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Vol. LXVII, No. 20
September 25, 2015

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Dr. John Bowers

Dr. Mary K. Wolpert DeFilippes

Dr. Eileen G. Hasselmeyer

Dr. Frederick P. Li


Milestones

Bowers Directs CSR Division

Dr. John Bowers
Dr. John Bowers

Dr. John Bowers has been named director of the Division of Translational and Clinical Sciences at the Center for Scientific Review. He has been acting director of DTCS and chief of CSR’s biological chemistry and macromolecular biophysics integrated review group.

“Dr. Bowers brings a dynamic combination of leadership skills and scientific expertise to this job,” said CSR director Dr. Richard Nakamura. “His experience applying emerging bio-imaging understandings in research to improve clinical care gives him a strong scientific base for leading this important division.”

The Division of Translational and Clinical Sciences coordinates reviews of NIH grant applications in an array of clinical and basic research areas, with the common goal of applying scientific discoveries to the treatment of clinical disorders. The areas covered include cardiovascular and respiratory science, blood disorders, oncology and surgery and bioengineering. The division has 5 integrated review groups with 34 study sections.

Bowers earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois, where he did NMR studies of membrane proteins. He then went to the department of radiological services at Deaconess Hospital in Boston and worked on the development of fast chemical-shift imaging techniques and non-invasive magnetic resonance-based assays for liver graft viability. He directed the department’s division of hepatology research and then its division of basic research. He also was an assistant professor of radio-logy at Harvard Medical School before joining CSR in 1997 to be scientific review officer of its metallobiochemistry study section.

NCI’s Wolpert DeFilippes Retires After 44 Years

Dr. Mary K. Wolpert DeFilippes retired on June 3 after 44 years at NCI. She witnessed dramatic changes in anticancer drug discovery and development, from cytotoxic drugs to an era of molecular medicine focused on targets and pathways and, finally, “precision medicine.”

A native of Iowa, she received a Ph.D. in pharmacology at the University of Michigan. Following postdoctoral training at Yale University, she joined NCI in 1971 as a staff fellow in the Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology, where she worked on mechanistic studies of maytansine, a potent tubulin binder, and evaluated blood levels of AIDS drugs in Clinical Center patients.

Dr. Mary K. Wolpert DeFilippes
Dr. Mary K. Wolpert DeFilippes

She then transitioned to extramural positions in the Division of Cancer Treatment & Diagnosis where she served the extramural research community until her retirement. Her service was recognized by several NIH Merit Awards and election as fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012.

A favorite early assignment in the extramural program, where she rose to deputy chief of the Drug Evaluation Branch, was chairman of the platinum analog working group. She coordinated evaluations of hundreds of cisplatin analogs and identified carboplatin as a less toxic drug candidate. These studies led to clinical trials for carboplatin and FDA approval.

From 1986 to 2015, she worked in the Grants and Contracts Operations Branch, rising to branch chief in 1997. The branch manages NCI’s second largest grant portfolio, covering all aspects of preclinical drug discovery and development. She also provided insight and served on several committees, including NIH’s program leadership committee, to develop and implement new policies and procedures.

A career highlight was her involvement and later overall coordination of National Cooperative Drug Discovery Groups, public-private partnerships that ended in 2010. These cooperative agreements led to clinical trials of more than 20 agents and marketing of 6.

Wolpert was considered a “grant policy guru” and “go to” person. She always encouraged co-workers and trained several new employees with exceptional patience. In her new life away from NCI, she intends to stay busy with reading, family visits, volunteering, traveling and genealogy studies.

Former Assistant Surgeon General Hasselmeyer Mourned

Dr. Eileen G. Hasselmeyer
Dr. Eileen G. Hasselmeyer

Dr. Eileen G. Hasselmeyer, 91, who retired in 1989 after more than 29 years of active duty with the Commissioned Corps—26 of which were spent with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development—died of cancer June 6.

Before retiring, she was associate director for scientific review, NICHD, and special assistant to the director, National Center for Nursing Research. In 1981, she achieved the rank of rear admiral and assistant surgeon general.

Hasselmeyer, a 1946 graduate of Bellevue School of Nursing, received a baccalaureate degree in education, a master of science degree in administration and a Ph.D. in nursing science from New York University. Following a 10-year association with the NYU pediatric metabolic and nutritional research service, she joined the PHS Division of Nursing Resources in 1956 and was principal investigator for the Behavior Patterns of Premature Infants Project—the division’s first clinical research study of the relationship between nursing care and patient welfare.

When NICHD was established in 1963, she was appointed special assistant to the director and servedin various positions including director, Perinatal Biology and Infant Mortality Program, and chief, Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch.

On detail from NICHD in 1968-1969, she was appointed the Annie W. Goodrich professor of nursing at Yale University.

Hasselmeyer was responsible for developing the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) research initiative in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, for which she received the PHS Commendation Medal. Between 1977 and 1984, she was project officer for the NICHD cooperative epidemiologic study of SIDS risk factors.

Hasselmeyer was awarded a National League for Nursing Commonwealth fellowship and an NIH special research fellowship and was also the recipient of research grants from the American Nurses Foundation, Sigma Theta Tau and the Connecticut state health department. She also received the NYU Health Professions Creative Leadership Award and a PHS Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of her many achievements, including her contributions to the establishment of the National Center for Nursing Research (now NINR) at NIH.

In recognition of Hasselmeyer’s contributions to SIDS research, the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance established the Eileen G. Hasselmeyer Award to recognize individuals who have advanced the knowledge and understanding of SIDS.

Survivors include her niece, nephew and their spouses, a grandniece, three grandnephews and a great grandnephew and great grandniece. Interment with military honors was at St. John’s Cemetery, Middle Village, N.Y.

Li Mourned, Pioneer in Genetic Causes of Cancer

Dr. Frederick P. Li
Dr. Frederick P. Li

Dr. Frederick P. Li, a pioneer in establishing genetic risk factors for cancer and long-time collaborator with the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), died June 10 at his home in Brookline, Mass. As a young clinician, Li joined NCI’s Epidemiology Branch (now DCEG) as a commissioned officer in the Public Health Service.

Li is perhaps best known for his contribution to the discovery of the cancer predisposition syndrome named for him and his collaborator, former DCEG director Dr. Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr. The two identified what came to be known as Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) from the study of a group of families with an unexpected constellation of tumors occurring at very young ages.

In 1990, using biological samples collected from those families, colleagues of Li and Fraumeni discovered that germline mutations in the TP53 tumor suppressor gene cause LFS. Li and Fraumeni’s first description of LFS families had been published in 1969 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Reflecting on his first meeting with Li, Fraumeni recalled, “Fred was different from the many young physicians who were flocking to NIH at that time. His background in clinical medicine was matched by a passionate interest in public health. He seemed a natural for epidemiology and his intellectual curiosity and productivity were evident from the very start.”

In recognition of their discovery of LFS and the identification of the gene responsible, Li and Fraumeni were awarded the Charles S. Mott General Motors Prize in 1995.

Among his many efforts at NCI, Li successfully mapped a gene in kidney cancer families, identifying a chromosomal translocation associated with elevated risk for the disease. He was instrumental in launching the study of cancer survivorship, leading efforts on risk for second malignancies after childhood cancer.

“Fred had a knack for making important clinical and epidemiological observations and taking them to the next level,” said Fraumeni. “This often meant overcoming the considerable challenge of bringing together experts from multiple disciplines. [We] were drawn not only to the scientific ideas he generated, but also by his friendly, calm and thoughtful demeanor as well as his generosity of spirit.”

In the late 1960s, Li helped found a free clinic in Boston’s Chinatown, where he worked for years. “He was very concerned about social justice issues and felt it important to give back to those with fewer resources,” said Dr. Margaret Tucker, another of Li’s DCEG collaborators. “He was also involved in the early delegations to China, the opening up of U.S.-China relations and helped to develop their cancer research programs.”

Later in his career at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard, Li’s focus extended to other hereditary cancer syndromes, the study of late effects of cancer and its treatment, preventive strategies in high-risk populations and, more recently, cancer control research in Asian-American and other minority populations.

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