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Vol. LXII, No. 3
February 5, 2010

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Dr. Bruce Cuthbert

Cuthbert To Head NIMH Division

Dr. Bruce Cuthbert has been named director of NIMH’s Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development. A former member of NIMH’s extramural program staff, he returns to NIMH following 4 years as a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Minnesota. He first came to NIMH in 1998, and was from 1999 to 2005 chief of the Adult Psychopathology and Prevention Research Branch. More recently, he had been assisting the institute since August, coordinating a project to develop neuroscience-based criteria for studying mental disorders.

Cuthbert’s research is aimed at providing an understanding of how emotions, and disorders of emotional processing, originate in the interplay between the brain’s most basic motivational drives. Measured differences in how individuals react to neutral and emotionally charged images—in terms of, for example, startle reflexes, heart rate, brain activity and verbal descriptions of emotional state—reveal how complex emotional responses are ultimately based in the brain wiring that implements fundamental survival-oriented drives. A model of how motivational processes relate to emotion provides a way to understand comorbidity among anxiety, mood and personality disorders and to identify risk for these disorders. Another goal is to develop diagnostic approaches that focus on symptoms that may be common to different conditions.

Cuthbert earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and psychophysiology from the University of Wisconsin. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps and was on the faculty at the University of Florida for 17 years. He has also held guest professorships at the University of Giessen and the University of Tübingen in Germany. He was elected president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research in 2004 and is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.

The Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development administers research programs aimed at understanding the pathophysiology of mental illness and hastening the translation of behavioral science and neuroscience advances into innovations in clinical care.

NCI’s Ballard Retires After 39 Years at NIH
Jacque Ballard

Jacque Ballard, an NCI contracting officer with more than 39 years of federal service—35 years in procurement and acquisition—retired on Jan. 1.

Born and reared in Washington, D.C., she began working at NIH in May 1970 as a purchase order clerk. Two years later, she got a new position as a procurement clerk at NICHD. While there, she attended Montgomery College. She also attended the University of the District of Columbia, where she received an associate’s degree. In 1976, Ballard was selected as an intern in the NIH Stride Program and accepted a position as a contract specialist at NCI. She graduated from American University in 1978, earning a bachelor’s degree in contract law.

“Jacque has supported DCP’s chemopreventive agent development research group for more than 15 years as a contracting officer for our programs,” said Dr. Vernon E. Steele, an acting group leader in NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention. “She has provided our group with sound contract advice and helped us in numerous ways to accomplish our mission. Jacque was very understanding of our needs and took every step to educate us in the contracting process and help us with the paperwork necessary to do our work. It is a big loss to our program to see her retire, but we know she deserves the long-awaited rest from everyday pressures. We will miss her expertise, service and helpful manner.”

A life member since 1994 of Blacks In Government (BIG), Ballard is known as “Ms. BIG” among colleagues in the organization both locally and nationally. She received certification as a BIG master instructor and EEO advisor and graduated from the BIG Young Leadership Academy sponsored by the USDA Graduate School in August 2007. Ballard has served in several BIG leadership positions at every level, including regional representative, national committee chair and NIH BIG chapter president. She currently serves as one of region XI’s national board members.

“Jacque Ballard’s imprint on the national organization of BIG has been tremendous,” notes Pentagon employee Gerald Reed, BIG region XI director and past national president. “As an elected officer at the chapter, region and national levels, Jacque has displayed leadership acumen second to none. She has continuously been sought out to provide leadership and management training at all levels of BIG.”

Beyond NIH, Ballard is considered a “hand-dancing queen.” She started her own dance class, Rhythm N Style, with dance partner Hawk, in May 2008. “It has been a dream come true and one of the most exciting things I’ve done in awhile,” she noted. “In my new life of retirement, I hope to continue to meet people who love to laugh and have fun. I plan to dance until my feet have to be replaced.

NCI’s Jacobson Mourned 
Dr. James W. Jacobson

Dr. James W. Jacobson, acting associate director of NCI’s Cancer Diagnosis Program, died Dec. 23, 2009. He was 67 and succumbed to complications from leukemia.

He joined NCI in 1991 as a program director for genetics. In 1997, he became chief of what is now the Diagnostic Biomarkers and Technology Branch and continued to hold that position when he became acting head of CDP in 2008.

Jacobson made many important contributions to NCI and the cancer research community through his creative leadership in development and implementation of major translational research initiatives. Over the past year, he spearheaded NCI’s national laboratory effort to characterize patient tumors at the molecular level and to validate predictive molecular assays in phase III clinical trials.

“He was a guiding light in developing the Strategic Partnering to Evaluate Cancer Signatures (SPECS) initiative, which has allowed large collaborative research groups to take comprehensive molecular analyses, define their critical components and begin incorporating them into clinical practice,” said Dr. James Doroshow, director of the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis. In addition to the scientific expertise Jacobson contributed to SPECS from his seminal work on molecular signatures, particularly for lung cancer, he supplied the necessary administrative finesse to jump-start the program.

“SPECS could not be accomplished under the traditional R01 grant, and Jim was instrumental in setting up a new type of award to push the program forward,” Doroshow added. “He was an incredibly generous, kind and encouraging leader who leaves a legacy of researchers who will continue his pursuits in finding reliable molecular information that will inform clinical decision-making for people with cancer.”

Previous to his work on SPECS, Jacobson played a major role in the development of what is currently the Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies Program and he developed and led the Director’s Challenge initiative. Jacobson received an NIH Award of Merit for his role in the early implementation of the extramural component of the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project. Throughout his career, he convened numerous workshops to bring scientists from industry, academia and government together to discuss how to improve technology development and application for patient benefit.

Jacobson graduated from Dartmouth College, earned his doctoral degree at the University of Utah and did postdoctoral research at Yale University prior to joining the faculty of the University of Georgia. He worked for Genex Corp. for 12 years prior to joining NCI.

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