Schambra Remembered for Global Health Contributions
By Ann Puderbaugh
|Former Fogarty International Center director Dr. Phillip E. Schambra died Sept. 11.
Family, friends and colleagues paid tribute to former Fogarty International Center director Dr. Phillip E. Schambra Nov. 2 at a memorial service at Lawton Chiles International House. Schambra, 76, died Sept. 11 in Rockville. He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
The global health advocate and science diplomat was remembered as a creative, visionary administrator. “All of us here at Fogarty are grateful for the strong and creative leadership Phil provided to the center during the critical decade he served at its helm,” said Fogarty director Dr. Roger Glass. “By having the vision to support and expand Fogarty’s flagship AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP), he had a huge impact on the center and on global health.”
Under Schambra’s leadership from 1988 to 1998, FIC witnessed tremendous growth as its budget doubled and its research training portfolio dramatically expanded. The AITRP program grew substantially and, as a result, scores of scientists have been trained throughout the developing world, saving countless lives from HIV/AIDS and facilitating many breakthroughs in prevention, therapy and care. This groundbreaking program provided the model for many of the center’s activities that followed. Based on AITRP’s success and Schambra’s commitment to addressing health problems in developing countries, the center focused its extramural programs on research and training in low-resource settings, a practice that continues today.
“Phil’s core style of leadership and stewardship was to discern new trends, to be out in the forefront in proposing solutions and in being bold and confident in converting ideas into a working reality,” observed Ambassador Jack Chow, who served at Fogarty before becoming U.S. ambassador on global HIV/AIDS.
In addition to AITRP, Schambra guided the development of five Fogarty extramural programs that encourage international collaborations; increase opportunities for minority scientists; and build developing country expertise in environmental and occupational health science, population studies and emerging infectious diseases. During his decade at the helm, the center also helped develop an initiative to address biodiversity conservation and promote sustained economic activity through drug discovery from natural products. That program continues to flourish today, thanks to the partnership he forged with the National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture and several NIH institutes.
Schambra’s contributions had “a huge impact on global health, on Fogarty and on public health,” noted Dr. Kenneth Bridbord, director of Fogarty’s Division of International Training and Research. “The evolution of Fogarty’s mission to focus on low- and middle-income countries was the great wisdom of Dr. Schambra’s.”
While Fogarty director, Schambra also served as a member of the White House committee on science, engineering and technology, which developed science policies to engage the emerging European Union and Russian Federation.
His legacy also includes a roster of talented scientists and administrators he recruited to Fogarty and NIH. One example was presented by Dr. Vivian Pinn, retired director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health. She told how Schambra convinced her, a Howard University faculty member with no international experience, to serve on Fogarty’s advisory board. That brought her to the attention of the NIH director, who was looking for someone to spearhead a new initiative to promote female scientists and ensure women were included in biomedical research.
“I learned so much about international health watching him run those meetings and I also observed what a wonderful way he had of managing the advisory board,” Pinn said. Her experience on the board and representing Fogarty at an NIH director’s meeting “set the stage” for 20 years at the helm of ORWH “and gave me an opportunity that changed the course of my life.”
Born in Saginaw, Mich., Schambra received his bachelor’s degree from Rice University and Ph.D. in biophysics at Yale, where his work with a large number of foreign postdocs helped spur his interest in international relations. Following a fellowship in Germany, he conducted research and taught at the Donner Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.
He then moved to Washington to pursue a different type of science career. After training as an NIH grants officer, he spent 3 years at the White House budget office as examiner for the NIH budget, working closely with NIH leadership as funding for cancer research was doubled. He also suggested NIH develop a program to train minority scientists, which led to the establishment of the Minority Biomedical Research Support Program.
In 1974, he returned to NIH as associate director for interagency programs at NIEHS. His Fogarty career began in 1980, when he was named chief of the then International Coordination and Liaison Branch. From 1984 to 1988, he served as science attaché at the U.S. Embassy in India. In this capacity, he helped address the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic and assisted with the U.S. response to the Bhopal gas leak disaster.
He was then named Fogarty director and served until 1998, when he retired with 30 years of government service.
Perhaps his most enduring contributions are the relationships he forged and the research collaborations he cultivated, suggested Linda Vogel Smith, former director of global health affairs at HHS. “He was a guy with creative ideas about what to do in [international] cooperation,” she said. “He was quite masterful in bringing people together and helping them do what they did best.”
Volunteer Counselor Anderson Mourned
Allen Anderson, 82, a volunteer counselor at Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at NIH for many years, died on Nov. 17 after having undergone a heart procedure a month earlier.
Anderson was well-known in the halls of Bldg. 31, where he had been a fixture since the mid-1990s. A former CIA agent who recounted his own trials with alcohol in the book Memoir of an Alcoholic American Spy, he had been sober for a proud 48 years. His car’s license plate was a play on both his initials and the duration of his commitment to Alcoholics Anonymous—AA-1963.
A native of North Dakota, he was a learned man and could be found in the Bldg. 31 cafeteria virtually every weekday morning, presiding over a table covered with French newspapers and magazines. He often greeted friends en Francais.
Anderson’s friend Nancy Marinos, who retired from NIH in 2007, recalls that he was fond not only of reciting an ancient Sanskrit poem underscoring the importance of a day well lived, but also lines from Shakespeare.
“The morning before he died, while at the Washington Home and Hospice, he said, ‘If it were done, when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.’ He quoted this often, but these were his feelings the last month he was alive and much more [during] the last few days he had.”
|In a workplace characterized by much anonymous coming and going, Allen Anderson (shown circa 2003) was a touchstone of community, hailing friends daily either in the Bldg. 31 hallways or cafeteria.
Recalls another friend, Holly Ketchel, “He maintained his sense of humor, even at the end. When in the hospital or nursing home, and asked what he needed, he always replied, ‘A blonde, not over 40.’ If asked how he was doing, he liked to respond, ‘Well, let’s see...’ and pretend to take his pulse.”
In recent years, due to multiple sclerosis, he relied on a walker to get around and just last year he sprang for a motorized cart. His friendly presence in the hallways over the years came to characterize early-morning NIH; he knew many dozens of people here, especially members of the police force, with whom he sympathized as a former law enforcement officer. Legions of NIH’ers greeted him daily in the hallways, where he would typically bark out mock commands: “Get back to work!” “Stay out of the bars!”
Deeply committed to healing the wounds caused by alcoholism, Anderson was a crusader for the cause of both getting help for the drinker and mending associated family problems. He was well-known to the leadership of NIAAA for his occasional email campaigns on two pet topics: NIH’s need for authoritative advice from recovered drinkers such as himself and the folly of allowing that an alcoholic could ever safely touch booze again.
After leaving the CIA, which had posted him to Paris, Anderson had a long career in law enforcement with the Commerce Department and the Department of Justice. He retired in 1989 after 32 years in government.
In recent years, Anderson had threatened to give up his NIH work multiple times, telling friends that the hassles of finding meeting space, not to mention his failing health, were wearing him out. But he stayed the course, hewing to what he told the NIH Record in a 2003 interview: “My mission is to do what I can to bring hope to individuals whose lives have been affected adversely by alcoholism.”
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at 3 p.m. at Montgomery Hills Baptist Church fellowship hall, 9727 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, Md.—Rich McManus
Rasooly Named Chief of NCI Branch
Dr. Avraham Rasooly has been named chief of the Disparities Research Branch at NCI’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.
Rasooly will provide leadership in support of research that could identify and unravel the interplay between numerous cancer health disparities determinants. Research activities within DRB span biological, behavioral, socio-cultural, applied clinical, community-based, translational and economic studies, with the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating cancer disparities.
As part of a joint NCI/FDA partnership, Rasooly will also continue his role as program director for the Division of Biological Science in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health laboratory, where he oversees development of new technologies for rapid bio-detection and diagnostics. These new technologies have broad implications for disparities research and global health, including the development of low-cost, point-of-care cancer detection and diagnostic technologies for racially, ethnically and underserved populations.
Prior to his appointment at CRCHD, Rasooly served as program director at NCI’s Cancer Diagnosis Program, where he managed the cancer diagnosis technology portfolio.
An internationally recognized expert on the development and evaluation of biosensor technology, Rasooly has edited two books and written more than 80 published articles on the subject. He received his Ph.D. in crop and soil science in 1988 at Michigan State University, where he focused on the genetics of plant-microbial interactions.
Kramer Named CSR Knowledge Management Coordinator
Dr. Kristin Kramer has become knowledge management coordinator at the Center for Scientific Review. She will manage efforts to design and implement strategies to improve how the center facilitates the flow of knowledge to CSR, NIH staff and the scientific community. She had been acting in this post prior to the appointment.
In her new role, Kramer works with scientists and IT professionals to provide information that is accurate, consistently updated and well displayed so internal and external stakeholders can easily get what they need.
She also will continue serving as scientific review officer for the behavioral neuroscience fellowship study section within CSR’s emerging technologies and training in neurosciences integrated review group.
After receiving her Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Minnesota, she received postdoctoral training in the department of biology at the University of Maryland and in the department of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She then served as assistant professor in the department of biology at the University of Memphis.
Her research centered on plasticity of neuroendocrine systems and resulting adult social behavior following perturbations during the early postnatal period. She investigated the developmental effects of oxytocin on social behavior later in life and the role of estrogen receptors in regulating male aggression.
NINDS Wins Two Technology Transfer Awards
Laurie Arrants, director of NINDS’s Technology Transfer Office, recently received the 2011 Outstanding Technology Transfer Professional Award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer Mid-Atlantic Region (FLC-MAR). The award is given annually to a tech transfer professional who is singled out by peers for efforts to enhance scientific collaboration and who has shown leadership in promising best practices.
Additionally, an NINDS-led group of scientists and tech transfer staff won FLC-MAR’s Excellence in Technology Transfer Award as part of the NIH “Use of Therapeutic Antibodies as a Novel Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis” project team. Team members included Dr. Bibiana Bielekova of NINDS; Dr. Roland Martin and Dr. Henry McFarland, both formerly of NINDS; Dr. Melissa Maderia of NINDS/NCI; Dr. Thomas Waldmann and Thomas Clouse, both of NCI; Dr. Surekha Vathyam, Mojdeh Behar and Richard Rodriguez, all of OTT; and Arrants.
The award recognizes the successful tech transfer achievements of an FLC lab in the region based on their agency’s mission. It also acknowledges the team’s efforts in such categories as use of innovative tech transfer mechanisms and initiation of partnerships, outcomes and follow-on activities. The NIH project team was chosen for activities it used to support the discovery that daclizumab is also effective in treating multiple sclerosis. Daclizumab is a humanized antibody to the interleukin- 2 receptor alpha chain. It was first developed in Waldmann’s laboratory and approved in the U.S. for preventing organ transplant rejection.
Five Appointed to NIAMS Council
|NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz (l) and deputy director Dr. Robert Carter (r) welcome new council members (from l) Dr. Ted Mala, Dr. Alice Pentland, Dr. David Eyre and Dr. Lynda Bonewald. Not pictured is Dr. Gary Firestein.
Five new members were recently named to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases’ advisory council.
Dr. Lynda F. Bonewald is the Lefkowitz professor in the department of oral biology in the School of Dentistry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is a leader in the field of osteocyte biology, with research interests that include transforming growth factor beta, a multifunctional cytokine involved in wound healing, fracture repair, embryogenesis and normal bone remodeling.
Dr. David R. Eyre is a professor in the department of orthopaedics and sports medicine in the School of Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle. He developed the first accurate, easy-to-use method for measuring the rate of bone resorption.
Dr. Gary Steven Firestein is a professor in the department of medicine, chief of the division of rheumatology, allergy and immunology and director of the Clinical and Translational Research Institute at the University of California, San Diego. His research efforts focus on the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and have contributed to the development of highly effective therapeutic approaches for RA.
Dr. Ted Mala is director of the Traditional Healing Clinic, a part of the Southcentral Foundation, an Alaska Native health organization. He is also director of tribal relations for 55 villages in the Southcentral Alaska region.
Dr. Alice P. Pentland is the James H. Sterner professor and chair in dermatology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. She has an extensive research background in photobiology and skin cancer.
Autism Research Database Among ‘Secretary’s Picks’
|On hand at the recent HHSinnovates awards ceremony were (from l) Bill Corr, HHS deputy director; John Berry, OPM director; NIH principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak; Gretchen Navidi, NIMH; Dr. Michelle Freund, NIMH; Dr. Anne Sperling, NIMH; Dr. Matt McAuliffe, CIT; Dr. Gregory Farber, NIMH; Dan Hall, NIMH; Dr. Michael Huerta, NLM; Dr. Svetlana Novikova, NIMH; Dave Vismer, CIT; Evan McCreedy, CIT; and Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary.
NIH’s National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) is among three “Secretary’s Picks” in the HHSinnovates round 3 competition. The pioneering data-sharing resource was singled out for the special honor from a field of 85 department programs.
An umbrella data repository and web portal, NDAR permits researchers to query autism data from multiple sources simultaneously. Breaking down barriers that typically limit sharing in other fields, NDAR aims to harmonize and make available over 90 percent of human subject data to the autism research community. The goal is to speed scientific progress by making the most of the wealth of emerging data from brain imaging, genomic and clinical studies.
“Pooling data across labs transforms research from a traditional, single-lab, single-project approach to a collaborative approach with unprecedented potential for discoveries,” said Dr. Gregory Farber of NIMH, who directs the program. “NDAR represents a model that can be replicated to improve productivity and cost-effectiveness in other research fields in which progress is being held back by overly proprietary data policies.”
The NDAR web site fosters such transparency by providing summary information about NIH-supported studies and currently provides qualified researchers with access to data from more than 30,000 research participants.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Deputy Secretary Bill Corr and OPM Director John Berry spoke at a recent awards ceremony. The HHSinnovates program celebrates HHS employees’ innovative ideas by recognizing and promoting them throughout the department. Top innovations are posted twice annually for online voting and commenting by the entire HHS community.