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June 29, 2018
NCATS Deputy Director McInnes Retires After 29 Years

NCATS director Dr. Christopher Austin presents Dr. Pamela McInnes with a commemorative plaque in recognition of her leadership on the NCATS Advisory Council and Cures Acceleration Network review board at a meeting May 10.
NCATS director Dr. Christopher Austin presents Dr. Pamela McInnes with a commemorative plaque in recognition of her leadership on the NCATS Advisory Council and Cures Acceleration Network review board at a meeting May 10.


Dr. Pamela McInnes, deputy director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, retired May 31 after 29 years of federal service. For the past 4 years, she helped shape and build the new center from the ground up, working with staff, key stakeholders and the broader research community to strengthen NCATS’ role as a leader in clinical and translational science.

McInnes’ expertise in clinical and translational research, extramural research management, trans-NIH collaborations and public-private partnerships served NCATS well, helping the center overcome many challenges.

“Pamela has been my partner, confidante and advisor in building NCATS for the past 4 years,” said NCATS director Dr. Christopher Austin. “It is simply impossible to quantify all the ways that she has contributed to NCATS’ development. I can’t thank her enough and I wish her all the best in her well-deserved retirement.”

Before joining NCATS in 2014, McInnes served as director of the Division of Extramural Research at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. There, she was responsible for the institute’s extramural research activities, which range from basic through clinical studies, including large and complex clinical and population-based trials.

Prior to her time at NIDCR, McInnes spent 16 years at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where she served in many capacities, including as deputy director for the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. In addition, she led the reorganization and oversight of NIAID’s Division of Clinical Research as well as the scientific McGowandesign and implementation of a Challenge Grant Program promoting joint ventures among NIH and biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

The author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and books, McInnes first joined NIH in 1989 as a grants associate in the Office of Extramural Programs in the Office of the Director. Before coming to NIH, she served in academic roles at Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans. McInnes earned her D.D.S. and M.Sc. from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

NCATS is conducting a national search for a replacement. In the interim, Dr. Danilo Tagle will serve as acting deputy director.

NIAMS Division Director McGowan Says So Long

Dr. Joan McGowan
Dr. Joan McGowan

Dr. Joan McGowan, director of the NIAMS Division of Musculoskeletal Diseases, has retired. In her 30-year career at NIAMS, McGowan led a program of research on basic muscle and skeletal biology; orthopaedics, osteoarthritis, bioengineering, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine; muscle physiology and muscle diseases; and osteoporosis and related bone diseases.

“Joan played a pivotal role during my tenure as director and initiated and innovated a great number of cross-cutting federal research programs as well as programs critical to the institute,” said NIAMS director Dr. Stephen Katz. “Her career at the NIH has been truly exemplary, with a broad and sustained impact on public health matters and on NIH programs.”

McGowan served as a project officer and an osteoporosis consultant for the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term NIH-supported study that began in 1991 and focused on strategies for preventing heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. She was the NIH organizer of a Consensus Development Conference on Optimal Calcium Intake in 1994, and one on osteoporosis in 2000.

She co-chaired the federal working group on bone diseases whose members represent federal agencies with activities in osteoporosis and related bone diseases. “Joan was the face of bone research at the NIH for many years,” said NICHD’s Dr. Karen Winer. “She brought much candor, wisdom and intelligence to her work and appreciated the profound impact of decisions made on the lives of investigators and the many people who depend on their funded projects.”

McGowan was the senior scientific editor of Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General, published in 2004. The following year, during a visit to campus by Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, she briefed them on key messages in the report.

McGowan’s oversight of musculoskeletal research extended into space when NIH and NASA entered into a 2007 agreement to support research aboard the International Space Station. The initiative, BioMed-ISS, encouraged scientists to use the ISS to answer questions about human health
and diseases.

Dr. Joan McGowan
McGowan (r) briefs surgeon general Dr. Richard Carmona (l), the Duchess of Cornwall (second from l) and Prince Charles (third from l) during a 2005 royal visit to NIH.

McGowan’s division played a leading role in the 2015 Common Fund’s Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity program (MoTrPAC). An expert roundtable discussion organized from within her division came up with the idea; it came to fruition through NIH-wide organization and leadership. MoTrPAC’s co-coordinator, Dr. Maren Laughlin of NIDDK, said, “Joan should be celebrated for scientific leadership and foresight. She was a hands-on leader of the study throughout the NIH design and consortium planning stages, bringing passion for the science to the table in addition to deep NIH organizational and policy experience.”

Before joining NIH, McGowan was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She received her master’s degree in nutritional science from Cornell University and her doctorate in biomedical science from Brown University. She graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

In reflecting on her retirement, McGowan remarked, “As gardeners know, it is difficult to prune. I have to cut off some really important and very fulfilling parts of my working life. But I need this to make room for new growth and development. I am not going to turn into a gardener, but more time enjoying nature and time with my family will be welcome!”

Wentzensen Receives ASCCP Award

Dr. Nicolas Wentzensen

Dr. Nicolas Wentzensen, senior investigator and deputy chief, Clinical Genetics Branch, NCI, recently received the Distinguished Scientific Award from the ASCCP (formerly known as the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, now the Society of Lower Genital Tract Disorders). He received the society’s highest honor for his role in leading the Colposcopy Standards project. Colposcopy is a cervical cancer prevention technique in which the cervix is inspected for signs of cancer or precancer. The project is expected to have immediate and lasting benefits for the millions of women in the United States and around the world who undergo cervical cancer screening.

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