OER’s Ulane, a Lifelong Mentor to Research Trainees, Passes Away
By Manju Subramanya
|Dr. Rodney Ulane, NIH research training officer and director of scientific programs at OER, died Mar. 7.
||Circa 1975, Ulane, then a fellow in NIAMDD’s Laboratory of Biochemistry and Metabolism, plays lead alto saxophone in the 18-piece NIH Dance Band.
When Dr. Rodney Ulane was called upon to present at seminars, he was not enamored of the structured presentations he had to give. Instead, a lot of his conference time was spent in hallways, talking one-on-one to postdoctoral students and young faculty and mentoring them on their career path.
“He had a great love of students,” said Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH deputy director for extramural research and OER director. “We are so devastated by his passing. He was so instrumental in advancing our training here.”
Ulane, who was the NIH research training officer and director of scientific programs at OER, passed away unexpectedly on Mar. 7. He was 69.
His role at OER was to administer current research training policy and to set the agenda for the future direction of training for the biomedical workforce.
Ulane, who had a Ph.D. in microbiology, joined NIH in 1971 as a research scientist and scientific administrator at what is now NIAMS. His first NIH career included positions at NICHD, CSR and NIGMS.
After 20 years at NIH, Ulane left in 1991 to become associate dean at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and run the M.D./Ph.D. program until 2004, when he left to run a similar program at New York University School of Medicine as associate dean.
“Rodney Ulane was a caring father to a generation of M.D./Ph.D. students,” wrote Dr. Michael Brown, Nobel laureate and molecular genetics professor at UT Southwestern, in the online guest book about Ulane. “He recruited them, mentored them and took immense pride in them when they graduated.”
While in academia, Ulane was a force in the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Graduate Research, Education and Training (GREAT) group and its M.D./Ph.D. section. “Rod was a fixture within the GREAT group community because of his passion for educating the next generation of scientists,” said Dr. Jodi B. Yelling, GREAT group program leader. “He will be greatly missed.”
Ulane returned to NIH in 2009, joining OER, where he brought his rich academia experience to bear on his job of research training. “Having been a colleague, he had the respect of the people in academia who receive our funding,” said Dr. Sherry Mills, director of OER’s Office of Extramural Programs. “When we floated a new proposal, he could take the temperature from former colleagues and offer that perspective to NIH leaders.”
Outside of work, Ulane had many passions including jazz music and model trains. He would often poke his head around a colleague’s office to talk about jazz legends or recommend a new jazz artist. Reading the Sunday New York Times with coffee was a sacred ritual. He kept these passions going despite working long and hard hours.
Ulane’s crowning achievement was his recent work pulling together input from NIH institutes on the recommendations for future training of the biomedical workforce (BMW) issued by the NIH advisory committee to the director.
“He was particularly instrumental in the BMW initiative,” said Rockey, who co-chaired NIH’s biomedical workforce task force. “His passing was so unexpected. We will pick up the pieces and see these programs through as a testament to him.”
Ulane is survived by his wife of 43 years, Marta, and grown children, Christina and Paul. Fittingly enough for a man who mentored physician-scientist graduates throughout his career, colleagues noted, Christina earned an M.D./Ph.D.
NINDS Mourns Former Program Director McCutchen
By Shannon E. Garnett
Dr. Charlotte McCutchen, a former program director in the NINDS systems and cognitive neuroscience cluster, died Sept. 11, 2012, after a long battle with neuromuscular disease.
“Charlotte was an incredible mentor and advocate for young investigators,” said former NINDS fellow and current grantee Dr. Beth Malow, a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “She was passionate about sleep research.”
McCutchen was born in 1944 at the Camp Lejeune Marine base in North Carolina. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of South Carolina in 1966 and degree in medicine from the Medical College of Virginia in 1970. She completed a neurology residency at Vanderbilt University and served as a fellow in clinical neurophysiology and epilepsy at the University of Washington in Seattle.
In 1977, she became an assistant professor in the department of neuroscience at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. She also directed the clinical neurophysiological and epilepsy programs at the San Diego VA Medical Center.
McCutchen moved to Georgetown University School of Medicine as an associate professor in the department of neurology in 1984, and continued her work with veterans at the D.C. Veterans Administration Medical Center, where she directed the sleep disorders program as well as the neurophysiological and epilepsy programs.
In 1990, McCutchen joined NINDS as a health scientist administrator and program director, overseeing the sleep neuroscience and epilepsy research grant portfolios.
“While Charlotte was at NIH, she and I collaborated in many aspects, scientifically as well as socially, and we had frequent conversations about what was going on around NIH and beyond,” said Dr. Susumu Sato, a neurologist and former chief of NINDS’s EEG laboratory. “Whenever she came to the lab, she really enjoyed meeting, talking to and mentoring my fellows and visiting scientists. We also worked on intriguing sawtooth waves and published several papers together. At the same time, I’ll never forget the fun times we had gathering at her house in Virginia, eating at Chinese restaurants and visiting my house.”
McCutchen retired from NINDS in 2000 and moved back to California to consult in sleep research and neurophysiology. She also continued her mission of mentoring students.
According to all who knew her, McCutchen loved life. “Charlotte had a great sense of humor,” said Malow.
McCutchen was a talented storyteller, loved to reminisce with friends and was devoted to animals and gardening. She is survived by her sister, Lilla McCutchen Richards of McLean, Va., her two dogs—Ditsey and Mitzy—and her cat Harley.
Bioinformatics Expert Joins NIGMS
Dr. Veerasamy “Ravi” Ravichandran recently joined NIGMS as a program director in the Division of Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology. He will manage the Biomedical Informatics Research Network initiative and some Biomedical Technology Research Center grants in the areas of informatics and computational biology. Previously, Ravichandran was a scientific fellow in the FDA Laboratory of Molecular Virology. Earlier in his career, he was a staff scientist at NINDS, a research scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and an associate research scientist at Yale University School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania. Ravichandran conducted postdoctoral research as an IRTA fellow in the NCI Laboratory of Pathology and Experimental Immunology Branch. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, master’s degrees in biochemistry and philosophy/clinical biochemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Madras in India. Ravichandran also earned a master’s degree in computer science and bioinformatics from John Hopkins University.
NIAMS Welcomes Four New Council Members
|NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz (l) and deputy director Dr. Robert H. Carter (second from r) welcome new members to the institute’s council. Shown are (from l) Dr. Edward A. Rankin, Dr. Martha M. Murray, Dr. Sherine E. Gabriel and Dr. Elizabeth J. Shane.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recently appointed four new members to its advisory council.
Dr. Sherine E. Gabriel is dean of the Mayo Medical School, the William J. and Charles H. Mayo professor and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Her research has focused on elucidating the risks and determinants of heart disease in people who have rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Martha M. Murray is an associate professor in the department of orthopaedic surgery at Harvard Medical School and an orthopaedic surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Her research focuses on the stimulation of tissue healing inside the joints, particularly the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus of the knee.
Dr. Edward A. Rankin is chief of orthopaedic services at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., a clinical professor in the department of orthopaedic surgery at Howard University College of Medicine and a clinical associate professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is also an orthopaedic surgeon in private practice in Washington, D.C., and has served as past president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Dr. Elizabeth J. Shane is a professor of medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, where she is vice chair of medicine for clinical and epidemiological research. Her research interests include osteoporosis in premenopausal women, bone disease associated with HIV infection, osteoporosis associated with organ transplantation and other secondary forms of osteoporosis.