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NIH Record  
Vol. LXII, No. 15
  July 23, 2010
NIMH Working on New Methods for Classifying Mental Disorders
Princess of Thailand Visits NIH, Discusses Collaborations with NCI
NIMH Holds Summit on Closing Gaps in Research, Care
NCI, U. of Maryland Team Up To Fight Cancer
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NIH Principal Deputy Director Kington Departs For College Presidency
  NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (l) bids farewell to his principal deputy, Dr. Raynard Kington, at a reception in Wilson Hall.
  NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (l) bids farewell to his principal deputy, Dr. Raynard Kington, at a reception in Wilson Hall.

With just a few weeks left in his 10-year tenure here, NIH principal deputy director Dr. Raynard Kington’s Bldg. 1 office looked not terribly different than it did shortly after he’d moved into the agency’s second-highest job in February 2003.

“I’m in denial,” he said, smiling, glancing around at his still-full bookshelves, file-laden table and paper-stacked desk. “Apparently the hardest part of leaving is the actual physical mechanics of leaving.”

Kington stepped down as NIH’s second in command in July.

“Throughout his tenure as principal deputy and acting NIH director, Raynard demonstrated tremendous skill in tackling the toughest issues of the day, with his extraordinary intellect, integrity and tenacity—and good humor,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins. “He is respected far and wide—not just here at NIH, but across government and throughout the research community. He leaves behind a sterling record of accomplishments of which he should be very proud. I’m grateful that I have had the honor of working with him, and benefiting from his wise counsel. Grinnell is getting a fabulous president!”

NIDCD-Funded Scientists Grow ‘Ear in a Test Tube’
  Dr. Stefan Heller
  Dr. Stefan Heller

Hair cells, the tiny sensory cells located in the cochlea of the inner ear that turn sound vibrations into electrical signals, are among the most scarce cells in the body. We’re born with fewer than 15,000 of them per ear and they are the only ones we’ll ever have. Unlike birds and fish, humans don’t have the ability to grow new hair cells if some are lost due to disease, drugs or long-term exposure to noise. Unfortunately, the loss of just a thousand is enough to make a noticeable difference in how well we hear.

For years, hearing research has been hindered because scientists have never been able to get their hands on enough hair cells for experimentation in the lab. As a consequence, we know far less about sensory cells in the ear than we do about their equivalents in the eye or the nose, where such cells are plentiful, renewable and easy to extract.