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Vol. LXIV, No. 8
April 13, 2012
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Milestones

Ranganathan Tapped for NINDS Office

Dr. Rajesh Ranganathan is new director of NINDS’s Office of Translational Research.

Dr. Rajesh Ranganathan is new director of NINDS’s Office of Translational Research.

NINDS recently named Dr. Rajesh Ranganathan director of its Office of Translational Research. He will lead the institute’s efforts to more quickly and effectively convert basic and clinical research results into new treatments for patients.

Ranganathan was formerly a senior advisor in the NIH Office of the Director, where he led the effort to assess the translational medicine pipeline across NIH and helped develop a strategy that led to the formation of NCATS.

Prior to coming to NIH, Ranganathan was global head of the education office and a director in the program office at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research from 2005 to 2010. He held responsibility for global postdoctoral training, scientific strategic planning and scientific review.

Ranganathan received his undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry at Amherst College. He received his Ph.D. in biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked on genetics of behavior modulation in C. elegans with Nobel laureate H. Robert Horvitz. Ranganathan completed postgraduate training with Dr. Linda Buck, also a Nobel laureate, at Harvard Medical School and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where he studied sensory mapping of neural circuits involved in mammalian pheromone regulation.

Endocrinology Society Honors Korach

Dr. Kenneth Korach
Photo: Steve McCaw

NIEHS senior researcher Dr. Kenneth Korach is this year’s winner of the Dale Medal, the highest accolade awarded by the Society for Endocrinology (SfE). As part of his award, Korach delivered an acceptance lecture for the Dale Medal, “Estrogen receptor insensitivity: basic and clinical consequences in hormone and endocrine physiology,” Mar. 20 at the annual SfE meeting in Harrogate, England.

The Dale Medal recognizes outstanding studies that have changed the understanding of endocrinology in a fundamental way. Criteria for it include an international reputation in high-quality science in high-impact journals.

In 1976, Korach joined NIEHS, where he currently heads the receptor biology group investigating estrogen hormone action in numerous tissues by the generation of estrogen-receptor knockout mouse models with a goal of understanding the basic mechanisms of estrogen’s influence on physiological processes and disease. He is chief of the Laboratory of Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology.

NIAID’s Handelsman Mourned

Dr. Edward Handelsman

Dr. Edward Handelsman, chief of the Maternal, Adolescent and Pediatric Research Branch in NIAID’s Division of AIDS, passed away unexpectedly on Mar. 5 while attending the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle. He was 49 years old.

“Ed will be sincerely missed and remembered not only for his dedication to his work, but for being a kind, thoughtful man who truly wished to make the world a better place,” said NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Prior to joining NIAID in 2006, Handelsman worked as a pediatrician specializing in caring for children and adolescents infected with HIV. For 14 years, he worked in all areas of pediatric HIV care in Brooklyn at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center and at Kings County Hospital Center, treating patients, conducting research, developing standards of care and teaching medical students. During this time, Handelsman also was co-principal investigator for NIH-funded clinical sites affiliated with the pediatric AIDS clinical trials group and the Women and Infants Transmission Study. Additionally, he served as assistant medical director for pediatrics for the New York State department of health’s AIDS institute.

“Ed was a wonderful, kind, supportive physician with a passion for caring for HIV-infected women, children and adolescents,” said Dr. Carl Dieffenbach, director of DAIDS. “His unexpected death has robbed the world of a physician-scientist who dedicated his career to seeing that the research fostered by NIH provided meaningful benefits to these individuals with HIV. His humor, warmth and love of life will be sorely missed.”

NINDS Mourns Program Director Miller
Dr. Thomas Miller

Dr. Thomas Miller, a program director in the NINDS Office of Translational Research, died suddenly on Feb. 26 of a heart attack. He was 63.

He joined NINDS in 1997 as a program director in the technology development cluster (now the Office of Translational Research) in the Division of Extramural Research.

Miller’s research interests included technology development, genomics, research infrastructure and translational research. He played a critical role in the microarray consortia, the P30 Core Centers and in establishing many key features of the NINDS translational research program. He also provided the NIH RAID program with outstanding leadership.

“Tom was amazingly dedicated to the success of these programs and worked tirelessly to educate investigators about the goals of the programs,” said NINDS director Dr. Story Landis. “Those of us who worked with Tom will always remember his passion, dedication and commitment to excellence.”

News of Miller’s death spread quickly among investigators. One of them wrote, “The guy was a mensch. We thought the world of him.”

Miller received his Ph.D. in physiology from the University of California, San Francisco in 1980, and his M.B.A. in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1987.

He is survived by his wife Anita, who works in the Grants Management Branch, NINDS.—Shannon E. Garnett

National Research Center Honors Birnbaum

Dr. Thomas Miller
Photo: Steve McCaw

NIEHS/NTP director Dr. Linda Birnbaum will receive the 2012 Health Policy Hero Award May 11 during the annual awards luncheon of the National Research Center for Women & Families (NRC), held at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. Katharine Weymouth, publisher of the Washington Post, will emcee the program.

Birnbaum is being honored “for…outstanding leadership at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program,” said NRC president Dr. Diana Zuckerman. “We are inspired by your work on behalf of all Americans, as groundbreaking research, prevention and intervention efforts make our homes and communities safer across the country.”

Birnbaum joins a select group of past winners, including Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, former editor of JAMA; and two members of Congress, Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Chuck Grassley.

The NRC is dedicated to improving the health and safety of adults and children by using research to encourage more effective programs and policies. The organization achieves its mission by gathering, analyzing, critiquing and explaining scientific and medical research.

Sills To Head Society of Toxicologic Pathology
Dr. Thomas Miller
Photo: Steve McCaw

When the Society of Toxicologic Pathology (STP) gathers in June for its annual symposium, its new president will be NIEHS/NTP pathologist Dr. Robert Sills, who is chief of NIEHS and NTP pathology and the Cellular and Molecular Pathology Branch.

“We [at NIEHS and NTP] have been honored with my selection as president-elect of the Society of Toxicologic Pathology, which, personally, is very humbling,” he said. Sills joined NIEHS/NTP in 1991, became head of the molecular pathology group in 1997, and has been chief of pathology since 2007.

Sills has served on the STP executive council and editorial board of the STP journal Toxicologic Pathology. He is also associate editor of the environmental pathobiology section of the journal Veterinary Pathology and has served on UN/WHO and FDA advisory committees.


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