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Vol. LXII, No. 16
August 6, 2010
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Milestones

NEI’s Wurtz Wins Gruber Neuroscience Prize

Dr. Robert H. Wurtz

Dr. Robert H. Wurtz, an NIH distinguished investigator and neuroscientist in NEI’s Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research (LSR), has been awarded the 2010 Neuroscience Prize from the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation for his pioneering work in establishing and advancing the field of cognitive neuroscience. Wurtz helped establish the LSR in 1973 and served as its chief until 1997.

Since 1969, Wurtz has been publishing studies on the physiology of the visual system in awake primates, through which he showed that single neurons in the brain could process visual information. He is being honored for his initial studies on brain structures that contribute to visual processing and initiate eye movements. This basic research knowledge has laid a foundation for scientists around the world to better understand how brain organization contributes to physical behaviors.

“This was a very important step in providing insights into the workings of the brain—an astounding information-processing biological structure that allows for perception, reasoning and action,” said Sten Grillner, chair of the selection advisory board.

Wurtz went even deeper, mapping individual nerve cells that receive visual information in the awake brain. He showed how different areas of the outer brain—the cortex—contributed to visual processing and how inner brain structures—subcortical areas—initiated eye movement. He also discovered and described the complex pathways that allow these brain structures to communicate. Through Wurtz’s advances in cognitive neuroscience, other researchers have moved beyond the eye to develop a deeper understanding of brain diseases and conditions including stroke, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

“We applaud this recognition of Bob Wurtz’s tremendous contributions to the field of neuroscience,” said NEI director Dr. Paul Sieving. “His groundbreaking work on brain structure and function has made possible many of the visual cognition studies on attention, motion perception and motivation.”

This $500,000 award is also given to honor Wurtz’s role as a mentor and an inspiration for countless neuroscientists. He will accept the prize on Nov. 14 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, where he will give a lecture titled “Brain Circuits for Active Vision.”

NIDDK’s Bennett Honored by ADA

(from l) Chris Hoiles, former Baltimore Orioles catcher; Larry Chloupek of the NIH R&W Foundation; Steve Hull, editor and publisher of Bethesda Magazine; Randy Schools, president of the R&W Association; NIDDK’s Debi Anderson, who is an R&W board member; and the Oriole Bird mascot.
Dr. Peter Bennett (r) accepts the Rifkin Award from Dr. Richard Bergenstal of the American Diabetes Association.

Dr. Peter Bennett, NIDDK scientist emeritus and former chief of the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch, was honored with the American Diabetes Association’s Harold Rifkin Award for Distinguished International Service in the Cause of Diabetes. He received the award at the ADA’s 70th scientific sessions in Orlando in June.

The award recognizes individuals whose outstanding service in the cause of diabetes has been performed with an international perspective and impact.

Bennett is best known for his many contributions to diabetes research through long-term studies of the disease in the Pima Indians and other American Indian populations. He played a major role in the World Health Organization Multinational Study of Vascular Disease in Diabetes, the first study to clearly show the wide variation in the type and frequency of blood vessel complications from diabetes in different racial groups and geographic locations.

In the 1980s, Bennett conducted epidemiology studies in several South Pacific islands. He also designed the China Da Qing Diabetes Study, a forerunner to the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program, which documented the benefits of lifestyle changes in people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. He has contributed extensively to teaching diabetes epidemiology by serving on the faculty of more than 25 international courses during the past 30 years.

Intel Science Fair Winners Have NIDA to Thank

A project using cutting-edge computer modeling to identify potential new medications for nicotine addiction won first place at the annual Addiction Science Awards at the 2010 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)—the world’s largest science competition for high school students. The awards were presented at a ceremony held recently in San Jose by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Friends of NIDA, a coalition that supports NIDA’s mission.

The fair’s 2009 winner, Jada Nicole Dalley, who won first place for her project on third-hand smoke titled, “A Cytogenic Analysis of Genetic Mutation Induced by Cigarette Smoke in Drosophila Melanogaster,” recently graduated from Keystone School in San Antonio. She is currently spending 5 weeks as a NIDA intern before attending Elon University in North Carolina, where she is interested in studying business with a minor in communications. Dalley is helping NIDA plan for its upcoming National Drug Facts Week.  

Ethan Garrett Guinn, whose project on video games addiction won the ISEF second place award in 2008, is spending his summer in Boston working with Dr. Michael Rich and Dr. David Bickham at a lab connected to Children’s Hospital Boston. He is working on completing his data analysis and preparing for publication this summer of his research that should provide a better understanding of how American kids are playing video games and if there are problems associated with certain types of use.

Winning Addiction Science Awards at the 2010 Intel science fair are (from l) Joseph Yagoda (3rd place), Kevin Knight (2nd place) and Ameya Deshmukh (1st place). At right is Dr. Cindy Miner, chief judge for NIDA. At left, winning Addiction Science Awards at the 2010 Intel science fair are (from l) Joseph Yagoda (3rd place), Kevin Knight (2nd place) and Ameya Deshmukh (1st place). At right is Dr. Cindy Miner, chief judge for NIDA.
In the photo at left below, 2008 Intel fair second-place winner Ethan Guinn (c) is working this summer in Boston with Dr. Michael Rich (l) and Dr. David Bickham. At right, 2009’s winner Jada Nicole Dalley is currently a NIDA intern.
2008 Intel fair second-place winner Ethan Guinn (c) is working this summer in Boston with Dr. Michael Rich (l) and Dr. David Bickham. 2009’s winner Jada Nicole Dalley is currently a NIDA intern.

NCI Scientists’ Innovations Honored

National Cancer Institute inventors and their three technology innovations were awarded the Federal Laboratory Consortium’s 2010 Technology of the Year Award recently. The award recognizes those who have done an outstanding job in transferring technology developed in a federal laboratory to partners in the private sector.

Nina Costantino
Nina Costantino
Dr. Jeffrey Schlom
Dr. Jeffrey Schlom

Dr. Donald Court and Nina Costantino of the Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory were recognized for their work in the development of a recombination-mediated genetic engineering, or recombineering, technology. It has revolutionized genetic engineering techniques including modification of genes on bacterial artificial chromosomes and generation of conditional knockout mice. Over 1,100 non-profit researchers have received the technology thus far and it has been licensed to 18 commercial entities.

Dr. Jeffrey Schlom’s work on a new therapeutic vaccine, Prostvac, for treating prostate cancer was recognized. The vaccine induces an immune response that attacks prostate cancer cells. Numerous clinical trials have shown that the vaccine has a good safety profile and may be an effective option for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. Schlom is chief of the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology.

Drs. Frederic Kaye, Adi Gazdar, John Minna and Bruce Johnson, formerly of the Genetics Branch, were recognized for their development of a cell line bank of approximately 439 human tumors. The lines contain a mutation that makes them sensitive to the presence of growth inhibiting drugs and are valuable research tools for identifying compounds with therapeutic potential against cancer. The lines have been the subject of more licenses than any other biological material at NCI and can be used by scientists to screen many compounds for anti-cancer activity.


FNIH Names Campbell New Executive Director, CEO
Dr. Scott Campbell
Dr. Scott Campbell is the new executive director and chief executive officer at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH). Previously, he served as national vice president of research programs at the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

“In this era of scientific complexity, as research, development and health delivery costs continue to increase, efforts at making the critical scientific advances needed to improve public health in the U.S., and globally, require collaboration between the public and private sectors,” said Campbell. “I will look for new and creative ways to fulfill the mission of the foundation.”

Campbell joined the ADA in 2001, overseeing all research-related programs there. He also had primary responsibility for oversight of the ADA research grant review and research policy committees and the scientific and health care council. He served as ADA liaison to NIH, the Veterans Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

Campbell was invited to provide input on strategic planning efforts of the National Center for Research Resources and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. He served as a member of the board of trustees for the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International and the Institute of Medicine’s Clinical Research Roundtable. Currently he is a member of the forum on drug discovery, development and translation for the IOM at the National Academies.

Campbell received his Ph.D. in basic biomedical sciences in 1985 from the University of South Florida. Following postdoctoral training in cardiovascular physiology at the University of Ottawa in Canada, he spent 12 years in academia at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, the University of Missouri and the University of South Dakota, where his primary area of research was hypertension, heart failure and the renin-angiotensin system. During that time, he authored 41 peer-reviewed articles, 9 invited reviews and 14 book chapters.

FNIH supports the mission of NIH through a wide range of initiatives that advance human health through public-private, collaborative partnerships. Campbell will serve as its third executive director. He replaces Amy Porter, who resigned in February to become executive director and CEO of the National Osteoporosis Foundation.


Marcus Moves to NIGMS

(from l) Chris Hoiles, former Baltimore Orioles catcher; Larry Chloupek of the NIH R&W Foundation; Steve Hull, editor and publisher of Bethesda Magazine; Randy Schools, president of the R&W Association; NIDDK’s Debi Anderson, who is an R&W board member; and the Oriole Bird mascot.
Dr. Stephen Marcus recently joined NIGMS as a program director in the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. He is developing and leading a new extramural research program focused on social and behavioral modeling, but also looking more broadly at systems science approaches to health. Marcus comes to NIGMS from NCI, where he served as a senior epidemiologist in the Tobacco Control Research Branch, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. He earned a B.S. in public health engineering and health sciences from Northwestern University, an M.P.H. in epidemiology and medical care administration from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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