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August 21, 2018
Statement on the retirement of Dr. Patricia Grady
It is with poignancy, but with deep appreciation and many congratulations, that I announce that on August 31, my friend and colleague Patricia A. Grady, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, will retire as director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), a position she has held for more than 23 years.
Pat began her remarkable career at NIH in 1988, when she joined the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) as a program administrator in the areas of stroke and brain imaging, ultimately serving as NINDS’ deputy director and acting director. In 1995, Dr. Harold Varmus, then the NIH director, appointed her as the director of NINR, becoming only the second permanent director of the institute which was just over a year old, having been elevated from center to institute in 1993.
Since that time, thanks to Pat’s skillful leadership and a dedicated extramural community of nurse scientists, NINR has grown into an essential component of the NIH mission. Nursing science, with its unique clinical emphasis, provides the critical link between the laboratory, the clinic, patients, and families. During Pat’s tenure, NINR has supported discoveries that have improved quality of life through a better understanding of adverse symptoms, helped diverse communities stay healthy through new wellness strategies, assisted patients with better self-management of chronic conditions, and enhanced care of those with advanced illness. NINR has also become a vital home for interdisciplinary science, with NINR-supported scientists leading teams of nurses, physicians, engineers, and many others in developing cutting-edge technologies.
While the scientific and programmatic achievements at NINR under Pat’s direction are too numerous to list here, a few of them deserve special mention. With symptom science a core part of NINR’s mission, Pat developed a thriving intramural research program that has become a leader at NIH in understanding symptoms such as fatigue and pain. Studies from NINR labs have helped us understand what may cause fatigue in cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, explored the mechanisms of pain and other symptoms of digestive disorders, and uncovered biomarkers that could help predict recovery time from sports concussions.
NINR’s commitment to training demonstrates Pat’s dedication to developing the next generation of scientists. She has led the development of NINR’s very popular Summer Genetics Institute and Symptom Methodologies Bootcamps, with graduates of both programs now making outstanding contributions to science. And NINR, as a percentage of budget, has devoted more resources than nearly any other NIH institute or center to extramural training awards that have supported new scientists, the large majority of whom are women.
In 1997, NINR was designated the lead NIH institute for research to improve care of those at the end of life. Pat took on that leadership role with her characteristic energy and established a research program that has helped individuals, families, and clinicians manage the symptoms of advanced illness through improved palliative care, and provided comfort to those at the end of life through better communication, decision-making, and clinical care. Pat established a dedicated office at NINR to manage its research efforts in this area, including the innovative Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group, a consortium of over 160 research sites that work together to advance this important area of science.
Over the years, NIH directors have called upon Pat’s wisdom and guidance in leading or co-leading numerous trans-NIH initiatives. These have included the Pain Consortium, Public Trust Initiative, Science of Behavior Change initiative, Office of Emergency Care Research Steering Committee, and Roadmap initiative on Interdisciplinary Research Teams of the Future, among many others. Pat has also served with great distinction on multiple search committees, and on the committee that reviews proposed outside activities for potential conflicts of interest.
Prior to joining NIH, Pat held several academic positions, serving concurrently on the faculties of the University of Maryland School of Nursing and School of Medicine. After obtaining her undergraduate degree in nursing from Georgetown University, she pursued her graduate education at the University of Maryland, where she obtained a master’s degree from the School of Nursing and a doctorate in physiology from the School of Medicine. She became an internationally recognized researcher, focusing primarily in stroke, with an emphasis on arterial stenosis and cerebral ischemia. Pat was elected to the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) and has been recognized for her contributions through numerous honorary degrees from universities across the United States, as well as many prestigious scientific and nursing organizations.
Following Pat’s departure, and while we conduct a national search for a new NINR director, I have asked Dr. Ann Cashion to serve as the acting director of NINR. Currently, Dr. Cashion serves as the NINR scientific director and acting deputy director and has been at NINR for more than seven years. She is a well-known scientist and leader in the field of nursing science with expertise in genetic markers that predict clinical outcomes. Dr. Cashion has held leadership positions on several scientific boards and is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Roundtable on Genomics and Precision Health. I appreciate her willingness to lead NINR during this period of transition.
Pat will truly be missed at NIH. We wish her well as she embarks on the next leg of her journey, which I’m sure will include new adventures in remote corners of the world. But, I also know that NIH, and especially NINR, will remain foremost in her thoughts, and that she will find a way to continue her contributions to science. I wish her the very best.
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health