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News and Notes Irene Eckstrand, Ph.D., the Bridges to the Future program director at NIGMS since 1999, left the program this past spring to manage a new Institute initiative aimed at harnessing the nation's computing skills to enhance our ability to respond to disease epidemics and bioterrorism. The initiative, called MIDAS (an acronym for Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study), will develop powerful computer modeling techniques to analyze and respond to infectious disease outbreaks, whether they occur naturally, such as SARS, or are released intentionally in a bioterrorist attack. Adolphus Toliver, Ph.D., has taken over as interim director of the Bridges program at NIGMS.

• MORE grantees Chellu S. Chetty, Ph.D., and Margaret Werner-Washburne, Ph.D., were among the recipients of this year's Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. The annual awards recognize influential individuals and institutions who have been leaders in encouraging minorities, women, and disabled persons to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Chetty is a professor of biology at Savannah State University in Georgia, where he also serves as director of the school's MBRS program. He is acknowledged for mentoring undergraduate and graduate students and for his efforts to increase the number of individuals in science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines.

Werner-Washburne is a professor of biology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she is also a subproject investigator on the university's Initiative for Minority Student Development grant. She is credited with using a hands-on approach for mentoring students in the areas of biology, mathematics, computer science, and mechanical and chemical engineering.

Also honored was the American Physiological Society, which operates NIGMS-funded education and minority programs. The society was recognized for its programs for minority students and teachers and its efforts to increase diversity in the field of physiology.

A total of nine individuals and eight institutions received Presidential awards at a recent ceremony in Washington, DC. The awards were established by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 1996 and are administered through the National Science Foundation. Award recipients receive a $10,000 grant and a commemorative Presidential certificate.

Juliette B. Bell, Ph.D., director of the MBRS program at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, has been appointed dean of the newly formed College of Basic and Applied Sciences at the university. Bell, a chemistry professor, also serves as the university's director of biomedical research. During her 12-year tenure with the university, Bell has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Millennium Award for Excellence in Teaching in Mathematics, Science, Engineering, and Technology in 2000.

• MORE Director Clifton Poodry, Ph.D., and several MORE program directors were among the recipients of 2004 Distinguished Awards from the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). The annual awards recognize individuals who have dedicated themselves to science, education, and mentoring. Poodry was honored with the society's Professional Mentor Award. Other honorees included Laura J. Robles, Ph.D., a professor of biology and acting dean of graduate studies and research at California State University, Dominguez Hills, who received the Distinguished Undergraduate Institution Mentor Award; Elma Gonzalez, Ph.D., a professor of biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who received the Distinguished Scientist Award; and J. Dennis O'Malley, Ph.D., a chemistry instructor at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS, who received the Community/Tribal College Mentor Award.

The honorees received their awards at the 2004 SACNAS conference in Austin, Texas, in October.

Janice Blum, Ph.D., a Bridges to the Doctorate faculty mentor and a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Indiana University-Purdue University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, received the 2004 Alvin S. Bynum Award for Excellence in Academic Mentoring. The award recognizes an outstanding faculty member who has demonstrated long standing commitment to fostering an atmosphere of learning at the university.

• In recent months, we have received word about the following student participants in NIGMS minority programs. • Anthony N. Burgos, a former MARC undergraduate student at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, is pursuing graduate studies at Ponce School of Medicine, where he receives a minority predoctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health, NIH. • Jeanette L. Ducut Sigala, a former MARC undergraduate student at California State University, Northridge, received her Ph.D. in the biological sciences from the University of California, San Diego, and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA. • Annette Gabaldón, a former MBRS program participant at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, completed her Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis, and is now an assistant professor of biology at Colorado State University, Pueblo. • Parinda Parikh, a former MBRS program participant at Barry University in Miami Shores, FL, received an M.D. from Ross University School of Medicine in Edison, NJ, and is now an assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City. • Erica Ramos, a former MARC undergraduate student at Barry University in Miami Shores, FL, is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology at Fordham University in Bronx, NY.

Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program Updates

Madgia De Jesus and Maudrey Laurent-Rolle, former Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) scholars at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, are currently pursuing their Ph.D. degrees. De Jesus is attending Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York, and Laurent-Rolle is participating in the NIGMS-funded Medical Scientist Training Program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

• Many former PREP participants at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, are pursuing Ph.D. degrees. The students and their doctoral institutions are: Sheila Adams, University of South Carolina in Columbia; Donna Clark, University of North Texas, Denton; Shea Gilliam, Tennille Leak, Exazevia Logan, David Soto Pantoja, Karl Pendergrass, and Jerry Saunders, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Teresa Green and Reba Royster, North Carolina State University, Raleigh; LaRhonda Jackson, University of Houston in Texas; and Leigh Miles, Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

We are always interested in hearing about NIGMS minority program faculty, alumni, and students. Photographs of your students, research labs, and activities are also welcomed and encouraged.

Please send information to:
NIGMS Minority Programs Update
Room 3AN.32
45 Center Drive MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Tel: 301-496-7301
Fax: 301-402-0224



photo of Chellu S. Chetty

Chellu S. Chetty

photo of Margaret Werner-Washburne

Margaret Werner-Washburne


Former MARC trainee Jeanette L. Ducut Sigala was part of a research team that discovered a molecule found in nearly all cells that plays a vital role in kick-starting the production of key biological molecules involved in inflammation. The finding may lead to new strategies for blocking the devastating inflammation that lies at the heart of autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and lupus, as well as some cancers.

For more on NIGMS-funded research, see https://www.nigms.nih.gov/