers of a poison frog alkaloid of the pumiliotoxin class. A few of his many collaborators included Drs. John Daly, Donald Jerina, Daniel Klaymann, Sanford Markey, Herman Yeh and investigators at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the World Health Organization.

“He will be remembered and missed by many at NIH, who recall his wide range of interests in organic chemistry and many aspects of biochemistry, knowledge he was always willing to share and particularly his kindness to his many postdoctoral fellows and his continuing interest in their careers,” said Dr. Thomas Spande of NIDDK. “Most of all, Herman will be remembered for a generous readiness to offer critical, informed opinions on most topics, not always chemical.”

He is survived by his wife Kathy, three children, Michelle Swotinsky of Sudbury, Mass., Barbara Campbell of Charlotte, N.C., and David Ziffer of Clarksburg, Md., and seven grandchildren.

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