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Vol. LXVI, No. 15
July 18, 2014


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NaDel Griffith

Dr. Michael C. Chang

Dr. Mark A. Knepper


CSR Administrative Branch Chief Griffith Retires After 31 Years
By Paula Whitacre

NaDel Griffith retired from CSR after 31 years at NIH.
NaDel Griffith retired from CSR after 31 years at NIH.

NaDel Griffith joined NIH as an office automation clerk in 1983, assuming she would stay in the Washington area for a few years until her husband’s job with the Navy moved them someplace else. Thirty-one years later, she retired as chief of the Center for Scientific Review’s Administrative Services Branch in May.

She began at NINCDS (now NINDS) and moved to the Division of Research Grants (now CSR) in 1989 as part of the STRIDE career development program.

“We had 100 applicants for the position, but NaDel stood out,” recalled Patricia Bailey, then chief of DRG’s Office of Administrative Management. On Griffith’s first day on the job, Bailey handed her a thorny task involving an irate senior-level employee who insisted there was an error in his paycheck. “It was a busy time, and I just gave it to her to solve,” said Bailey. “It took her a few hours, but she did.”

Griffith moved from administrative assistant, to officer, to chief of the branch in 1997 when Bailey retired. While the branch is responsible for procurement, travel and many other responsibilities, the milestones that stick out for Griffith as she looks back at her career involve space management. In the mid-1990s, she was responsible for the division’s move to Rockledge Dr., working with GSA from initial solicitation to the move of more than 400 people. Ten years later, the lease was renegotiated and she was in charge of a complex, 10-phase renovation. She also is proud that she set up a lactation room, now open to all federal employees in the Rock Springs area, as well as a small fitness facility for CSR staff.

“This is the type of job in which you have a lot of balls up in the air,” said Chris Wisdom, former CSR executive officer who selected Griffith for the position as chief. “NaDel is a superb juggler.”

To Griffith, branches like hers contribute to the overall mission of NIH. “NIH is the premier biomedical institution in the country,” she said. “We provide the services that allow the scientists to do their work and carry out their mission.”

Griffith credits Bailey and Wisdom for their guidance as she moved up at CSR, and notes that she completed her bachelor’s degree at Wisdom’s urging. In turn, Griffith has mentored many interns and others in her branch. Her advice is the same that she follows herself: “Volunteer if anything comes up, whether a special project or just to help out in the interim. You’re helping someone who has a need and you are learning.”

Griffith grew up in Eclectic, Alabama. She explained her first name is a combination of her mother’s and grandmother’s names. She has two adult children with whom she hopes to spend more time when she retires—a daughter who is a physical therapist in Fairfax and a son who is a basketball coach in Miami. She and her husband plan to build a house on the coast in Georgia in the next few years. However, as she admitted, if her move to Washington is any indication, they may not get there for a while.

ORIP Names Chang as New Deputy Director

Dr. Michael C. Chang

Dr. Michael C. Chang has been named deputy director of the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives.

He began his NIH career in 1992 as a staff fellow in NIA’s Laboratory of Neuroscience, where he was instrumental in the development of an in vivo method to quantitatively study brain lipid metabolism to elucidate functional integrity and structural state of the brain under normal and pathological conditions. In 2000, Chang joined the NIH extramural program in the Division of Comparative Medicine, where he was responsible for planning and directing a portfolio of grants, contracts and cooperative agreements supporting research and programs that develop and broaden the utility of non-mammalian models, including cell cultures and non-biological systems.

Chang’s successes in DCM include his leadership of the Aquatic Models Research Resource Consortium. In addition, he led the development of an initiative to support research to address long-standing bottlenecks to cryopreservation of sperm at the Zebrafish International Resource Center.

He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in zoology/neuroscience and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the State University of New York at Buffalo, in the department of anatomical science (1989-1991).

“I am delighted to have Dr. Chang serving in this new capacity in ORIP. His long-term experience and insight with all ORIP programs, his creative leadership style combined with his strong management and communication skills will be a great asset to ORIP’s future development,” said ORIP director Dr. Franziska Grieder.

NHLBI’s Knepper Receives Berliner Award

Dr. Mark A. Knepper

The renal section of the American Physiological Society has named Dr. Mark A. Knepper as the 2014 Robert W. Berliner Awardee for Excellence in Renal Physiology. Knepper is a senior investigator in NHLBI’s Intramural Program and head of the Epithelial Systems Biology Laboratory. In 1978, he was recruited as a staff fellow to NHLBI’s Laboratory of Kidney and Electrolyte Metabolism.

An internationally recognized leader in renal physiology, Knepper has made extensive contributions to the field of vasopressin signaling in the renal collecting duct, where he has defined novel pathways for the regulation of aquaporins, urea transporters and sodium transporting proteins. He has published more than 400 peer-reviewed papers, in addition to book chapters on renal physiology, hypertension, nephrology and systems biology. He has also been a strong advocate for mentoring future renal physiologists as demonstrated by his many trainees who now hold leadership positions in physiology and nephrology at various institutions across the world. Knepper received a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1970, before attending Case Western Reserve University and receiving his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering (1975) and an M.D. (1976).

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