News Release

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New Members Appointed to National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council

HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt has appointed three new members to the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council. Another membership change is the ex officio representative to the committee from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The council, which meets three times a year, is composed of leaders in the biological and medical sciences, education, health care and public affairs. Its members, who are appointed to four-year terms, perform the second level of peer review for research and research training grant applications assigned to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), one of the National Institutes of Health. Council members also offer advice and recommendations on policy and program development, program implementation, evaluation and other matters of significance to the mission and goals of NIGMS.

The new members are:

Clifford W. Houston, Ph.D., associate vice president for educational outreach and Herman Barnett Distinguished Endowed Professor in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. His research concentrates on the role of bacterial toxins in the development of disease. Dr. Houston earned a B.S. in microbiology and chemistry from Oklahoma State University-Stillwater and a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.

Steven L. McKnight, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the department of biochemistry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. His research seeks to understand how genes are switched on and off in mammalian cells. Dr. McKnight earned a B.A. in biology from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

W. James Nelson, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences at Stanford University in California, where he also serves as professor of molecular and cellular physiology and the Rudy J. and Daphne Donohue Munzer Professor in the School of Medicine. His research focuses on understanding how cells become and remain asymmetrical, which is necessary for organs to develop and function. Dr. Nelson earned a B.Sc. in cell biology/genetics from the University of Manchester in England and a Ph.D. in genetics/radiation biology from the Chester Beatty Institute of Cancer Research, also in England.

Timothy O’Leary, M.D., Ph.D., director of Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development at the Department of Veterans Affairs. His research interests include molecular alterations in gastric tumors and ultrasensitive detection and characterization of biological toxins. Dr. O’Leary earned an M.D. from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Stanford University.

NIGMS (, a component of the National Institutes of Health, supports basic biomedical research that is the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): 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. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®


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