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Blog from March, 2012

Dear members of NICHD’s Division of Intramural Research,

The NICHD Connection newsletter will look a little different over the next few months. Our wonderful Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Shana Spindler, is taking a sabbatical from her newsletter duties while she deals with some health issues. We are all sending positive thoughts her way! And will do our best to bring you intramural news and announcements, and the occasional feature articles, even in the absence of Shana’s fine ideas and editorial touch. —Brenda Hanning

To support the Office of Education, and her career goals, Dr. Yvette Pittman from the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Dever is going to be doing a part-time rotation in the office beginning in March. So you will see a number of emails coming to you in her name—about upcoming events (read on), our May retreat, and our Summer Internship Program. This will ensure that we continue to be responsive to your needs and interests.

For those of you who have not met Yvette, she was the course director this past year for our annual postbac course, Becoming an Effective Scientist. She’s also helped on the steering committee to plan our annual retreats. In addition, Yvette is the spirit behind our Fellows Recruitment Incentive Award (FRIA), designed to stimulate recruitment of a diverse population of postdoctoral scientists to our intramural labs. More information will be issued on this soon.

Yvette completed her undergraduate degree in biology at Delaware State University, then her PhD in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in 2008 at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Her current research focuses on the molecular mechanism by which start codon context directs translation initiation.

I am grateful for Yvette’s assistance, as we work together on your behalf! —Brenda Hanning

2012, 8th Annual Fellows Retreat

Remember to mark your calendars for Monday, May 7th from 3 p.m. through end of the day on Tuesday, May 8th. All of our speakers are lined up, and the registration web site will go live in the next month.

Teaching: Monday, March 26th: Doing Real Work, Not Homework

8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
With Dr. Brian Coppola, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor
Department of Chemistry
University of Michigan

The goal of this teaching workshop is to enable instructors to think beyond the literature-based, conventional assignments and create work for students that will maximize their learning, independence, and creativity. This workshop will increase your knowledge on the principles of creating coursework while designating time for you to design your own “non-traditional” assignments for both lecture and laboratory courses.

Note that there are only ten spots left, so sign up soon, send an email to Dr. Yvette Pittman!

Dr. Coppola is a faculty associate of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at University of Michigan. As a specialist on educational philosophy, practice, and assessment, he has published many articles on collaborative learning, instructional strategies, and active learning in the laboratory. In addition to receiving numerous awards for his outstanding teaching throughout his academic career, he is committed to creating a new generation of faculty who can better integrate their research and teaching.

Dr. Coppola led a very successful teaching workshop for us back in 2007, a return visit is overdue!

Mentor of the Year 2012: Time to nominate

This is a wonderful opportunity to recognize an individual whose mentoring has made a difference in your life here at NIH! You have until April 6th to nominate mentors for our two annual Mentor of the Year awards, one for an investigator (tenured, tenure-track, staff clinician, staff scientist) and one for a fellow (postdoctoral, clinical, visiting, or research fellows).

Go to to tell the trainee selection committee about your great mentorship experience in our intramural labs.

You may want to look at our institute’s Guidelines to Support the Training Relationship Between Postdoctoral IRTAs, Visiting Fellows, and Clinical Fellows on the web site for the Office of Education, which underscores the DIR’s commitment to all of you. The link can be found at

FARE Abstracts: Improve your submission

The FARE annual travel award competition is currently accepting applications; fellows must submit an abstract of their research. The NICHD Office of Education is offering a seminar on tips for submitting a winning abstract. This 1-hour seminar will be held on Monday, March 5 at 12:00 noon in Bldg 31, Room 2A48.

The information shared will help you choose a study session wisely, understand the scoring criteria, how writing an FARE abstract is unique, and answer any questions you may have about the competition. The speakers will include award recipients and judges from last's year competition.

NICHD Director’s Lecture Series

Title: Biomechanical Basis of Concussion: Monitoring Head Impacts in Sports
Speaker: Richard M. Greenwald, Ph.D., President, Simbex
Date: April 17, 2012
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Location: Lipsett auditorium, Bldg. 10, the Clinical Center, NIH campus
Fellows, please sign up through Yvette Pittman if you would like to attend a brown-bag lunch with Dr. Greenwald before his talk.

  • Giving a compelling One-hour Talk, with public speaking coach and author of Speaking about Science, Scott Morgan.
  • Biological imaging dos and don’ts with Melissa Sisk, a postbaccalaureate fellow and graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago in our Biovizualizaton Team.
  • Preparing for Postbac Poster Day, to take place on Wednesday, April 25th.