T H E   N I H    C A T A L Y S T      M A Y   –  J U N E   2001

Microbial Milestone

Well-Read: (standing, left to right): Celia Hooper (OD), Jerry Liddel (RFB&D), Andrea True (NHLBI), Nancy Sullivan (NIAID/VRC), Henry Metzger (NIAMS), Chris Smith (RFB&D); (kneeling, l. to r.): Ethel Schiff (RFB&D) and Bettie Graham (NHGRI); (not shown): Peggy Weston (NIAID) and Wanda Williams (NIDDK).

They might not look like human microscopes, but this group of NIHers and friends spent more than 126 hours over the course of 14 months making microbes visible.

The group is made up of volunteers for the Washington-area chapter of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D). On March 22, the group celebrated the completion of the taping of its first entire book, now known to visually impaired readers as Shelf #GC180, Brock Biology of Microorganisms.

Volunteers read at a Building 31 recording booth loaned by Calvin Jackson of the NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison. Even as the group was recording the Brock text, it was being borrowed by six readers across the country.

Additional students had signed up for copies of the recordings as soon as the set of 32 tapes—covering more than 900 pages of text, figures, and appendices–was complete.

Because there is a large backlog of biomedical texts sought by visually impaired students, RFB&D is hoping to establish its own recording studio at NIH with extended hours, more volunteers, and digital recording equipment. RFB&D is currently recruiting volunteers to read computer manuals, statistics texts, and other technical materials at its main recording studio in Washington, D.C. (5225 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., across the street from the Friendship Heights Metro stop on the red line).

When expanded hours are available on the NIH campus, the group will recruit more biomedical readers to record here. For information, call Chris Smith at RFB&D at 202-244-8990

Celia Hooper


On Recruiting Fellows

Here are few comments on Michael Gottesman’s article on recruiting fellows to NIH (The NIH Catalyst, March–April 2001) on the difficulty of evaluating potential visiting fellows before they come here.

I am sure everybody agrees that this is very difficult, because letters of recommendation that future sponsors receive often largely exaggerate candidates’ competence and obfuscate their true motivation.

It happens only rarely that a candidate makes it as easy for a future sponsor to decide to hire or not as a recent applicant did for me. He sent me his CV as an e-mail attachment, and in the short cover letter [included] a sentence to the effect that the most important thing for him was that he be admitted to the U.S. based on the H1b visa.

In my response, I let him know that I am looking for associates whose most important reason to come to the NIH is to learn a lot and do some good work. I also let him know that I did not bother to open the attachment.

Neither can one disagree with [Gottesman’s] recommendation "that potential fellows be interviewed whenever possible, preferably in person in their home country or by bringing them to NIH for a visit, before committing a postdoc position at NIH." This, of course, would always be possible were the moneys to fund such trips available. Are they?

Paul Kovac, NIDDK

—With respect to funding the interviewing of potential candidates, this is a decision that needs to be made as part of the recruitment process in each lab and in each intramural program.

Frequently, visiting fellows can be interviewed during scientific meetings or other scientific trips abroad, or fellows may be travelling to the United States and can be interviewed during their visits here.

Michael Gottesman, DDIR

On Priorities of a New NIH Director

To improve the selection of lab directors so that they are not only very good scientists but properly trained at managing and leading people (with respect to their employees).



How the genetic code was discovered
Cartoonist Brian Bradow, NICHD, can be reached here.



Return to Table of Contents