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October 20, 2017

Sheehan Named NLM Deputy Director

Jerry Sheehan
Jerry Sheehan

Jerry Sheehan was recently named deputy director of the National Library of Medicine.

“I have personally known Jerry for over 15 years and find in him creativity, wise counsel and clear thinking,” said NLM director Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan, who made the appointment. “Upon my arrival to NLM, I was delighted to reconnect with him and to work together on integrating data science and open science into the NLM portfolio.”

During his more than 10 years as assistant director for policy development at NLM, Sheehan has made major contributions to the development and implementation of policy related to open science, public access to government-funded information, clinical trials registration and electronic health records. He has built relationships with key NLM partners, including health sciences librarians and informatics researchers. From September 2015 to January 2017, he was detailed to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as assistant director for scientific data and information; he worked to develop public access policies at all federal science agencies.

Prior to joining NLM, Sheehan served for 6 years as principal administrator/senior economist in the science & technology policy division of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, where he led an international team of researchers and policy makers focusing on science and innovation, data science and open science. At the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, he served as study director on reports sponsored by NLM: one on the privacy and security of electronic health data and another on health applications of the Internet.

Sheehan holds both a master’s degree in technology and policy and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Poremba Joins NIDCD as Program Director
>Dr. Amy Poremba
Dr. Amy Poremba

Dr. Amy Poremba has joined NIDCD as a program director in the Division of Scientific Programs. She will manage extramural programs supporting research on hearing and balance.

Poremba earned her Ph.D. in biological psychology from the University of Illinois. She completed her neuroscience postdoctoral training at the University of Texas and the National Institute of Mental Health, where she used animal models to explore the neural circuitry of communication. She then joined the department of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Iowa. As a professor there for 16 years, she conducted research on auditory central nervous system processing and communication. Her research focused on the neurobiology of auditory processing, learning and memory to guide translational efforts aimed at improving care for people with impaired hearing or neurological disorders. While at the University of Iowa, Poremba also served as director of the behavioral and cognitive neuroscience division, where she managed student curricula, graduate program training, faculty and student recruitment and graduate student mentoring.

NHLBI Branch Chief Sorlie Retires After 48 Years

Dr. Paul Sorlie, chief of the Epidemiology Branch in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, will retire from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute on Oct. 27 after 48 years of service.

Dr. Paul Sorlie
Dr. Paul Sorlie

Sorlie received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota, in mathematics and biometry respectively. From 1965 to 1967, he served in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching high school mathematics. He came to the then National Heart and Lung Institute in 1969 as a Public Health Service commissioned officer, working as a statistician for the landmark Framingham Heart Study.

In 1971, he took a 2-year break from NIH and lived in Uganda to develop and implement protocols and techniques to evaluate performance of a maternal and child health project in Kampala. He returned to NHLBI in 1973 and has worked tirelessly to advance research in cardiovascular epidemiology ever since. It is also during his tenure at NHLBI that he obtained his doctoral degree in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Sorlie has had a distinguished research and administrative career, leading a wide range of epidemiology research studies, including serving as project officer for the Framingham Heart Study for 11 years and initiating the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, the largest longitudinal health study in the U.S. with a diverse representation of Hispanic/Latino heritage groups. He has had over 150 publications and received numerous awards, including multiple NIH Merit Awards and NIH Director’s Awards.

In addition to his research, Sorlie was a lecturer and course director at the FAES Graduate School at NIH from 1990 to 2010. He has been a mentor to scores of trainees and staff, some here for short visits, others who have continued long and productive careers at NHLBI. He also participated in community volunteer activities during this time.

NINDS Mourns Former Chief of Neurosurgery Oldfield

Dr. Edward Hudson Oldfield, former chief of the Surgical Neurology Branch (SNB) in the NINDS Division of Intramural Research, died on Sept. 1. He was 69 years old.

Dr. Edward Oldfield in one of NIH’s
surgical suites
Above, Dr. Edward Oldfield in one of NIH’s surgical suites; below, a more recent portrait courtesy of the University of Virginia
Dr. Edward Oldfield

Oldfield was a highly creative neuroscientist and neurosurgeon who led research programs that changed the modern surgical treatment of people with pituitary tumors in Cushing’s disease, with brain and spinal cord tumors in von Hippel-Lindau disease and with spinal arteriovenous malformations.

“Dr. Oldfield was always an inspiration to me,” said Dr. John Heiss, SNB chair and residency program director. “Throughout his life, he successfully balanced neurosurgery, science, professional leadership, social relationships and family life and was a model for aspiring physician-scientists. He aided the research endeavors of scientific colleagues and mentored young neurosurgeons. His motivation to make significant scientific and medical advances never waned. I join his family, friends and colleagues in celebrating his life and mourning his death.”

Born in Mt. Sterling, Ky., Oldfield received his undergraduate education at the University of Kentucky as a physics major and after 3 years entered medical school in 1969. He earned his medical degree from Kentucky in 1973 and completed his general surgical residency training at Vanderbilt University Hospital in 1975. He then spent a year as a visiting registrar in neurology and neurosurgery at the National Hospital for Nervous Disease in Queen Square, London, before beginning neurosurgical residency training at Vanderbilt.

Prior to coming to NIH, he spent a year in private neurosurgical practice in Lexington, Ky.

Oldfield joined NIH in 1981 as a senior staff fellow in the SNB working on the cellular immunology of tumors. He became chief of the clinical neurosurgery section in 1984 and SNB chief in 1986.

From 1987 to 2007, he also was on the faculty at Georgetown University Medical Center, serving as a clinical professor in the department of neurosurgery.

In 2007, Oldfield retired from full-time government service to become the Crutchfield chair in neurosurgery and a professor of neurosurgery and internal medicine at the University of Virginia. There he contributed to the department of neurosurgery research program and led a multidisciplinary effort in the treatment of pituitary tumors.

Even while at UVa., Oldfield continued to visit NIH periodically as a clinical collaborator—training and mentoring NIH neurosurgeons and neurosurgery residents. He fostered the career development of his fellows and other trainees, many of whom achieved tenured positions and chairmanships in neurosurgery departments in the U.S. and internationally.

Among his many research accomplishments, Oldfield developed a new drug-delivery technique—called convection-enhanced delivery—for treatment of central nervous system diseases, including brain tumors, Parkinson’s disease and lysosomal storage diseases. His laboratory developed gene therapy for malignant brain tumors and he directed the first clinical trial of gene therapy within the central nervous system. His research led to new insights into how Chiari l malformation (a structural defect in the base of the skull and cerebellum) caused syringomyelia, a finding that improved treatment of the condition. (Syringomyelia is a disorder in which a fluid-filled cyst forms within the spinal cord.)

Oldfield’s research on cerebral vasospasm (narrowing of the brain’s blood vessels that can cause stroke) after a ruptured brain aneurysm led to clinical trials of novel agents to treat it.

Throughout his career, he received numerous honors including a Public Health Superior Service Award for “successfully managing the SNB, training academic neurosurgeons and advancing the understanding of the biology of brain tumors” and the Grass Medal for Meritorious Research in Neurological Science from the Society of Neurological Surgeons.

Oldfield also received the Farber Award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) for his brain tumor research, the Cushing Award for Technical Excellence and Innovation in Neurosurgery and AANS’s highest honor, named for the father of modern neurosurgery—the Harvey Cushing Medal—for his many years of outstanding leadership, dedication and contributions to neurosurgery.

UK’s Medical Alumni Association recognized Oldfield as “the quintessential clinical scientist” who made “remarkable contributions to the understanding of the nervous system and the practice of neurosurgery.”

Oldfield served on the editorial boards of neurosurgical journals, including co-chair of the Journal of Neurosurgery from 2001 to 2002 and associate editor from 2009. He served as vice-president and president of the Society of Neurological Surgeons. He authored more than 500 scientific and clinical articles and was co-inventor of patents on convection-enhanced drug delivery and genetic therapy.

“Ed’s contributions have advanced neuroscience and medicine in fundamental and critical ways,” said Dr. Russell Lonser, professor and chair of the department of neurological surgery at Ohio State University. “His legacy will endure through his family, the patients’ lives he improved, the important biologic discoveries he made and those fortunate enough to have trained and/or worked with him.”

Oldfield is survived by his wife Susan and his daughter Caroline. His family welcomed colleagues and trainees to their home, creating life-long friendships that extended beyond science and medicine.

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