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Vol. LXVII, No. 1
January 2, 2015


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Dr. Mercedes Rubio

Kathy Russell


Rubio Joins NIGMS Training Division

Dr. Mercedes Rubio

Dr. Mercedes Rubio is a new program director in the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development and Diversity, where she primarily oversees research supplements to promote diversity in health-related research and supplements to promote re-entry into biomedical and behavioral research careers. Before joining NIGMS, she was chief of NIMH’s psychopathology risk and protective factors research program and was assistant director of that institute’s individual research fellowship program. Rubio earned a B.A. in sociology from California State University, Bakersfield, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan, where she also completed postdoctoral training in the field of health disparities.


Children’s Inn CEO Russell Retires

The Children’s Inn at NIH opened its doors almost 25 years ago and Kathy Russell has been part of the organization since its inception—first serving on the board of directors and then as chief executive officer for the past 10 years. She retired at the end of 2014, after a tenure that included a major expansion that doubled the inn’s square footage, the establishment of Woodmont House—an off-campus transitional home for longer-term patients—significant playground and kitchen renovations and seamless shepherding of the nonprofit through the 2008 economic downturn.

“The common threads that run through Kathy’s remarkable, ongoing contributions are leadership, compassion and relationships,” said Dr. Lee Helman, chairman of the inn board. “Her passion to improve the lives of others is a shining example. She has made a difference in the lives of children and families from around the world that is deeply meaningful and enormously enduring.”

Kathy Russell

Russell began her career at NIH in 1982, as administrator for pediatrics at the National Cancer Institute. During the next several years, she assumed progressively responsible senior leadership positions within NCI. She then went on to help establish an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center at Georgetown University Medical Center and later served as the Lombardi Center’s associate director for planning and administration. In 2002, she was asked by Gov. Roy Barnes of Georgia to aid in the development of cancer programs in their state, utilizing funds derived from the tobacco settlement exceeding $1 billion.

During the same period, in a volunteer capacity, Russell came to know of the psycho-social needs of cancer patients and their families and was part of the team effort and unique public-private partnership that brought the Children’s Inn into fruition in the late 1980s. Along with Dr. Philip Pizzo, who was chief of pediatric oncology at NIH, she had observed that parents were congregating with other families in the waiting rooms of the Clinical Center and forming support networks, often reluctant to leave and go back to their respective hotels. It was their concept to create a place on campus where families could stay together, for free, to facilitate healing through mutual support including therapeutic, recreational and educational programming.

“It’s been my life’s work to find ways to ease the burden of serious illness for both adults and children, as well as their families,” said Russell. “As the Children’s Inn approaches its 25th anniversary, it’s an important time to reflect on the journey and the accomplishments of the organization and the selection of a new leader to bring fresh ideas and energy to provide even more ways the inn can support pediatric patients and their families during life-threatening
medical illness.”

Russell was recently featured in People magazine’s “Heroes Among Us” column. Read the full article at

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