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Vol. LXVI, No. 11
May 23, 2014

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Three NIH scientists

NINDS Parkinson’s Biomarkers Program

Dr. Deborah Carper

Dr. Alessandra Margherita Bini


Milestones

Three NIH’ers Elected to NAS

Dr. Carolina Barillas-Mury
Dr. G. Marius Clore
Dr. Shiv I. Grewal
New NAS members include (from top) Dr. Carolina Barillas-Mury, Dr. G. Marius Clore and Dr. Shiv I. Grewal.
Three NIH scientists are among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries elected to the National Academy of Sciences on Apr. 29 in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Those elected bring the total number of active members to 2,214 and the total number of foreign associates to 444.

The NIH’ers are:

Dr. Carolina Barillas-Mury, chief, mosquito immunity and vector competence section, Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, NIAID

Dr. G. Marius Clore, NIH distinguished investigator and chief, protein nuclear magnetic resonance section, Laboratory of Chemical Physics, NIDDK

Dr. Shiv I. Grewal, NIH distinguished investigator and laboratory chief, Center for Cancer Research, NCI

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership and—with the National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council—provides science, technology and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

 

 

 



NINDS Parkinson’s Biomarkers Program Wins Excellence.Gov Award

The NINDS Parkinson’s Disease Biomarkers Program Data Management Resource (PDBP DMR) recently received the 2014 Best Overall Excellence.Gov award. Sponsored by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC), the award honors exceptional government programs that use innovative technology to improve services to citizens, enhance government operations and provide a more open and transparent government.

(from l) Stacy Charland, NIH deputy chief information officer; NINDS program directors Dr. Katrina Gwinn and Dr. Margaret Sutherland; and Dr. Matt McAuliffe
On hand to the receive the award were (from l) Stacy Charland, NIH deputy chief information officer; NINDS program directors Dr. Katrina Gwinn and Dr. Margaret Sutherland; and Dr. Matt McAuliffe, chief, CIT biomedical imaging research services section. Other key members not shown are Dr. Debra Babcock and Dr. Beth-Anne Sieber, NINDS program directors; Dr. Coryse St. Hillaire-Clarke, NINDS program analyst; Jenna Linde, DMR study liaison and coordinator of SRA; and Susan Baker, Alison Garcia, Tsega Gebremichael, David Grolling, Barry Landin, Matt Torrenzano and David Vismer, all of Sapient Government Services.

The PDBP brings together stakeholders dedicated to Parkinson’s disease research and the discovery of biomarkers for the disease. A biomarker is a biological indicator that can be used to measure disease progress. The PDBP focuses on improved assessment of Parkinson’s disease progression and development of new tools and resources to support and accelerate Parkinson’s research. The DMR acts as the hub by providing a set of web-based tools for electronic data entry, quality assurance and controlled access to de-identified data and biospecimens for the broader research community. By standardizing collection and building an intuitive framework for data acquisition, DMR plays a key role in accelerating the discovery and validation of biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease. The resource coordinates efforts across government and non-government organizations and serves the public by providing a web site with updated information on PDBP projects and their scientific discoveries.

Each year the ACT-IAC recognizes outstanding government programs at all levels that improve the mission through effective application of information technology. Award categories include excellence in customer experience, digital government, enterprise efficiencies, intergovernmental collaboration, pilots and start-up projects and health IT. Also, judges present a best overall award, which “celebrates ‘leap ahead’ technologies, strategies or processes that demonstrate how it is possible to achieve groundbreaking results on government programs.”

Before the ceremony, held at Arena Stage in D.C., the DMR was a top 5 candidate in the health IT category. However, the group was named best overall because of its extraordinary innovation of integrating scientific discovery and resource sharing—besting its larger IT competitors. Another NIH entry, eVIP-Electronic Vendor Invoicing Program, was a finalist in the pilots and start-up projects category.

Learn more about the PDBP DMR at https://pdbp.ninds.nih.gov/.

Carper Retires After 40 Years at NIH

NEI deputy director Dr. Deborah Carper is retiring after four decades at NIH and 37 years at NEI.

“Few individuals have lived and breathed NEI like Debbie Carper,” said NEI director Dr. Paul Sieving. “I am deeply indebted to her for the breadth of institutional knowledge she has brought to the NEI Office of the Director. Her sharp intellect, cool demeanor, attention to detail, seemingly effortless poise and her savvy ability to connect with nearly everyone have made Dr. Carper an invaluable resource to me during her time as deputy director. On behalf of NEI, I thank her for her stellar research accomplishments and for her contributions to the vision research community.”

Dr. Deborah Carper

Carper’s career at NIH began in 1974 when she took a job as a research technician in Dr. Marshall Nirenberg’s lab at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In 1976, she joined the NEI Laboratory of Vision Research, headed by the late Dr. Jin Kinoshita, who encouraged her to pursue graduate training. While continuing to work at NEI, she obtained a Ph.D. in zoology at the University of Maryland. Thereafter, she began steadily working her way up the NEI ranks. In 1988, she became a principal investigator within the NEI Laboratory of Mechanisms of Ocular Diseases. From 1995 to 2006, she was chief of the section on molecular therapeutics, as well as coordinator of the NEI research and training section. In 2002, she began working as special assistant to the NEI director until 2010 when she became deputy director of NEI.

Carper devoted a major portion of her research career to understanding how the lens of the eye develops. She studied how cataracts form and why cataracts are linked with diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that can lead to blindness. As part of an NEI team, she helped characterize aldose reductase, an enzyme implicated in diabetic complications in the eye and other organs. In 1992, she was recognized for her scientific achievement with the Alcon Research Award from the Alcon Research Institute. Later, she contributed to research on treating abnormal retinal blood vessel growth—a major complication in diabetic retinopathy and several other eye conditions.

Earlier this year, NEI honored Carper with the Carl Kupfer Visionary Award for a lifetime of outstanding achievement on behalf of the institute. She was also named by the Daily Record as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women who are making an impact through their leadership, community service and mentoring.

When summing up her years with NIH, Carper expressed her gratitude—for the opportunity to grow as a researcher and to contribute to our understanding of eye disease. “Spending my career at NEI was the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said. “I feel privileged to have made an impact on science and science leadership in support of the greater vision research enterprise. I am especially grateful for the mentorship I received at NEI and for the students and postdoctoral fellows in my laboratory who contributed to the excitement of scientific discovery.”

NCI’s Bini Mourned

Dr. Alessandra Margherita Bini

Dr. Alessandra Margherita Bini, a highly accomplished and respected scientist at NIH, passed away Feb. 26 of gastrointestinal cancer.

Bini had been a program director in the Diversity Training Branch of NCI’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) since 2010. “She was passionate about furthering research on cancer disparities and promoting the careers of the young,” said Dr. A. Sanya Springfield, CRCHD director.

It brought Bini great joy to work closely with predoctoral students, providing guidance and advice to support the development of their Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award pre-doctoral fellowship applications, helping to position them to move successfully through the grant submission, review and re-submission process. Last year, she pioneered the introduction of an online-assisted mock scientific review for trainees.

“She had a keen and extraordinarily in-depth perspective of medical science, extensive knowledge of NIH funding systems and a kind and caring heart—qualities that helped make her an outstanding program director,” said Dr. Peter Ogunbiyi, chief of the Diversity Training Branch. Always willing to contribute, Bini had been involved in trans-NCI and trans-NIH activities on behalf of CRCHD for the past 4 years.

From 2006 to 2010, Bini served as a scientific review officer (SRO) at the Center for Scientific Review, where she worked on various study sections. Prior to that, she was an SRO at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institute on Aging and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Born in Milan, Italy, Bini earned a Dr. Biol. Sci. degree from the University of Milan, specializing in pharmacology. She received her second doctoral degree in pathobiology and molecular medicine from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons for her research on the role of thrombosis in the progression of human atherosclerosis.

While at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, Bini pioneered studies on the interaction between thrombosis and cancer. Shortly thereafter, she headed the coagulation and fibrinolysis research unit at Consorzio Mario Negri Sud. After moving to the U.S., she became an associate laboratory member at the New York Blood Center.

In addition to having been published in many scientific journals, Bini had been awarded four U.S. patents for medical technologies that she had invented.

Bini is survived by her son, Matteo Lorenzet, of Bethesda.


 

 

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