Senior Leadership Changes Occurring at NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have been experiencing a turnover in the leadership over the past month as several long-term directors have decided to retire and/or move on to new endeavors.

guttmacher In August, Alan Guttmacher, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), announced his plans to retire at the end of September. The Friends of NICHD paid tribute to Guttmacher on September 15 with a farewell breakfast in recognition of his dedication and leadership in advancing science and improving human health and well-being. COSSA serves on the Friends Executive Committee.

As director of one of the few NIH institutes with a “friends” group, Guttmacher always made a point of expressing his appreciation for the Friends’ ability to collectively advocate on behalf of the Institute despite the breadth of its mission and diverse research portfolio.

Speaking on behalf of the Friends and the social and behavioral science research community in particular, Howard Kurtzman, Acting Executive Director for Science at the American Psychological Association, expressed the community’s appreciation for Guttmacher’s service during his tenure at NIH, which has included the release of NICHD’s Scientific Vision statement (See Update, December 10, 2012). He also noted that many in the social and behavioral science community were “very pleased that this Scientific Vision maintained NICHD’s broad approach to human development, covering topics from pregnancy and reproduction, to neural plasticity and rehabilitation, to population dynamics.”

Guttmacher, a pediatrician and geneticist, also served as NIH director Francis Collins’ deputy director at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and its Acting Director when Collins became NIH’s director. In 2010, Collins appointed him director of NICHD.

Recently appointed NICHD deputy director and former NICHD scientific director Catherine Spong has been appointed acting director of the Institute. A national search for a new director is underway.

inselAlso on September 15, Collins announced that National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director Thomas Insel would be stepping down on November 1, 2015. Insel will be joining the Google Life Sciences (GLS) team at Alphabet (formerly Google) to lead a new effort that will focus on mental health. GLS’ mission is “to create technology for earlier detection, better prevention, and more effective management of serious health conditions.” Insel’s new role will include “exploring this approach for a wide spectrum of issues in mental health.”

NIMH Acting Deputy Director Bruce Cuthbert will serve as Acting Director. Cuthbert, the director of Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) unit, has held a number of leadership positions at NIMH.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 22), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

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