|NIGMS Fills Key Leadership Post
Catherine Lewis, Ph.D., takes the reins as director of the Division
of Cell Biology and Biophysics at the National Institute of General
Medical Sciences, a component of the National Institutes of Health.
Lewis will oversee more than 1,800 research and training grants
totaling about $630 million that support basic studies in cell
biology and biophysics by scientists across the country. The research
ranges from characterizing molecules and cellular components to
understanding the mechanisms of cellular processes. One of four
NIGMS scientific divisions, CBB also supports the development of
new research tools and methods and houses the Protein Structure
a 10-year effort to speed the protein structure determination process.
New knowledge in cell biology and biophysics leads not only to
a better understanding of fundamental life processes, but also
to new clues for preventing and treating diseases.
“Cathy Lewis is both a skillful administrator and a forward-thinker
who has a broad knowledge about the field and a keen sense of how
it needs to advance,” said NIGMS Director Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D. “Under
her leadership, the division will help chart exciting new courses
for the nation’s cell biology and biophysics research.”
Lewis started her NIH career as a staff fellow in 1983 after earning
a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Princeton University in New Jersey.
She joined NIGMS six years later, initially serving as a program
director in its Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology
for grants related to chromosome structure and mechanics. She later
took on additional responsibilities in CBB and became chief of
the division’s Biophysics Branch in 1997. She has served as acting
director of CBB since January 2006, when former director James
Cassatt, Ph.D., retired.
“The biophysical tools developed over the last 10 years have allowed
us to make major discoveries about basic life processes,” said
Lewis. “I see a lot of opportunities to continue this new generation
of discovery at the subcellular level.”
Some of this progress will likely stem from a project that Lewis
currently leads: an NIH Roadmap for Medical Research initiative
to develop high-resolution imaging probes to capture the actions
of individual molecules in living cells.
Other new CBB activities include the establishment of a repository
that will make the materials generated by the PSI available to
the scientific community and the formation of research centers
that will study the three-dimensional details of how HIV proteins
and host cellular proteins interact.
During her NIH career, Lewis was a project officer for the Human
Genetic Cell Repository, which contains nearly 10,000 well-characterized
human cell lines. She has organized and chaired numerous NIGMS
and NIH meetings and presents regularly at scientific conferences.
Her list of honors includes two NIH Director’s Awards.
To arrange an interview with CBB Director Catherine Lewis, Ph.D.,
contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at
A high-resolution photograph of Lewis is available at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/About/Lewis.htm.
NIGMS (http://www.nigms.nih.gov) supports basic biomedical
research that is the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis,
treatment, and prevention.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.