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THE JOHN D. CHASE AWARD FOR EXECUTIVE EXCELLENCE has been awarded to Michael Finegan, network director for Veterans Integrated Service Network 11. The award was presented at the 117th Annual Meeting of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States last month. Finegan’s career at VA includes serving as chief financial officer and VA facility director. The John D. Chase Award for Executive Excellence recognizes sustained executive leadership by an individual from any healthcare discipline who exhibits significant demonstrated accomplishments that support VA’s mission through high professional performance. The award is named after John D. Chase, who was the chief medical director of the Veterans Administration from 1974 to 1978. Finegan oversees a regional veterans’ healthcare network of eight VA medical centers and 27 outpatient clinics covering more than 90,000 square miles in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Finegan has been employed with VA since 1990. During his VA career, he has improved financial performance by enhancing internal controls and revenue cycle, resulting in improved third-party payer collections by 15%. He also serves as national operational sponsor of the Department of Veterans Affairs initiative to eliminate veterans’ homelessness by 2015.

SIX NEW MEMBERS HAVE BEEN APPOINTED TO THE VA COMMITTEE ON WOMEN VETERANS, a panel of experts that advises VA on issues and programs affecting women veterans. Established in 1983, the advisory committee makes recommendations to the secretary for administrative and legislative changes. The new committee members, who are appointed to two-year terms, are: Sherri Brown, Alexandria, VA; Latoya Lucas, Rocky Mount, NC; Sara J. McVicker, Washington; Delphine Metcalf-Foster, Vallejo, CA; Robin Patrick, Virginia Beach, VA; and Felipe Torres, Helotes, TX. All of the new members are veterans and very active in veteran outreach and service organizations. According to VA, women veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the veteran population. Of the 23.4 million veterans, approximately 1.8 million are women veterans. They comprise nearly 8% of the total veteran population and nearly 5% of all veterans who use VA healthcare services.

ERIC DAVIDSON, PHD, A LONG-TERM NIH GRANTEE, HAS BEEN AWARDED the International Prize for Biology from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Davidson was recognized for his efforts in deciphering gene-regulatory networks, the intricate sequences of genetic control switches that guide the formation of the embryo. Davidson is Norman Chandler Professor of Cell Biology in the Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. For the past decade, Davidson and his colleagues have been mapping these gene-regulatory networks in sea urchins. His laboratory has used the purple sea urchin as a model for embryonic development of all animals, including human beings. Purple sea urchins produce hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of rapidly developing embryos, which are very easy to observe and study. Davidson’s work has helped researchers understand how genes affect the entire biology of an organism.

NANCY MUNRO, an acute-care nurse practitioner at the NIH Clinical Center, is one of 10 recipients of Washingtonian magazine’s 2011 Excellence in Nursing Award. Munro is the senior nurse practitioner in the Critical Care Medicine Department and on the Pulmonary Consult Service. She earned a bachelor’s in nursing from Villanova University, Philadelphia, and a master’s in nursing at Emory University, Atlanta. Munro got her acute-care nurse practitioner certificate in 1997 from Georgetown University, Washington, as the field was emerging. She was the first nurse practitioner on the Surgical Critical Care Service at Washington Hospital Center, then worked at Enova Alexandria Hospital before joining the NIH Clinical Center in 2004. In addition to her full-time position at the Clinical Center, Munro is a clinical instructor in the Acute Care Nursing Practitioner/Clinical Nurse Specialist Graduate Program at the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore. She has made significant contributions to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, serving on the group’s national board of directors and chairing various workgroups that wrote standards for care delivery and identified important education topics. This year marks the first Excellence in Nursing Awards from Washingtonian.

SALLY ANN HOLMES, MD, THE SPINAL CORD INJURY CARE LINE EXECUTIVE at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, received the Operation American Heroes Foundation Founder’s Award at a ceremony last month. The Founders Award is given annually to honor local heroes, veterans and first responders who have gone above the call of duty to serve their country and community. Holmes was born and raised in Memphis, TN. She graduated from Rhodes College in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She received her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Tennessee Medical School at Memphis in 1990. Holmes completed her internship in Preliminary Medicine at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis. Afterward, she was accepted by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to complete her residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation. There, she worked at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center for several of her rotations. She now oversees medical care for more than 500 patients who are in rehabilitation from spinal-cord injuries.

THE FIRST U.S. FACILITY TO USE CELL-BASED FLU VACCINE TECHNOLOGY was dedicated last month as part of an initiative that could provide vaccine supplies sooner in an influenza pandemic. The plant in Holly Springs, NC, can create vaccine using cultured animal cells instead of the conventional process of using fertilized eggs. The facility is a public-private partnership of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Inc. of Cambridge, MA. This partnership will be maintained under contract for at least 25 years. The dedication signals that in an influenza pandemic the facility can produce cell-based influenza vaccine that could be authorized by FDA for use during the emergency. In an influenza pandemic, the new Novartis facility may be able to produce 25% of the vaccine needed in the United States. In addition, cell-based technology used in this facility for manufacturing seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines may be adapted to produce vaccines for other known and unknown emerging infectious diseases in an emergency.

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progress James G. Smirniotopoul os 1.jpgJames G. Smirniotopoulos, MD, recently was honored as “Outstanding Educator” by the Radiological Society of North America (USUHS). Smirniotopoulos is a neuroradiology expert and a pioneer in electronic and online radiologic education. He is professor, chair and director or co-director of various courses at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. While at USUHS, Smirniotopoulos co-developed MedPix — a web-based teaching file application that allowed cases to be shared with military physicians all over the world. He was awarded a patent in 2006 for MedPix, which receives more than six million hits per month. He also is creator of the Washington Neuroradiology Review Course, designed for radiologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons and pathologists. Smirniotopoulos also is editor of the American College of Radiology Learning File, developed under a grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to standardize radiologic education nationwide.

Cmdr. Calliope E. Allen, a Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) ophthalmologist who was deployed as an Individual Augmentee to Afghanistan as of last month, won the 2012 Building Stronger Female Physician Leaders in the Military Health System Award, Junior Navy category. The award will be presented during the annual MHS Conference from Jan. 30 through Feb. 2. According to NMCSD, Allen is the sole NATO Role 3 Ophthalmologist and Oculoplastic Surgeon in southern Afghanistan. She deployed in June of 2011 and performed more than 240 surgical cases in her first two months at Kandahar, Afghanistan, and performed life-changing reconstructive surgeries to war-wounded patients daily.

On Dec. 2, Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta announced the nomination of Army Col. Jimmie O. Keenan for appointment to the rank of major general and for assignment as chief of the Army Nurse Corps. At the time of the nomination, Keenan was serving as commander, U.S. Army Medical Activity, Fort Carson, CO. According to her bio, Keenan entered the Army as a Nurse Corps Officer in July 1986. She was commissioned from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, AR, with a Baccalaureate of Nursing. She also holds a Master of Science in Nursing Administration from the Medical College of Georgia and a masters degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Her military education includes the Army Medical Department Officer Basic and Advance Courses, the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.

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HARU OKUDA, MD, HAS BEEN NAMED NATIONAL MEDICAL DIRECTOR for the VA Simulation Learning Education and Research Network (SimLEARN) program. Okuda leads a staff of clinical simulationists and educators in conducting research, developing curricula and best practices and coordinating acquisitions of clinical simulation training systems in support of health care providers at VA medical centers. Before joining VA, Okuda served as the director and assistant vice president of the Institute for Medical Simulation and Advanced Learning for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the largest municipal health care system in the United States. Okuda is the current co-chair of the educational program, Simwars, for this year’s International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare. Simwars is an inter-disciplinary simulation competition between health care providers that has been held at a number of national meetings.

VA’S ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON WOMEN VETERANS HAS NAMED four new members. Established in 1983, the advisory committee makes recommendations to the Secretary for administrative and legislative changes. The committee members are appointed to two-year terms. The new committee members are: Jack Phillip Carter, Jr., Bradenton, Fla.; Nancy A. Glowacki, Silver Spring, Md.; Nancy Kaczor, Franklin, Wis.; and Terry F. Moore, Stetson, Maine. Women veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the veterans population. Of the 23.4 million U.S. veterans, approximately 1.8 million are women. They comprise nearly eight percent of the total
veterans population and nearly five percent of all veterans who use VA health care services. VA estimates that by 2020, 10 percent of the veteran population will consist of women.

FRANK WOODRUFF BUCKLES, WHO ENLISTED IN THE ARMY IN 1917 and became the last known U.S. veteran of World War I, died on February 27, 2011, at the age of 110. Buckles lied about his age to enlist. Burial with full military honors was held at Arlington National Cemetery. A long-time resident of Charles Town, West Virginia, where he had a farm, Buckles was born in Bethany, Missouri. He enlisted shortly after his 16th birthday and served in France and Germany. At the start of World War II, he was a civilian working with a steamship company in the Philippines. He was imprisoned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp for three and a half years. In his later years, Buckles became an advocate for the expansion of a little-known Washington D.C. memorial to World War I Veterans into a national memorial.

THE WEST PALM BEACH VA MEDICAL CENTER has a new associate medical center director, Cristy McKillop. McKillop began her career in VA as an administrative fellow through the Graduate Healthcare Administration Training Program. In 2008, McKillop earned the position of Capital Asset Manager for the VA Sunshine Healthcare Network, overseeing the construction, safety, real estate, energy and environmental management programs for medical centers in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

JEANETTE DIAZ, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF THE VA CONNECTICUT HEALTHCARE SYSTEM since May 2006, has announced her retirement effective April 1, 2011, having worked at VA for 36 years. She previously served as Associate Director of VA Caribbean Healthcare System and as Operations Manager at VISN 8 in Bay Pines. Diaz has a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition from the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in Nutrition and Higher Education from New York University. She has served as the Chief, Nutrition and Food Service, as well as other positions in dietetics, at VA facilities in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and San Juan.

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FORMER ASSISTANT SURGEON GENERAL AND CHIEF NURSE of the US Public Health Service Carol A Romano, PhD, RN, has joined the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ Graduate School of Nursing (GSN) as associate dean for Academic Affairs. In her new capacity, Romano has direct responsibility for all GSN academic programs and also serves as the selected senior executive to liaison between the GSN’s Dean’s office and the Federal Nursing Service Chiefs. Romano earned her bachelor’s (1977), master’s (1985), and doctoral (1993) degrees in nursing from the University of Maryland School of Nursing. A pioneer in nursing informatics, she helped design and implement one of the first computerized medical information systems, which provided electronic medical orders and clinical documentation for patients in ambulatory and hospital environments. She was instrumental in creating the world’s first graduate curriculum in nursing informatics for the University of Maryland School of Nursing. Romano advised the World Health Organization on the management of human resources and health information in developing countries.

THE CHARLES WILSON VA OUTPATIENT CLINIC in Lufkin, TX, unveiled a statue of Charles Nesbitt Wilson, a congressman and Navy veteran. The “Standing Tall with Charlie Wilson” statue by artist David Adickes towers more than 10-feet at the main entrance of the clinic. Adickes, a local southeast Texas sculptor whose work includes the 67-foot-tall Sam Houston at Huntsville, an eight-foot bronze statue of
former President George HW Bush in the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, and the 36-foot-tall cellist at Houston’s Lyric Centre, came out of retirement to complete this monument. Born in Trinity, TX, Wilson received a bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1956 and served in the United States Navy, with rank of lieutenant from 1956 to 1960. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1960 and then elected to the Texas Senate in 1966. In 1973, Wilson was elected to the 93rd United States Congress and served as a US Representative until 1997. Wilson died on February 10, 2010 at the age of 76. In 2004, Congress passed a law officially changing the name of the Lufkin healthcare facility to honor him.

VICKIE WALKER HAS BEEN APPOINTED CHIEF OF THE PROSTHETICS and Sensory Aids Services at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center. Walker was the chief of Prosthetics at the Fort Meade, SD, VA Medical Center for nine years before accepting her current position, and has more than 16 years of prosthetics experience. She is a graduate of North Carolina Central University with a degree in business administration. The Prosthetics and Sensory Aids Service provides a full range of equipment and services to veterans. These range from items worn by the veteran, such as an artificial limb, hearing aids, or eyeglasses; those that improve accessibility such as ramps and vehicle modifications; to devices surgically placed in the veteran such as hips and pacemakers. They also provide electric wheelchairs, bath safety equipment, and walking aids.

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GRANTS DESIGNED TO HELP STRENGTHEN THE IT WORKFORCE will be made available through the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency announced last month that $80 million would be allocated, with $70 million going to community college training programs and $10 million to develop educational materials to support those programs. Both programs will support the immediate need for skilled health IT professionals who will enable the broad adoption and use of health IT throughout the United States. The Community College program will establish intensive, non-degree training that can be completed in 6 months or less by individuals with some background in either health care or IT fields. Information about grant applications is available at www.healthIT.HHS.gov/HITECHgrants.

VA SECRETARY ERIK SHINSEKI VOWS TO STRENGTHEN THE VA’S PARTERNSHIP WITH MEDICAL SCHOOLS and other institutions training health professionals. His remarks, made last month, came on the heels of a report made by a blue-ribbon panel appointed to advise VA on the topic. Two recommendations made in the report were that VA form a federally-chartered advisory committee to help the agency realize its full potential in partnering with health professional schools, and that VA examine and streamline its policies and procedures that may impede those partnerships.

VA HAS MOVED PAYROLL PROCESSING TO THE DoD in an attempt to increase efficiency and enhance control. DoD’s Defense Finance and Accounting Service will now be in charge of managing the pay processes for VA employees. With nearly 298,000 employees, VA is now the largest civilian agency for which the DoD center processes payroll. According to VA, the transfer also included significant systems development due to what VA officials described as complex federal legislation for paying physicians, nurses and medical clinicians.

VA ROLLED OUT ITS NEW WEB RENOVATION last month, changing their main web site’s look dramatically in an attempt to make it easier for veterans to navigate. The agency’s long-term goals include focusing on topics and tasks rather than office function, improving the navigational structure to ensure consistency, and making it more visually appealing. The new web site design will cover more than 500 VA web sites and about 80,000 pages. Changes also include improvements in the navigational structure that provide consistency among all sites and consolidate major topics; a slide-show section that showcases current VA events or hot topics; and bottom columns that feature news items, highlights, and a “Quick List” with links directly to important applications such as Veterans On Line Applications and MyHealtheVet.

THE SENATE UNANIMOUSLY CONFIRMED PAMELA HYDE as Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) last month. Hyde served as secretary of the New Mexico Human Services Department since 2003 and has 30 years of experience in management and consulting for public sector systems of health care and human services. She has held several public sector management positions, including director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health, the Ohio Department of Human Services, and the Seattle Department of Housing and Human Services. She previously served as a CEO of a private non-profit behavioral health care organization. Hyde is a member of or has served as a consultant to many national organizations, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the American College of Mental Health Administration, and the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. She received a BA from Missouri State University and a JD from the University of Michigan. Eric Broderick, DDS, has been serving as acting SAMHSA Administrator since the fall of 2008.

ERIC GREEN, MD, PHD, HAS BEEN APPOINTED Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, made the announcement last month following a nationwide search. The position became vacant following Dr Collins advancement from that post to the NIH directorship. Doctor Green is currently the NHGRI scientific director and director of the NHGRI Division of Intramural Research. In addition to directing NISC and the NHGRI intramural research program, Dr Green has been chief of the Genome Technology Branch and head of that Branch’s Physical Mapping Section. Since the early 1990s, Dr Green’s research program has been at the forefront of efforts to map, sequence, and understand complex genomes. His work included significant, start-to-finish involvement in the Human Genome Project. More recently, Dr Green established a program in comparative genomics that involves the generation and analysis of sequences from targeted genomic regions in evolutionarily diverse species. The resulting data have provided new insights about vertebrate genome organization and evolution, and revealed how conserved sequences can be used to identify important functional genomic elements.

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THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS KICKED OFF a “Green Routine” campaign to commemorate Energy Awareness Month. The campaign is designed to increase the awareness among VA employees of their environmental impact as individuals and as members of the federal government. The campaign includes VA’s new “Green Routine” Web site devoted to helpful environmental tips, (www.va.gov/greenroutine), release of a video featuring the VA Chief of Staff educating employees on how to “green” their workplace, and a toolkit designed to help VA employees implement the Green Routine. Through VA’s Green Routine Web site, VA’s Office of Asset Enterprise Management and the Greening VA Working Group are providing tips and tools that help employees make the Earth a better place to live. It includes links to other VA and government-wide “green” resources. “ The video includes a challenge set forth from the VA Chief of Staff for all employees to do their part in reducing their environmental impact and contains examples from fellow VA employees on how to accomplish this. It also highlights success stories from VA facilities across the country. Additionally, a reference tool for managers and employees entitled the Greening Action Guide and Toolkit recommends actions such as selecting a “green champion” in each office to help promote environmentally friendly steps, including printing double-sided, holding electronic meetings without paper handouts, turning off cubicle lights when not in use, unplugging cell phone chargers, and recycling printer cartridges and other items.

UNDERSTANDING BREAST CHANGES: A HEALTH GUIDE FOR WOMEN, is an updated booklet on women’s health, was released last month by the National Cancer Institute. The guide addresses the concerns of women who notice a breast change or get an abnormal mammogram finding. It explains important next steps in testing, diagnosis, and treatment when breast changes are found. Use of screening mammograms, followed by timely treatment when breast cancer is diagnosed, can help reduce a woman’s chances of dying from breast cancer. According to NCI, not all women who would benefit from regular screening mammograms get them. In 2005, only 67% of women aged 40 and older had a mammogram within the past two years,and these rates represent a drop in screening since 2003. (Editor’s Note—It has been reported that the American Cancer Society is in the process of revising its screening guidelines) One reason some women may not undergo mammography is fear or misunderstanding of the screening process, results, or follow-up steps. Many women remain unaware that breast health issues are very common and most breast changes found on mammograms are not cancer. By including quotes from other women and questions to ask their health care provider, the booklet helps women better prepare themselves for discussions with their health care provider. These discussions are critical to learning more about breast health.

THE FOGARY INTERNATIONAL CENTER announced last month that it will award more than $9.23 million to eight global health informatics programs over the next five years. Fogarty’s Informatics Training for Global Health program is intended to increase informatics expertise in low- and middle-income countries by training scientists to design information systems and apply computer-suprereported management and analysis to biomedical research. Medicine and biomedical research are knowledge-based fields that depend upon the sharing of information. Informatics, the science of handling large volumes of information, can help link physicians and researchers around the world so that they can share knowledge ranging from the best care of patients to issues in collaborative research. Two of the awards will fund new informatics programs in South America. The first is a collaborative effort between the University of Pittsburgh and Javeriana University in Bogota, Colombia, designed to build the capacity of individuals in the field of health informatics with an emphasis on clinical research. The second grant will allow Oregon Health and Science University to combine the existing strengths of its informatics and epidemiology program with that of the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires in Argentina, to develop a focus in clinical and translational research informatics. Another grant will support the creation of the Andean Global Health Informatics Research and Training Center, a regional center of excellence in global health informatics.

A RESEARCH PROGRAM TO ENHANCE NEWBORN SCREENING was established last month at the National Institutes of Health in memory of the son o fNational Football League Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. Hunter Kelly died at age 8 1/2 years in 2005 of Krabbe disease, a rare,fatal genetic disorder affecting the nervous system. Newborn screening consists of performing routine diagnostic tests on newborn infants to identify serious, often fatal, disorders at birth, so that these disorders can be treated. The tests usually involve analyzing a sample of blood, taken from an infant’s heel. Under the provisions of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act, Congress established The Hunter Kelly Newborn Screening Research Program within the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The program is authorized to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening. The goal is to increase the number of conditions that can be diagnosed at birth, to understand the long-term effects of living with these conditions, and to foster the development of new treatments.

SIX NEW RESEARCH CONTRACTS TO DISCOVER AND CHARACTERIZE novel adjuvants, substances that can be added to vaccines to enhance the protective immune response they induce, were awarded last month by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Currently, the only vaccine adjuvant approved for use in the United States is an aluminum mixture known as alum. NIAID has awarded a total of approximately $60 million over five years for these contracts. The awardees will identify novel compounds with the potential to be vaccine adjuvants. All compounds will be tested in animal models and human cells to determine how well they stimulate the immune response. The investigators also will examine and describe the cellular reactions that the compounds induce. The awardees of the adjuvant contracts will work to identify and characterize novel adjuvants that trigger receptors of the inborn, or innate, immune system. They will also seek to identify the cellular receptor for each of the novel adjuvant candidates, determine how it triggers the innate immune response, and then make changes to the adjuvant to improve its ability to induce the innate immune response. Although a number of innate immune receptors already have been described, many more likely exist and are expected to be uncovered in the course of these projects.

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MEDICAL IMAGING AT THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS reached a milestone this year, attaining over 1 billion stored images, according to the department. The imaging system captures clinical images, scanned documents, motion video, and other non-text data, and makes them part of the patient’s electronic record. In the course of serving 1.2 million patients a month, VA stores 20-25 million images in the VistA Imaging system. In 2009, a total of 290 million are expected to be stored. Storage space used today is approximately one pedabyte—one million gigabytes. Using digital images makes remote diagnosis and treatment possible, and permits in-home monitoring of some patients’ conditions. It also eliminates travel for patients needing follow-up care and makes services available in medically underserved areas. VistA Imaging first became operational in 1990 at the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center to handle radiology, and in 1999, VA spread its use to all VA medical centers.

AUTHORITY FOR THE ENFORCEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE HIPAA Security Rule was delegated to the Office for Civil Rights last month. OCR is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 provides federal protections for personal health information held by entities covered by the rule, and gives patients an array of rights with respect to that information. Enforcement of the rule had previously been delegated to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Through a separate delegation, CMS continues to have authority for administration and enforcement of the HIPAA Administrative Simplification regulations, other than privacy and security of health information.

THE NATIONAL INSTITTUE OF NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS AND STROKE has named William D. Matthew, PhD, as director of its Office of Translational Research. Doctor Matthew will lead the Institute’s efforts to translate the results of laboratory research into treatments for neurological disorders. Doctor Matthew was formerly Vice President of R&D Partnering and Business Development at UCB, an international biopharmaceutical company based in Brussels. He holds a PhD in biochemistry from the University of California, San Francisco, and has served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in Boston and Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. An untold number of potential therapeutic drugs disappear into a critical gap between academia and industry. Academia is the main source of insights into the mechanisms of disease — and hence insights into potential drug targets — but few academic scientists have the means to develop a drug. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies have the resources to formulate a drug and test it in clinical trials, but they cannot invest in a drug without some sign of market value. The OTR aims to close this gap and accelerate drug development for neurological disorders. The OTR replaces the NINDS Office of Technology Development, and will build on NINDS’ existing programs in translational neuroscience research. According to NINDS, Dr Matthew was selected to lead the OTR because his career ranges from academic neuroscience research to all stages of the drug development process.

THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION is moving to provide urgent funding to suicide prevention centers around the nation that are dealing with the enormous hardship wrought by the economic downturn. Many

of these centers must cope with a sharp rise in the number of callers in crisis (often because of financial problems). At the same time, these centers are threatened with significant cutbacks in funding from state and local governments and other sources of support. SAMHSA funds the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline through a cooperative agreement for Networking, Certifying and Training Suicide Prevention Hotlines that was awarded to Link2Health Solutions, Inc. SAMHSA is providing more than $1 million in additional funding through a fiscal year 2009 supplement to this cooperative agreement. This supplemental funding will help expand the ability of the network of up to 20 crisis centers participating in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to deal with the increased demand for services during a time of financial hardship, and to reach out to those in their communities most at risk. The $1,050,000 supplement will be overseen by SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services.

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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ASSISTANT SECRETARY Tammy Duckworth returned recently to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a key site in her long recovery from wounds suffered in Iraq, to take the oath of office as the chief spokesperson for VA. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki presided over the swearing in ceremony as Duckworth, a major in the Illinois National Guard, became VA’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. As assistant secretary, Duckworth will direct VA’s public affairs programs and its intergovernmental efforts. She will also oversee programs for homeless Veterans and consumer affairs. Duckworth was an Army helicopter pilot who flew combat missions in Iraq in 2004. She suffered grave injuries when her helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, and she lost both legs and partial use of one arm. She spent 13 months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

EIGHT YOUNG PERFORMERS living with mental health challenges from across the country joined Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn last month for a celebration of resilience. The event was part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “HEAR ME NOW: A Celebration of Resiliency through the Performing Arts” commemoration of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which took place at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, DC. Hawn received the SAMHSA Special Recognition Award for her work to increase public understanding of the role mental health plays in the total well-being of children and youth through her non-profit foundation, The Hawn Foundation. SAMHSA presented the award at the national Awareness Day event that was co-hosted by “Twilight’s” Solomon Trimble and Sabrina Bryan of Disney’s “The Cheetah Girls.” National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is SAMHSA’s annual demonstration of collaboration among numerous and diverse individuals, organizations, and agencies in the public and private sector working to provide greater access to community-based mental health services for children and youth with serious mental-health needs and their families.

HHS SECRETARY KATHLEEN SEBELIUS last month welcomed Deputy Secretary Bill Corr and Indian Health Service Director Yvette Roubideaux, MD, to the Department of Health and Human Services. Corr and Roubideaux were confirmed unanimously by the Senate on May 6. Bill Corr most recently served as executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Previously, Corr served for 12 years as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Additionally, Corr served as Chief of Staff for the Department of Health and Human Services. Corr is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Vanderbilt University School of Law. Dr. Yvette Roubideaux served most recently as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. She has conducted extensive research on American Indian health issues, with a focus on diabetes in American Indians/Alaska Natives and Indian health policy. Roubideaux previously worked in the Indian Health Service as a medical officer and clinical director on the San Carlos Indian Reservation and in the Gila River Indian Community.

THE LONGEST U.S. STUDY OF PEOPLE WITH HIV/AIDS was honored at a 25th anniversary commemoration on May 12 at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC. The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) has significantly contributed to the scientific understanding of HIV, AIDS, and the effects of antiretroviral therapy through more than 1,000 publications, many of which have guided public health policy and the clinical care of people with HIV. MACS investigators prospectively study the natural and treated history of HIV infection in thousands of homosexual and bisexual men at sites in Baltimore, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. A key characteristic of the MACS is its 25 years of behavioral and biological data and specimens from men who have sex with men, before and after they became infected with HIV, before and after they were diagnosed with AIDS, and before and after they began highly active antiretroviral therapy—along with data from a control group of same-aged, HIV-free men who have sex with men. Comparing these before-and-after specimens and data from HIV-infected and uninfected individuals has yielded numerous seminal discoveries.

THE NIH ADVISORY COMMITTEE on Research on Women’s Health of the Office of Research on Women’s Health announced the appointment of five new members last month: Margery L.S. Gass, MD, Paula Adina Johnson, MD, Jeanne Craig Sinkford, DDS, Farida Sohrabji, PhD, and Gary E. Striker, MD. The committee advises the ORWH on appropriate research activities to be undertaken by the national research institutes with respect to research on women’s health, research on sex/gender differences in clinical trials, and research on women’s health conditions that requires an interdisciplinary approach. The committee members are actively involved in reviewing NIH women’s health research priorities, the women’s health research portfolio for NIH, career development, and the inclusion of women and minorities in clinical research. The committee is composed of up to 18 members who are appointed by the NIH director.

MEDICAL IMAGING AT THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS reached a milestone this year, attaining over 1 billion stored images, according to the department. The imaging system captures clinical images, scanned documents, motion video and other non-text data, and makes them part of the patient’s electronic record. In the course of serving 1.2 million patients a month, VA stores 20-25 million images in the VistA Imaging system. In 2009, a total of 290 million are expected to be stored. Storage space used today is approximately one pedabyte—1 million gigabytes. Using digital images makes remote diagnosis and treatment possible, and permits in-home monitoring of some patients’ conditions. It also eliminates travel for patients needing follow-up care, and makes services available in medically underserved areas. VistA Imaging first became operational in 1990 at the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center to handle radiology, and in 1999, VA spread its use to all VA medical centers.

DR FRANCIS COLLINS WAS UNANIMOUSLY CONFIRMED BY THE SENATE last month as the next director of the National Institutes of Health. Doctor Collins served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute from 1993-2008, where he led the Human Genome Project to completion. In addition to his work as NHGRI Director, Dr Collins’ own research laboratory has discovered a number of important genes, including those responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease, a familial endocrine cancer syndrome, and most recently, genes for adult onset (type 2) diabetes and the gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.

AUTHORITY FOR THE ENFORCEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE HIPAA Security Rule was delegated to the Office for Civil Rights last month. OCR is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 provides federal protections for personal health information held by entities covered by the rule and gives patients an array of rights with respect to that information. Enforcement of the rule had previously been delegated to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Through a separate delegation, CMS continues to have authority for administration and enforcement of the HIPAA Administrative Simplification regulations, other than privacy and security of health information.

THE NATIONAL INSTITTUE OF NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS AND STROKE has named William D. Matthew, PhD, as director of its Office of Translational Research. Doctor Matthew will lead the Institute’s efforts to translate the results of laboratory research into treatments for neurological disorders. Doctor Matthew was formerly Vice President of R&D Partnering and Business Development at UCB, an international biopharmaceutical company based in Brussels. He holds a PhD in biochemistry from the University of California, San Francisco, and has served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in Boston and Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. An untold number of potential therapeutic drugs disappear into a critical gap between academia and industry. Academia is the main source of insights into the mechanisms of disease—and hence insights into potential drug targets —but few academic scientists have the means to develop a drug. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies have the resources to formulate a drug and test it in clinical trials, but they cannot invest in a drug without some sign of market value. The OTR aims to close this gap, and accelerate drug development for neurological disorders. The OTR replaces the NINDS Office of Technology Development, and will build on NINDS’ existing programs in translational neuroscience research. According to NINDS, Dr Matthew was selected to lead the OTR because his career ranges from academic neuroscience research to all stages of the drug development process.

THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION is moving to provide urgent funding to suicide prevention centers around the nation that are dealing with the enormous hardship wrought by the economic downturn. Many of these centers must cope with a sharp rise in the number of callers in crisis (often because of financial problems). At the same time, these centers are threatened with significant cutbacks in funding from state and local governments and other sources of support. SAMHSA funds the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline through a cooperative agreement for Networking, Certifying and Training Suicide Prevention Hotlines that was awarded to Link2Health Solutions, Inc. SAMHSA is providing more than $1 million in additional funding through a fiscal year 2009 supplement to this cooperative agreement. This supplemental funding will help expand the ability of the network of up to 20 crisis centers participating in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to deal with the increased demand for services during a time of financial hardship, and to reach out to those in their communities most at risk. The $1,050,000 supplement will be overseen by SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services.

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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ASSISTANT SECRETARY Tammy Duckworth returned last month to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a key site in her long recovery from wounds suffered in Iraq, to take the oath of office as the chief spokesperson for VA. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki presided over the swearing in ceremony as Duckworth, a major in the Illinois National Guard, became VA’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. As assistant secretary, Duckworth will direct VA’s public affairs programs and its intergovernmental efforts. She will also oversee programs for homeless Veterans and consumer affairs. Duckworth was an Army helicopter pilot who flew combat missions in Iraq in 2004. She suffered grave injuries when her helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, and she lost both legs and partial use of one arm. She spent 13 months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

EIGHT YOUNG PERFORMERS living with mental health challenges from across the country joined Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn last month for a celebration of resilience. The event was part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “HEAR ME NOW: A Celebration of Resiliency through the Performing Arts” commemoration of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which took place at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, DC. Hawn received the SAMHSA Special Recognition Award for her work to increase public understanding of the role mental health plays in the total well-being of children and youth through her non-profit foundation, The Hawn Foundation. SAMHSA presented the award at the national Awareness Day event that was co-hosted by “Twilight’s” Solomon Trimble and Sabrina Bryan of Disney’s “The Cheetah Girls.” National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is SAMHSA’s annual demonstration of collaboration among numerous and diverse individuals, organizations, and agencies in the public and private sector working to provide greater access to community-based mental health services for children and youth with serious mental-health needs and their families.

HHS SECRETARY KATHLEEN SEBELIUS last month welcomed Deputy Secretary Bill Corr and Indian Health Service Director Yvette Roubideaux, MD, to the Department of Health and Human Services. Corr and Roubideaux were confirmed unanimously by the Senate on May

6. Bill Corr most recently served as executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Previously, Corr served for 12 years as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Additionally, Corr served as Chief of Staff for the Department of Health and Human Services. Corr is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Vanderbilt University School of Law. Dr. Yvette Roubideaux served most recently as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. She has conducted extensive research on American Indian health issues, with a focus on diabetes in American Indians/Alaska Natives and Indian health policy. Roubideaux previously worked in the Indian Health Service as a medical officer and clinical director on the San Carlos Indian Reservation and in the Gila River Indian Community.

THE LONGEST U.S. STUDY OF PEOPLE WITH HIV/AIDS was honored at a 25th anniversary commemoration on May 12 at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC. The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) has significantly contributed to the scientifi c understanding of HIV, AIDS, and the effects of antiretroviral therapy through more than 1,000 publications, many of which have guided public health policy and the clinical care of people with HIV. MACS investigators prospectively study the natural and treated history of HIV infection in thousands of homosexual and bisexual men at sites in Baltimore, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. A key characteristic of the MACS is its 25 years of behavioral and biological data and specimens from men who have sex with men, before and after they became infected with HIV, before and after they were diagnosed with AIDS, and before and after they began highly active antiretroviral therapy—along with data from a control group of same-aged, HIV-free men who have sex with men. Comparing these before-and-after specimens and data from HIV-infected and uninfected individuals has yielded numerous seminal discoveries.

THE NIH ADVISORY COMMITTEE on Research on Women’s Health of the Office of Research on Women’s Health announced the appointment of five new members last month: Margery L.S. Gass, MD, Paula Adina Johnson, MD, Jeanne Craig Sinkford, DDS, Farida Sohrabji, PhD, and Gary E. Striker, MD. The committee advises the ORWH on appropriate research activities to be undertaken by the national research institutes with respect to research on women’s health, research on sex/gender differences in clinical trials, and research on women’s health conditions that requires an interdisciplinary approach. The committee members are actively involved in reviewing NIH women’s health research priorities, the women’s health research portfolio for NIH, career development, and the inclusion of women and minorities in clinical research. The committee is composed of up to 18 members who are appointed by the NIH director.

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THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS HAS LAUNCHED its new “Returning Veterans” Web site—www.oefoif.va.gov—to welcome home veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts with a social, veteran-centric Web site focusing on their needs and questions. The Web site will feature videos, veteran stories and a blog where veterans are encouraged to post feedback. The site also will restructure the traditional index-of-benefits format found on other VA pages into question-based, categorized and easily navigated links by topic. This will allow veterans to easily find benefits of interest and discover related benefits as they explore.

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH ANNOUNCED the selection of three individuals to serve as members of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD). Since 1966, the ACD has advised the NIH Director on policy and planning issues important to the NIH mission of conducting and supporting biomedical and behavioral research, research training and translating research results for the public. The new members of the council are Maria Freire, Ph.D., of New York, New York; Beatriz Luna, Ph.D., of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and James Thrall, M.D., of Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Freire is the president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation with a background in biophysics, immunology and virology. Dr. Luna is associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. She is also the founder and director of the Laboratory for Neurocognitive Development. Dr. Thrall is the Juan Taveras Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School and radiologist-in-chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital. He is internationally known for his work in nuclear medicine and for his development of research programs in radiology.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINATTI WILL BECOME the 39th member of NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) consortium. Led by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), this national network of medical research institutions is working together to accelerate the process of turning laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, to engage communities in clinical research efforts and to train the next generation of clinical and translational researchers. The consortium was launched in 2006, with new members added in 2007 and 2008. Approximately 60 CTSAs will be connected when the program is fully implemented in 2012. In this latest award, the University of Cincinnati will receive $22.7 million over five years. The new Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training will expand its support for pediatric research through the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; enhance new translational technologies, including large-scale studies of proteins (proteomics), drug discovery, imaging, nanomedicine, gene transfer and stem cell biology. The center also will increase outreach into the local community, including collaborations with the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

W. SCOTT GOULD, A RETIRED NAVY RESERVIST and senior executive took the oath of office as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs last month. As the number-two executive in the VA, Gould will oversee VA’s day-to-day operation. Gould recently served as vice president for public-sector strategy at IBM Global Business Services, where he also founded and led IBM’s Global Leadership Initiative. Prior to IBM, he was chief executive officer of The O’Gara Company, a strategic advisory and investment services firm, and chief operating officer of Evolve, a technology services company. Gould’s previous service in the federal government includes positions as the chief financial officer and assistant secretary for administration at the Commerce Department and, later, as deputy assistant secretary for finance and management at the Treasury Department. As a White House Fellow, he worked at the Export-Import Bank of the United States and in the Office of the White House Chief of Staff. A fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, Gould is a former member of the National Security Agency’s Technical Advisory Group and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Overseers. He has been awarded the Department of Commerce Medal, the Treasury Medal and the Navy Meritorious Service Medal.

TO PROVIDE TRAINED NURSES to serve the healthcare needs of the nation’s veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs is establishing new partnerships with five of the country’s top nursing schools. With these new partnerships, the VA Nursing Academy will expand the number of collaborations between the department and nursing schools from 10 to 15. The VA Nursing Academy is a virtual five-year pilot program with central administration in Washington. The five-year, $59 million program began in 2007. Five nursing schools will form new partnerships with five VA medical centers and join the VA Nursing Academy this year. They are: Western Carolina University, Asheville, N.C.; University of Alabama, Birmingham, Ala.; University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu; Pace University, Manhattan and Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Waynesburg University, Pittsburgh.

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