News Release

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

NIH Director’s Council of Public Representatives Welcomes Four New Members

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has selected four individuals to serve as members of the Director’s Council of Public Representatives (COPR), an advisory committee to the NIH Director on issues of public importance.

“These new members bring a wealth of knowledge and professional experience in the areas of health care, medicine, underserved communities, community-based research, and learning and literacy programs, along with a strong commitment to the advancement of public health and medical research. I am delighted to welcome them to the Council,” said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.

The new members are Syed Ahmed, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Linda Crew, M.B.A., R.N. of Clemson, South Carolina; Ann-Gel Palermo, M.P.H. of New York, New York; James Wendorf of New York, New York.

Dr. Syed M. Ahmed is the Director of the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he is also a Professor of Family and Community Medicine. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a diplomat of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Dr. Ahmed has 16 years of experience working with communities in Ohio and Wisconsin as a researcher on more than a dozen federal, non-federal, and foundation grants. As the Director of CHC, he works with very large constituencies, including minorities and the underserved, in Milwaukee. CHC was formed in 1997 to develop community-academic partnerships to improve health in Wisconsin communities. It has established numerous programs related to cardiovascular disease, cancer, substance abuse, and mental health. CHC conducts activities in rural parts of Wisconsin, as well as in Milwaukee, and it is developing programs with Latino communities.

Ms. Linda Crew is a nurse manager, community leader, researcher, advocate, public speaker, and person living with a chronic illness. Ms. Crew was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus in 1996. She served as Director of the Joseph F. Sullivan Center, an academic nurse-managed health center at Clemson University, from 1994 to 2006.

Under her leadership, the Sullivan Center expanded its community health care outreach program using a mobile health van and a team of medical professionals. The Center has received numerous awards for its work promoting minority health issues, improving the health status of minority populations, and eliminating health disparities. Since 1991, Ms. Crew has worked closely with the Latino population in South Carolina, including creation of a culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate campaign to increase awareness of breast cancer and the need for early detection.

Ms. Ann-Gel S. Palermo has worked in the area of community-based public health for more than seven years, with a principal focus on issues related to social determinants of health using a community-based participatory research approach. Since 1999, Ms. Palermo has served as the chair of the Harlem Community & Academic Partnership (HCAP), located at the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies at the New York Academy of Medicine.

Ms. Palermo is the Associate Director of Operations at the Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs at New York City’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She also serves as a board member of the East Harlem Community Health Committee and is chair of the board of directors for the Manhattan-Staten Island Area Health Education Center. Ms. Palermo is a member of the New York Academy of Medicine Institutional Review Board and the New York City HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council of New York.

Mr. James Wendorf is Executive Director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), which seeks to ensure that the nation’s 15 million children, adolescents, and adults with learning disabilities have every opportunity to succeed in school, work, and life. He directs NCLD’s efforts to provide essential information to parents, professionals, and individuals with learning disabilities; to promote research and programs that foster effective learning; and to advocate for policies that protect and strengthen educational rights and opportunities. Get Ready to Read!, a national initiative to screen four-year-olds for skills critical to success in reading, is the largest program in this effort.

For the past 20 years, Mr. Wendorf has worked in the not-for-profit sector to build national and international partnerships supporting learning and literacy programs. Mr. Wendorf serves on the advisory boards of the National Association for the Education of African American Children with Learning Disabilities and the Home School Institute.

New COPR members will complete the first year of their 4-year term at the next COPR meeting scheduled April 19-20, 2007. The meeting will highlight topics such as NIH Director Updates, Public Member Participation in Research, and other Director’s Council Member reports. Dr. Zerhouni will chair the meeting.

The COPR brings important matters of public interest forward for discussion and advises and assists in enhancing public participation in NIH activities and in increasing public understanding of NIH. Additional information is available at

The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available at

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

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