NIDDK Director's Update Winter 2012

Commendations & Commencements


Robin Nwankwo

Robin Nwankwo, an NIDDK Advisory Council member and a diabetes educator and researcher at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, received the American Diabetes Association’s Outstanding Educator in Diabetes Award for her educational efforts in the field of diabetes and significant contributions to the understanding of diabetes education.

Dr. Thomas E. Starzl

Dr. Thomas E. Starzl, distinguished service professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a longtime NIDDK grantee, received the 2012 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award—shared with Dr. Roy Calne, University of Cambridge emeritus—for his work developing liver transplantation. (See the News Around NIDDK section for more.)

Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers

Editor’s note: NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Class of 2012. The AAAS is one of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies and a leading center for independent policy research. Its current membership includes more than 200 Nobel laureates and more than 100 Pulitzer Prize winners. Rodgers was inducted into AAAS on Oct. 6.


Three publications of the NIDDK’s National Kidney Disease Education Program won National Health Information Awards. La Enfermedad de Los Riñones: ¿Qué significa para me? won a silver award. High Blood Pressure and Children: What Parents Need to Know won a bronze award. Make the Kidney Connection outreach video won a merit award. As well, a publication of the NIDDK’s National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, The A1C Test and Diabetes, won a merit award.


Dr. Robert Best

Dr. Robert Best joined the NIDDK intramural Laboratory of Chemical Physics (LCP) as a tenure-track investigator, beginning in October. He was previously a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, where his research used molecular simulations to investigate protein folding and to interpret single-molecule optical tweezer and FRET experiments. He had earlier served as an LCP research fellow under Dr. William Eaton and Dr. Gerhard Hummer.

Dr. Jill P. Smith

Dr. Jill P. Smith joined the NIDDK Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition as senior scientific advisor for Clinical and Translational Research in Digestive Diseases in September. She was previously a full professor at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in gastroenterology and hepatology and also in cellular and molecular physiology. Her areas of expertise include pancreatic cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and hepatitis.

A Fond Farewell

Drs. Davies, Rodgers, and Cabib
Prior to their retirements, Dr. David Davies (left) and Dr. Enrico Cabib (right) receive congratulations from NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers at the 2012 NIDDK

Dr. David Davies, a senior investigator in the intramural Laboratory of Molecular Biology, is retiring from NIDDK after 51 years of service to the institute and 57 years of federal service. He is a pioneer in the field of structural biology. Davies’ work has enhanced understanding of disease and identified targets for therapy by uncovering the molecular details of protein and nucleic acid interactions needed for the process that cells undergo. Davies will continue his research as an NIDDK scientist emeritus. (Editor’s note: Learn more about Dr. Davies in the Summer 2012 issue of the NIDDK Director’s Update.)

Dr. Enrico Cabib, a senior investigator in the intramural Laboratory of Biochemistry and Genetics, is retiring from NIDDK after 45 years of service to the institute and several more years at other research posts. He is widely known for his work on the yeast cell wall, work which helps in developing drugs for patients with suppressed immune systems. Cabib will be nominated for NIDDK scientist emeritus. (Editor’s note: Learn more about Dr. Cabib in the News Around NIDDK section of this issue.)

Four members of the NIDDK Advisory Council have completed their four-year service:
LaVarne Burton

LaVarne Burton served on the NIDDK Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases Subcouncil. Burton is president and chief executive officer of the American Kidney Fund, which educates patients and the public about the impact and importance of kidney disease.

Dr. Robert Flanigan

Dr. Robert Flanigan served on the NIDDK Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases Subcouncil. He serves as the department chairperson and a professor of urology at Loyola University and is a practicing physician active in multiple community health education and outreach activities.

Dr. John Sedor

Dr. John Sedor served on the NIDDK Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases Subcouncil. He is a professor of medicine and physiology at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and serves as the vice president for research on the MetroHealth System Campus at CWRU. He also serves as an advisor to a number of large NIDDK studies, including the Diabetic Complications Consortium and the Family Investigation of Nephropathy of Diabetes Consortium.

Dr. Christopher Glass

Dr. Christopher Glass served on the NIDDK Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases Subcouncil. He is a professor in the Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and his research investigates transcriptional mechanisms that regulate the development and function of the macrophage, a cell that plays key roles in immunity and inflammatory diseases.

In Memoriam

NIDDK grantee Dr. John Stokes died. He had held several roles at the University of Iowa Health Care, including professor, executive vice-chair for the Department of Internal Medicine, and director of the Division of Nephrology. Dr. Stokes also led in coordinating many seminal NIH-sponsored clinical trials in nephrology, including the Hemodialysis trial, the acute renal failure trial, the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study and the Frequent Hemodialysis Clinical Trials.

Dr. Yuan-Who (Richard) Chen

Dr. Yuan-Who (Richard) Chen died on October 1, 2012. He joined the biostatistics group in the NIDDK Office of the Director in April 2009. Prior to joining NIDDK, Dr. Chen received his doctorate in biometry from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center and worked at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for eight years. At NIDDK he provided biostatistical support to both the extramural and intramural programs and worked on several publications with intramural investigators. He has been described as a valued colleague, a wonderful collaborator, helpful, warm, and considerate.

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