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Vol. LXII, No. 19
September 17, 2010
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Milestones

Opens Science to Disadvantaged Students
NIA Grantee Brinton Wins President’s Citizens Medal

Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton and President Barack Obama

Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, a University of Southern California professor and NIA grantee, enjoyed touring the White House a few years ago. She returned for a second visit Aug. 4, but this time she was an honored guest receiving the 2010 Citizens Medal in a ceremony presided over by President Barack Obama. The award—one of the highest honors a civilian can receive in the United States—recognizes Americans who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country and fellow citizens.

The award recognized Brinton for her two decades leading the USC Science, Technology and Research (STAR) Program, an ongoing collaborative of USC, area schools and the National Science Foundation to provide science education and mentoring to disadvantaged and minority inner-city students in Los Angeles. STAR helps develop science curricula in elementary and middle school classrooms, provides hands-on experiences in laboratories, promotes science education for teachers and school science fairs and funds college scholarships.

Obama remarked during the ceremony honoring 13 awardees that even though their names may not be well-known to the public, they “are heroes to those who need them most.”

STAR students apparently agreed and nominated Brinton for the honor. The program touches the lives of some 3,000 elementary through college students annually, and the results are telling: 100 percent of STAR students attend college and 88 percent pursue majors in science and engineering.

But Brinton said credit for the success of the program is shared by many.

“No one scientist can have this much impact on youth,” she said. “It takes a team of scientists, postdocs and grad students to work with and mentor the students. I may have been the one at the White House ceremony, but we are in this together.”

A long-time NIA grantee, Brinton conducts basic research into the neurobiology of the aging female brain and its vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease. Her studies show that allopregnanolone, one of the most common steroids in the brain, improves brain health and reverses cognitive decline in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, the NIA Division of Neuroscience’s translational research program is funding her preclinical development of the steroid as a possible therapy for the disease.

“Dr. Brinton is achieving, and brilliantly so, what many researchers only dream about—translating their academic research into the discovery of potential new therapies,” said Dr. Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, director of NIA’s Division of Neuroscience. “That she also manages to mentor students who might otherwise never see science as important or as a career possibility speaks to her generosity of spirit.”

Brinton also credits teamwork for her success in bridging the gap between bench to bedside, but this time with her institute colleagues.

“NIA is invested in the science and the success of the research program,” Brinton said. “If problems arise, if things aren’t going exactly as planned in the grant, you are not alone. You have this network of very engaged NIA Division of Neuroscience program officers as part of your team.”

NIH’ers Among Top HHS Innovation Winners

(from l) HHS Assistant Secretary for Administration Ned Holland, Jr.; HHS Deputy Secretary William Corr; Quynh Ly, NINDS budget analyst and POTS team member; HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; POTS teammates Dr. Yang Fann, NINDS IT and Bioinformatics Program director, and Trissy Knox, NINDS purchasing program specialist; HHS Chief Technology Officer Todd Park; Robert Dean, NINDS administrative officer and POTS team member; and NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers, who was representing NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.

At the HHS ceremony honoring innovation are (above, from l) HHS Assistant Secretary for Administration Ned Holland, Jr.; HHS Deputy Secretary William Corr; Quynh Ly, NINDS budget analyst and POTS team member; HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; POTS teammates Dr. Yang Fann, NINDS IT and Bioinformatics Program director, and Trissy Knox, NINDS purchasing program specialist; HHS Chief Technology Officer Todd Park; Robert Dean, NINDS administrative officer and POTS team member; and NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers, who was representing NIH director Dr. Francis Collins. Below, in the NCCOR photo, are (from l) Holland, Corr, Dr. Tracy Orleans of RWJF, Dr. Laura Kettel Khan of CDC, Sebelius, Dr. Rachel Ballard-Barbash of NCI, Dr. Molly Kretsch of USDA, Dr. Terry Huang of NICHD, Parks and Rodgers.

(from l) Holland, Corr, Dr. Tracy Orleans of RWJF, Dr. Laura Kettel Khan of CDC, Sebelius, Dr. Rachel Ballard-Barbash of NCI, Dr. Molly Kretsch of USDA, Dr. Terry Huang of NICHD, Parks and Rodgers.

NIH scored big in the inaugural HHSinnovates Awards program, collecting two of three Secretary’s Pick honors. In response to an open request for innovation candidates last spring, a total of 126 concepts from across the Department of Health and Human Services were submitted. HHS employees were invited to vote for the best. Department staffers cast nearly 10,000 votes, using the secure HHSinnovates intranet site. Candidates were judged on both innovativeness and potential application at HHS and elsewhere in government.

“This new program marks a big accomplishment,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in an Aug. 9 email to staff. “It is about honoring a true ‘culture of innovation’ throughout HHS.”

She congratulated the winners on Aug. 4 at a ceremony held at department headquarters in Washington, D.C. The best six innovations according to employees’ votes were honored. In addition, Sebelius chose her top 3 from the 6 to receive “Secretary’s Pick” awards.

Two innovations with team members from NIH were among Sebelius’s choices:

National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research. To address a lack of adequate scientific evidence regarding causes and effective responses to the epidemic of childhood obesity, a public-private collaborative was formed to help steer research across institutions, enable more nimble and rapid research responses and identify needs quickly. The group at the awards ceremony included NIH’ers Rachel Ballard-Barbash and Terry T-K Huang along with teammates from CDC, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Department of Agriculture and the Academy for Educational Development. Ballard-Barbash is associate director of the Applied Research Program in NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. Huang is senior scientific advisor for obesity research at NICHD and professor and chair of the department of health promotion & social and behavioral health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The NCCOR team across several organizations involves more than 60 scientists and communication experts who are working to advance this collaborative research effort.

At a recent NIH-hosted NCCOR meeting, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins commended the NCCOR initiative as “a collaboration whose time has come.”

Purchasing Online Tracking System (POTS). Electronic procurement process and requisition management system that enables NIH to request and track orders throughout the purchasing cycle, reducing errors and delays and limiting burden for staff. Group members were NIH’ers Yang Fann, Trissy Knox, Gladys Wang, Quynh Ly, Robert Dean and the NINDS POTS support team.

The third Secretary’s Pick was Text4Baby, which makes free information about pre-natal and post-natal care available to mothers via mobile phones.

Rounding out the 6 concepts that HHS employees voted best innovations were CDC Course on Public Health and Aging, Personal Dust Monitor by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and CDC Lab Recycling Pilot Program.

The second cycle of HHSinnovates begins Friday, Oct. 15. For details about all of this year’s winning innovations, and the awards program, visit www.hhs.gov/open/innovate/index.html.

Bonci To Lead NIDA Intramural Program

Dr. Antonello Bonci

Dr. Antonello Bonci, one of the world’s leading researchers in neuropsychopharmacology, has been appointed scientific director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Intramural Research Program in Baltimore.

Bonci was most recently professor in residence in the department of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. He is known for his studies on the long-term effects of drug exposure on the brain. Bonci and his colleagues were the first to demonstrate that drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, modify the strength of the connections between neurons. This finding cast a new light on the phenomenon of drug addiction, which could now be seen as a process of maladaptive learning. This new understanding, in turn, helped explain why drug taking can often become an automatic, compulsive behavior.

“We think Dr. Bonci will bring tremendous strength to our already robust intramural research portfolio,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow.

Bonci has been with UCSF since 1998, becoming principal investigator at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in 1999 and professor in residence in 2007. He received the Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award at the Society for Neuroscience in 2004, given to young scientists for innovative research in drug addiction and alcoholism. He also received the Daniel H. Efron Award at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2009 for outstanding basic and translational research.

Bonci received his medical degree at Sacred Heart School of Medicine in Rome, with summa cum laude honors, and in 1995 he became a neurologist at University of Rome “Tor Vergata” with summa cum laude honors. Before joining the faculty at UCSF, he did postdoctoral work in 1995 at the Vollum Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research in Portland, Ore., and worked as a visiting professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF in 1998. He is a member of the United Nations scientific committee on drug dependence.

Bonci replaces Dr. Barry Hoffer, who served as the NIDA scientific director since 1996. Hoffer is stepping down to be a tenured principal investigator and chief of the cellular neurophysiology section of NIDA’s Cellular Neurobiology Branch. Bonci began his new position on Aug. 29.

8th Commissioned Corps Promotion Ceremony Honors 38

Newly promoted officers and other PHS officials at the Commissioned Corps ceremony

Newly promoted officers and other PHS officials at the Commissioned Corps ceremony

NIH’s 8th annual PHS Commissioned Corps promotion ceremony honored 38 newly promoted officers recently. RADM Helena O. Mishoe, director of NHLBI’s Office of Research Training and Minority Health who also serves as NIH representative on the surgeon general’s policy advisory council, presided over the ceremony.

In opening remarks, RADM (ret.) Richard G. Wyatt, deputy director of NIH’s Office of Intramural Research, commended officers for their continued commitment to the “war” against disease and poor health. RADM David C. Rutstein, acting deputy surgeon general, praised contributions to the missions of both NIH and PHS, and emphasized collaboration by commissioned officers and their civil servant colleagues in carrying out these missions.

Other attendees included RADM William Bailey, chief dental officer; RADM Clare Helminiak, chief medical officer; RADM Kerry Nesseler, chief nurse officer; CAPT Sharon Williams-Fleetwood, chief scientist officer; CAPT William Figg, representing pharmacy category; CAPT Madeline Michael, representing dietitian category; and CDR Tiffany Edmonds, NIH agency liaison representing environmental health and health services categories.

PHS officers were also honored to have three additional flag officers in attendance, including RADM Peter Greenwald, RADM Van Hubbard and RADM William Stokes.

Promoted officers included:

Medical officers CAPT Stephen Migueles, CAPT Darrell Singer and LCDR Christopher Ramsden;

Dental officer CDR Demetrio Domingo;

Nurse officers CAPT Martha Marquesen; CAPT Lisa Marunycz, CDR Linda Ellison- Dejewski, CDR Geri Hawks, CDR Antoinette Jones, CDR Jacquin Jones, CDR Sophia Russell, CDR Margarita Velarde, LCDR Shu Cai, LCDR Jeanne Chamberlain, LCDR Lindia Engram, LCDR Stefanie Glenn, LCDR Andrew Keel, LCDR Karen Livornese, LCDR Katherine Maye, LCDR Kala Rochelle, LCDR Leorey Saligan, LCDR Jennifer Sarchet, LCDR Latoya Sewell and LCDR Phoebe Underwood-Davis;

Scientist officers CAPT Steven Sparenborg and CDR Sally Hu;

Environmental health officers CDR Jason Barr, CDR Mark Marshall and LCDR John McLamb;

Pharmacy officers CAPT Paul Na and CDR Luke Park;

Dietitian officer LCDR Rachael Drabot; and

Health services officers CDR Debra King, CDR Claudine Samanic, LCDR Christina Coriz, LCDR James Pitt, LCDR Janet Valdez and LT Garman Williams.

The ceremony closed by recognizing officers who retired during the past year, officers called to active duty during the past year and Commissioned Corps Office Student Training and Externs Program participants.

Glasgow Named to Implementation Science Post at NCI

Dr. Russell Glasgow
Dr. Russell Glasgow has been named deputy director, dissemination and implementation science, in NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences.

Dr. Russell Glasgow has been named deputy director, dissemination and implementation science, in NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. He will provide leadership on numerous research projects to close the gap between research discovery and program delivery in public health, clinical practice and health policy.

Glasgow will also be responsible for guiding some of NCI’s flagship research dissemination tools such as Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T., the Cancer Trends Progress Report and State Cancer Profiles.

“Russ is recognized nationally and internationally as a pioneer in the field of dissemination and implementation research and practice, providing practical research frameworks and intervention models for the field in areas where such leadership has been absent,” said Dr. Robert Croyle, DCCPS director. “Few research leaders could work so effectively across the domains and boundaries that we must bridge if our research is to be successfully translated into practice and policy.”

Glasgow earned his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Oregon and his B.A. in psychology from the University of Iowa. He is a behavioral scientist specializing in the design and evaluation of behavior change interventions, especially using interactive technologies, for use in health care, worksite and community settings. Most recently, he was a senior scientist with Kaiser Permanente, Institute for Health Research.

NEI’s Saunders Earns Doctorate

Gale Saunders

Gale Saunders breathes a sigh of relief these days, and she should. She recently earned her Ph.D. from Howard University after spending countless evenings in her favorite study place, the library. Sometimes she was there until midnight, reading and writing, or in discussions with her study group.

“I’m not shy, but I do go quietly about my business and am always an observer,” Saunders said. In fact, many of her colleagues had no idea that she was working on her doctorate.

She works for Dr. Lore´Anne McNicol, director of NEI extramural research, where she assists in preparing and processing personnel actions.

For her dissertation, Saunders studied the conflict management styles of 20 African-American women in mid-level supervisory positions. She explored what the women felt were the most effective ways of managing conflict and what issues they encountered during the conflict management process. Saunders, an African American herself, now hopes to write a book that expands on her dissertation.

She grew up in Philadelphia with five siblings. Her father and mother were both educators who emphasized the importance of education. Without the constant support and encouragement from family and friends, Saunders said she might not have a Ph.D. today.

In 1981, she joined the Army and served 6 years in the reserves and 3 years of active duty. Upon completion of her military service in 1990, she applied for positions at NIH and began working at NCI. After 3 years, she moved to NIAMS. In 1995, she joined NEI.

While working full-time, Saunders returned to college in 1999 and earned her B.A. in business administration from Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C., and her M.A. in communications in 2003 from Bowie State University in Maryland. In 2004, she decided to pursue her Ph.D.

Saunders hopes to be a mentor and role model for other African-American women, proving they can do anything they set their minds to. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m excited about it. Achieving this level of education feels like a rite of passage.”

NIH Library Branch Chief Whitmore Retires

Susan Whitmore

Susan Whitmore, the NIH Library Branch chief, retired on Aug. 31 after 26 years of federal service.

Thousands of employees take advantage of NIH Library programs and services in large part thanks to Whitmore. When she arrived in 1995 from the Bureau of Mines Library, reference librarians were grappling with the need to take on new roles that the emerging “virtual library” made necessary— outreach, instruction and customization/specialization. According to Suzanne Grefsheim, NIH Library director, “It was only with her arrival that real progress toward acceptance and implementation of these roles was made. And today the NIH Library’s informationist program, the culmination of these initiatives, is recognized as a model of excellence and innovation worldwide.”

In the last year, under Whitmore’s direction, the program has grown to include one of the premier bioinformatics programs in the country. Dr. Medha Bhagwat, who heads the program, said, “From day one, I found that Susan made herself available to discuss any ideas I had for the program. After listening carefully, she responded promptly and helped me understand how her decision fits into the NIH Library mission. I always came out of our meetings admiring her amazingly sharp intellect and her grasp of the NIH research environment.”

Among her staff, Whitmore was considered a consummate professional. “Susan was always reasonable, caring and willing to make time to listen to my ideas or questions, no matter how busy she was,” said informationist/librarian Tina Stiller. Diane Cooper, another informationist/librarian, said, “Susan was always a calm presence in the inevitable crises that arise at work. I could always count on her to restore order and get us all back to focusing on the work.”

“I learned a lot from Susan,” said Karen Stakes, head of Information Services at the NIH Library, “but the one thing that stands out in my mind was that she had the ability to make me step back and take a look at both sides of a situation, which often allowed me to see things in a different light.”

Over the years Whitmore served as a mentor or coach for many new librarians and supervisors at the NIH Library. For example, Ben Hope, chief of the library’s Information Architecture Branch, appreciated her honest feedback. “She always seemed to have a nice way of pointing out how I could do better.”

Whitmore holds an M.S. in library science from Catholic University and an M.S. in plant pathology from the University of Maryland. It is the latter interest that she will explore more in retirement as she spends time cultivating azaleas, installing new flower beds and taking time to “smell the roses.”

In addition, Whitmore looks forward to traveling and spending time with her dog Cody and husband Jim Donahue.

Five Join ORWH Advisory Committee

ORWH director Dr. Vivian Pinn (c) and Joyce Rudick (second from r), ORWH’s director of programs and management, welcome new advisory committee members. They include (from l) Drs. Francisco Garcia, Ronda S. Henry-Tillman, Karen E. Kim, Claire Pomeroy and Paul F. Terranova.

ORWH director Dr. Vivian Pinn (c) and Joyce Rudick (second from r), ORWH’s director of programs and management, welcome new advisory committee members. They include (from l) Drs. Francisco Garcia, Ronda S. Henry-Tillman, Karen E. Kim, Claire Pomeroy and Paul F. Terranova.

The NIH advisory committee on research on women’s health recently appointed five new members: Dr. Francisco Garcia, Dr. Ronda S. Henry-Tillman, Dr. Karen E. Kim, Dr. Claire Pomeroy and Dr. Paul F. Terranova.

Garcia is director of the University of Arizona Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, Tucson, and co-director, Cancer Disparities Institute of the Arizona Cancer Center. He has a long-established interest in the health of women on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Henry-Tillman is a surgical oncologist specializing in women’s oncology at the University of Arkansas Medical Center, Little Rock. She has developed numerous interventions that target cancer disparities.

Kim is an associate professor of medicine in gastroenterology at the University of Chicago, an associate member of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Research Center, an affiliate faculty in the Center for the Study of Race, Culture and Politics and a member of the department of medicine’s diversity committee. Her leadership in women’s health, work/life balance and mentorship has been widely recognized.

Pomeroy is the University of California at Davis’s vice chancellor for human health sciences, dean of the School of Medicine, an expert in infectious diseases and a professor of internal medicine and microbiology and immunology. She has a special interest in health care policy and has led efforts to advance electronic health records to improve health care.

Terranova is vice chancellor for research and president of the Research Institute at Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City. He also serves as senior associate dean for research and graduate education in the School of Medicine.


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