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June 16, 2017
Milestones

Johnson Appointed NIH Deputy Director for Management

Dr. Alfred Johnson

Dr. Alfred Johnson has been named NIH deputy director for management. He had been serving as acting DDM since May 2016.

Before joining the Office of the Director leadership team, Johnson was director of the Office of Research Services, a position he held since 2006. In that post, he planned and directed service programs for public safety, security operations, scientific and regulatory support and a variety of other programs and employee services.

Before joining ORS, Johnson held several leadership positions at NIH including assistant director in the Office of Intramural Research, acting director of the Office of Loan Repayment and Scholarship and principal investigator (1996-2007) in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute. He joined NIH in 1985 as an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow.

Johnson received a bachelor of arts in chemistry at Albany State University (Ga.) in 1979. He completed his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences at the University of Tennessee in 1985, and conducted his doctoral research at the biology division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

NCI’s Brinton Bids Farewell to DCEG

Dr. Louise Brinton
Dr. Louise Brinton

In a research career spanning four decades, Dr. Louise Brinton made contributions to advance the health of women in the United States and around the world. She retired from federal service at the end of April.

Dr. Brinton practiced—and taught—hands-on epidemiology, leading field investigations on nearly every continent, from Latin America to West Africa, China to multiple U.S. locales. To each project, she brought a unique curiosity, sense of adventure and love of travel and cultural exchange.

She began her graduate work in anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but quickly switched to epidemiology. In 1976, she came to NCI, to what is now the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), as a predoctoral fellow. She earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1979, and subsequently conducted postdoctoral research at Oxford University in the United Kingdom under the tutelage of Sir Richard Doll, before returning to NCI.

In 1984, she was appointed acting chief of the environmental studies section and in 1996 became chief of the Environmental Epidemiology Branch, later renamed the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch (HREB). In 2016, she was named DCEG’s first scientific advisor for international activities.

“Louise initiated and conducted seminal research studies to identify etiologic factors responsible for breast cancer and other gynecologic malignancies,” said DCEG founding director Dr. Joseph Fraumeni, Jr. “Over two decades at the helm of HREB, she shepherded scores of projects from pilot phase, through the development of rigorous protocols, resulting in well-designed and fruitful studies, many of which will remain in use for the next generation of epidemiologists.”

That body of work is represented in the more than 600 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts she authored and dozens of book chapters, most of which focus on the etiology of breast, endometrial and rarer gynecologic cancers, as well as male breast cancer and hormonal factors influencing those malignancies.

When asked which study she is most proud of, she quickly names the Invasive Cervical Cancer Study in Latin America. Women in Latin America experience some of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the world. The team hypothesized that sexual behavior among the men was responsible for the extremely high rates; they designed a study to identify the contribution of male sexual behavior.

Brinton and her colleagues set out to conduct the first large-scale epidemiological study of invasive cervical cancer in that part of the world, complete with biological samples and—to the surprise of many—complete sexual histories from both men and women in the study.

“She was at the forefront of attempts to identify the viral etiology of cervical cancer,” recalled Dr. Robert Hoover, director of the DCEG Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, a life-long mentor to Brinton. “Her efforts laid the groundwork for future studies that, with improved assays, definitively established HPV as the causal agent in cervical carcinogenesis.”

In the various leadership roles she held in DCEG over the years, Brinton recruited investigators who have become leading experts in the epidemiology of gynecological cancers. Her trainees have gone on to direct research efforts within DCEG and at leading departments of epidemiology across the country.

In addition to her research, Brinton served on the executive board of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and was elected its president in 1990. She is the recipient of the Public Health Service Special Recognition Award and the NIH Director’s Award for innovative leadership in women’s health research and the H.A. Tyroler Distinguished Alumni Award from UNC. The American College of Epidemiology honored her with the 2009 Abraham Lilienfeld Award and in 2015 she received the Career Accomplishment Award from the Society for Epidemiologic Research.

Brinton has served as a senior editor for Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention and on the editorial board of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Breast Cancer Research and the International Journal of Epidemiology. She has also been a member of and led many national and international committees to assist in determining future directions of research in cancer epidemiology.

Constant Heads NIGMS Review Office

Dr. Stephanie L. Constant

Dr. Stephanie L. Constant is new chief of the Office of Scientific Review, NIGMS. She oversees OSR as it plans, conducts and coordinates the scientific and technical merit review of research grants, cooperative agreements and training grant applications, including those designed to increase diversity in the research workforce, and assures that these reviews are of a uniformly high quality. Constant joins NIGMS from NHLBI, where she served as a scientific review officer. She earned a B.S. in biology and a Ph.D. in immunology and parasitology, both from the University of York in the United Kingdom. She conducted postdoctoral research at Yale University School of Medicine and was a tenured associate professor at George Washington University prior to joining NIH.

After 34 Years, Taylor Retires From NCI

Dr. Philip Taylor
Dr. Philip Taylor

Dr. Philip Taylor retired from the National Cancer Institute in May after 34 years of distinguished service. He devoted his career to the conduct of epidemiological studies to inform cancer prevention strategies for malignancies of the upper gastrointestinal (UGI) tract, including esophageal and gastric cancers.

His work involved a variety of research approaches, including cancer prevention trials, early detection studies, etiologic studies, laboratory-based molecular research and clinical nutrition studies.

“Phil brought a quiet authority to his work, and engendered an atmosphere of collaboration and team science,” said Dr. Margaret Tucker, director of the Human Genetics Program and former chief of the Genetic Epidemiology Branch, where Taylor was a senior investigator for most of his career.

Recently, he had focused on identifying germline variants of susceptibility to UGI cancers through genome-wide association and family studies, evaluating tissue alterations in UGI cancers and pre-malignancy and integrating germline and somatic data with functional genomics to understand etiology and identify biomarkers for early detection and prognosis.

Taylor was pivotal in the launch of the Nutrition Intervention Trials in 1985, two randomized interventional trials involving 32,000 residents of Linxian, China, to evaluate the effects of vitamin and mineral supplementation on total mortality and total and cause-specific cancer mortality in a rural Chinese population.

After the intervention phase ended in 1991, Taylor and colleagues determined the micronutrient combination of selenium/vitamin E/ß-carotene reduced total mortality, total cancer mortality and gastric cancer mortality. The protective effects of the intervention have lasted more than two decades. These subjects continue to be followed and serve as one of the most important cohorts for the study of upper GI cancer.

In addition to his research, Taylor had been a mentor to scores of trainees, some here for short visits, others who completed postdoctoral training with him and went on to be life-long collaborators.

During a visit to DCEG in April, Dr. You-Lin Qiao, professor and director of the department of cancer epidemiology at the National Cancer Center/Cancer Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, reflected on Taylor: “Phil was my first American mentor. We have kept our partnership over many years. Now, in my role at the Cancer Hospital in China, I send students to Phil and to the NCI for training. I credit Phil and the NCI for setting me on the track to my career in research, which began at NCI in 1989 with our collaboration on lung disease and health.”

Taylor received his medical degree from the University of Iowa in 1973 and completed his residency in internal medicine at Vanderbilt University in 1976. He joined the Centers for Disease Control in 1976 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer and, while there, completed a residency in preventive medicine.

He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health and came to NCI in 1983. He was chief of the Cancer Prevention Studies Branch from 1987 to 2004, before joining the Genetic Epidemiology Branch in 2005, and the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch in 2016.

In retirement, Taylor will serve as a special volunteer in the division.

NICHD’s Willinger, Champion of ‘Back to Sleep’ Campaign, Retires

Dr. Philip Taylor
Dr. Marian Willinger

Dr. Marian Willinger, who was instrumental in the launch of the Back to Sleep awareness campaign in 1994, retired on May 31 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Back to Sleep, now called Safe to Sleep, is widely credited with reducing the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)-related deaths in the United States by more than half.

Willinger began her NIH career 30 years ago at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as a program officer for AIDS research. In 1989, she joined NICHD, where her passion for maternal and child health led to an opportunity to expand NIH-funded research on SIDS, stillbirth and other causes of infant death.

Willinger has served as a SIDS expert ever since, serving on numerous groups and committees dedicated to saving infant lives. She has received several awards during her career, including the NIH Director’s Award and the HHS Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service.

NINDS’s Hallett Receives Honorary Degree in Hamburg

Dr. Mark Hallett

Dr. Mark Hallett, chief of the Medical Neurology Branch and the human motor control section in the NINDS Division of Intramural Research, was awarded an honorary degree from the medical faculty of the University of Hamburg in Germany during the Hamburg Neuroscience Symposium on May 2. He was recognized as an outstanding scientist whose groundbreaking scientific work in the fields of human systems neuroscience and neurology— especially on motor control and movement disorders—has contributed significantly to the progress of neuroscience.

Hallett earned undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University and received his neurology training at Massachusetts General Hospital. Before joining NIH in 1984, Hallett was chief of the Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. Currently, his work centers on understanding the physiology of normal human voluntary movement and the pathophysiology of different movement disorders.

Kearney Named Distinguished Alumna

Dr. Marguerite Littleton Kearney

Dr. Marguerite Littleton Kearney, director of NINR’s Division of Extramural Science Programs, has been named the recipient of Augusta University College of Nursing’s (formerly the Medical College of Georgia College of Nursing) Phoebe Kandel Rohrer Distinguished Alumna award. It was presented during the university’s recent alumni weekend.

Kearney leads the activities of the division, which includes the Office of Extramural Programs, the Office of End-of-Life and Palliative Care and the Office of Extramural Research Administration.

In addition to her B.S.N. and an M.S.N. in adult care/trauma nursing from Augusta University, Kearney holds a Ph.D. from Rush University. Her area of research interest is in the effects of female hormones on cerebrovascular recovery after cerebral injury.

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