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January 12, 2018
Taffet Retires After 48+ Years in Government

Richard “Richie” Taffet
Richard “Richie” Taffet


Richard “Richie” Taffet retired on Dec. 31 after nearly 49 years of federal service. He capped his career as the Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-12 program manager, responsible for the implementation of background checks, smart card badge issuance and two-factor logical access to networks across NIH. Through his leadership, NIH was the only agency within HHS to achieve its goal of issuing an HSPD-12 badge to all of its 34,000 employees, contractors and affiliates by the June 30, 2010, deadline.

Taffet joined the Public Health Service as an ensign on July 1, 1969, following graduation from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. His first assignment was as a pharmacy resident at the Baltimore Cancer Research Center, then part of NCI. He worked with investigational drugs for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, a form of brain tumor, in children.

In 1970, he was transferred to Detroit’s PHS Outpatient Clinic, where he served as an administrative officer, chief pharmacist and eventually as clinic director. His next assignment in 1976 was to Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health, where he earned his M.P.H. degree.

In 1977, he was transferred to the Cleveland PHS Outpatient Clinic, where he ran the operation and built a new free-standing outpatient treatment wing. In 1981, he was transferred to Commissioned Corps headquarters in Rockville. There, he rose to the position of deputy director. He retired from the PHS on Feb. 1, 2000, after more than 30 years as a captain.

Taffet immediately joined NCI’s Human Resources Management and Consulting Branch. Later, as the human resources offices at NIH combined, he became the branch chief servicing NCI. He later became the client services director in the Office of Human Resources.

Throughout his career, both at PHS and NIH, Taffet has been a dedicated public servant. One of his major accomplishments as HSPD-12 manager was his argument for and successful achievement of local badge printing and issuance for NIH employees, contractors and affiliates. This contribution saves each badged member of the NIH community weeks of waiting for the Personnel Support Center to print and mail badges to individuals any time there is a renewal or initial badge issuance.

Taffet played a key role in safeguarding NIH and its workforce. One of his mottos was, “It’s my job to worry.”

Bill Cullen, NIH chief security officer, said, “Those of us who work with Richie, along with his many friends and colleagues, will certainly miss his loquacious wit and dry sense of humor. All of us wish him and his wife Sue fair winds and following seas.”

Nursing Academy Honors NINR’s Gill

Dr. Jessica Gill

Dr. Jessica Gill, Lasker clinical research scholar and chief of the brain injury unit in NINR’s Division of Intramural Research, has been selected as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She was among the 173 nurse leaders honored during AAN’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C. AAN fellows are nurse leaders who have made significant contributions to nursing and health care. Gill’s research interest is in brain injuries among military personnel, athletes and civilians. More information on her research is available at

APAO Presents Annual Awards

keynote speaker Dr. Janice Lee (3rd from l) gathers with APAO officers (from l) Laura Wong, Dr. Shioko Kimura, Jimmy Do, Ihsia Hu, Lucie Chen and Dr. Mary Zhang Lee discusses her research.
Above, keynote speaker Dr. Janice Lee (3rd from l) gathers with APAO officers (from l) Laura Wong, Dr. Shioko Kimura, Jimmy Do, Ihsia Hu, Lucie Chen and Dr. Mary Zhang. At right, Lee discusses her research.


More than 70 people attended the annual awards ceremony held by the Asian and Pacific Islander American Organization on Dec. 6 in Wilson Hall. Keynote speaker Dr. Janice Lee, clinical director of NIDCR’s Division of Intramural Research, spoke on improved diagnoses through the newest imaging technologies.

2017 APAO awardees are (from l) Dr. Sudhir Srivastava, Dr. Haobin Chen, Dr. Hien Dang, Dr. Mitchell Ho and Sara Kaul.
2017 APAO awardees are (from l) Dr. Sudhir Srivastava, Dr. Haobin Chen, Dr. Hien Dang, Dr. Mitchell Ho and Sara Kaul.

In her talk, “Precision Medicine and Personalized Surgery: The Impact on Craniofacial Development,” she described her career path and how awareness of cultural differences in patient populations can enrich physician-patient dynamics.

This year’s APAO honorees include: Dr. Mitchell Ho (NCI) for scientific achievement; Dr. Sudhir Srivastava (NCI) for leadership excellence; and Sara Kaul (NIAID), who received the KT Jeang Distinguished Service Award. APAO also encourages scientists in their early career stages. Two individuals shared the Young Investigator Award—Dr. Haobin Chen (NCI) and Dr. Hien Dang (NCI).

NIDA’s Rice Named NAI Fellow

Dr. Kenner Rice

Dr. Kenner Rice of the National Institute on Drug Abuse was recently named a 2017 fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the highest professional accolade bestowed to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and welfare of society. The 2017 fellows are named inventors on nearly 6,000 issued U.S. patents. Rice, chief of the drug design and synthesis section, Molecular Targets and Medications Discovery Branch, will be recognized in a January issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education and will be inducted on Apr. 5 at the NAI 7th annual conference to be held in Washington, D.C. He becomes the fourth NAI fellow from NIH.

NINDS Alumnus Spector Mourned

Dr. Novera Herbert Spector, who had retired from the Division of Fundamental Neurosciences, NINDS (1978-1995), died on Nov. 15 in Carlsbad, Calif.

Throughout his life, Dr. Novera Herbert Spector enjoyed travel and sampling local foods.
Throughout his life, Dr. Novera Herbert Spector enjoyed travel and sampling local foods.

He was born on Aug. 23, 1919, in Cincinnati and graduated in 1941 with a biology major from the City College of New York. After working as a machinist, union activist, contractor and scientific instruments salesman, he returned to graduate school to get his Ph.D. in physiology (1967) at the University of Pennsylvania.

His professional appointments included the Medical College of Virginia (1966-1969), University of Lyon (1969-1971), Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (1971-1976), National Science Foundation (1976-1978) and NIH (1978-1995). During his NIH tenure, he remained active in research and graduate teaching with temporary and adjunct appointments at several institutions in the United States and Europe. He maintained his professional contacts and continued writing after his retirement and move to Southern California. A lifelong fencer (U.S. Fencing Hall of Fame and CCNY Athletic Hall of Fame), he started fencing clubs wherever he found himself, including at NIH.

His graduate and early professional research focused on the roles of the central nervous system (especially the hypothalamus) in control loops affecting temperature and body mass regulation and in drug addiction. Starting in the mid-1970s, his research increasingly dealt with the influences of the nervous system on the immune system. He is credited with coining the word “neuroimmunomodulation,” and participated in founding the International Society for Neuroimmunomodulation. He used his NIH position to encourage this then-nascent field of nervous system-immune interactions, for which he received the NIH Director’s Award in 1990.

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