News Release

Monday, October 27, 2008

NIH Director's Council of Public Representatives Welcomes Six New Members

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has selected six outstanding individuals to serve as members of the Director's Council of Public Representatives (COPR), the advisory committee to the NIH Director on issues important to the public.

"These new members bring extensive knowledge and professional experience in public health law and policy, school-based health, state health policy, outreach to underserved communities, patient advocacy, and business management and technology development, along with a strong commitment to enhancing public participation in biomedical and behavioral research," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "I welcome them to the council and look forward to their contributions to the COPR's important work."

The new members are Micah Berman, J.D., of Boston; Lora Church of Albuquerque; Eileen Naughton, J.D., of Rhode Island; Carlos Pavão, M.P.A., of Atlanta; John Walsh of Miami; and James Wong, Ph.D., of San Jose. See brief biographies attached.

New COPR members will participate as confirmed members at the next COPR meeting, scheduled for Oct. 31, 2008. The meeting will highlight such topics as genomics, the NIH Public Trust Initiative, and Director's Council Member reports.

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

2008 New Members to the NIH Director's Council of Public Representatives

Mr. Micah Berman is an assistant professor at New England School of Law in Boston, where he teaches health law and related courses. He was previously the executive director of the Tobacco Public Policy Center (TPPC) at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio, which provided technical and legal support to tobacco control advocates. Under Mr. Berman's leadership, TPPC pursued innovative approaches to reducing tobacco-related disease, such as drafting tobacco-free policies for school districts, helping businesses implement the Ohio Smoke-Free Workplace Act, and collaborating with apartment associations to address drifting secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing.

Ms. Lora Church is a member of the Navajo Nation, Bitterwater Clan born for the Black Streak Wood Clan. She is the senior program manager for the Acoma-Canoncito (To'Hajiilee)-Laguna Teen Centers. These school-based health centers are associated with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and serve youth and families who reside on three American Indian reservations and in two Hispanic communities west of Albuquerque. Her key responsibility is helping define the interface between the primary prevention program and clinical/behavioral health, focusing on prevention and early intervention. She has more than 23 years' experience working in the health and human services field. In a previous position, she managed Native American Community Services, a nonprofit American Indian health and human services agency in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Ms. Eileen Naughton was first elected as a representative in the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1992. As chairwoman of the House Finance Committee's Subcommittee on Health and Environment, she is very involved with state health policy and regularly meets with a variety of organizations. Ms. Naughton has worked to improve health care for Rhode Islanders by championing affordable and accessible health care and improved care overall. Among other accomplishments, she has been instrumental in developing a birth surveillance system, promoted increased funding for HIV/AIDS programs, and created a vision-screening program for preschoolers.

Mr. Carlos Pavão is a community administrator for the DeKalb County Board of Health in Decatur, Ga. In this role, he manages community outreach efforts to medically underserved county residents. Among his projects are partnerships that aim to reduce disparities in HIV interventions and new programs that examine gaps in health care experienced by immigrants and refugees. Mr. Pavão has experience working in both clinical and non-clinical settings on HIV, substance abuse, suicide prevention, and tobacco control. He has worked on healthy schools initiatives and a program to increase education about cardiovascular health and nutrition among young people.

Mr. John Walsh was diagnosed in 1989 with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a rare genetic disorder that can cause lung disease in adults and liver disease in adults and children. He is the co-founder, president, and chief executive officer of the Alpha-1 Foundation in Miami. Under his leadership, the organization has become internationally recognized and has invested more than $35 million to support Alpha-1 research and related projects, which includes funding grant awards to more than 60 academic institutions in North America and Europe. Mr. Walsh is also co-founder and president of AlphaNet, Inc., a not-for-profit health management services company providing comprehensive care exclusively for individuals with Alpha-1. AlphaNet provides services to more than 2,500 individuals with Alpha-1 in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Dr. James Wong is a survivor of congenital heart disease (tetralogy of Fallot), a condition that occurs when there is a problem with the heart's structure that is present at birth, changing the normal flow of blood through the heart. He has done extensive volunteer work with the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA), and currently chairs the organization's Internet Committee. Dr. Wong has also served on the Board of Directors as vice president, board chair, and as a member of several committees. He has held a variety of development and management positions at technology companies including IBM and Siros Technologies, and he is currently a senior product strategist at Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. Dr. Wong has experience defining and launching new products and balancing customer input with development capabilities to create successful products for targeted markets.

The Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL) in the Office of the Director oversees the management of the COPR. OCPL provides leadership and guidance on NIH communications initiatives and public engagement efforts, and speaks for the NIH as a whole. The Office is actively involved in developing, promoting, and disseminating information to the public on the NIH's important science and health discoveries.

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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