December 23, 2008
A Note from the Director
Greetings! As 2008 comes to a close and we look forward to the beginning of another productive year, I bring you some recent milestones and achievements from around NIDDK and across NIH.
This has been a year of change, including the departure of Dr. Elias Zerhouni, who ended his six-year tenure as NIH Director in October, and the pending retirement of NIDDK's Communications Director, Ms. Elizabeth Singer, January 2, 2009.
NIDDK staff and grantees continued their outstanding work in 2008, as evidenced by the number of prestigious awards and honors recognizing their achievements.
But along with these accomplishments, we also had our share of sad news. The research community lost three of its best and brightest, with the passing of Dr. Joseph “Ed” Rall, Dr. Jacob “Jack” Robbins, and Dr. John Daly. Together, these three scientific giants had more than 150 years of service at NIH and NIDDK. Their research established standards of excellence that we will continue to strive for in our work here.
These are just a few news items included in this Update. Thank you for allowing me to share with you some of the highlights from this past year. I look forward to working with all of you in 2009 as we continue to pursue the most compelling research to combat the many debilitating and costly chronic diseases facing the nation.
Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Raynard Kington Named NIH Acting Director
NIH's Principal Deputy Director, Raynard Kington, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., was named Acting Director of NIH following the departure of Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., who left NIH on October 31 to pursue writing projects and other professional opportunities. Dr. Kington had served as NIH's Deputy Director since February 9, 2003. Prior to that, he had been Associate Director of NIH for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research since September 2000.
Dr. Zerhouni, a physician-scientist and world-renowned leader in radiology research, had served as NIH director since May 2002. One of the hallmarks of his tenure is the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research , launched in 2003. As part of the Roadmap, Dr. Zerhouni launched the Director's Pioneer Awards and New Innovator Awards and other programs to encourage high-risk innovative research. During his tenure, Zerhouni worked to lower barriers between disciplines of science and to encourage trans-NIH collaborations such as the NIH Strategic Plan for Obesity Research and the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research .
NIH News Release: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2008/od-24.htm
NIH Record Story: http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2008/11_14_2008/story1.htm
NIDDK's Communications Director Retires
Elizabeth “Betsy” Singer, director of NIDDK's Office of Communications and Public Liaison, will retire on January 2 after 40 years of public service. This will be a great loss for the Institute, which has benefited from Betsy's careful and professional approach to media relations and public outreach. During her 28 years at NIDDK, Betsy has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving public health by directing the establishment of new education programs for diabetes and kidney disease and new awareness campaigns and information clearinghouses. I want to thank Betsy for her attention to detail and "can do" approach to promoting our important research and health messages to the news media and the public. We will miss her.
A search committee has been formed to help us find a new communications director; Mary Harris will serve as acting director in the interim.
NIDDK Grantee O'Malley Receives National Medal of Science
Dr. Bert O'Malley, a long-time grantee of NIDDK and NICHD and a former employee of NIH's National Cancer Institute, has won a National Medal of Science for outstanding contributions to the biological sciences. The award recognizes O'Malley's “pioneering work on the molecular mechanisms of steroid hormone action and hormone receptors and coactivators, which has had a profound impact on our knowledge of steroid hormones in normal development and in diseases, including cancer.”
Dr. O'Malley, chair of the Baylor College of Medicine's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, is the first scientist in the field of molecular endocrinology to receive the medal, considered the highest national honor in biological sciences.
Please join me in congratulating Dr. O'Malley on this tremendous and richly deserved honor recognizing his significant contributions to basic research.
NIH Record Story: http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2008/10_31_2008/story3.htm
NIDDK's Londos Honored by FASEB and Obesity Society
Dr. Constantine Londos, chief of the Membrane Regulation Section of NIDDK's Laboratory of Cellular and Developmental Biology, was recently honored at the premiere Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology summer research conference on “Lipid Droplets: Metabolic Consequences of the Storage of Neutral Lipids.” Dr. Londos was presented with a plaque recognizing his outstanding contributions to research on lipid droplet biology and for the discovery of perilipins in 1990.
As well, for his many contributions to adipocyte research, Dr. Londos received the Obesity Society's Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. Eric Ravussin October 4 at the Society's annual meeting in Phoenix .
These honors are well-deserved and I congratulate Dr. Londos on his exceptional achievements.
NIH Record Story: http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2007/11_02_2007/milestones.htm
NIH Record Story: http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2008/12_12_2008/milestones.htm
NIDDK's Gallivan Honored by Dietetic Association
Joanne Gallivan, director of NIH's National Diabetes Education Program , has been named the sole recipient of the 2008 Excellence in Practice Award in Community Dietetics from the American Dietetic Association. The award is one of the highest given by the 65,000-member organization and recognizes Ms. Gallivan for demonstrating innovation, creativity, leadership and significant contributions to the advancement of practice and leadership in nutrition-related organizations. Ms. Gallivan is a registered dietitian and member of NIDDK's Office of Communications and Public Liaison.
I want to congratulate Ms.Gallivan on this outstanding achievement.
NIH Record Story: http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2008/08_08_2008/milestones.htm
NIDDK Staff Receive NIH Director's Awards
In recognition of the exemplary work done by NIDDK staff, I am pleased to report that 29 of our staff received NIH Director's Awards in 2008. The awards recognize employees who exhibited superior performance or special efforts significantly beyond their regular duty requirements, but directly related to fulfilling NIH's mission. NIDDK award recipients are:
I want to emphasize how very proud I am, certainly of the awardees, but also of our staff overall. I believe these awards are a reflection of the quality of our staff as a whole.
In Memoriam: Celebrating the Life and Science of Ed Rall and Jack Robbins
I look forward to welcoming investigators from around the world and the families of Joseph “Ed” Rall and Jacob “Jack” Robbins at NIH February
13, 2009, to pay tribute to the legacy of these two men who created one of the most extraordinary endocrinology research groups in the world
and furthered the careers of so many for more than half a century. The scientific symposium,
Celebrating the Life and Science of Ed Rall and Jack Robbins ,” honors the distinguished and prolific careers and personal contributions
of Drs. Rall and Robbins, both of whom died earlier this year. Long-time colleagues and close friends, they developed now-standard methods for
preventing and treating radiation-related problems, applied to the near-meltdown at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. They also are widely admired
for recruiting, encouraging and nurturing a cadre of brilliant young investigators and clinical associates. Few scientists have had as
profound an impact as Drs. Rall and Robbins. I hope you will join us as we celebrate these two great scientists, mentors and friends.
NIH Record Obituary for Ed Rall: http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2008/03_21_2008/milestones.htm
NIH Record Obituary for Jack Robbins: http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2008/09_05_2008/milestones.htm
In Memoriam: Tribute to John William Daly: A Life Dedicated to Chemistry in Nature
You couldn't work at NIH and not be aware of the extraordinary research Dr. John Daly conducted in the basement of building 8 -- and in the rain forests of Central and South America, Australia and Madagascar. On June 12 colleagues of the late John Daly gathered at NIH to celebrate his 50-year career as a world renowned leader in chemical ecology, biological chemistry and pharmacology; a leading authority on amphibian alkaloids; and an expert in many areas of natural products. The 26 classes of alkaloids he discovered have had a major impact on knowledge of how the nervous system functions and how drugs interact with the nervous system.
NIH Record Obituary: http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2008/05_30_2008/story5.htm
NIDDK Helps Launch New Diabetes and Science Education Curriculum for Native American Schools
It was my pleasure to recently join with representatives from eight tribal colleges and universities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Indian Health Service to launch a new curriculum designed to increase the understanding of science, health, and diabetes among American Indian and Alaska Native students. “ Health is Life in Balance ,” a curriculum developed through the Diabetes-based Science Education in Tribal Schools (DETS) program, integrates science and Native American traditions to educate students about science, diabetes and its risk factors, and the importance of nutrition and physical activity in maintaining health and balance in life. Dr. Lawrence Agodoa, director of NIDDK's Office of Minority Health Research Coordination, and Dr. Sanford Garfield, director of the Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools at NIDDK, worked tirelessly on this very important project and I thank them for their efforts.
NIH News Release: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/nov2008/niddk-12.htm
Recently, I have had the pleasure of attending several conferences, including the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease annual meeting in San Francisco, the American Society of Nephrology annual meeting in Philadelphia, and the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in San Francisco. It was a great opportunity to meet with representatives of each group and I look forward to our future work with them.
We also continued to spread our health awareness and prevention messages throughout the country. During National Diabetes Awareness Month in November, I discussed the National Diabetes Education Program's Small Steps. Big Rewards. Prevent Type 2 Diabetes campaign during a radio media tour that aired on more than 2,760 stations across the country. I also had the opportunity this Fall to discuss the National Kidney Disease Education Program's Family Reunion Initiative during radio interviews with local stations in Los Angeles and Baltimore .
People on the Move in NIDDK's Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases (KUH)
Dr. Rebekah Rasooly has traded her post as the division's deputy director for an expanded research portfolio as a program officer. In addition, she will be devoting more time to NIH- and NIDDK-wide initiatives. Dr. Rasooly made many outstanding contributions as KUH Deputy Director and we are pleased that she will continue to use her skills and enthusiasm to benefit NIDDK and NIH programs.
Dr. Chris Ketchum has been named Deputy Director for Basic Research and Dr. Marva Moxey-Mims has become Deputy Director for Clinical Research. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Ketchum and Dr. Moxey-Mims.
Dr. Laura Moen has accepted a position at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). During her 3-years with the KUH Division, Dr. Moen directed the Renal and Urology Training Program. She also was an active member of Trans-NIH working groups and committees.
Dr. Tracy Rankin is the new director for training and career development program director for basic research grants related to polycystic kidney disease. Dr. Rankin received her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Virginia and her Ph.D. in cell biology from Vanderbilt University. Her research background includes epididymal sperm maturation, spermatogenesis, fertilization, and the structure and function of the mammalian zona pellucida.
Enhanced Peer Review and Amended Application Updates
After an extensive, year-long review, NIH will begin implementing changes to enhance its peer review system, with the first set of key changes beginning in 2009. Over the coming year, applications submitted for January 2010 receipt dates will be limited to 12 pages. NIH also will be implementing a new policy allowing only ONE amendment for new and competing renewal applications submitted beginning with the January 25, 2009, due date. Also beginning in 2009, NIH will increase flexibility of reviewers' tour of duty and will consider using high-bandwidth support for review meetings as an alternative for in-person meetings. More information on policies and implementation timelines is available through NIH Web sites listed below.
NIH News Release: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2008/od-30a.htm
New NIH Policy on Resubmission: http://enhancing-peer-review.nih.gov/resubmission.html
NIH Operating Under Continuing Resolution
On September 30, 2008, President Bush signed into law a Continuing Resolution (HR 2638) funding operations of nine government agencies—including the Department of Health and Human Services—through March 6, 2009. The law also provides full-year FY 2009 appropriations for the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Military Construction-VA. The law will allow NIH to operate through March 6 at the FY 2008 funding rate, not including supplemental funds provided to the NIH in FY 2008.
Congressional leaders are working to reach agreement and finalize the nine outstanding FY 2009 spending bills. There is speculation that the House and Senate will consider an omnibus appropriations bill in January that would include funding for all nine agencies and that would be acceptable to President-elect Obama. Signing the bill into law would complete the FY 2009 appropriations process as one of Mr. Obama's first acts as President.
Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) News
As many of you may know, NIH will launch a new computer-based tool designed to provide information about NIH's research activities. The RCDC system will produce a list of all NIH-funded projects related to more than 200 categories, including research areas, diseases, and conditions. The first report from the new system will be on the RCDC website in early 2009 for projects funded in FY 2008. In anticipation of the RCDC launch, NIH is hosting open-houses on the NIH campus. More information is available on the Web sites listed below.
Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) Website: http://rcdc.nih.gov/index.aspx
RCDC Open-House Meetings : http://rcdc.nih.gov/RCDC_OHM/Default.aspx
2008 NIH Director's Pioneer Award and New Innovator Awards Announced
NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni announced winners of the 2008 NIH Director's Pioneer Award and New Innovator Awards on Sept. 22, 2008. This year, 16 scientists—the largest cohort ever—won Pioneer awards. Another 31 scientists won New Innovator Awards, for a total of 47 honorees and an NIH funding commitment of some $138 million over 5 years.
NIH News Release: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2008/od-22.htm
NIH Record Story: http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2008/10_17_2008/story1.htm
2009 NIH Director's Pioneer Award and New Innovator Award Information
Pioneer Award: http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/pioneer/
New Innovator Award: http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/newinnovator/
NIDDK Advisory Council Member Merchant Appointed to NIH Council of Councils and Gives NIH WALS Lecture
NIDDK Advisory Council Member Juanita Merchant, M.D., Ph.D, has been appointed to the NIH Council of Councils, which advises the NIH Director on policies and activities of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI). The Council of Councils also advises the IC Directors during the “concept approval” stage of the NIH Roadmap initiative review process.
On June 11, 2008, Dr. Merchant also presented “The Role of Sonic Hedgehog in Gastric Homeostasis and Cancer” for the NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series. Known internationally for studies of transcriptional control mechanisms in the gastrointestinal tract, Dr. Merchant has made paradigm-shifting contributions to understanding chronic inflammation in the stomach. Dr. Merchant is professor of internal medicine and of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Michigan, and she is active in NIDDK's Network of Minority Research Investigators, which encourages underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities to conduct biomedical research.
NIH News Release : http://www.nih.gov/news/health/mar2008/od-24.htm
NIH Record Story: http://nihrecord.od.nih.gov/newsletters/2008/05_30_2008/story4.htm
NIH Held Summit on the Science of Eliminating Health Disparities
The National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities hosted The Science of Eliminating Health Disparities from Dec. 16 to 18, 2008, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. For more information, visit www.ncmhd.nih.gov.
Council of Public Representatives Meets
The NIH Director's Council of Public Representatives met October 31, 2008, to advise the NIH Director on public participation in NIH activities, outreach efforts, and other matters of public interest. I am especially grateful to COPR member Nicole Johnson, whose term ends this year, for her work promoting NIH and diabetes awareness, prevention, and early detection.
Council of Public Representatives: http://copr.nih.gov/
Funding Opportunities: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/Funding/FundingOpportunities/
Grants and Contract Notices: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/Funding/FundingOpportunities/Notices
Upcoming Meetings and Workshops: http://www3.niddk.nih.gov/fund/other/conferences.shtml
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