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August 12, 2016
Dr. George Koob delivers remarks after receiving French Legion of Honor award from French Ambassador Gerard Araud (r).
Dr. George Koob delivers remarks after receiving French Legion of Honor award from French Ambassador Gerard Araud (r).


NIAAA Director Receives French Legion of Honor

In a June 30 ceremony at the Washington, D.C., residence of French Ambassador Gerard Araud, NIAAA director Dr. George Koob became a knight of the French Legion of Honor in recognition of his leadership in developing scientific collaborations between France and the United States.

“I am extremely grateful for, and humbled by, this recognition,” said Koob, who has served as NIAAA director since January 2014. “My collaborations and interactions with scientists in France have been deeply gratifying, both personally and professionally, and I look forward to ongoing scientific camaraderie between our countries in the years ahead.”

The Legion of Honor, France’s premier award, was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 to recognize eminent accomplishments of service to France.

Among previous American recipients of the award are hundreds of veterans of World War II, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, former NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni and many leaders in academia, politics and the arts. Ambassador Araud presented the award to Koob on behalf of French President Francois Hollande.

Koob is recognized as one of the founders of the field of addiction research and is internationally renowned for his expertise on alcohol and stress and the neurobiology of alcohol and drug addiction.

The author of hundreds of articles published in international journals, Koob has had a long collaborative relationship with Dr. Michel Le Moal, professor emeritus of neuroscience at the University of Bordeaux, France, and a fellow of the French National Academy of Sciences.

With Le Moal, Koob co-authored Neurobiology of Addiction in 2006 and Drugs, Addiction and the Brain in 2014, both of which are regarded as major reference books in the field of addiction research.

Through his association with Le Moal and other eminent French scientists, Koob has been able to share his expertise and knowledge of the mechanisms underlying addiction and other psychiatric diseases and behavioral disorders with many French investigators.

Throughout his career, Koob has created strong links between French and American researchers and he has hosted and trained a large number of young scientists from France, including 13 postdoctoral fellows.

Sy Retires After 12 Years at NIMHD

Dr. Francisco Sy, a program director and AIDS coordinator in the Division of Extramural Scientific Programs at NIMHD, retired recently after 12 years of service.

Dr. Francisco Sy
Dr. Francisco Sy

Sy served in various leadership positions including: director, Office of Community-Based Participatory Research and Collaboration; director, Office of Extramural Research Administration; and director, Division of Extramural Activities and Scientific Programs. He also served as president of the NIH Asian Pacific American Organization.

“At NIMHD, Dr. Sy was always a loyal and trusted colleague with energy to address challenging tasks and the strength to always do the right thing in the face of adversity,” said NIMHD director Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable.

Prior to NIH, Sy was a senior health scientist in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention for 4 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2003, he volunteered and led the CDC severe acute respiratory syndrome community outreach team in Asian communities in the U.S. to mitigate the fear and stigma associated with SARS.

He also was founding president of the Association of Asian Pacific Islander Employees of CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. He taught and conducted research in infectious disease epidemiology for 15 years at the University of South Carolina School of Public Health. Sy has been editor of AIDS Education and Prevention: An Interdisciplinary Journal for 28 years.

In recognition of his contributions, Sy has received numerous awards including: the 2015 NIH Director’s Award for catalyzing the advancement of sexual and gender minority research; 2012 Harvard School of Public Health Outstanding Alumnus for Leadership in Public Health Practice; the 2012 NIH Director’s Award for coordinating LGBT research at NIH; the 2004 HHS Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service in CDC’s SARS outbreak investigation; and the 1991 James Keith Excellence in Teaching Award from USC.

Sy earned his Ph.D. in immunology and infectious diseases from Johns Hopkins University, M.S. in tropical public health from Harvard University and M.D. from the University of the Philippines.

He was recently appointed chair of the department of environmental and occupational health in the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“Dr. Sy’s contributions, commitment and dedication to the research mission and vision of NIMHD is unparalleled,” said NIMHD deputy director Dr. Joyce Hunter. “His integrity and leadership ability are recognized throughout the NIH community by those who have worked with him. Dr. Sy’s vast knowledge of minority health and health disparities, and his experience at NIH will no doubt be of significant benefit to the University of Nevada.”

NINR’s Henderson Named AAN Fellow

Dr. Wendy Henderson

Dr. Wendy Henderson, chief of the digestive disorders unit in NINR’s Division of Intramural Research, has been selected as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. The academy will honor the 164 nurse leaders selected in the 2016 class of fellows during its annual policy conference Oct. 20-22 in Washington, D.C. AAN fellows are nurse leaders who have made significant contributions to nursing and health care. Henderson’s research interest is in the mechanisms involved in symptom distress related to digestive disorders, specifically the biobehavioral relationships between brain-gut microbiota axis and patient symptoms. For more on her work visit researchandfunding/dir/whenderson.

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