NIDDK Director's Update Winter 2021

Director's Note

Drs. Phillip Gordon, Griffin P. Rodgers, and Francis Collins stand together Drs. Philip Gordon, Griffin P. Rodgers, and Francis Collins stand together after a 2018 event.

As the year’s end approaches, many people consider their goals and progress of the last 12 months– what they accomplished and what goals to work on in the new year. As an Institute, we too reflect upon our year’s challenges, successes, and new opportunities.

In this issue of the NIDDK Director’s Update, we reflect on and celebrate the remarkable career of NIDDK Director Emeritus and Senior Investigator Dr. Phillip Gorden, who returned to bench and bedside after his tenure as director. Now, after 55 years of federal service, Dr. Gorden will retire. He has left an indelible mark on NIDDK, NIH, and the field of clinical research.

We also get to know NIDDK’s Dr. Afshin Parsa, a nephrologist, who, on the side, challenges his troubleshooting skills with an interesting hobby. A study from Dr. Parsa’s program recently identified an improved calculation for a kidney function test that had long relied on a race term in the equation. This important development – alongside other NIDDK-funded research in this area – was years in the making, as the kidney community broadly recognized the need for an equitable, robust way to better estimate kidney disease among Black Americans. Health equity is a long-held goal and research like this brings us ever closer.

Finally, in October, we at NIDDK recognized the many staff who raised the bar in our commitment to public health during our annual – and, this year, virtual – employee appreciation event. The list of awardees can be found in our Commendations and Commencements section.

Despite another year full of Zoom meetings, virtual conferences, working from home or otherwise physically distanced from colleagues, our shared commitment to our mission has never been stronger. From the dedication of staff working on the front lines of the pandemic, to those keeping grants funded and managed, to administrators, clinicians, and scientists keeping the research enterprise going, we should be proud of the collective work accomplished to improve the nation’s health.

The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us here at NIH and beyond. As we look toward 2022, I am hopeful that the recent challenges we’ve faced will ease, and we can slowly, safely come together back in the workplace, however that may look. And I hope everyone enjoys spending time with loved ones this holiday season.

Lastly, on behalf of NIDDK, I’d like to express our tremendous gratitude to Dr. Francis Collins as he steps down from his role as NIH director. He has shown us day in and out what great leaders do – they inspire by example, listen well, share wisdom generously, and stay persistently focused on the greater good. We are grateful for his leadership over the last 12 years and wish him well as he returns to his laboratory at the National Human Genome Research Institute.

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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