|Vol. LXIX, No. 11|
|Dr. David J. Lipman State Educators Honor NCI Dr. Carlos E. Caban NIAID’s Belkaid Receives Emil von Behring Prize|
Dr. David J. Lipman, who has served as director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information since its creation almost 30 years ago, is leaving NIH to become chief science officer at Impossible Foods, a new company applying molecular biology to the food industry.
NCBI creates and maintains a series of databases relevant to biotechnology and biomedicine and is a world-renowned and trusted resource for bioinformatics tools and services. Major NCBI databases include GenBank for DNA sequences and PubMed, one of the most heavily used sites in the world for the search and retrieval of biomedical information.
“It’s hard to think of anyone at NIH who has had a greater impact on the way research is conducted around the world than David Lipman,” noted NLM director Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan. “Under his visionary leadership, NCBI has greatly improved access to biomedical information and genomic data for scientists, health professionals and the public worldwide—something we now practically take for granted.”
Under Lipman’s leadership, NCBI has become an essential resource for biomedical researchers, practitioners, patients as well as the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. During his tenure, NCBI has grown from a handful of staff working to link biomedical literature and DNA sequences FEEDBACKto a staff of hundreds that produce more than 40 integrated databases that serve scientists and the public. Each day, more than 3 million users access NCBI databases and download more than 50 terabytes of data.
Lipman has been an advocate for promoting open access to the world’s biomedical literature and launched PubMed in 1997, followed by the full-text repository, PubMed Central (PMC), in 2000. He was instrumental in implementing the NIH Public Access Policy whereby NIH-funded papers are made publicly available in PMC.
He has also maintained an active research program in influenza evolution and molecular evolution of the genome and proteome. Working with CDC, FDA and USDA, he has developed a system for applying whole genome sequencing for the surveillance and detection of foodborne pathogens. These methods have significantly improved the speed of detecting outbreaks of foodborne disease.
His research in creating rapid sequence comparison algorithms such as FASTA and BLAST has earned him an international reputation and his journal articles describing the methods are among the most highly cited in biology.
Among many honors, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the International Society of Computational Biology, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American College of Medical Informatics. He received the Jim Gray eScience Award from Microsoft in 2013.
The Maryland State Department of Education recently honored the National Cancer Institute with a 2017 award of excellence in career and technology education during a ceremony in Baltimore. NCI was nominated by Frederick County Public Schools as outstanding business partner in secondary education for its Werner H. Kirsten Student Intern Program.
Dr. Kristin Komschlies, acting director of the Office of Scientific Operations, accepted the award on behalf of NCI acting director Dr. Doug Lowy. “Our laboratories are vibrant places of important investigation, in part, because of students—undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows—lending their ideas and enthusiasm to our science,” Komschlies said.
“Thanks to the Werner H. Kirsten Student Intern Program, which you honor today, NCI’s scientific education and training extend to high school students.”
The program, now in existence for more than a quarter century, has served more than 1,000 students from Frederick and surrounding communities who spend an intensive summer program working with mentors in research laboratories and in administrative functions—positions the students continue through their senior years.
Komschlies thanked the mentors who are at the heart of the Kirsten program: staff members from the Office of Scientific Operations, investigators from the Center for Cancer Research and scientific staff from the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.
NCI was one of nine organizations honored with glass trophies presented by Dr. Karen B. Salmon, Maryland’s superintendent of schools, and Dr. Lynne M. Gilli, assistant superintendent.
Dr. Carlos E. Caban, 75, passed away on May 1 from stage 4 prostate cancer. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he grew up in San Antonio, Tex., the suburbs of Long Island, N.Y., and Philadelphia. He and his family moved to Maryland in fall 1970.
Caban graduated from Colgate University in 1963, received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1971, and earned a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in 1990. He had retired from NIH in 2008 after 38 years of service.
He began his NIH career as a research scientist, moved to the National Cancer Institute as a review administrator, became a program director for Cancer Control Research (now DCCPS) and served as a program policy officer in the Office of Extramural Research. He was a major contributor to NIH publications and guidelines regarding the inclusion of women, minorities and children in clinical research, served a term as president of the NIH Hispanic Employees Organization and received many awards for his contributions to NIH.
Outside of NIH, he served 9 years as a planning commissioner for the City of Rockville in the early 1980s. In the 1970s, he was active in the Rockshire Civic Association. In recent years, he volunteered as an usher at Strathmore.
He loved tennis and was a member of the United States Tennis Association. He played regularly at various facilities, clubs and leagues throughout the Washington metro area. He was a frequent volunteer at Rock Creek Tennis Center tournaments, periodically attended the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., and completed a “bucket list” goal of traveling to Wimbledon in England in 2015 with his son Jonathan.
Caban is survived by his wife of 52 years, Elinor; his two sons, David Charles Caban of Cleveland and Jonathan Louis Caban of Washington, D.C.; and extended family.
Memorial donations may be made to Hope Connections for Cancer, 9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Dr. Yasmine Belkaid, chief of the mucosal immunology section in NIAID’s Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, was recently awarded the Emil von Behring Prize of Philipps-Universität in Marburg, Germany. The prize is presented biannually to commemorate Emil von Behring, who discovered the diphtheria antitoxin, implemented serum therapy and won the first Nobel Prize for medicine. The Behring Prize is awarded to scientists for extraordinary contributions to the fields of immunology, microbiology or virology and is one of Germany’s most distinguished scientific awards. Belkaid is the first female recipient.
“Yasmine is an extraordinarily talented and dedicated scientist,” said Ulrich Steinhoff of the Institute for Medical Microbiology of Philipps-Universität. “[She has] uncovered groundbreaking findings about our body’s most complicated immune system—the defense system of the mucosa.”
Belkaid obtained her Ph.D. in 1996 from the Pasteur Institute in France on innate responses to Leishmania infection. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at NIAID on immune regulation to infection, she joined the Children’s Hospital Research Foundation in Cincinnati as an assistant professor in 2002. In 2005, she joined the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases and became a tenured investigator in 2008. Since 2007, she has worked as an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work explores the role of the microbiota and nutrition in the control of immunity to infection.—Claudia Wair