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James B. Wyngaarden, M.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health, April 29, 1982 - July 31, 1989
Dr. James B. Wyngaarden, an internationally recognized authority on the regulation of purine biosynthesis and the genetics of gout, and a nationally respected advisor on various aspects of the administration of biomedical research, became the 12th director on April 30, 1982, appointed by President Ronald Reagan. Immediately prior to his appointment, he was professor and chairman of the department of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, a position he had held since 1967.
He has had a long association with the NIH. From 1953 to 1954, he was a research associate in the Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology of the then National Heart Institute, and from 1954 to 1956, he was a clinical associate at the then National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases. After leaving in 1956 to become associate professor at the Duke University School of Medicine, he continued an association with NIH. He has held grants from several NIH components.
Dr. Wyngaarden has been active on various NIH study groups, evaluation committees, and review panels over the years, including a term with the board of scientific counselors of the then NIAMD (1971-1974). He also served as a consultant to the NIH as a member of study sections (1958-1960; 1967-1969).
He has also served as advisor to the broader scientific community as a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1974, and was active from 1975 to 1982 on an NAS committee set up to study the Nation's overall need for biomedical and behavioral researchers; consultant for the President's Office of Science and Technology (1966-1972), a member of the President's Science Advisory Committee (1972-1973), and a member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's Advisory Committee on Biology and Medicine.
Dr. Wyngaarden is the coauthor of Cecil Textbook of Medicine. In collaboration with former NIH director, Dr. Fredrickson, and others, he edited The Metabolic Basis of Inherited Disease. The original work was published in 1960.
He attended Calvin College there, and Western Michigan University in 1943-1944. In 1948 he graduated first in his class from the University of Michigan Medical School.
Dr. Wyngaarden trained in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and did postdoctoral work at the Public Health Research Institute of the City of New York, under the direction of Dr. DeWitt Stetten, Jr., former NIGMS director. After serving as research associate at NIH from 1953 to 1956, he went to Duke and in 1959 became director of the medical research training program there as well as associate professor of medicine and biochemistry. In 1961 he became professor of medicine and associate professor of biochemistry.
In 1963 and 1964, he was a visiting scientist at the Institute de Biologie-Physiocochemique in Paris. Shortly after his return to this country, he left Duke to become professor and chairman of the department of medicine and professor of biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to Duke in 1967.
Dr. Wyngaarden has received many honorary degrees: University of Michigan (D.Sc., 1980), Medical College of Ohio (D.Sc., 1984), University of Illinois at Chicago (D.Sc., 1985), George Washington University (D.Sc., 1986), and Tel Aviv University (Ph.D., 1987).
He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine. He has served on editorial boards of numerous professional publications.
Dr. Wyngaarden is a member of a number of professional societies including the NAS Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and is a past president of the Association of American Physicians. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and was elected to the Royal Academy of Sciences of Sweden in 1987.
This page last reviewed on March 3, 2017