Department of Health and Human Services

News Release

Friday, February 20, 2004

Contact: Jane DeMouy

NIDDK Advisory Council Gains Four

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson has appointed four new members to the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the Institute announced today. NIDDK is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH is the major Federal funder of U.S. biomedical research. NIDDK Director Allen M. Spiegel, M.D. welcomed the following members at NIDDK's February meeting:

Janis Lynne Abkowitz, M.D. is Professor and Section Head of the Division of Hematology, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, and Director of the Hematology Clinic of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and University of Washington Medical Center. She is a past president of the Western Society for Clinical Investigation, and was a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Blood until 2002. As an NIH-funded investigator, she studies viral-induced hematologic disease and hematopoietic stem cells. Dr. Abkowitz joins the Kidney, Urology and Hematology (KUH) subcouncil.

Roberto P. Coquis, M.D. is Chief of the Nephrology Section of Holy Cross Hospital, Fort Lauderdale, as well as founder and President of Nephrology Consultants of South Florida. He also founded the Artificial Kidney Centers of Broward and is Medical Director of the Davita Center in Broward. In addition to his long-standing private practice, Dr. Coquis consults at numerous Medical Centers in Broward County. He joins the Kidney, Urology and Hematology subcouncil.

Rudolph L. Leibel, M.D. is Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, Head of the Division of Molecular Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, and co-Director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, all at Columbia University. A long-time NIH grantee, Dr. Leibel's lab collaborated in the cloning of the leptin gene. Dr. Leibel is also Deputy Director of NIH's New York Obesity Research Center, Co-Director of the NIH Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center (DERC) at Columbia University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine. He currently mentors a substantial number of young investigators. His current research uses mouse models of obesity and type 2 diabetes to identify the genes responsible for these disorders in humans. He is also exploring the effect of experimental changes in body weight on energy expenditure in humans. Dr. Leibel sits on the Editorial Boards of several journals and is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. He joins the Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases (DEM) subcouncil.

Ronald L. Ruecker, M.D. is founder and past President of Internal Medicine Subspecialty Associates, Ltd., and has practiced internal medicine and gastroenterology in Decatur, IL since 1974. Dr. Ruecker also has had numerous consulting affiliations with other central Illinois hospitals during the same period. He serves as Medical Director for the Wabash Memorial Hospital Association. In 1997, he was named Internist of the Year by the Illinois Society of Internal Medicine. He served as President of the Illinois State Medical Society from 2001 to 2002 and currently serves as board Chair. Dr. Ruecker has been active in several professional organizations including the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine for nearly 20 years. In addition to his medical degree, Dr. Ruecker holds a Master of Science degree in Management from the Krannert Graduate School of Management, Purdue University. In 2003 he was elected to the board of trustees of Illinois Wesleyan University. Dr. Ruecker joins the Digestive Diseases and Nutrition (DDN) subcouncil.

They will serve until 2007.

The National Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases Advisory Council is part of a two-step review process mandated by law to ensure high scientific standards among NIH-funded projects. An initial review group of non-Federal scientists first assesses and rates the scientific and technical merit of an application. Then the Advisory Council, a group of expert scientists and lay individuals with interests in NIDDK's areas of research, reviews applications and awards funds.


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