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Vol. LXII, No. 6
March 19, 2010

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NIDCR Immunologist Sandberg Is Mourned

Dr. Ann L. Sandberg

Dr. Ann L. Sandberg, an internationally recognized immunologist who retired from NIDCR in 2005, died Dec. 31, 2009, in Bozeman, Mont. She was 71. Sandberg was with NIDCR for 33 years; at the time of her retirement she was acting director of the Center for Integrative Craniofacial Research. She leaves behind a legacy of scientific and personal accomplishment and a host of colleagues and friends who celebrate her life and mourn her loss.

“Ann Sandberg was a true pioneer. At a time when relatively few women were scientists, Ann was a leader in the field of oral infectious disease,” said Dr. Lawrence Tabak, director of NIDCR. “Following her tenure as an intramural investigator, Ann joined the NIDCR extramural program where she markedly enhanced the institute’s portfolio in oral cancer research. I was delighted when Ann agreed to assume a larger leadership role as the director of the Center for Integrative Craniofacial Research. Her extraordinary leadership skills and ‘matter of fact’ approach to dealing with challenges helped the institute enhance research investments in ‘omic’ biology during her tenure.”

Sandberg joined NIH in 1972 as chief of the humoral immunity section in the Laboratory of Microbiology and Immunology at the (then) NIDR. Her work advanced the understanding of alternate pathways for activation of the cascading sequence of then relatively unknown complement proteins, now appreciated to be instrumental in innate and adaptive immunity.

In 1988, she was named chief of the microbial receptors and pathogenesis section, Laboratory of Microbial Ecology. She made noteworthy contributions to the biomedical literature on innate immunity, bacterial activation of neutrophils and infective endocarditis.

After 23 years with the intramural program, she joined the institute’s extramural program in 1995 as chief of the Neoplastic Diseases Branch and was subsequently promoted to lead the Division of Basic and Translational Sciences.

Throughout her career, Sandberg also mentored and supported the career development of multiple students, young investigators and postdoctoral fellows.

“Ann was remarkable for her perceptive insight, genuine concern and involvement with people within or outside her laboratory, the basis for enduring friendships,” said Dr. Sharon Wahl, who served as a research fellow in Sandberg’s lab and is now chief of NIDCR’s Oral Infection and Immunity Branch. “For those of us who had the privilege of knowing Ann and working with her during her scientific career, she will be sorely missed. The immunology community has lost one of its finest.”

Sandberg’s colleagues remember her graciousness, warmth and fun-loving spirit that emerged whether in or out of the lab. Said Wahl, “She had an uncanny ability to make colleagues and strangers alike feel as if they had known her forever.” Beyond her life in science, Sandberg loved her family, literature, music and gardening; after retirement she had reignited her passion for piano lessons, Wahl noted.

NCI Alumnus Kraus Dies

Dr. Matthias Kraus

Dr. Matthias Kraus, who worked at the National Cancer Institute from 1981 through 1995 and was a pioneer in the study of ErbB proteins, died of a heart attack on Dec. 1, 2009, at the age of 55.

As a member of the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology initially as a postdoctoral fellow and subsequently as a visiting scientist, Kraus was involved in seminal studies of erb-2 and erb-3, members of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor family. He contributed importantly to the discovery and initial cloning of ERBB2 as an amplified ERBB-related gene from a human breast carcinoma. It is now known that around 20-25 percent of human breast carcinomas contain this amplified and/or overexpressed gene. He and his colleagues went on to describe multiple mechanisms of ERBB2 oncogenic activation. With colleagues C. Richter King and Stuart A. Aaronson, he was co-inventor of patents pertaining to the ERBB2 gene that form the basis for diagnostic testing of all breast cancers for ERBB2 amplification. Today, a monoclonal antibody directed against the erb-2 receptor has become standard therapy for many thousands of patients with breast cancers that contain the amplified ERBB2 gene.

Kraus also discovered ERBB3, the third member of the EGF receptor family; cancer therapies targeting this receptor are currently in clinical development.

Kraus was born in Bavaria, Germany, and earned his M.D. and doctorate in medicine from the University of Cologne in 1980 and 1981, respectively. He left NCI in 1995 to become director of a research unit at the newly formed European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy. In 2000 he moved to the University of Alabama, Birmingham, where he held various academic positions, working in close association with Dr. Beatrice Hahn and her group. He continued to study mechanisms of malignant transformation and was also engaged in simian and human immunodeficiency virus research.

Kraus’s colleagues remember him as a selfless team player who loved working in the laboratory. He was a meticulous experimentalist and superb teacher with a kind disposition illuminated by an ever-present smile. Outside the lab, he was an accomplished pianist, photographer and soccer player and he had a fondness for well-engineered cars. His mother and sister survive him.

NCI Board Names Chair, New Members
Dr. Jeffrey Drebin Dr. Joshua LaBaer Don Listwin Dr. Richard Schilsky Dr. Frank Torti
NCI Board of Advisors appointees include (above, from l) Dr. Jeffrey Drebin, Dr. Joshua LaBaer, Don Listwin, Dr. Richard Schilsky and Dr. Frank Torti.

The NCI Board of Scientific Advisors has announced its chair and new and reappointed members. The chair is Dr. Richard Schilsky, professor of medicine and associate dean for clinical research at the University of Chicago. An international expert in gastrointestinal malignancies and cancer pharmacology, he has served on a number of peer-review and advisory committees for NCI and completed a term as chair of the FDA oncology drugs advisory committee.

New BSA members are:

Dr. Chi Dang, vice dean for research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, oversees the Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering. His laboratory is studying the mechanisms underlying the neoplastic activities of the MYC oncogene.

Dr. Jeffrey Drebin, chair of the department of surgery and the 14th John Rhea Barton professor of surgery at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, was recently voted president- elect of the Society for Clinical Surgery, one of the oldest surgical societies in the nation.

Dr. Joshua LaBaer, director of the new Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics at Arizona State University in Tempe, served as former director of the Institute of Proteomics at Harvard Medical School.

Don Listwin, a 25-year veteran of the technology industry who launched the Canary Foundation in 2004 to accelerate early cancer detection research activities, is the former CEO of Sana Security, Openwave and former No. 2 executive at Cisco Systems.

Dr. Frank Torti, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, has written extensively on prostate and bladder cancer and contributed substantially to the understanding of molecular mechanisms that underlie inflammatory diseases and cancer.

Reappointed BSA members include:

Dr. Kathleen Foley, attending neurologist in the pain and palliative care service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has developed scientific guidelines for the use of analgesic drug therapy through pharmacologic studies of opioid drugs.

Dr. Sanjiv Gambhir is director of the molecular imaging program and head of nuclear medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. His contributions to cancer research include emphasis on early detection through imaging technology.

Dr. Joe Gray, director of the division of life sciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is also program leader of breast oncology at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Mary Hendrix, professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University, also serves as president and scientific director of the Children’s Memorial Research Center.

Dr. Christopher Logothetis, professor and chair of the department of genitourinary medical oncology at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, is principal investigator of the M.D. Anderson SPORE in prostate cancer.

Dr. Edith Perez, professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School in Jacksonville, Fla., serves as director of the cancer clinical study unit at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

Pettigrew Elected to NAE
Dr. Roderic Pettigrew

Dr. Roderic Pettigrew, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He was recognized for “the use of MRI in human blood-flow studies and leading advancements in bioengineering research and education as the initial director of NIBIB.” NAE, a member of the National Academies, has peer-elected members who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers and physical scientists. It was founded to provide engineering leadership in service to the nation; election to the NAE is one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Pettigrew is one of 68 new members elected nationwide in 2010. He becomes the first member of the NIH community to be elected to both the NAE and the Institute of Medicine, an honor he received in 2007.

NIH Demographer Bachrach Retires
Dr. Christine A. Bachrach

Dr. Christine A. Bachrach retired recently after 30 years of federal service. She worked at NIH for 21 years, 18 in the Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch, NICHD. Most recently she served as acting NIH associate director for behavioral and social sciences research and acting director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, since April 2008.

Before coming to OBSSR, Bachrach worked in the Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch in NICHD’s Center for Population Research. She started in 1988 as a statistician/demographer and in June 1992 became chief of the branch. She came to NICHD from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. She was a longtime member of the NIH behavioral and social sciences research coordinating committee and a founder and co-chair of the NICHD Consortium for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research.

Bachrach spearheaded several NIH initiatives including the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health; the 2000 conference, “Toward Higher Levels of Analysis: Progress and Promise in Research on Social and Cultural Dimensions of Health”; and the social environment working group of the National Children’s Study. She received an NIH Director’s Award in 1997.

Bachrach received her Ph.D. in population dynamics from Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. Her research has examined a variety of topics related to the family, including fertility, contraceptive use, sexual behavior, cohabitation and adoption. She was the 2009 recipient of the Robert J. Lapham Award from the Population Association of America for her contributions to population research.

While she will miss her NIH colleagues, Bachrach looks forward to creating a new phase of her professional life, one that she hopes will involve active engagement in her own research on families as well as a range of other activities that will serve the scientific community. With her passion for basic social sciences research, she will focus initially on two areas—social influences in health and cultural change. Finally, she says she is looking forward to “slowing down and adopting a lifestyle that is no longer 100 percent work!”

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