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Vol. LXIV, No. 3
February 3, 2012

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Joiner Is NEI ‘Pathway’ Grant Recipient
By Dustin Hays

Dr. Wilsaan Joiner
Dr. Wilsaan Joiner, a postdoctoral fellow in the National Eye Institute’s Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research, was recently awarded a Pathway to Independence Award.

Dr. Wilsaan Joiner, a postdoctoral fellow in the National Eye Institute’s Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research, was recently awarded a Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00). The achievement is a first for the NEI Intramural Research Program.

The K99/R00 is designed to help extraordinary young scientists establish their own research labs. The K99 portion provides 1 to 2 years of funding for postdocs while they pursue novel research with help from a mentor. The R00 portion provides an additional 3 years of funding and starts when the postdoc acquires a tenure-track, or equivalent, research position.

Joiner aims to expand knowledge of the neural mechanisms that allow stable visual perception. Working with a non-human primate model, he will use a combination of behavioral, electrophysiological and anatomical approaches to understand how the brain perceives a steady world despite the eyes constantly shifting from point to point to interpret any given scene.

Joiner told a group of fellows attending NEI’s Focus on Fellows retreat that he credits his success to careful planning, utilization of NIH career development resources and a little luck. He strongly recommended that fellows attend NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education- sponsored workshops and seminars, which he said helped him communicate his research when applying for jobs and funding.

Joiner took a grant-writing class offered by the National Institute of Mental Health. Each student writes a grant during the class, which spans several months. Joiner’s grant project became what he eventually submitted for K99/R00 funding. “I encourage everyone to take a grant-writing class and submit a grant. The writing experience and going through the grant submission process are worthwhile if you plan to pursue a research position in academia,” he told the group.

“The NEI intramural program staff was very helpful in submitting my application, especially David Whitmer and Dr. Cesar Perez-Gonzalez,” said Joiner. “And, of course, I had tremendous support from my mentor, Bob Wurtz.”

Joiner said most of his colleagues assume his grant is what got him the job offer he received and accepted from George Mason University, but he said that’s not the case. In fact, GMU offered the job before his grant was awarded. He said that during his job search, potential employers seemed impressed that he had taken a grant-writing course and had applied for funding.

Joiner encourages postdocs to consider early on in their fellowships what skills they need to make themselves more marketable. He felt teaching ability would be important and pursued opportunities at nearby American University.

“Demonstrating continuity in your career is an important element of grant applications,” Joiner said. “Reviewers will want to see you have the skills and experience needed to successfully achieve the specific aims you list in your proposal.” A backup plan is also crucial in case your primary research goals fail to materialize— an important lesson he learned from grant reviewers.

Joiner is currently a postdoc in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Wurtz. He begins his post as assistant professor at George Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering bioengineering department in August 2012.

Arizona State University Honors NINR’s Grady

Dr. Patricia Grady,

Dr. Patricia Grady, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research, was recently honored by Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation with a 2011 Discover Award at the college’s annual Dream-Discover-Deliver Awards event.

Now in its fourth year, the Dream-Discover- Deliver Awards feature three honorees dedicated to improving health care and the health of the American public, each of whom, according to the college, “pursue big dreams, lead innovative changes and achieve their goals.” Grady was recognized for her embodiment of the college’s vision to discover excellence in research and evidence-based health care.

Grady gave brief remarks at the event, discussing how NINR-supported research is affecting the quality of care and patient outcomes and future directions for nursing and nursing science. She noted, “At NINR, we know that the future of health care rests squarely on the nursing and nursing science communities– on your drive, your intellect and expertise and on your passion for scientific inquiry and its translation into evidence-based practice and health care policy.”

NIAID’s Miller Wins Walter Reed Medal

Dr. Louis H. Miller

Dr. Louis H. Miller of NIAID has been awarded the 2011 Walter Reed Medal by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) for distinguished accomplishments in the field of tropical medicine. Chief of the malaria cell biology section in the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, Miller is a past president of ASTMH and renowned for his work in malaria research. He has made several important discoveries about the strategies malaria parasites use to infect and survive in humans and mosquitoes. He also has found molecular targets that could aid both in the development of new drugs to treat malaria and of vaccines to prevent severe disease. In addition to his scientific accomplishments, Miller has a record of mentoring trainees, collaborating with African scientists and advocating for new programs in the field of malaria research. The Walter Reed Medal is the most distinguished recognition from ASTMH for accomplishments in the field of tropical medicine. It has been awarded every 3 years since 1936.

Longtime NIMH Grantee Receives Award

Grantee Dr. Enola Proctor (l) poses with NIMH’s Denise Juliano-Bult at the National Association of Social Workers Foundation Awards ceremony.
Grantee Dr. Enola Proctor (l) poses with NIMH’s Denise Juliano-Bult at the National Association of Social Workers Foundation Awards ceremony.

Longtime NIMH grantee Dr. Enola K. Proctor of Washington University recently received the Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award in Health and Mental Health Practice from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Foundation.

At the Jan. 11 event held in Washington D.C., Proctor was honored for her work to improve the delivery of mental health services as well as her efforts in implementation science—the study of how to best move research findings into practice settings to meet real human needs. Her work has focused on mental health community care, especially for low-income older adults. Her scholarship has significantly advanced the field of mental health research and brought a much-needed social work perspective to it.

Since 1995, Proctor has led Brown School’s Center for Mental Health Services Research (CMHSR), part of Washington University. An NIMH-funded endeavor, CMHSR conducts clinical, epidemiological, service-related and quality-of-care research projects that aim to facilitate better interactions between mental health care and social services. In addition to NIMH funding, Proctor has received funding from NIA, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, AARP and the American Heart Association.

Proctor has served on NIMH’s National Advisory Mental Health Council. She also served as a strategic planning expert for OBSSR and as an external reviewer for the Institute of Medicine. Among her many other awards, Proctor was honored with NASW’s President’s Award for Excellence in Social Work Research and has earned accolades from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

Dr. Yavin Shaham

NIDA’s Shaham Named to Journal Post

Dr. Yavin Shaham, senior investigator, chief of the Behavioral Neuroscience Branch and chief of the neurobiology of relapse section, National Institute on Drug Abuse, was recently appointed senior editor of the Journal of Neuroscience. He will cover behavioral/systems/cognitive neuroscience.


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