Guttmacher Named NICHD Acting Director
|Dr. Alan Guttmacher
Dr. Alan Guttmacher’s vision of biomedical research is 20/20: it leads to better health for people in this country and around the world.
“Fostering exceptional research is our most important job, but the research is not an end in itself,” he said. “What also matters is how we apply the results of that research to improving human health.”
On Dec. 1, Guttmacher became acting director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In announcing the appointment, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins noted that Guttmacher possessed “a unique combination of expertise and experience.”
Trained in pediatrics and medical genetics, Guttmacher was acting director of the National Human Genome Research Institute immediately before coming to NICHD. He began his NIH career in 1999, as senior clinical advisor to the NHGRI director. He became that institute’s deputy director in 2002, a position he held until he became the acting director in 2008. From his experience at NHGRI, he said, he learned how NIH support can catalyze the research process. But his thinking on the appropriate goal for that research was shaped by his early experiences as a pediatrician.
“My primary objective at NHGRI was to apply the lessons of genomics to improving health and health care,” he said. Similarly, Guttmacher intends to apply what he referred to as “the clinical researcher’s mindset”—looking out for and improving the health of his patients—to advancing the health of NICHD’s constituencies.
Guttmacher stressed, however, that basic research and applied research are both important in the quest to help patients. “While one cannot always predict which basic research will lead to improved health, over and over again basic science advances have made critical contributions to our ability to improve health,” he said. “In fact, the basic science tools of today offer an unparalleled opportunity to base more and more applied research on a truly scientific model, rather than relying only on empiricism.”
He said one of his immediate priorities would be NICHD’s National Children’s Study, which seeks to follow children from early life through adulthood, to determine the influence of genetics and the environment on human health.
Sieving Receives Special Recognition Award
NEI director Dr. Paul Sieving (c) accepted the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2009 Special Recognition Award at the AAO’s joint meeting with the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology in San Francisco recently. The award is in “recognition of the commitment of the National Eye Institute’s valuable contributions to medicine and ophthalmology through pioneering research that meets the vision-related health care needs of people of all ages.” Flanking Sieving are Dr. David W. Parke II (l), CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and Dr. Michael Brennan, AAO president.
Morales Named Director of NIMH Outreach Partnership Program
|Diana Morales recently joined NIMH’s Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison as the director of the Outreach Partnership Program.
Diana Morales recently joined NIMH’s Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison as the director of the Outreach Partnership Program. A nationwide initiative with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and in cooperation with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, OPP enlists national and state organizations in partnerships to help bridge the gap between research and clinical practice by disseminating the latest scientific findings; informing the public about mental disorders, alcoholism and drug addiction; and reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with these illnesses. OPP includes 55 state outreach and 81 national partners.
Prior to coming to NIMH, Morales served as vice president of public education at Mental Health America (formerly the National Mental Health Association), a century-old national advocacy and education organization. In this role, she led the Campaign for America’s Mental Health, a 19-year education program carried out by up to 60 MHA affiliates nationwide.
Morales earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She began her career in social marketing during which she worked on NIMH’s award-winning National Panic Disorder Education Program. She also brings extensive experience in health and science communications representing both the public and private sectors.
Bhattacharyya To Head CSR Branch
|Dr. Dipak Bhattacharyya
The Center for Scientific Review has named Dr. Dipak Bhattacharyya as the new chief of its Information Management Branch.
“We have to be one of the luckiest ICs,” said CSR director Dr. Toni Scarpa. “CSR depends heavily on information management, and Bhattacharyya has a rare combination of education, experience and skills to meet challenges in providing IT services in a demanding center.”
Over the last 11 years, Bhattacharyya has held senior-level IT positions at CSR and in private industry. Most recently, he served as software and web development team leader in CSR’s Information Management Branch; he also served as an IT specialist and project manager in previous CSR positions. Prior to joining NIH, Bhattacharyya worked as a senior software developer, senior systems architect and senior web developer.
In his earlier career as a scientist, he was a visiting fellow in the department of biochemistry at Michigan State University, a research scientist in the department of biological sciences at Northern Illinois University and an IRTA fellow at an NCI lab.
He earned a master’s degree in biochemistry from Calcutta University, a master’s of business administration in project management from the University of Northern Virginia and a doctorate in biochemistry from Jadavpur University in India.
Balbus as Senior Advisor
Dr. John Balbus
Photo: Steve McCaw
NIEHS recently announced the appointment of Dr. John Balbus as the institute’s senior advisor for public health. Assigned to the NIEHS Bethesda office, he will act as a liaison to those with an interest or involvement in the many aspects of the NIEHS mission—external constituencies, stakeholders and advocacy groups.
“I am pleased to welcome John to our NIEHS team,” said NIEHS director Dr. Linda Birnbaum. “His wealth of experience in public health from environmental health research to service on federal advisory boards makes him a great advocate for NIEHS who will understand the concerns of those outside our institute.”
Balbus is board-certified in internal medicine and occupational medicine. As an associate professor at George Washington University School of Public Health, he founded the Center for Risk Science and Public Health, practiced clinical occupational and environmental medicine and was involved with public health education.
Balbus became chief health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund in 2002, maintaining academic appointments at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and George Washington University.
He has served as a member of several federal advisory committees including EPA’s science advisory board and children’s health protection advisory committee and the National Academy of Sciences board on environmental studies and toxicology. He continues to serve on the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine and as chair of the monitoring and surveillance work group for the National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures.
Boerboom To Head CSR Review Group
|Dr. Lawrence Boerboom
The Center for Scientific Review recently named Dr. Lawrence Boerboom as chief of its cardiovascular and respiratory sciences integrated review group.
“Dr. Boerboom brings extensive experience and leadership skills to this key position,” said Dr. Toni Scarpa, CSR director. “He has excelled as a project leader in academia, industry and at CSR.”
Since 2004, Boerboom has been the scientific review officer for the CSR study section that reviews cardiac- and vascular-related small business grant applications. In addition, he has served as the center’s point person for the review of small business grant applications.
Boerboom came to CSR from LifeCell Corp. in Branchburg, N.J., where he was director of research, leading a team focused on developing tissue-engineered medical devices. Prior to this, he had a 20-year career on the faculty of the Medical College of Wisconsin, holding a primary appointment in cardiothoracic surgery, a secondary appointment in physiology and also serving as director of cardiovascular surgical research. His research focused on factors influencing myocardial blood flow, cardiac function and vascular bypass graft atherosclerosis. He earned his Ph.D. in physiology from the University of North Dakota.
NCI’s Gorelic Retires
|Dr. Lester S. Gorelic
Dr. Lester S. Gorelic of NCI’s Center for Cancer Training (CCT) retired recently. He spent 20 years at NCI starting as a cancer prevention fellow and finishing his career as a program director and acting deputy chief of the Cancer Training Branch in CCT.
Gorelic received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Chicago and completed postdoctoral training in molecular biology and microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine. He became assistant professor of chemistry/ biochemistry at Wayne State University and then associate research scientist at Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research. He moved to NCI where he spent 3 years in the Cancer Prevention Fellowship program. In 1992, Gorelic became an NCI scientific review administrator, managing grant reviews in cancer prevention and control. Two years later, he joined NCI’s Comprehensive Minority Biomedical Program where he managed a portfolio of research training and career development awards focused on underrepresented minorities and other ethnic groups in cancer research. In 1996, he joined the Cancer Training Branch.
Gorelic represented NCI on numerous committees including NIH’s training advisory committee. He chaired an advisory group that developed the first NCI flexible workplace policy. At his retirement reception, he was praised for his dedication, enthusiasm and leadership and his commitment to training the cancer research workforce.
In retirement, Gorelic will continue his passion for teaching and educating as a museum docent at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Moen To Direct Extramural NIAMS
|Dr. Laura K. Moen
Dr. Laura K. Moen has been appointed director of the Division of Extramural Research Activities at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. She will oversee the NIAMS Scientific Review Branch, Grants Management Branch, clinical research coordinators and key scientific management functions.
She comes to NIAMS from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, where she served as a program official in the Division of Extramural Research since 2008. Her portfolio at NCCAM included cardiovascular, gastroenterology, urology, renal, diabetes, endocrinology, metabolism and stroke research. Her other positions at NIH included working as a scientific review administrator at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences from 1999 to 2005, and as a program official at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases from 2005 to 2008. During her tenure there, Moen oversaw projects in basic, translational and clinical research in urology and nephrology as well as career development and institutional training awards.
Before joining NIH, Moen was a tenured associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at Old Dominion University. She received her B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Southern California and her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Virginia and held postdoctoral positions at Oregon State University and the University of California Medical School in San Francisco.
Moen has received numerous awards and honors including NIH Director’s Awards and the NIDDK Director’s Award.
Shulman, First NIAMS Director, Dies at 90
|NIAMS’s first director Dr. Lawrence E. Shulman
Dr. Lawrence E. Shulman, the first director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, died Oct. 10, 2009, at age 90 at his home in Washington, D.C.
Shulman, who served as NIAMS director from 1986 to 1994, was a leader in the field of rheumatology research and a mentor and teacher of many of today’s leading rheumatology investigators, both in the United States and abroad. Upon his retirement in 1994, then-NIH director Dr. Harold Varmus conferred the title of director emeritus on him in recognition of Shulman’s distinguished service to NIH. In addition, Shulman served as an ombudsman for clinical research.
Shulman received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and was later awarded both a Ph.D. in public health and an M.D. from Yale University. He began his medical career at Johns Hopkins University in the early 1950s. “That was quite a wonderful education,” he recalled in the October issue of the American College of Rheumatology publication The Rheumatologist, shortly before his death. “It was at that time cortisone and ACTH [adrenocorticotropic hormone] were discovered to have the most remarkable effects on rheumatoid arthritis. At the same time, the NIH, in its wisdom, was developing graduate training programs in various medical specialties.”
Shulman served as director of Johns Hopkins’ connective tissue division prior to coming to NIH in 1976. One of his early responsibilities at NIH was to develop and implement programs recommended in the Arthritis Plan presented to Congress that year by the National Commission on Arthritis and Related Musculoskeletal Diseases. Ten years later, he became acting director of the newly established NIAMS.
During his tenure as NIAMS director, he successfully guided the development of the institute through its formative years. He played a pivotal role in facilitating the growth of both the intramural and extramural programs, encouraging innovation and pursuit of new scientific opportunities. He was a strong supporter of research on both women’s health and minority health issues and made studies of diseases such as osteoporosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma a high priority for the institute. He also initiated new studies of rare diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, skin and connective tissues.
Shulman made many contributions to rheumatology research, including the discovery in 1974 of eosinophilic fasciitis, a connective tissue disorder that is known today as Shulman’s syndrome. He served as president of the American Rheumatism Association (now the American College of Rheumatology) from 1974-1975, and president of the Pan-American League Against Rheumatism from 1982-1986.
“We at the NIAMS will always be indebted to Dr. Shulman for his tremendous vision and dedication to the institute and its public health mission,” said NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz. “He will be greatly missed by his many friends and colleagues.”
Shulman is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.
Cohen, Geriatric Psychiatrist, Dies
By Anne Decker
|Dr. Gene D. Cohen
Dr. Gene D. Cohen, 65, who led the first aging programs at NIMH and served as deputy director and acting director at NIA from 1988 to 1993, died at his home in Kensington on Nov. 7, 2009, after a long battle with cancer.
“We will remember Gene Cohen as a talented and dedicated scientist as well as a kind and compassionate friend and mentor to many at NIH and in the aging community,” said Dr. Richard Hodes, NIA director.
Cohen was a pioneer in the field of geriatric psychiatry who in later years turned his focus from the problems of aging to enhancing the creative potential of the elderly. His career in the Public Health Service began as a commissioned officer at NIMH where he was chief of the first Center on Aging and director of the Program on Aging.
“I spent 11 extraordinary years with Gene Cohen at the NIMH Center on Aging,” said Dr. Nancy Miller, now senior scientist policy analyst in the NIH Office of the Director. “He was an enormously warm, capable and enthusiastic man with a bounce in his step, an impish sense of humor and a penchant for word games and jokes and a boundless enthusiasm about what could be accomplished. This was a man who was committed to improving the lives of the elderly and who served as an inspiration to many, within NIH, and across the nation and the world.”
Over the years, Cohen was involved in many ground-breaking studies on Alzheimer’s disease.
These activities included the first task force on Alzheimer’s disease under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services, resulting in publication of a report from the Secretary’s task force in September 1984, which helped increase federal support for research. He became interested in other mental disorders of later life and focused on individuals with early onset diagnosis of schizophrenia who were followed in old age as well as those who received the diagnosis in later life.
Cohen maintained his commitment to biological, psychological and social issues in geriatric medicine when he moved to NIA. “He has been a close friend,” said former NIA director Dr. T. Franklin Williams. “I have admired him for his leadership in aging and geriatric understanding and especially for his imaginative emphasis on creativity in later years.”
After leaving NIH in 1994, Cohen became the first director of the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University, where he was also professor of health care sciences and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. In recent years, Cohen’s interest in the medical and psychosocial aspects of aging focused on creativity in old age and how creativity grows and changes over time. This later work brought a new view to aging, which Cohen interpreted with the development of interactive and intergenerational games. His most recent game—Making Memories Together—helps families and caregivers recognize the untapped imaginative potential of Alzheimer’s patients.
Born in Brockton, Mass., Cohen graduated from Harvard College in 1966 with a degree in art history. In 1970, he received a medical degree from Georgetown University’s School of Medicine and a doctorate from Union Institute and University in 1981.
A former president of the Gerontological Society of America, he was the founding editor of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and International Psychogeriatrics. In addition to the many scientific papers he authored, he wrote two books for the general public, The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life, and more recently, The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain.
“Gene Cohen was a Renaissance man, merging mental health and aging research outcomes with the nourishment of creativity in the aged,” said Dr. Marie Bernard, NIA deputy director. “He was a perpetual presence at meetings of the Gerontological Society of America, distinguished by his bow tie, curly hair and welcoming smile. He will be missed in the aging research community.”
He is survived by his wife Wendy Miller, daughter Eliana Miller-Cohen, son and daughter-in-law Alex and Kate Cohen, a brother and four grandchildren.
NIAID Mourns Pediatrician Wedgwood
|Dr. Josiah F. Wedgwood
NIAID pediatrician and immunologist Dr. Josiah F. Wedgwood died Nov. 27 while traveling overseas with his son to meet his wife in Paris. He was 59.
Wedgwood joined NIAID in 2002 as chief of the immunodeficiency and immunopathology section in the Clinical Immunology Branch of the Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation (DAIT). While there, he oversaw research into the mechanisms and treatment of primary immune deficiency diseases. Wedgwood was instrumental in developing research programs in autoimmune diseases to help understand their causes and to develop potential treatments.
“He was not only a highly skilled clinical trials specialist with extensive expertise in pediatric infectious diseases and immunology,” notes NIAID DAIT director Dr. Daniel Rotrosen, “but he also was a wonderful colleague and a devoted husband and father. Josiah was unfailingly generous with his time, deeply committed to improving the lives of people living with various diseases of the immune system and a tireless advocate for research into those diseases. His many achievements will be remembered by his colleagues and friends at NIAID and within the scientific and patient communities he served.”
Just prior to joining NIAID, he had held concurrent appointments as director of newborn services at the Hospital of Saint Raphael, New Haven, Conn., assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Yale Medical School and attending neonatologist at Yale/New Haven Hospital.
Wedgwood received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University and his M.D. from George Washington University School of Medicine. He received the Basil O’Connor Scholar Award from the March of Dimes to support his research to fight immune diseases affecting children. He also provided medical care to patients with pediatric rheumatologic and orthopedic diseases while at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. During his tenure on the faculty of Mt. Sinai Medical School, his primary clinical duties included service on the neonatal intensive care unit and research in pediatric immunology.
Wedgwood is survived by his wife, Ruth, and his 11-year-old son, Josiah.
NIEHS’s Wilcox Honored with Award
|Dr. Allen Wilcox
NIEHS senior investigator Dr. Allen Wilcox is the recipient of the 2009 Greg Alexander Award for Advancing Knowledge—one of the highest honors bestowed each year by the Coalition for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Epidemiology. He received the award for his contributions to public health knowledge through epidemiology and applied research at the coalition’s 15th annual MCH Epidemiology Conference, held recently in Tampa, Fla.
In choosing recipients for the Alexander award, the selection committee gives preference to those whose focus is applied, recognizing originality of scientific work, contribution to the field and impact on the health of mothers and children. “One of the hallmarks of this coalition,” Wilcox said, “is that it draws from a broad spectrum of public health people—from the very applied folks in the county health departments to university researchers.”
A reproductive epidemiologist who recently celebrated his 30th year as an investigator at NIEHS, Wilcox is also editor-in-chief of the journal Epidemiology. He is a past president of both the American Epidemiologic Society and the Society for Epidemiologic Research.
Wilcox is an adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is author of the forthcoming textbook, Fertility and Pregnancy: An Epidemiologic Perspective, described by publisher Oxford University Press as “the first truly comprehensive textbook on the topic.”