NIDDK Director's Update Summer 2015

Commendations & Commencements


A team of investigators and program staff from the NIDDK-funded Randomized Intervention for Children with Vesicoureteral Reflux trial, or RIVUR, were recipients of the Clinical Research Forum’s 2015 Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Award for its findings “Antimicrobial prophylaxis for children with vesicoureteral reflux” and their role in standardizing pediatric antibiotic use. Recipients of the award are RIVUR trial investigators including Dr. Alejandro Hoberman of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Dr. Saul P. Greenfield of Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo, Dr. Tej K. Mattoo of Wayne State University School of Medicine, Dr. Ron Keren of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Ranjiv Mathews of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Hans G. Pohl of the Children's National Medical Center, Dr. Bradley P. Kropp of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Dr. Steven J. Skoog of Oregon Health and Science University, Dr. Caleb P. Nelson of Boston Children's Hospital, Dr. Marva Moxey-Mims of NIDDK, Dr. Russell W. Chesney of Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and Dr. Myra A. Carpenter of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Editor’s Notes: An interview with Moxey-Mims is featured in this issue. A memoriam to Dr. Chesney is also in this issue.

Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers

Editor’s Note: NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers was honored as a finalist in the 2015 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals—often called the “Sammies.” This prestigious award is presented annually by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service to celebrate excellence in the federal civil service. Awards will be announced this fall, including federal employee of the year.

Dr. Wei Yang

Dr. Wei Yang, senior investigator in the intramural NIDDK Laboratory of Molecular Biology, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Founded in 1780, the Academy is one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. Current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners. Editor’s Note: Learn more about Yang in this NIDDK Director’s Update article.


Dr. Astrid D. Haase

Dr. Astrid D. Haase joined the intramural NIDDK Laboratory of Cell and Molecular Biology as an Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator in March 2015. Before joining NIDDK, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. Haase’s research focuses on small non-coding RNAs and their function in genome surveillance.

Photo of new NIDDK Advisory Council members standing with NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers
Six members recently joined the NIDDK Advisory Council. New members—from left, Dr. Mark Donowitz, Dr. Lee Kaplan, Dr. Alan Saltiel, Pamela Taylor,Dr. Joseph Bonventre and Dr. Craig Peters—stand with NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers.

Dr. Mark Donowitz joined the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition subcouncil. He is a professor of medicine, the LeBoff Professor for Research in Digestive Diseases, and Director of Basic Research within the GI Division of the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Donowitz is a leader in the field of gastroenterological research, specializing in diarrheal diseases. An NIDDK grantee, he is also past president of the American Gastroenterological Association.

Dr. Lee Kaplan joined the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition subcouncil. He is director of the Obesity, Metabolism & Nutrition Institute, founding director of the Weight Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Kaplan’s clinical expertise is in obesity medicine, gastroenterology and liver disease. His group has pioneered the development and use of rodent models of weight loss surgery and gastrointestinal devices to explore physiological and molecular mechanisms of gastrointestinal regulation of body weight and metabolic function.

Dr. Alan Saltiel joined the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases subcouncil. He is the Mary Sue Coleman Director of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan and the John Jacob Abel Collegiate Professor in the Life Sciences and Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the Life Sciences Institute. Saltiel has extensive experience in both industry and academia. He has an international reputation as an expert on the hormone insulin and its role in diabetes and cellular signaling.

Ms. Pamela Taylor joined the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases subcouncil as a public member. She has participated in the Diabetes Prevention Program and its Outcomes Study since 1997 and has become an advocate for diabetes research and education. She is a communications consultant, with additional expertise in education, policy analysis and marketing. Editor’s Note: Taylor was featured in an NIDDK Director’s Update article about the 20th anniversary of the DPP.

Dr. Joseph Bonventre joined the Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases subcouncil. He is the Samuel A. Levine Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Renal Unit and Director of the Bioengineering Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. A longtime NIDDK grantee, Bonventre’s research focuses on cellular injury and repair mechanisms in the kidney. Among many achievements, he was the first to describe the role of proximal tubule cell cycle arrest in the maladaptive fibrosis that can occur after severe injury leading to chronic kidney disease.

Dr. Craig Peters joined the Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases subcouncil. He is chief of the Division of Surgical Innovation, Technology, and Translation in the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care at the Children’s National Medical Center. Peters is also a principal investigator at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation and professor of Urology and Pediatrics at George Washington University. Peters has extensive experience with treatment of pediatric urologic problems, including developing minimally invasive surgical techniques. He has conducted NIH-funded research in urinary obstruction, vesicoureteral reflux and bladder dysfunction.

In Memoriam

Photo of Dr. Russell Chesney

Dr. Russell Chesney, a longtime chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and a pediatric nephrologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, died in April. Dr. Chesney chaired the steering committee of the NIDDK-funded Randomized Intervention for Children with Vesicoureteral Reflux (RIVUR) trial and was a leader of the Pediatric Pharmacology Research Unit, funded by the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Schriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, among many other research endeavors. He also served as president of the American Pediatric Society and chairman of the American Board of Pediatrics. Dr. Chesney was a committed physician to children and mentor to trainees and colleagues alike.

Photo of Dr. William Steers

Urologist Dr. William Steers died in April. He served on NIDDK’s Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases Subcouncil and chaired the NIH’s Urinary Incontinence group, as well as Interstitial Cystitis Clinical Trial group. Among his other professional accomplishments, Dr. Steers was editor of the Journal of Urology, chaired the Department of Urology at the University of Virginia, and served on the FDA’s Reproductive Medicine Advisory Panel. An accomplished urologic surgeon, Steers and a colleague were the first to describe the central role of nerve growth factor in modulating lower urinary tract dysfunction secondary to bladder outlet obstruction. This knowledge has increased understanding of other disorders such as overactive bladder and urgency urinary incontinence.

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