Swanson, Former Lab Chief at RML, Dies
Dr. John L. Swanson, who in the 1980s helped revitalize NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) by championing the latest tools and methods in microbiological investigation, died suddenly on July 8 in Missoula, Mont. He was 76 years old.
Swanson came to RML in 1979 from the University of Utah, recruited by former NIAID director Dr. Richard Krause. Swanson is credited with starting internationally recognized research programs at RML on the bacteria that cause gonorrhea, chlamydia and Lyme disease.
“He succeeded in building a very strong program in bacterial pathogenesis,” recalled Dr. Harlan Caldwell, chief of the Laboratory of Intracellular Parasites (LICP) at RML. “He was a cornerstone at RML, an important part of our history.”
Swanson—known as a meticulous investigator, great mentor and rigorous manuscript reviewer—served as chief of the former Laboratory of Microbial Structure and Function at RML from 1979 to 1997. He retired from RML in 2001, but retained the title of scientist emeritus in LICP until 2003. He remained in western Montana during his retirement.
“John played a leading role in the development of RML and his work casts a long shadow,” said Krause. “His skill at electron microscopy was masterful…NIAID and RML owe much to him.”
Swanson hired and mentored many successful investigators, some of whom remain at RML. “John gave incredible independence to beginning postdocs, each typically having their own small lab space and choice of organism and project,” recalled RML researcher Dr. Patti Rosa, whom Swanson hired.
Rosa appreciated Swanson’s effort to build working relationships among RML staff. Regular interactions included discussions at weekly research presentations by laboratory staff, as well as morning coffee, lunchtime croquet tournaments and golf with anyone who would join him.
Swanson was born in Hastings, Neb. He attended Hastings College and the University of Nebraska and went on to earn an M.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine. He interned at University Hospital in Omaha and completed a residency in anatomical pathology at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966. While in the Army, Swanson served at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring.
He is survived by his wife Deirdre and four children.
NIH’s Commuter Benefits Program Honored
|On hand from ORS at the award ceremony were (from l) Diane O’Neil, customer relations manager, Division of Information and Technology; Kenny Floyd, director, Division of Environmental Protection; Susan Cook, director, Division of Amenities and Transportation Services (DATS); Joe Cox, DATS chief of transportation services; DATS transportation specialists Louise Davis and Rusty Mason; and Michelle Mejia, DATS quality assurance.
NIH was honored at the 16th annual Employer Recognition Awards ceremony hosted by the Metropolitan Council of Governments’ Commuter Connections program to recognize employers whose commuter benefits programs were judged to be the best in the region. Winners were named in the incentives, marketing and telework award categories; NIH took first place for incentives.
“NIH was selected because NIH provides the most encouragement and incentives to use alternative transportation in the region,” said Joe Cox, chief of transportation services in the Division of Amenities and Transportation Services, ORS.
The citation reads, “Since 1993, the National Institutes of Health has been providing its employees with incentives to encourage the use of transportation alternatives. Approximately 12,500 of its 23,000 employees participate in [NIH’s] commuting alternatives program. The NIH provides incentives including transit subsidies. In an effort to promote teleworking, the NIH developed the telework & flexible work schedules working group and sponsored a Telework Festival. It also offers on-site facilities for bicyclists and walkers. NIH is also one of the first federal agencies to offer a Bicycle Subsidy Program as an incentive, and…is a champion for Commuter Connections’ Bike to Work Day, with 590 employees participating in this year’s event.”
Commuter Connections focuses on making alternatives to drive-alone commuting practical, attractive and cost-effective. For more details on this year’s winners, visit www.commuterconnections.org.