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Below are comments we received in response to issues or letters raised in the September-October issue.
On the state of chemistry at NIH
I wish to compliment The NIH Catalyst for choosing to feature the sad state of chemistry at NIH in the September-October issue. My only quibble with this otherwise incisive and informative article is the reference to Ad Bax as "NIH's Most-Cited Chemist." In the interview on page 13, Bax's assertion that "NIH seems to be quite supportive of chemists, as far as I've been able to tell" contradicts the many NIH chemists quoted in the article. This is not so surprising, since Bax also makes it clear that he is not a chemist. (He is, however, a brilliant, world-renowned biophysicist.) That Ad Bax should be presented as a chemist is symptomatic of the low profile of chemistry at NIH.
- John Schwab, NIGMS
The latest issue of the NIH Catalyst is a déjà vu for us oldsters. Nobody formulated the need for chemistry in medicine better than Frank Westheimer in his introduction to the report that bears his name. The ACS publication "Chemistry in Medicine ," on which I collaborated with leaders of academe and industry many years ago, and DeWitt Stetten's "NIH: An Account of Research in Its Laboratories and Clinics" provide additional convincing demonstrations of the absolute leading role of the properly understood organic chemistry in its wider sense, which certainly has no need for the superfluous epithet "molecular."
If tradition were to play a more important role in the pursuit of science, we would not have to re-invent the wheel so often. The late Dr. Phil Handler, past president of the National Academy of Sciences, used to say, "If ever we came closer to understanding the mystery of life, it can be described and expressed in only one language, that of organic chemistry."
- Bernhard Witkop
On questions about carpool stickers and parking
I feel compelled to reply to the letter from "Anonymous" who has "never seen more than one person get out of or into a car parked in a carpool space" and therefore concluded that these people "are obviously not carpooling." A very simple explanation is that these observed people were car pooling with other NIH employees who work in different buildings on campus. I was one of these people when I was at NIDR in Bethesda. I carpooled with somebody who worked in Building 31. Our routine was for me to drop her off in the morning at Building 31 and drive to Building 30 to park. The process would be reversed each night. Therefore, I would be observed exiting and entering alone each day a car parked in carpool spaces.
- Steven Akiyama, NIEHS
Having held both general and carpool stickers for the past 18 years, I've heard most of the complaints about the NIH parking crisis. No matter what color parking sticker one has, there are people who abuse the system. This is evident just by taking a stroll through most of the parking lots on campus. One will find in red, general, and carpool lots that there are cars with outdated stickers or cars with either the hanging tag or window sticker missing. Why is this? Because someone left their hanging tag in another car? Then why not park legally in Lot 41? Or with the red and carpool lots, are two cars being driven on one permit? How about the general parking areas where the same thing occurs, either no sticker or no tag? What can the excuses be since each car is issued a sticker and a tag? Could the rumors actually be true that employees are selling their parking places to non-NIHers who utilize the Metro system and would rather risk a rare ticket than pay parking downtown? How many visitors actually get to park in the lots designated for them? I've known more employees than I can count who never even register their cars on campus just to park in visitor lots.
Easy answers. No way. We could ask the NIH police to be more vigilant, but the system is flawed and there will always be people who take advantage of that fact. Maybe the carpool and red lots should be open to general-parking-sticker holders at an earlier time since many of these lots are already filled before the current rules now permit. Or how about going to the extreme of abolishing all classes of parking except disabled, visitors, and reserved and making parking first come, first served? Dreaming again, you bet. These are suggestions that will just add more fuel to this endless, raging debate, but since we are all in the same boat, a little more consideration of our fellow employees might go a long way.
I was clearing my desk and came across the Catalytic Reactions call for information or thoughts on the parking situation here. In general, it has improved greatly since MLP8 opened up. One suggestion that is bound to be unpopular: How about assigning the summer students to parking in lot 41 (or Siberia, as we like to call it)? They generally work much shorter hours than the fellows (7 - 8 hours) and so they can find the time to add the extra 20 - 25 minutes to and from parking lot 41 to their workday.
Oh ... one other thought. Security
in the parking garages is always high on our minds when we walk
in there late
- Krystyna R. Isaacs, NIMH
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