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July 28, 2017

NCI’s Cahoon Named Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator

Dr. Elizabeth “Lisa” Cahoon
Dr. Elizabeth “Lisa” Cahoon

Dr. Elizabeth “Lisa” K. Cahoon was recently appointed an Earl Stadtman tenure-track investigator in the Radiation Epidemiology Branch of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. She studies cancer and precancer risks conferred by environmental sources of both ultraviolet and ionizing radiation exposure. She joined the branch as a postdoctoral fellow in 2010 and was promoted to research fellow in 2014.

Cahoon and colleagues are investigating how sensitivity to sunlight is influenced by external factors, such as use of photosensitizing medications. In a nationwide occupational cohort of U.S. radiological technologists, she found significantly increased risks of basal cell carcinoma for several photosensitizing agents, including prescription diuretics and menopausal hormone therapy. She has initiated two studies of photosensitizing medications (NSAIDS and estrogen-related factors) in relation to melanoma in the NIH-AARP cohort.

She is also evaluating the UV radiation dose-response relationship for skin cancer risks by wavelength, age at exposure and anatomic site.

“To best inform skin cancer prevention, we need a clearer understanding regarding the influence of timing of UV radiation exposure over the life course and relative exposure to different UV radiation wavelengths,” she said. “For example, if UVA is found to be strongly related to skin cancer risk, prevention implications could include reformulating sunscreens and engineering window glass to block UVA.”

In addition, Cahoon is examining whether ionizing radiation is related to several outcomes that have been little studied (e.g., precancers, histological subtypes) and whether radiation-related risks are modified by factors for which there are limited data (e.g., age at exposure).

Part of this effort involves the assessment of radiation-related risk for various cancers in the Lifespan Study of Japanese atomic bomb survivors.

Through a collaboration with the National Research Centre for Radiation Medicine in Ukraine, she is also leading a thyroid cancer case-control study nested in a cohort of emergency clean-up workers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant who were exposed to a wide range of external radiation doses.

Few studies have evaluated the relationship between iodine-131 exposure and thyroid nodules, which are potential precursors for thyroid cancer. Cahoon and colleagues are examining incidence of new thyroid nodules in Belarus and Ukraine and progression of prevalent nodules.

“This work potentially provides a rare window into multistage carcinogenesis,” she said. “These will be the first studies to evaluate whether nodule characteristics associated with increased risk of thyroid cancer, such as size and vascularization, are apparent at clinical diagnosis or whether these characteristics emerge and evolve over time.”

Named to honor Dr. Earl Stadtman, a noted biochemist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Stadtman program is a trans-NIH recruitment initiative designed to attract the most talented early-career scientists to NIH.

NIH Administrator Baldwin Mourned

Calvin “Cal” Benham Baldwin Jr.
Calvin “Cal” Benham Baldwin Jr.

Calvin “Cal” Benham Baldwin Jr., an administrator for 33 years at NIH, died on June 28 at Kensington Park, a senior living community. He was 91. A resident of Garrett Park from 1963 to 2017, he was born in Radford, Va.

Baldwin joined NIH in 1953 and served in a number of administrative positions until his retirement in 1986: executive officer of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, executive officer of the National Cancer Institute, executive officer of the Division of General Medical Sciences (before NIGMS was created) and NIH associate director for administration.

He received numerous honors and awards including the DHEW Superior Service Award and the William A. Jump Meritorious Award for “exemplary achievement in public administration.”

He also was NIH’s representative on the Economic Advisory Council on Montgomery County, advising the county executive on various issues including transportation.

“I never thought I would go from a Grade-7 management analyst to be the director of administration at NIH,” said Baldwin in an NCI oral history interview conducted on the last day of 1997. “I was just extremely happy working at NIH and felt very fortunate. I was in the right place at the right time. My kind of caustic comment was that I was at NIH at a time when any fool could get ahead, and some did.”

Baldwin became a resident of Montgomery County in 1933, when his family moved to Chevy Chase from Radford. Baldwin attended Montgomery County public schools, graduating from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1943. He served in the infantry in World War II in Germany and Japan. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1949 with a degree in sociology and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1961, he received a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.

In retirement, Baldwin was active in a variety of civic and community affairs. He served on the town council and as chairman of the planning commission in Bethany Beach, Del., where he was also president of the Bethany Beach Landowners Association. In 2002, Bethany’s mayor recognized his “tireless work and persistence (over 15 years)” that led to the town’s acquisition of a 26-acre parcel, which became the Bethany Beach Nature Center. The nature trail at the center was named “Baldwin Trail” in honor of his efforts. Another multi-year project he helped bring to fruition was the hiker-biker trail from Garrett Park to Beach Dr. in Rock Creek Park.

A founding member of the NIH Alumni Association and the Children’s Inn at NIH, Baldwin was a board member of both organizations. He was also an avid tennis player until the age of 80, which kept him active both physically and socially.

Baldwin was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Elizabeth “Betty” Baldwin, on Mar. 16. Survivors include 3 daughters: Susan Baldwin of San Diego, Sally Baldwin of Washington, D.C., and Ann Baldwin Nucci of Rockville and 6 grandchildren. Nucci worked at NIH in the Office of Human Resources for 31 years, retiring in 2015, and her son, James, is a 2017 summer intern with NICHD.

Donations in Baldwin’s memory may be made to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, P.O. Box 97166, Washington, DC 20090-7166 or to the Democratic National Committee, 430 South Capitol St. SE #3 Washington, DC 20003.

A celebration of his life will be held at a date to be determined. For details email

Biophysical Society Honors NINDS’s Swartz

Dr. Kenton Swartz
Dr. Kenton Swartz

Dr. Kenton Swartz, a senior investigator in the molecular physiology and biophysics section of the NINDS Division of Intramural Research, recently received the Kenneth S. Cole Award from the Biophysical Society.

Each year the award is given to an investigator who has made substantial contributions to the understanding of membrane biophysics. Swartz was recognized at the society’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

“It was a great honor to receive the award because so many of our contributions were only possible due to the foundational work of previous Cole awardees,” said Swartz. “It was also wonderful because Kenneth Cole spent a good part of his research career working at NIH, and receiving this award symbolizes the longstanding contributions of many NIH investigators to the biophysical sciences.”

Swartz earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry and biology in 1986 from Eastern Mennonite College and his Ph.D. in neurobiology in 1992 from Harvard University. He joined NINDS in 1997.

His current research uses biochemical, molecular, biological and biophysical techniques to learn how ion channel proteins sense critical biological stimuli, including membrane voltage, temperature and chemical signals. Understanding the structure and mechanisms of ion channels is essential because these proteins are involved in many important physiological processes and diseases and are widely targeted by therapeutic drugs.—Shannon E. Garnett

Former NCI Visiting Scientist James Is Mourned

Dr. A. Everette James Jr.
Dr. A. Everette James Jr.

Dr. A. Everette James Jr., 78, a former visiting scientist at the National Cancer Institute (1991-1992), passed away on Mar. 14 at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill.

He received his undergraduate degree with honors at the University of North Carolina and graduated with honors from Duke University Medical School. He did postdoctoral work at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.

James began his professional career as director of Radiological Research Laboratories at Johns Hopkins Medical School. In 1975, he was appointed chair and professor of radiological sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He founded the Vanderbilt Center for Medical Imaging Research.

Survivors include wife Nancy J. Farmer of Chapel Hill, son Everette III of Pittsburgh and daughter Jeannette James Whitson of Nashville.

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