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Grady Chairs "Wide Open" Search for NIEHS Scientific Director

By Eddy Ball
September 2009

Patricia Grady, Ph.D.
Search Committee Chair Patricia Grady, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of NIH)

During a town meeting August 3, NIEHS launched a "wide open" search for its next scientific director and head of the Division of Intramural Research (DIR). Fresh from an extended meeting with NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., members of the search committee chaired by National Institute of Nursing Research Director Patricia Grady, Ph.D. (see text box) fielded questions and comments from NIEHS employees on what the Institute needs from its chief scientific leader - and how best to spread word of the opening as widely as possible.

On August 24, NIH issued the official announcement of the opening, and NIEHS began placing advertisements in major medical and environmental journals. Closing date for applications is December 1, 2009.

Grady opened the meeting by assuring the audience, "Nothing is off the table." She also encouraged people to suggest possible candidates to the committee. "The key right now is to get the word out," she said. "The issue is for you to help us identify people who would be good candidates for this job."

As she explained, the successful candidate will be an accomplished senior scientist or principal investigator with an M.D., Ph.D. or equivalent degree who is willing and able to devote most of his or her time as scientific director to administration and fostering the career development of others. Comments from audience members also emphasized that the new leader should have a well articulated vision of interdisciplinary research at the Institute, be an inspiring leader with a commitment to sustainability and possess effective science communication skills for serving as the "public face" of DIR.

Tom Kunkel, Ph.D., an NIEHS principal investigator, said at the close of the session, "I've never seen a meeting of this kind." The town hall meeting was the first time that NIEHS staff members have been invited to express their thoughts to the selection committee on skills and personal attributes they hope to see in the next scientific director.

Birnbaum has said several times that she wants a scientific director who will consider the best interests of all NIEHS programs - not merely the DIR, its 850 employees, and 17 laboratories and branches, including its new Clinical Research Unit. The candidate, according to Birnbaum, will be a key member of the NIEHS leadership team, helping to guide the Institute in pursuit of its research excellence and public health mission.

NIEHS Scientific Director Search Committee

The search committee is a diverse group of people from NIEHS, other NIH institutes and centers, and scientists from other institutions with what Grady called "a breadth of expertise" reflecting the wide range of research at NIEHS:

  • Search Committee Chair Patricia Grady, Ph.D., director, National Institute of Nursing Research/NIH
  • Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., scientific director, National Human Genome Research Institute/NIH
  • Joseph Fraumeni, M.D., scientific director, National Cancer Institute (NCI)/NIH
  • Joan Schwartz, Ph.D., assistant director Office of Intramural Research, NIH
  • Frank Gonzalez, Ph.D., Lab Chief, NCI/NIH
  • David Peden, M.D., director, Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology Chief, Division of Allergy, Immunology and Environmental Medicine, School of Medicine Professor, Department of Pediatrics School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH)
  • Kenneth Ramos, Ph.D., professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Director, Center for Genetics and Molecular Medicine School of Medicine, University of Louisville
  • Michael Gallo, Ph.D., professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, director of EOHSI's NIEHS Center for Environmental Health Sciences Director, Toxicology Division University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • Barbara Rimer, DrPH, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor, Gillings School of Global Public Health UNC-CH
  • Tom Kunkel, Ph.D., director, Environmental Biology Program Chief, Laboratory of Structural Biology NIEHS/NIH
  • Dori Germolec, Ph.D., biologist, Toxicology Branch, National Toxicology Program NIEHS/NIH
  • Dale Sandler, Ph.D., chief, Epidemiology Branch Head, Chronic Disease Epidemiology Group NIEHS/NIH
  • Gwen Collman, Ph.D., acting director, Division of Extramural Research and Training NIEHS/NIH

Ex Officio Members:
Ms. Stephanie Jones Branch Chief, Human Resources, OD/NIH
Ginny Ivanoff, EEO Specialist, OEO, OD/NIH
Lisa Rogers Administrative Officer, DIR, NIEHS



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