NIDDK Director's Update Fall 2020

Director's Note

Dr. Rodgers and Herbert Tabor - Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers presenting Dr. Herbert Tabor with an award
NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers presenting Dr. Herbert Tabor with recognition for 70 years of federal service. Credit: Bill Branson

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and distressing events highlighting racial injustice in our country, August 15 marked 70 years since NIDDK was founded. Taking the time to observe this milestone by looking back at our many scientific advances and working together to achieve them gives me considerable hope during these difficult times.

In this issue you can read about our NIDDK history, including crucial scientific advances that improved public health over the last 70 years. Several distinguished NIDDK staff recorded their oral histories, recounting and reliving important events in their careers so far. NIDDK investigator Dr. Alan Schechter, formerly the NIH historian, also discusses what NIDDK was like in 1965 in the Getting to Know feature.

We celebrate the life of a colleague, Dr. Herbert Tabor, who died in August. Herb was our longest-serving employee, with more than 75 years of federal public service at NIH. His death is a great loss for the NIH and broader scientific community and his legacy will live on forever.

A common thread throughout our history is that the institute has risen to challenges. During the COVID-19 pandemic, NIDDK has quickly changed how we conduct business and research to keep staff and colleagues safe. Acknowledging many of these changes and safety concerns, I recorded a video to the extramural community on recovery planning for re-starting research.

This issue also highlights how NIDDK is bringing scientific expertise to the fight against COVID-19. From conducting research, to serving on the frontlines in our communities, to a new funding opportunity, NIDDK is involved to learn why and how the chronic conditions we are responsible for make people more susceptible to severe COVID-19 disease.

We’re also at work getting health information out to people where they are. Dr.Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joins me on Healthy Moments this month for a four-part series on COVID-19, and NIDDK nutrition scientist Dr. Holly Nicastro shared tips in a livestream video on how to transform some of the challenges we’re facing into opportunities for healthy eating at home.

As well, COVID-19 hasn’t stopped our efforts to advance our mission. Our Research Updates section is full of new advances. We’ve issued new training modules on chronic kidney disease for health care professionals, and NIDDK fellows shared their research during our first fellows’ abstract competition.

As researchers, we have the mission of deepening the knowledge needed to tackle the world’s most pressing and persistent challenges. During the COVID-19 pandemic, science is our best way forward - and we are moving quickly. Dedicated, smart minds are working on addressing the disease and I’m optimistic that, together, we will transform our troubles into an opportunity for a healthier future.

In good health,

Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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