NIH Office of the Director (OD)

Director's Council of Public Representatives (COPR)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Jennifer Gorman Vetter

NIH Director's Council of Public Representatives Welcomes Four New Members

Bethesda, Maryland — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has selected individuals to serve as members of the Director's Council of Public Representatives (COPR), a committee that advises the NIH Director on issues of public importance. They join the 16 current members of the Council.

"I am very pleased to welcome the new members to the NIH and to COPR," said NIH Director Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "These new members bring a wealth of knowledge and professional experience in the areas of public service, health care, medicine, underserved communities, screenwriting, and the visual media, as well as a strong commitment to the advancement of public health and medical research."

The new members are Craig T. Beam of Orange, California; Wendy Chaite of Roslyn, New York; R. Michael Hill of Panama City, Florida; and James Kearns of Woodland Hills, California.

Craig T. Beam's family health history inspired him to join the American Heart Association and he served as chairman of the group in 2002-2003. He is a partner with the largest U.S. health care development firm, Hammes Company, overseeing the development and management of real estate, especially health care and institutional projects. He has worked with several hospitals and major medical groups. His active participation in health care issues and his professional experience in health care have given him insight into dynamic changes occurring in the industry. He was appointed an Endowed Fellow by the National Health Foundation in 1998.

Wendy Chaite, whose daughter was born with lymphatic disease and lymphedema, is president of the non-profit Lymphatic Research Foundation, which she founded. Ms. Chaite is also an officer of the board of Research!America, the nation's leading research advocacy organization. She previously worked as a lawyer, adjunct professor of law, and fundraiser for the United Way of Tri-State. She also spent years working with special needs populations. For her efforts in promoting lymphatic research, she was recognized by Research!America at the National Academy of Sciences and was featured in Newsday as a "Newsday Everyday Hero."

Robert Michael (Mike) Hill is executive director of the Northwest Florida and Big Bend Health Councils, which serve 18 counties in northwest Florida. He is also president of the Florida Association of Health Planning Agencies. His constituents include racial and ethnic minorities, the economically disadvantaged and their children, the elderly, and migrant and seasonal farm workers. Many of them, including several of Mr. Hill's relatives and friends, have suffered cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and end-stage renal disease. Mr. Hill is also executive director of Hill and Company, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in health care, among other things.

James Kearns is an award-winning screenwriter whose work includes the screenplay for John Q., a feature film starring Denzel Washington. The film addresses issues of the medically underserved and other problems inherent in the health care delivery system. Mr. Kearns believes that tackling world health issues is critical to the nation's well being. He is a member of the nonprofit Entertainment Industries Council that, in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and others, created the PRISM awards to recognize the accurate depictions of drugs, alcohol, tobacco use, and addiction in various media. He is also a member of the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C. that aims to combat at poverty in America.

New COPR members joined the full Council for their first meeting on April 29-30, 2004, at the NIH campus. The meeting highlighted topics such as the role of public trust in medical research and clinical trials, and how NIH solicits public input into its operations, including the research priority setting process. NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D., chaired the meeting. The COPR next meets in the fall, 2004.

The COPR brings important matters of public interest forward for discussion and advises and assists in enhancing public participation in NIH activities and in increasing public understanding of NIH. Additional information is available at www.getinvolved.nih.gov.

The NIH comprises the Office of the Director and 27 Institutes and Centers. The Office of the Director is the central office at NIH, and is responsible for setting policy for NIH and for planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all the NIH components. The NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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