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  • richardmitnick 2:08 pm on May 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Shake-up at NIH: Term limits for important positions would open new opportunities for women and minorities", , Many chiefs (54 of 272) have served at least 20 years and 17 for more than 30 years, NIH-National Institutes of Health, Starting next year the 272 lab and branch chiefs who oversee NIH's intramural research will be limited to 12-year terms., The main NIH campus in Bethesda Maryland and its other intramural research sites are known as stodgy places where the scientific management- mostly white men- tends to stay in place for decades., Up to half of the chiefs will turn over in the next 5 years,   

    From “Science”: Women in STEM- “Shake-up at NIH: Term limits for important positions would open new opportunities for women, minorities” 


    From “Science”

    The National Institutes of Health’s in-house research program plans to limit the terms of midlevel managers, in part so that more women can move into leadership positions.
    National Institutes of Health/flickr (CC BY-NC)

    May 2, 2019
    Jocelyn Kaiser

    Able to pursue open-ended research without relentless grant deadlines, some scientists who work directly for the National Institutes of Health joke that NIH stands for “nerds in heaven.” But the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, and its other intramural research sites are also known as stodgy places where the scientific management, mostly white men, tends to stay in place for decades.

    Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

    Now, NIH is aiming to shake up its intramural program, the largest collection of biomedical researchers in the world, by imposing term limits on midlevel leadership positions.

    Starting next year, the 272 lab and branch chiefs who oversee NIH’s intramural research will be limited to 12-year terms. The policy, now being refined by the directors of NIH’s 23 institutes with in-house science programs, means up to half of the chiefs will turn over in the next 5 years, says Michael Gottesman, NIH’s deputy director for intramural research. “We see this as an opportunity for diversity in the leadership at NIH, especially gender and ethnic diversity,” says Hannah Valantine, NIH’s chief officer for scientific workforce diversity.

    The changes are roiling the campus, with some grumbling they will have little impact and others questioning whether good leaders should automatically be replaced. “The appointment of more women … could be a plus, but the ‘coin of the realm’ still remains scientific excellence and productivity,” says Malcolm Martin, who has headed a lab at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 37 years.

    At most institutes, NIH’s intramural lab and branch chiefs oversee several labs or groups. Although they don’t control researchers’ budgets directly, they handle administrative matters, mentoring, and recruitment. Chiefs overseeing clinical studies and shared facilities hold even more sway. “These are fiefdoms where [chiefs have] power and resources,” Valantine says.

    Many chiefs (54 of 272) have served at least 20 years, and 17 for more than 30 years, Gottesman says. Although 26% are women—comparable to the 24% women among all NIH tenured researchers—men tend to lead larger programs. Because of the lack of turnover, “People feel like there’s no way they’ll ever have a leadership position,” says Gisela Storz, chair of NIH’s equity committee, which pushed for the changes. “And trainees need to see people in those positions who look like them.”

    Under the draft policy released in January, the chiefs will have to step down after at most three 4-year terms. The positions that become vacant will be filled through “open and transparent processes,” the draft policy states. While some institutes already do that, at others, the scientific director overseeing the intramural program “plucks an heir apparent” from internal staff, Storz says.

    To help build the pipeline, NIH will rely on a recently launched program aimed at recruiting more tenure-track female and minority faculty. In the long term, NIH hopes its intramural leadership will more closely reflect that women now earn more than 50% of new Ph.D. degrees in the biological sciences, Valantine says.

    Individual institutes are now figuring out how to enact the term limits “in a way that’s not disruptive,” Gottesman says. Some chiefs may be exempt, he says, if a change would have “serious consequences” for science programs, for example because there is no pool of candidates for the job.

    One former NIH veteran is skeptical. “How much have they thought this through?” asks Story Landis, who was scientific director and later director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She questions why NIH would want to replace a midcareer chief doing a stellar job. And, she wonders, will the job searches truly be open? Will women get the training they need to move into leadership positions?

    Others point out that NIH’s scientific directors—seven of whom are now women—are the true feudal lords, and the new policy does not affect them. Gottesman has held his job for 25 years.

    But he and the scientific directors he oversees may be next: NIH term limits could “move up to other kinds of leadership,” Valantine says.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 9:45 am on March 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: $29 million to translate clinical research into patient care and treatment more quickly, NIH-National Institutes of Health, NJ ACTS: New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science- Additional funding from the institutions will grow the program to about $45 million., , The Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science includes Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, This huge grant is a natural outgrowth of the integration of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers.   

    From Rutgers University: “Rutgers-Led Team Awarded $29 Million NIH Grant for Statewide Translational Research Institute” 

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    Our Great Seal.

    From Rutgers University

    March 11, 2019

    Patti Verbanas

    A NIH grant will advance moving research discoveries into clinical practice and improve health care in the state.

    Reynold A. Panettieri, vice chancellor for Translational Medicine and Science and director of Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science.

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a Rutgers-led team $29 million to translate clinical research into patient care and treatment more quickly.

    The Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science, which includes Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, will receive the grant over five years for joining the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program.

    Translational science takes observations made in the laboratory, clinic and community and creates interventions that improve the health of individuals and populations – from diagnostics and therapeutics to medical procedures and behavioral interventions.

    “The ultimate goal is bringing more evidence-based treatments to more patients more quickly,” said Reynold Panettieri, vice chancellor for translational medicine and science and director of Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science. “In addition, our partnership with RWJBarnabas Health gives us a great opportunity to expand our clinical research, connecting the basic science research done by our 200+ investigators to patient care statewide.”

    The clinical and translational program at Rutgers will be known as NJ ACTS: New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science. Additional funding from the institutions will grow the program to about $45 million.

    NIH supports a national network of more than 50 programs at medical research institutions nationwide that collaborate to speed the translation of research discoveries into improved patient care. It enables research teams, including scientists, patient advocacy organizations and community members, to tackle system-wide scientific and operational problems in clinical and translational research that no one team can overcome.

    The grant will allow Rutgers and its partners to train and cultivate the translational science workforce; engage patients and communities in every phase of the translational process; promote the integration of special and underserved populations in translational research across the human lifespan; innovate processes to increase the quality and efficiency of translational research, particularly of multisite trials; and advance the use of big data information systems.

    The collaborative program develops innovative approaches to barriers in clinical research, such as the efficient recruitment of research participants and approvals for multisite clinical trials.

    Rutgers and its partners will build a new infrastructure for clinical and translational research across the entire state, which will give patients access to clinical trials with cutting-edge care.

    In addition, NJ ACTS will have the capacity to analyze big data to discover trends in population health that can inform basic science research. It will also allow for diversity in clinical trials across Rutgers’ five clinical research units, which include the Adult Clinical Research and Pediatric Clinical Research Unit at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and centers based at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, and Rutgers Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute.

    “This huge grant is a natural outgrowth of the integration of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers, and the type of opportunity for New Jersey then envisioned by the state government. It will foster the further development of innovation in New Jersey,” said Brian L. Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and executive vice president for health affairs for Rutgers. “It would not have been possible without the combination of resources from these two large great universities as well as the funding provided through our partnership with RWJBarnabas Health. It indicates to the world and to New Jersey industry that New Jersey is now in the big leagues of academic clinical research.”

    The grant also will build a pipeline for new clinical investigators by funding two positions a year for five years for junior faculty or professionals finishing their post-doctoral fellowship who can move into faculty positions with two years of guaranteed support. It will fund six positions for graduate students, who will be trained in translational and clinical research.

    The grant was awarded due to the strength of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Science, the alliance between Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Princeton and NJIT, and the partnerships with community-based organizations, hospitals, community health centers, outpatient practices, data centers and health information exchanges. It reaches nearly seven million of the state’s nine million residents.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:53 pm on May 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cryo-EM, NIH-National Institutes of Health,   

    From SLAC Lab: “SLAC Will Open One of Three NIH National Service Centers for Cryo-Electron Microscopy” 

    From SLAC Lab

    May 15, 2018
    Glennda Chui

    Proton pumps control the balance of acidity in the cell. This cryo-EM image shows a proton pump that’s part of an enzyme found in both yeast and humans. It consists of 15 protein subunits. The pink part rotates to transport protons across the cell’s outer membrane. Mutations in the human version of the pump interfere with the body’s normal cycle of continually replacing old bone with new. (https://www.cell.com/molecular-cell/abstract/S1097-2765%2818%2930104-7 [Molecular Cell])

    The National Institutes of Health center on the SLAC campus will make this revolutionary technology available to scientists nationwide and teach them how to use it to study 3D structures of biological machines and molecules.

    The National Institutes of Health announced today that it will establish a national service and training center for cryogenic electron microscopy research at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    Professor Wah Chiu and members of the new Stanford-SLAC cryo-EM team stand in front of a cryo-EM instrument as work nears completion on their new facility at SLAC. (Dawn Harmer- SLAC)

    It’s one of three national service and training centers the NIH is setting up to make the Nobel prize-winning technology available to scientists nationwide and teach them how to use it.

    Known as cryo-EM for short, this powerful high-resolution imaging method has become a revolutionary tool for biology over the past few years due to rapid improvements in transmission electron microscopes, detectors and software. Last year the technique earned three of its key developers the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Cryo-EM allows scientists to make detailed 3D images of DNA, RNA, proteins, viruses, cells and the tiny molecular machines within the cell, revealing how they change shape and interact in complex ways while carrying out life’s functions.

    However, the high cost of buying and operating the high-voltage electron microscopes and a lack of training opportunities have slowed the widespread adoption of the technology.

    The new data collection centers will address this by providing funding for instruments and associated lab equipment and bringing in scientists from across the nation for research and training. In addition to SLAC, centers will be set up at the New York Structural Biology Center and at the Oregon Health & Science University in partnership with DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the NIH announced. The awards are anticipated to total $128 million over six years, pending the availability of funds.

    “Cryo-electron microscopy is allowing us to resolve the three-dimensional structures of important biomolecules involved in disease that were inaccessible using previous technologies,” said National Institute of General Medical Sciences Director Jon R. Lorsch. “NIH wants to ensure as many scientists as possible have access to this crucial technology.”

    The NIH center at SLAC will be known as the SLAC-Stanford Cryo-EM Center (S2C2). It marks the second major step in carrying out the Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM Initiative, whose goal is to establish one of the world’s foremost hubs for cryo-EM research and training for scientists at the lab, the university and in the broader scientific community around the globe.

    The first step took place earlier this year, when the Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM Facility opened on the SLAC campus with four state-of-the-art microscopes.

    The new NIH center, which will operate independently but in synergy with the recently established Stanford-SLAC facility, will install several more electron microscopes and associated specimen preparation devices in the lab’s soon-to-open Arrillaga Science Center.

    “This new center complements our existing facilities and capabilities, enhancing an integrated suite of unique tools to advance materials, chemical and biological science discoveries critical to the DOE Office of Science mission,” said SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao.

    Wah Chiu, a professor at SLAC and Stanford and leader of the cryo-EM program, added, “This is an exciting moment for those in the U.S. scientific community who do not have access to cryo-EM instrumentation in their own institutions, and we are very pleased to share our decades of experience in this research with others.

    “I believe that this NIH initiative will have a great impact on popularizing this powerful imaging tool,” he said, “which will likely lead to many discoveries of 3D structures of biological machines and molecules in both their normal and diseased states and hasten our national efforts to prevent and cure a variety of diseases, including cancer, diabetics, neurodegeneration, cardiovascular diseases and infection.”

    For questions or comments, contact the SLAC Office of Communications at communications@slac.stanford.edu.

    See the full article here .

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    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

  • richardmitnick 2:10 pm on December 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dongkeun Park: Winding his way to medical insights, , FBML-Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory, High-field superconducting magnets are vital for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, , MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, NIH-National Institutes of Health, Nuclear magnetic resolution spectroscopy, , Research Engineer Dongkeun Park, The stronger the NMR magnet the greater the detail and resolution in imaging the molecular structure of proteins providing researchers with the information they may need to develop medications for com   

    From MIT: “Dongkeun Park: Winding his way to medical insights” 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    MIT News

    December 22, 2017
    Paul Rivenberg | Plasma Science and Fusion Center

    Francis Bitter Magnet Lab researcher continues a decades-long pursuit to create a revolutionary magnet for nuclear magnetic resolution spectroscopy.

    Research Engineer Dongkeun Park (right) and his colleague Juan Bascuñán wind a double-pancake coil with high-temperature superconductor. Photo: Paul Rivenberg/PSFC

    Assisted by postdoc Jiho Lee, Dongkeun Park inspects the wiring of a completed HTS coil in preparation for testing it in liquid helium. Photo: Paul Rivenberg/PSFC

    In the completed 1.3 GHz magnet, the three HTS coils (pink) that make up the H800 magnet are nested within the LTS coils composing the L500 (blue). Image courtesy of PSFC

    Research Engineer Phil Michael transfers liquid helium to the cryostat in preparation for testing the middle of the three HTS coils as Dongkeun Park looks on. Park and his colleagues expect to test the three-coil assembled H800 magnet in early in 2018. Photo: Paul Rivenberg/PSFC

    Research engineer Dongkeun Park watches a thin, coppery tape of high-temperature superconductor (HTS) wind its way from one spool on his plywood worktable to another, cautiously overseeing the speed and tension of the tape’s journey.

    When completed, in about half a day, this HTS double-pancake (DP) winding will look like two flat coils, one atop the other, but they will be one, connected internally, leaving both terminal ends on the outside. Park has been managing this process on and off for eight years, knowing that every turn of the coil creates a stronger magnet. This is just one of 96 double pancake coils that have been wound over the past five years for an 800 MHz HTS insert coil, the H800, being built in the Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory (FBML) at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center.

    High-field superconducting magnets are vital for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, a technology that provides a unique insight into biological processes. The stronger the NMR magnet, the greater the detail and resolution in imaging the molecular structure of proteins, providing researchers with the information they may need to develop medications for combating disease.

    Park joined the laboratory as a postdoc in 2009. He traces his interest in superconductivity, and MIT, to a lecture given by visiting FBML magnetic technology division head Yuki Iwasa at Yongsei University in Seoul, South Korea. Park says that as a graduate student in electrical engineering, “I wanted to make something by hand, not only by calculation.”

    When Park first arrived at FBML, the lab had been working on high-resolution HTS-based NMR magnets since 1999 as part of a program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to complete a 1-GHz NMR magnet with a combination of low temperature superconductor (LTS) and HTS double-pancake insert coils. The lab’s work on LTS-based NMR began several decades earlier.

    At the time of his arrival, NIH and MIT had recently agreed to increase the target strength of the magnet being developed from 1 GHz to 1.3 GHz. To reach this strength, FBML planned to create an H600 magnet and nest it inside a 700 MHz LTS (L700) magnet, which could be purchased elsewhere. Park notes that this combination translates to a magnetic field strength of 30.5 Tesla, “which would make it the world’s strongest magnet for NMR applications.”

    One responsibility given to Park, along with his colleague research engineer Juan Bascuñán, was to wind each DP, then test it in liquid nitrogen. The DPs would then be stacked, compressed, joined together and retested as a finished coil. Finally, this stacked coil would be over-banded with layers of stainless steel tape to support the much larger electromagnetic forces generated during high-current operation in liquid helium. Park and his colleagues needed to create two of these coils, one slightly larger than the other, and nest them inside a series of LTS coils to create the final magnet. The combined coils would create a magnet that could provide the sharpest imaging yet for investigating protein structure, possibly three times the image resolution from FBML’s current 900-MHz NMR.

    In December 2011, Park and his colleagues had virtually finished the preliminary DP windings, and were looking forward to stacking them for further testing. But returning from MIT’s winter recess, they discovered that the coils were missing. The 112 double pancake coils they had carefully crafted and wound for the H600 had been stolen.

    Park’s current PSFC colleague, research scientist Phil Michael, suggests that the theft, though traumatic to the project, “ultimately made the magnet better.” To save money, MIT and NIH decided that instead of purchasing an L700 magnet to surround the H600 coils as originally planned, they could use an L500 coil already on hand at FBML, and create for it a higher strength HTS magnet: the H800.

    With new security measures in place, Iwasa’s group set out to accomplish this goal by adopting a new HTS magnet technology known as no-insulation winding, developed by Park along with former FBML research engineer Seungyong Hahn. All previous coils had been created from HTS tape insulated with plastic film or high resistive metal. The new coils would be made without the insulation, allowing them to become more compact and mechanically robust, with increased current density.

    Park did not take part in the early production of the H800. In February of 2012, he decided to pursue an opportunity to make a new commercial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) magnet for Samsung Electronics in South Korea and the UK. In 2016 he happily returned to MIT as a research engineer, his hiatus having provided him an appreciation for the benefits of an academic environment.

    “A company’s objective is to make a profit. So you must always be concerned with reducing costs,” he says. “This is very different from exploring basic science and engineering on innovative ideas at MIT.”

    Although many coils for the H800 had been wound in his absence, he returned in time to complete and test more than half the required DP coils, along with team members Bascuñán, Phil Michael, Jiho Lee, Yoonhyuck Choi, and Yi Li. As 2018 approaches the three HTS coils necessary to create the H800 are nearly completed. Only Coil 3 remains to be finally tested in liquid helium. As the new year begins, the coils will be combined and tested as the H800.

    But even after the H800 is nested in the L500 coils and the target 1.3 GHz magnet is created, there will still be three to four years of work to ready it for the high-resolution NMR spectroscopy that will provide new insights into biological structures. Until then, Park will remain patient as he looks to other projects he is overseeing, including one developing an MRI magnet for screening osteoporosis.

    And yes, his new project requires superconducting coils. Park is always ready to start winding.

    See the full article here .

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