The NIH Office
of Research Services (ORS)
may actually become what everyone knows is impossible: all things to all
people at NIH, especially the "bench scientists," says Leonard
Taylor, acting director of a year-old division within the ORS that was
assembled with the needs of intramural researchers in mind.
The fiscal year just departed saw the transfer of four programs out of
the predominantly extramural National Center for Research Resources and
into ORS to make them more responsive to the intramural community. The
fourMedical Arts and Photography, the NIH Library, Veterinary Resources
(see story, page 7), and Biomedical Engineering
and Instrumentationformed the ORS Division of Intramural Research
A more recent reconfiguration has divided the last mentioned of these
programs into two distinct entities: the Scientific
Equipment and Instrumentation Branch, centering on laboratory and
electronic equipment services, and the Bioengineering
and Physical Science (BEPS) Program, a new division-level organization
unique among ORS components in that its mission is actually collaborative
"The lines are blurring now between biology, bioengineering, and
the physical sciences. Interdisciplinary approaches are becoming essential,"
observes Cherie Fisk, acting director of BEPS. BEPSand its 20 engineering,
mathematics, and physical sciences experts with a passion for inventionoffers
that support (see page 9).
With the addition of the 300 people on the DIRS and BEPS rosters, ORS
now numbers more than 1,300, says ORS Director Steve Ficca, "and
we stand behind the researchers in so many ways that even the scientific
directors have been heard to say, 'Gee, I didn't know you did that!'"
Anyone who meandered through the posters at the NIH Research Festival,
however, couldn't help but be exposed to the ORS influence, displayed
on dozens of boards depicting such activities as hazardous waste disposal,
postexposure prophylaxis against retrovirus infection, maintaining the
Shared Resources Database, and overseeing the construction on campus of
the new Vaccine Research Center.
There are more initiatives in store for ORS, Ficca adds: The process
for recruitment of permanent directors for both DIRS and BEPS has begun,
and by the by fiscal year 2001, the way ORS is funded will have changed.
ORS now gets most of its operating money from the central management fund,
with the remainder coming from fees for service. But the millennium will
bring an 85-percent fee arrangement. "The scientific directors,"
he notes, "will know exactly what their money is buying."
Service with a
Smile at the NIH Research Festival
Sunshine on a Rainy Day: Ed
Sunderland sings the praises of the NIH Library document delivery
services (including the Web of Science and Porpoise programs; see
story, page 6) providing desktop access to
full-text on-line journals for the entire intramural research program"even
Rocky Mountain Labs can log on" to the home page (<http://nihlibrary.nih.gov>)
"with a few clicks, at no additional cost." This year,
Sunderland says, the library's on-line stacks have increased from
"a handful to about 300" titles, including Cell, Immunity,
Neuron, PNAS, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the
Journal of Experimental Medicine, Brain Research, Lancet, Neuroscience,
and Gene"the most heavily used in the library,
the ones that are practically destroyed from use before it's time
for them to be bound."
Two days of free seminars on the library's electronic resources
are scheduled for December and will be held in the NIH Library
Training Room. Registration is not required.
am10:30 am: Web of Science
noon: Internet Grateful Med
noon: Web of Science
p.m.2:00 pm: Reference Manager Windows
pm2:00 pm: EndNote plus Windows
Green Giants: Capt. Ed Rau
(right), Environmental Protection Branch, ORS Division of Safety
(with Jack Kehoe, a Safety Kleen,
Inc., chemist), elaborates on NIH's "one-of-a-kind" ultraviolet
peroxidation system, used to treat on-site almost all of NIH's aqueous
mixed wastes (hazardous chemical wastes that contain low levels
of radioactive materials). "We pioneered this method,"
says Rau. "It's environmentally friendly, totally enclosed,
and leaves no residues."
Desperately Seeking Centrifuge: Ron
Edwards (left), director of computer systems, ORS Division of
Intramural Research Services, demonstrates the wonders of the Shared
Resources Database, a free, on-line swap meet that enables the transfer
of still useful (and, in some cases, never been used) items from
one lab or office to another. Created in June 1997 by ORS, CIT,
and NIAID, the database has been accessed by 9,935 individuals;
1,800 surplus pieces have been listedmostly
lab equipment, like centrifuges, incubators, and DNA sequencers,
says Edwards, but also items like computers, printers, and cabinets.
In addition to an "available resources" section, which
currently lists and exactly describes about 80 items, there's also
a "requested resources" list for those in search of specific
elusive (or otherwise expensive) materials. The database can be
Reaction Time: Jim Schmitt, medical director of the Occupational
Medical Service, ORS Division of Safety, runs a service that's available
"24 hours a day, every day" the Retrovirus
Exposure Surveillance Program, which has enrolled about 5,000 people
since it opened in 1988. NIH, Schmitt says, is one of a very few
research institutions in the country that offer both routine testing
for employees who may be inadvertently exposed to a retrovirus at
work and postexposure evaluation and treatment (available also to
anyone exposed while at NIH). About one-quarter of enrollees work
with a primate retrovirus in a lab or animal care setting; the rest
work with human body fluids or patients. Nearly 34,000 enzyme immunoassays
have been done, most for HIV-1. Of the 334 injuries reported over
the past 11 years, 119 were considered serious enough to result
in infection; 79 percent of those offered postexposure prophylaxis
accepted treatment. The time taken to report to OMS and initiate
prophylaxis has decreased over the years, to less than an hour in
the past two years. As yet unknown, however, is how well used the
program is. "Awareness at NIH is high," Schmitt says,
"but we have no idea how much injury goes unreported."