NIDDK Director's Update Winter 2014

Commendations & Commencements


Dr. Walter Boron

Dr. Walter Boron, an NIDDK grantee for nearly 30 years, was elected to the Institute of Medicine. Boron is the Myers/Scarpa Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. He is also Secretary-General of the International Union of Physiological Sciences.

Dr. Hoi Sung Chung

Dr. Hoi Sung Chung was recruited as a tenure-track investigator in the intramural NIDDK Laboratory of Chemical Physics. Chung’s research focuses on single molecule spectroscopy and the biophysics of intrinsically disordered proteins.

Dr. Ann Dean

Dr. Ann Dean, senior investigator and section chief in the intramural NIDDK Laboratory of Cellular and Developmental Biology, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Class of 2014 for her distinguished contributions to understanding of the role of chromatin structure and epigenetic mechanisms in gene regulation, especially of the globin genes.

Dr. Eva Feldman

NIDDK grantee Dr. Eva Feldman was elected to the Institute of Medicine. Feldman is the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan Health System, where she serves as director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute and director of the Program for Neurology Research and Discovery.

Dr. Andrew Narva

Dr. Andrew Narva, director of the NIDDK National Kidney Disease Education Program, is the 2015 recipient of the Nostradamus Award from the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Kidney Foundation. The award recognizes Narva’s outstanding support of nephrology advanced practitioners.

Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers

Editor’s Note: In October, NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers was awarded the Children's National Service Award in recognition of significant contributions in the field of hematology and programs advancing underrepresented minorities in academic medicine.

Several NIDDK staff won NIH Director’s Awards.

An individual NIH Director’s Award went to:

  • Dr. Guillermo Arreaza-Rubín for his work developing and implementing a series of initiatives that have led to rapid progress toward development of an artificial pancreas.
  • Dr. Wei Yang for her ongoing research contributions, including crystallographic studies of a Y-family DNA polymerase, which have provided the first molecular insights into trans-lesion DNA synthesis.

Several other NIDDK staff were named in group awards, including:

  • Dr. Lawrence Agodoa and Dr. Paul Eggers for the United States Renal Data System Leadership Team
  • Dr. Arthur Castle for the LINCS Project Management Team
  • Joanne Gallivan for the Trans-NIH American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Interest Group
  • Dr. Ronald Margolis for the NIH Molecular Libraries Program Group, and
  • Dr. Aaron Pawlyk for the Geoscience Summit Organizing Committee.


Dr. Aaron M. Cypess

Dr. Aaron M. Cypess joined the intramural NIDDK Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity Branch as a clinical tenure-track investigator in October. Before joining NIDDK, Cypess was an assistant investigator and staff physician at Joslin Diabetes Center and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on brown and white fat as they relate to metabolism and obesity.

Dr. Cindy Roy

Dr. Cindy Roy joined NIDDK in October as a program director within the Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases. Prior to joining NIH, she served as an assistant professor of medicine in the Johns Hopkins University Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. Roy will support the NIDDK’s hematology research initiatives by supporting extramural investigators as they develop research programs and by coordinating the development of novel hematologic research questions.

A Fond Farewell

Six members of the NIDDK Advisory Council have completed their four-year term:

Dr. Domenico Accili

Dr. Domenico Accili served on the Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases Subcouncil. Accili is the Russell Berrie Foundation professor of medicine at Columbia University and director of the Columbia University Diabetes Research Center. He is the recipient of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes’s 2014 Claude Bernard Medal.

Dr. Judy Cho

Dr. Judy Cho served on the Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Subcouncil. Cho is the Ward-Coleman Professor of Translational Genetics and Gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Hospital. She also leads the NIDDK Inflammatory Bowel Disease Genetics Consortium.

Ms. Robin Nwankwo

Robin Nwankwo served on the Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases Subcouncil. Nwankwo, a diabetes educator and researcher at University of Michigan Medical School, received the Outstanding Educator in Diabetes Award from the American Diabetes Association in 2012.

Dr. Thomas Robinson

Dr. Thomas Robinson served on the Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Subcouncil. Robinson is the Irving Schulman, M.D., Endowed Professor in Child Health and professor of pediatrics and medicine at Stanford University. He is also director of the Stanford Solutions Science Lab and the Center for Healthy Weight at Stanford University and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.

Dr. William Steers

Dr. William Steers served on the Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases Subcouncil. Steers chairs the Department of Urology at the University of Virginia and is editor of the Journal of Urology. He also chaired the NIH’s Urinary Incontinence group as well as Interstitial Cystitis Clinical Trial group.

Dr. Mark Zeidel

Dr. Mark Zeidel served on the Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases Subcouncil. Zeidel is the Herman Ludwig Blumgart Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and physician-in-chief and chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is a member of American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

In Memoriam

Dr. George Ashwell

Dr. George "Gil" Ashwell, a biochemist at NIDDK whose research helped produce new ways of treating infection and disease, died in June. In the 1960s Dr. Ashwell co-discovered what is now known as the Ashwell receptor, which plays a vital role in decreasing the dangers of sepsis. Later in his career he received the Canada Gairdner International Award, was named an NIH Institute Scholar, and was elected into the National Academy of Sciences. His colleagues remember him as one of the pioneers in his field.

Dr. Albert A. Stunkard

Longtime NIDDK grantee Dr. Albert A. Stunkard died in July. Dr. Stunkard’s research yielded pivotal findings on the genetic basis of obesity, obesity treatment strategies, binge eating disorders, and night eating syndrome. As emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Dr. Stunkard was a passionate researcher who continued his work there until the age of 90. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1988, and the lifetime achievement award of the Obesity Society is named for him.

Dr. Michele Winn

Dr. Michele Winn, an NIDDK grantee and associate professor of medicine at Duke University, died in July. Dr. Winn’s research on the genetics of focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS)—including the discovery of a mutation in the TRPC6 gene causing familial FSGS—has led to significant improvements in understanding of the condition, as well as other diseases such as diabetes. Her colleagues remember her as a spectacular investigator who was an advocate for diversity in biomedical research and mentor to women and underrepresented minorities.

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