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Vol. LXVI, No. 25
December 5, 2014

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Family Health History, A Priceless Gift

Each year, the U.S. surgeon general encourages everyone to focus on the importance of family health history through its Family Health History Initiative public health campaign.

Why is it important to discuss your family’s health history? Diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease often run in families. Tracing illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents and other blood relatives can help your health care practitioner predict your risk for specific diseases and make vital screening and treatment decisions before any disease is evident.

With the surgeon general’s online tool My Family Health Portrait (, people can gather and record their family health history before going to medical appointments. In addition, the tool allows users to save their family history information to their own computer and share health history information with other family members. The tool is available in English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

Before you start using the tool, you will need to talk with your family members to gather more details about their health histories. There are tips on starting the conversations at

In the future, tests may make it possible to identify and fix the glitches in genes that increase a person’s susceptibility to disease. The National Human Genome Research Institute is working on technology, for example, that will allow doctors to quickly create a personalized health plan based on a person’s unique genetic blueprint. In the meantime, family health history is a no-cost component of your personalized health care.

As the holiday season continues, start a new tradition and create a family health portrait. This will be a priceless gift to you, your family and future generations.

Leave Bank Enrollment Ends Dec. 8

Open enrollment for the NIH Leave Bank is currently under way and will run through Dec. 8. Enrollment in the bank is open to all NIH employees. The membership period will begin on Jan. 11, 2015.

The NIH Leave Bank is a pooled bank of donated annual and restored leave available to eligible members. It offers income protection and amounts to paid leave for members who have exhausted all of their leave and are affected by a personal or family medical emergency/condition.

To join as a 2015 member, access ITAS during the open enrollment and enroll under “Leave Bank Membership.” The annual membership contribution is one pay period’s worth of annual leave accrual (i.e. 4, 6 or 8 hours). For example, if you earn 8 hours of annual leave each pay period, your membership contribution will be 8 hours. If you do not have sufficient leave to make the membership contribution, you will automatically receive a waiver. If you are currently a 2014 Leave Bank member, your membership will automatically renew, so no action is necessary by you. If you are a 2014 member and wish to opt out, you may also do so in ITAS.

For more information about Leave Bank benefits, visit For more information call (301) 443-8393 or email

Program Supports Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduate students will learn lab work and science leadership skills with mentors from NIH as one of 17 facilities taking part in the Amgen Scholars Program to prepare students for careers in science. Beginning in 2015, NIH will participate as a host institution, appointing candidates who meet both the NIH and Amgen scholars requirements. This is the first year that NIH will participate in the program in which scholars will spend the summer on campus, working with leading scientists. The program is made possible by an $850,000 grant to the Foundation for the NIH from the Amgen Foundation, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

“An important aspect of this opportunity is that it will provide real-world experience to undergraduate students from low-resource settings who lack opportunities to perform independent research during the school year,” said Dr. Sharon Milgram, director of the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education. “We know that getting this type of hands-on experience makes a difference in retaining students in the sciences.”

During their internships at NIH, the scholars will focus on projects to bridge the gap between foundational and applied science. Scholars will be matched with research mentors in the Intramural Research Program and will participate in a customized curriculum that will teach leadership skills and prepare them for research-oriented careers.

More about the Amgen Scholars Program at NIH can be found at Online applications began Nov. 15.

Roberts Lecture Set, Dec. 11

Dr. Y. Peng Loh, chief of NICHD’s section on cellular neurobiology, will give the fall seminar in the Anita B. Roberts Lecture Series: Distinguished Women Scientists at NIH. Her talk, “Neurotrophic Factor a1: A Key Regulator of Neuroprotection, Depression and Cancer Metastasis,” will be held on Thursday, Dec. 11 at 3:30 p.m. in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10. The seminar series is dedicated to the memory of Anita B. Roberts, chief of NCI’s Laboratory of Cell Regulation and Carcinogenesis from 1995 to 2006, honoring her role as an exceptional mentor and scientist.

‘I Am Intramural’ Blog Site Debuts

‘I Am Intramural,’ a new blog on the NIH Intramural Research Program’s web site that’s written by IRP members about their science, challenges and successes, is now available at

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and NIH deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman have started the blog rolling on the subject of “Science That Changes Lives.” And L’Oreal USA Women in Science fellowship awardee Dr. Robin Stanley, who is now a Stadtman tenure-track investigator, follows up with a series on making your scientific career search successful. Many more writers will follow, sharing thoughts about what it’s like to conduct research in the IRP and how to make the most of your time here.

“We hope you enjoy the stories from researchers across our campuses and that you too will be inspired to share your story with us,” said NHGRI’s Dr. Andy Baxevanis, co-chair of a campaign promoting the IRP. “If you like what you see, please share the blog with your social media networks.”

NIAID Launches Online Database of International Clinical Research Regs

NIAID recently launched ClinRegs, a public web site that helps researchers navigate country-specific regulatory information as they plan and implement clinical trials. The site serves as a central resource and potential time-saver by providing up-to-date regulatory information for multiple countries organized by topic area. In addition, users can compare requirements from two countries side-by-side.

Topic areas include clinical trial lifecycle, competent authority oversight, ethics committee oversight, informed consent, investigational products, specimens and sponsorship. The site currently provides information for 13 countries: Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom and the United States.

The ClinRegs team plans to expand the site in alignment with NIAID research priorities, including adding additional information on Liberia, Sierra Leone and Vietnam. Your comments are welcome to make the site a useful resource for the research community. Take the feedback survey at

Next Protocol Navigation Lecture, Dec. 15

The IRP Protocol Navigation Training Program Seminar Series continues with a lecture to be held Monday, Dec. 15 from 2 to 3 p.m. in Bldg. 50, Conf. Rm. 1227/1328. The program is a trans-NIH effort to develop resources and tools and to provide training for intramural staff and contractors involved in protocol development, writing, coordination and management. Karla Bailey, OMB liaison with the NCI Office of Management, Policy and Compliance, will present “The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) OMB Clearance Process: An NCI Perspective.” For more information, contact Beverly Barham, (301) 594-2494, or Marcia Vital, (301) 451-9437,

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