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Director’s Album – Photos

Out for a Ride

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I had a great time meeting up on my Harley with more than a dozen motorcycle riders as part of a recent charity event that raised more than $5,000 for the Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund and Friends of Patients at the NIH. The fundraising drive, held on June 26, started in Fairfax, VA, rolled into Montgomery County, MD, and made its way to Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park for lunch and ceremonies. The photo to the left shows the group out for a ride. In the photo to the right, I’m saying hello to Narisu Narisu (l), a bioinformatics scientist with NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), and Darryl Leja (r), NHGRI’s visual information specialist. Credit: NIH


White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing at NIH

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On June 9, 2020, I joined my fellow members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force at NIH’s Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center (VRC), part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). We gathered for a late-morning meeting to discuss some of NIH’s latest efforts to expand COVID-19 testing through the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Initiative, as well as the National Cancer Institute’s ongoing work to help evaluate the accuracy of emerging COVID-19 antibody tests. Beforehand, the task force members visiting NIH received a brief tour of the VRC. The tour included a briefing from Kizzmekia Corbett (right), a VRC research fellow, who spoke about coronavirus antibodies. Taking part in the briefing (L-R) are: John Mascola, VRC director; Deborah Birx; Task Force member and coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS; Jared Kushner, Task Force member and Senior Advisor to the President; Tony Fauci, Task Force member and NIAID director; Brad Smith, Task Force member and director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation; Francis Collins; and Barney Graham, VRC deputy director. Credit: NIH

Teaching a Discerning Dog New Tricks

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It was my pleasure to offer an opening hello remotely from my home to start the 13th annual NIH Career Symposium—An Online Event. Little did I know that among those tuning in live was an inquisitive canine named Augustus Diego Hunt, or just plain Gus for short. Though Gus likely shed his glasses later to investigate other sights and smells in his loving household, the busy afternoon symposium presented some of the many promising career choices that are now available to young scientists. The event was held on May 8, 2020 and sponsored by the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE). Credit: Jacqueline Newell-Hunt with a tail wag to Gus.

Testifying in Congress During a Pandemic

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I testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions as part of a hearing titled “Shark Tank: New Tests for COVID-19.” Also testifying was Gary Disbrow (left), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Responses, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We started the hearing wearing masks. But due to some technical difficulties with the sound system, we removed them to elevate our voices, while maintaining good physical distancing. I then presented some of the inspiring efforts now underway to combat the novel coronavirus. That includes the recently launched Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Initiative and its national technology development competition to increase our nation’s testing capacity. This “shark tank”-like competition is now encouraging science and engineering’s most inventive minds to develop rapid, easy-to-use technologies to test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. The hearing was held on May 7, 2020 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. Credit: United States Senate


First Virtual WALS Lecture

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NIH Lecture-Remote with Dr. James Allison
With sponsored travel and large gatherings now limited to stop the spread of COVID-19, NIH has been making lots of logistical adjustments. That includes holding the first “virtual” NIH Director’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series (WALS) on March 11, 2020. I started things off from Bethesda, Maryland by looking into a video monitor in a large, mostly empty conference room and introducing Jim Allison, the cancer immunotherapy giant and recent Nobelist at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. In Houston, Jim walked to the podium in a mostly empty hall (top left), called for his slides, and delivered a roughly 45-minute presentation titled Immune Checkpoint Blockade in Cancer Therapy: Historical Perspective, New Opportunities, and Prospects for Cures. Taking it all in online was a large NIH audience that included next to me another cancer immunotherapy giant, Steve Rosenberg of NIH’s National Cancer Institute (bottom right). At the conclusion of the presentation, NIH staff emailed questions to the podium in Houston, where Jim provided the answers. Still left to be worked out in this virtual format is how to share afterwards in the real-world coffee, refreshments, and stimulating conversation. Credit: NIH

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