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July 27, 2018
Milestones
ODS Director Coates Retires

Dr. Paul Coates, director of ODP
Dr. Paul Coates, director of ODS

Dr. Paul Coates, director of the Office of Dietary Supplements, has retired. He came to ODS as director 19 years ago after a 20-year academic career as a human geneticist and 6 years at NIH, where he was introduced to the field of nutrition and the translation of research into policy.

Under Coates’ leadership, ODS has become known around the world as a place where the scientific investigation of dietary supplements is encouraged and supported and where trustworthy advice about these ingredients and products can be obtained.

Reflecting on his time at ODS, Coates said, “ODS has grown substantially in size, in budget and in impact over the years and it’s been a privilege to be part of that growth. I’ve had the pleasure of working with truly talented and dedicated people; I hope they have enjoyed it as much as I have.”

“Many people can retire with a sense of accomplishment and a job well-done. But far fewer can retire with the knowledge that they were pioneers in a field,” said Dr. Barry Kramer, director of the NCI Division of Cancer Prevention and former director of the Office of Disease Prevention (ODP). “Paul has been a pioneer, building the field of dietary supplement science. He has literally written the rulebooks on judging evidence in dietary supplements and has brought a large measure of order to the field.”

Coates served as acting director of ODP from December 2010 through September 2012. He also served from 1996 to 1999 as deputy director of NIDDK’s Division of Nutrition Research Coordination (DNRC). In that role, Coates helped to coordinate human nutrition research efforts, both at NIH and between NIH and other government agencies.

“Paul has been my go-to expert on many nutrition topics and on everything related to dietary supplements,” said Dr. David Murray, ODP director. “He leaves ODS acting director Dr. Joseph Betz with a full complement of federal staff and contractors, a balanced budget and a new strategic plan for the office.”

Dr. Joan McGowan, recently retired director of NIAMS’s Division of Musculoskeletal Diseases, commented, “One of the most significant leadership footprints in Paul’s tenure at ODS is in the area of vitamin D research. Paul and his staff took the leadership to identify some addressable gaps, not only in research but also in research tools like standards—working across not only NIH but other federal agencies like NIST and FDA, and internationally with a number of national health and nutrition surveys.”

Coates was co-chair of the joint DHHS/USDA steering committee overseeing plans for the National Nutrition Summit that was held in Washington in May 2000. He was also a member of the federal steering committee that oversees development of the Dietary Reference Intakes.

Prior to joining DNRC, Coates was NIDDK’s program director for the Type 2 Diabetes Research Program (1993-1996) and project officer for the multi-center clinical study called Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (1994-1996). From 1994 until his departure from NIDDK, he maintained an active role in career development and fellowship training in the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases.

Before coming to NIH, Coates was on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (1975-1993), where he was research professor in the departments of pediatrics and biochemistry/biophysics. His Ph.D. degree in human genetics was from Queen’s University in Canada (1972) and his postdoctoral training took place in the department of human genetics and biometry at University College London (1972-1974).

His major research interests for many years focused on inborn errors of human lipid metabolism.

Coates conducted some of the early studies of fatty acid oxidation disorders in infants and children. With an international team of collaborators, he was responsible for defining many of the genetic defects of human mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation. He also has studied the metabolism of intestinal and hepatic lipoproteins in people, to identify the metabolic defects in inherited hyperlipidemias. These studies have led to a new understanding of the role of environmental factors, such as diet, in the manifestation of genetic disease.

In 2011, Coates received the Conrad A. Elvehjem Award from the American Society for Nutrition for public service in nutrition. In 2013, he was made a fellow of the American Society for Nutrition and was elected to serve a 2-year term as its at-large director. He is lead editor of the Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements, now in its second edition, and associate editor of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. He has published 140 original papers in the peer-reviewed literature, along with 46 editorials, reviews and chapters and 4 books.

Dr. James Anderson, director of DPCPSI, commented, “I am grateful for Paul’s leadership and dedication to ODS. The division and NIH wish him and his wife, Vivian, the very best in their retirement.”

Franklin Retires from CSR

Sandi Franklin
Sandi Franklin

When Sandi Franklin first joined the Center for Scientific Review (then Division of Research Grants) as a messenger in 1988, paper-based communication ruled. The amount of paper-based mail, including grant applications and intra- NIH correspondence, was voluminous.

By the time she retired in May, paper-based delivery made up a smaller part of her responsibilities, but communications remained as important as ever. In different ways, she still facilitated communication between people—such as emailing the management company of Rockledge II to report maintenance issues and ensuring colleagues received their mail and packages correctly, sometimes trouble-shooting during office moves and renovations.

Filing grant applications also used to occupy a large part of her time. “It was drudgery filing all the grants,” Franklin recalled at a CSR party in her honor. “They used to say that—one day—the applications would all come in online. I really thought it would not be in my working career.” In fact, CSR started receiving applications online in 2004 and accepted its last paper application in 2014.

Throughout her career, Franklin listened to audiobooks when she delivered mail—389 in total, both fiction and nonfiction. Among the most memorable, she said, were essays by physician Oliver Sacks and Rabbi Harold Kushner and novels by Stephen King.

Franklin was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Silver Spring. She worked for a year at NOAA and for 5 years in the private sector before coming to NIH. “Every day, I would hear about sicknesses, and I felt so proud to be part of an organization that is working to heal people,” she said.

Marilyn Cuzzolina, acting deputy chief of CSR’s Division of Management Services, worked with Franklin for the past three decades and they often rode the shuttle to the NIH campus together. “Sandi was congenial, and was always asking great questions that no one else thought of,” Cuzzolina said, remembering some of her on-point concerns during office renovations.

Franklin also delivers her own messages to the larger world. In addition to reading and listening to books, she enjoys sharing her own expertise and opinions. She wrote a publication with advice on losing weight, based on her own experience losing (and keeping off) a significant amount of weight. A self-described penny-pincher, she also shares tips about saving money. She submits letters to the editor and other pieces to many publications and has had the satisfaction of seeing her name in print numerous times.

Franklin and her husband live in Rockville, with his retirement scheduled for later in 2018. They hope to travel, especially on short trips to smaller towns in the region. She admitted to still getting adjusted to retirement as a new way of life. But just as she adapted in her role as an NIH messenger as technology changed, she expects to embrace this new chapter in life.


NIDA’s Compton Receives West Award for Addiction Research

Dr. Wilson Compton

NIDA deputy director Dr. Wilson Compton recently received the James W. West M.D. Quality Improvement award at the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers awards ceremony in Denver. He was honored for dedicating the past 25 years of his life to research on addiction. The West Award was established in 2000 to recognize new, innovative and successful addiction treatment advancements, both clinical and operational, that improve the quality and quantity of addiction treatment. The award is named in honor of West, a longtime quality-improvement advocate and medical director emeritus at the Betty Ford Center.

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