skip navigation nih record
Vol. LXIII, No. 18
September 2, 2011

previous story

next story


NIAMS’s Plotz Retires After Four Decades

Dr. Paul Plotz retired after more than 40 years at NIH.

Dr. Paul Plotz retired after more than 40 years at NIH.

After more than 40 years of clinical and basic scientific investigation at NIH, Dr. Paul Plotz, a rheumatologist and chief of the NIAMS Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch, has retired.

“Paul’s legacy at NIH will include not only the advances he has made in the understanding and treatment of autoimmunity and inflammatory muscle disease,” said NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz, “but also the impact he has had on so many people, from the patients he treated to the clinicians and researchers he has mentored.”

Many of these people attended “A Vocation in Medicine: Autoimmunity, Autophagy, Muscle Disease and Human Rights,” a symposium held recently honoring Plotz. The audience learned about his groundbreaking work in immunology and muscle disease and how it shaped the future directions and scientific approaches of his trainees and collaborators across the country.

Dr. Kanneboyina Nagaraju, associate director of the Center for Genetic Medicine at Children’s National Medical Center, captured the feelings of many at the symposium when he spoke of his own debt to Plotz. “I thank Dr. Plotz from the bottom of my heart,” he said, “not only for making me a good scientist, but also for guiding me into becoming a fair and reasonable, family-oriented and loving person. It is very hard for me to mimic the mentoring I had from you, but I know what the standards are.”

Plotz’s research career began at Harvard Medical School, which he attended after receiving an undergraduate degree in physics from Harvard College. After an internship and residency at Beth Israel Hospital, he moved to the Washington, D.C., area. He has worked ever since at NIH, with the exception of several years in London.

Plotz’s early work was largely in the biology of immune complexes. Later, with his fellows Drs. William Seaman and Robert Kimberly, he described the major hepatic and renal toxicities of aspirin and related prostaglandin synthetase-inhibiting drugs. With Dr. Bruce Scharschmidt, he developed an extracorporeal affinity perfusion system to remove bilirubin and other toxins from the circulation.

Since the early 1980s, Plotz has focused on the study of inflammatory muscle disease, driven by a wish to better understand the autoimmune phenomena associated with rheumatic disease. Myositis served originally as a model for basic immunologic studies, but Plotz and his colleagues have now worked on many aspects of myositis. In recent years they have been trying to cure Pompe syndrome, a muscle disease that closely mimics myositis.

Plotz’s retirement has prompted best wishes but not goodbyes. He will continue his work as a scientist emeritus at NIAMS.

Excellence through Mentoring
Knowledge Management Program Graduates 2010-2011 Class

Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management Program participant Linda Coleman (l) thanks her mentor Felicia Shingler at the program’s graduation ceremony.

NCI recently held an awards ceremony honoring participants in its Knowledge Management Program, a year-long mentoring program sponsored by the Office of Workforce Development. This program is in its eleventh year and has more than 140 alumni.

The class of 2010-2011 featured mentors and mentees in grants management, administration, human resources management, intramural research laboratories and the Blacks In Government (BIG) organization. The program allows mentees at all levels to pair with experts to learn leadership techniques, increase problem-solving skills and enhance current strengths.

Mentees read books on a variety of leadership topics, attend monthly brownbag sessions and meet at least once a month for 1-hour mentoring sessions. During the brownbags, mentees discussed such topics as enhancing communication techniques, reducing stress, increasing motivation and building effective teams. Also during the brownbags, mentees gave 3-minute presentations about their office, their role in the office and how their office helps NCI meet its mission.

Mentees completed the program recently with a potluck lunch and mentor-appreciation ceremony. Program plaques were presented to all mentors and mentees. Joy Gibson of CSR and Linda Kupfer of FIC received the Exceptional Mentor Award.

Program coordinator Shannon Connolly said that mentees and mentors have had a very successful year because of their strong determination to advance excellence through mentoring.

Linda Coleman, a mentee, said the program inspired her to set new career goals. One of her goals was to make a career change from committee management specialist to event planner. One highlight of Coleman’s experience allowed her to coordinate a supervisor’s day for her mentor, Felicia Shingler. Shingler was recently elected as BIG national secretary. She wanted to thank her supervisors for supporting her in this extracurricular activity as well as in her job as the NIH activity codes manager.

In coordinating this event, Coleman employed newly honed communication skills, collaborated with various NIH offices such as the Ethics Office and networked with middle-management leaders.

back to top of page