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Office of the Director (OD)

Friday, March 25, 2005

OD Office of Communications

Vaitukaitis to Transition from NCRR Director to New Appointment

Judith L. Vaitukaitis, M.D., announced today that she is stepping down as the Director of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to serve as Senior Advisor on Scientific Infrastructure and Resources to NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.

“Since 1993, Dr. Vaitukaitis has provided outstanding leadership, ensuring that NCRR is a catalyst for discovery for NIH-supported investigations throughout the nation,” said Dr. Zerhouni. “With research becoming more complex, teams of investigators from diverse scientific fields require more sophisticated research tools and technologies. In view of these needs, I have asked Dr. Vaitukaitis to advise me of the critical choices that will contribute to solving tomorrow’s research challenges. Her experience and insight will help us move toward coordinated access to and support for building and sustaining of complex scientific infrastructure and resources that are essential today and into the future.”

" I have the greatest admiration for the staff of NCRR and their commitment to supporting scientists throughout the nation,” said Dr. Vaitukaitis. “I am looking forward to many new opportunities to serve NIH.”

Included among the many accomplishments during Dr. Vaitukaitis’ tenure are:

In 1994, NCRR was among the first NIH components to publish a strategic plan based on extensive input from the scientific community. That initial five-year plan and subsequent plans have informed and guided NCRR's priorities for developing necessary technologies, models, algorithms, and research tools to facilitate research, including: access to almost three dozen beam lines at sophisticated synchrotron resources for state-of-the-art crystallographic studies, imaging technologies, and resources for isolating human pancreatic islet cells — a potential therapy for some patients with type 1 diabetes.

Under Dr. Vaitukaitis’ leadership, NCRR established the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program, which broadens the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical and behavioral research. In addition, NCRR created three national gene vector laboratories in cooperation with several other components of NIH; expanded the range of services and technologies provided by the General Clinical Research Centers (GCRC); expanded support of innovative and high-risk technologies; helped launch a new national resource for transgenic mice and rats; expanded the Shared Instrumentation Grant Program (SIG); and tripled funding for construction of research facilities.

Prior to becoming NCRR Director, Dr. Vaitukaitis’ extensive basic research on the mechanisms controlling hormonal action and metabolism at the cellular level and her clinical research in reproductive endocrinology led to the development of the first specific pregnancy test. The pregnancy assay she developed continues to be used in modified forms as over-the-counter early pregnancy-detection products. The assay also provides a method for monitoring patients with tumors that developed from either placental tissue or testicular germ cell lines. For her significant contributions to the development of radioassay methodology, she received the Clinical Radioassay Society’s 1980 Mallinckrodt Award for Investigative Research.

In addition, Dr. Vaitukaitis has published over 165 scientific papers in both basic and clinical research and has also edited a book, “Clinical Reproductive Neuroendocrinology.” Four of her publications were selected as Citation Classics. She has served on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals, as well as many advisory boards and committees for NIH, other Federal agencies, universities, private foundations, international organizations, and scholarly societies.

Previously, Dr. Vaitukaitis held positions as the NCRR Deputy Director and the Director of the NCRR GCRC Program. Prior to joining NCRR, she was Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, where she also directed the GCRC and headed the Section on Endocrinology and Metabolism at Boston City Hospital.

Dr. Vaitukaitis earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Tufts University and a Doctor of Medicine degree from Boston University School of Medicine. Her many honors include a Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award and an Award for Achievement in National Policy from Boston University School of Medicine.

Barbara Alving, M.D., Deputy Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and Director of the Women's Health Initiative, will serve as Acting Director of NCRR. “Dr. Alving has made superb contributions in her leadership roles at NIH and I look forward to working with her,” said Dr. Zerhouni.

Dr. Alving received her Doctor of Medicine cum laude from the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. and completed a fellowship in Hematology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She has served as the Director of the Department of Hematology and Vascular Biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and as Director of the Hematology/Medical Oncology Section at the Washington Hospital Center. Dr. Alving joined NHLBI as the Director of the extramural Division of Blood Diseases and Resources in 1999 and became the Deputy Director in 2001. She served as the Acting Director from September 1, 2003 - January 31, 2005.

A co-inventor of two patents, Dr. Alving has also edited three books and published more than 100 papers in the area of thrombosis and hemostasis. She is a Professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, a Master in the American College of Physicians, a former member of the subcommittee on Hematology of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and a previous member of the FDA Blood Products Advisory Committee.

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