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Message from Constantine A. Stratakis, MD, D(med)Sci

Scientific Director Constantine A. Stratakis, MD, D(med)Sci
  • Constantine Stratakis, MD, D(med)Sci, Scientific Director, NICHD
  • Brenda R. Hanning, Deputy Director, Liaison & Training
  • Carol Carnahan, Staff Assistant to the Scientific Director
  • Renee Gethers, Program Support Assistant
  • Sara K. King, Scientific Program Analyst – Board of Scientific Counselors

2014 was an annus mirabilis for the Division of Intramural Research (DIR), on multiple levels. Our year-long strategic planning process, which engaged many members of our community, will come into being in 2015 with a number of significant changes. Drawing from recommendations of a Blue Ribbon Panel, our scientists have formed into affinity groups, which will allow for new conersations, new and more nimble configurations to address new scientific questions, and engagement in joint projects through team science approaches. Our vision is analogous to the confluence of streams and rivers, smoothly melding waters with unbroken continuity. Indeed over the coming two years, more than 80 percent of our researchers will be situated in newly renovated or entirely new space, consolidating our laboratories into three hub areas on the Bethesda campus, to support and generate new synergies among our investigators, including research cores.

To achieve our new research and organizational framework, investigators formed into working groups to address all aspects of our scientific and medical lives, from an examination of the metrics to assess our scientific success to recruitment of a more diverse workforce in lean times to a revised mission.

Both scientifically and clinically, data sharing is critical to our community of science. The NICHD is an active participant in the extramural-intramural collaborations overseen by the NIH’s Clinical Research Center. This year we also challenged investigators to launch new partnerships through an intramural Director’s Investigator Award that will support new ideas over the coming two years, across our DIR and across Institutes in some cases. Intramural researchers are participating in the Institute’s Human Placenta initiative, as well. We participate actively in NIH’s Medical Research Scholars Program, too, reflecting our commitment to train physician-scientists for the future, knowing that the medical students we introduce to clinical research will, and do, return to pursue more advanced research with us. The DIR river is rich in talent, notably that of our basic and clinical fellows.

Recognizing how critical it is today for scientists to be able to describe in accessible ways the complexity of their research, we launched the TmT or three-minute talks in 2014, among our graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. They rose to the challenge and, following a rigorous training program, three winners were identified by our judging panels.

This is an era of unprecedented opportunity in science. New tools, new discoveries in the life sciences, allow our creativity to flourish. Building on a year of sustained review in intramural NICHD, in our institute, and indeed across the intramural programs of the NIH, the curiosity that spurs us all made 2014 an extraordinary year in the Division of Intramural Research. I invite you to search through the disc that accompanies this message, to read in detail about our training programs, our investigators, and our research.

Constantine A. Stratakis, MD D(med)Sci

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