T H E   N I H    C A T A L Y S T      S E P T E M B E R  – O C T O B E R   2003



Radioisotopes can be used for much more than just Southern blots—they are also powerful tools for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. But more exotic biomedical research applications may call for more exotic radionuclides. NIH scientists can now request special—and more mundane—isotopes for their research from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Some of the clinically important isotopes, such as those used for positron emission tomography scanners, are so short-lived that they must be produced on the NIH campus. The DOE produces and distributes diagnostic and therapeutic isotopes with half-lives longer than about three days.

The DOE distributes four classes of isotopes. Stable isotopes, such as helium-3, and "essentially stable," long-lived radioactive isotopes, such as aluminum-26, are sold from inventory. The final two categories, research and commercial isotopes, have much shorter half-lives—2.6 days to years—and are produced as needed.

Actinium-225 is an interesting example. This isotope, with a half-life of 10 days, is produced from fissile, Cold-War legacy uranium-233. An a-emitter, Ac-225 shows promise as a cancer treatment.

Although the DOE builds and maintains unique facilities to produce isotopes such as Ac-225 that simply aren't available anywhere else, it does not have the funds to produce isotopes that do not have buyers. The agency has thus established a peer-review process, called the Nuclear Energy Protocol for Research Isotopes (NEPRI), to determine which research isotopes will be produced in a given fiscal year.

The NEPRI process begins in February with the distribution of pre-applications to research, medical, and commercial customers. These forms are due in late spring, when they are peer-reviewed. The final list of isotopes to be produced in a subsequent fiscal year is made public by late summer, and orders are accepted until the end of September for the next fiscal year. (Scientists have until September 30 to place their orders for fiscal year 2004.) Payment must be made 30 days before the start of production to cover production and isolation costs.

A fact sheet with contact information and lists of isotopes available in FY2004 can be downloaded. This document also contains information on how to request isotopes for FY2005. —P.K.

For a glimpse of this year’s pre-application form, see this website.


Anyone interested in the full text of the latest outside effort to evaluate the structure of NIH—entitled Enhancing the Vitality of the National Institutes of Health: Organizational Change to Meet New Challenges—may now "read it free online."

First released July 29, the report was prepared by a blue-ribbon panel convened by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine in response to a congressional mandate.

After a year-long study that focused on whether the proliferation of institutes at NIH is or may become an impediment to NIH’s ability to respond efficiently to the country’s research needs, the panel declined to recommend the "widespread consolidation" of institutes in NIH.

Instead, the panel suggested establishment of a formal process to review and act on any proposals for IC restructuring—and urged that two particular mergers be first in line for consideration: NIDA with NIAAA and NIGMS with NHGRI.

The panel had suggestions for the enhancement of clinical research, high-risk research, and trans-institute research initiatives consistent with the "road map" plans already under development at NIH (see "Cartographers Draft NIH Research Road Map.").

Other recommendations include taking special care not to outsource administrative functions that are deeply tied to scientific functions, reconsidering NCI’s special legislative status, and establishing "term limits" for institute directors and the NIH director.



This year’s Research Festival will kick off Tuesday October 14 with a symposium extravagantly—and correctly—titled "The Past, Present, and Future of Clinical Research" (8:30–5:30, Masur Auditorium).http://dceg.cancer.gov/people/FraumeniJoseph.html

The people who will trace the progress in the major clinical realms are the people who effected that progress in the last century and continue to carry the work into this one.

All former or current NIH investigators, the speakers are (in order of appearance) Vincent DeVita, Tom Waldmann, Steve Rosenberg, Eugene Braunwald, Elizabeth Nabel, Steve Paul, Henry McFarland, French Anderson, Allen Spiegel, Elizabeth Neufeld, Francis Collins, Harvey Alter, Anthony Fauci, and John Gallin.

The subject matter spans cancer therapeutics, cardiovascular disease, neuroscience, the molecular basis of disease, and infectious diseases.

The Research Festival runs from the 14th through the 17th. Music and food will refresh festival goers as they immerse themselves in the scientific offerings of 12 minisymposia and hundreds of posters. There will also be exhibits of intramural resources and commercial suppliers—and, of course, the Job Fair for NIH postdocs and clinical fellows.

The minisymposia sessions, 10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m., will be held Wednesday, October 15, at Natcher.

The six simultaneous morning symposia are on host response to infectious diseases, the "new omics" in the molecular epidemiology of chronic diseases, protein-protein interactions, virus entry-virus receptor interactions, programmed cell death, and interconnection of hormones, bone, and brain.

The afternoon symposia address genome instability, bioinformatics from bench to bedside, negative regulation of immune responses, bringing genetics to the public, macromolecular complexes and assemblies, and interfacing the physical and biological sciences.

This year’s festival is co-chaired by Joseph Fraumeni, director of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, NCI, and Robert Desimone, NIMH scientific director.

The full festival schedule is here.



The deadline for registering for the 2003–2004 course on "Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research" is October 3. The course runs from October 20, 2003, to February 24, 2004, and is held on the NIH campus Monday and Tuesday evenings from 5:00 p.m. to approximately 6:30 p.m. The course is free of charge, but textbook purchase is required. A certificate will be awarded upon successful completion of the course, including a final exam.

For additional information or to register, go to this website or call the Office of Clinical Research Training and Medical Education at 301-496-9425. An e-mail confirmation will be sent to those accepted into the program.

For reasonable accommodations, call (301) 496-9425, 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m., at least seven business days before the event.

The course objectives are:

To understand the basic epidemiologic methods involved in clinical research.

To be grounded in the principles of clinical research ethics and the legal issues and regulations involved in human subjects research, including the role of IRBs in clinical research.

To become familiar with the principles and issues involved in monitoring patient-oriented research.

To understand the infrastructure required in the conduct of clinical research and the steps involved in developing and funding research studies.

The course is aimed at physicians and other health professionals training for a career in clinical research. Interested persons are strongly encouraged to take a course in biostatistics such as STAT 200 or STAT 500, currently offered at the FAES (see "It’s Not Too Late!"). NIH/FAES is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.




If the answer to any of the following questions is "yes," CIVIL, the NIH team of experts that promotes civil behavior in the NIH workplace, is available to help sort through the issues and determine the next steps to take.

Are you or someone you know having difficulty managing anger at the worksite?

Are you concerned about how to respond to behavior at work that is less than civil—and possibly even intimidating, harassing, or verbally or physically threatening?

Are family or other personal disputes affecting your ability to think clearly and be productive at work, or are you worried that family members or others with hostile attitudes or behavior may make unwanted visits to the worksite to see you?

Do you believe that you or any of your colleagues are experiencing overwhelming feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide?

Have you seen other behavior changes (or behaviors) in yourself or others at work that are cause for worry?

CIVIL may be reached at this phone number: C-I-V-I-L, or 2-4845; TTY at 301-402-9499. ANYONE can call CIVIL. For more info, either call or go to this website.

If you think you or others are in IMMEDIATE danger, always call 911 first, if on campus, and 9-911, if off-campus.



With a $5 late fee, late registration for the FAES (Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences) Graduate School at NIH is being accepted through October 9. $10 will enable late registration through October 24—but that is the last possible day.

The FAES 2003–04 course catalog is available on line as a PDF file at the FAES website.. The hard copy can be picked up at the FAES Bookstore (CC/Building 10, B1 level) and at the FAES Graduate School (One Cloister Court/Building 60, Suite 230). Required texts are also available at the bookstore.

For more info, call 301-496-7976. FAES could use more classroom space; suggestions are welcomed.


The online version of The NIH Catalyst can be found here and is accessible to all computers within the NIH network.

To be notified when each new issue hits cyberspace and of its approximate contents, subscribe to the Catalyst-L listserve. Send an e-mail message to this address.

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Beginning October 1, 2003, NIH employees will use Employee Express, an automated system that provides access 24/7, for management of the following transactions:

Tax withholding (federal & state exemptions/amount)

Direct deposit/financial allotment changes

Home aaddress change

Federal employee health benefit plan/enrollment changes (during open season)

TSP percentage of salary deductions (during open season)

Changes can be made to benefits information anywhere and any time.

To find out how you can get your PIN and to learn more about Employee Express, visit the website.



RRFB&D, a nonprofit organization that provides recorded textbooks for blind and dyslexic students, has a much greater demand for high-level science texts than it can fulfill. Its most critical need is for readers who are specialists such as chemists, physicists, doctors, computer scientists, and mathematicians.

If you have a background in any of these areas or a related field, come to an RFB&D Open House: Wednesday, October 8, Building 31, Conference Room 10, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.

RFB&D has a recording space at NIH, for the convenience of scientists and medical experts who can record college and postgraduate level science texts. All necessary training on recording equipment is provided. A 1-hour per week commitment for a minimum of six months is requested.

For more info, stop by the open house or contact Sarah Scully by e-mail or at (202) 244-8990.



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