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NHGRI Announces Key Personnel Changes As It Prepares For Next Phase of Genomic Research

November 18, 2002

BETHESDA, Md. - The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) announced today a number of key personnel changes, including the appointment of a new scientific director to run its intraumural research program, a new director for the extramural program that oversaw the Human Genome Project and new advisors in the Office of the Director.

"This is a very exciting time for the National Human Genome Research Institute," said Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "As we move to finish the human genome sequence in April 2003, the institute has been conducting a yearlong planning effort to prepare for the next phase of genomic research. It's only natural that the institute itself would also evolve. The new team promises to be a powerhouse for genomic research."

New appointments include Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., as the scientific director and director of NHGRI's Division of Intramural Research (DIR); William A. Gahl, M.D., Ph.D., as the intramural clinical director; and Mark S. Guyer, Ph.D., as the director of the Division of Extramural Research (DER), along with the appointment of two DER associate directors: Jane L. Peterson, Ph.D., and Bettie J. Graham, Ph.D. (See accompanying articles).

In addition, NHGRI's Office of the Director is adding new staff, including Christopher Austin, M.D., in the newly created position of Senior Advisor to the Director for Translational Research and Jean Jenkins, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, as Senior Clinical Advisor.

Christopher Austin, M.D. As Senior Advisor to the Director for Translational Research, Dr. Austin will explore dissemination to academic investigators of the high-throughput technologies used in the private sector for deriving small molecule probes of biological pathways. He will also expand relationships with pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and focus on translating the genomic data produced through the Human Genome Project into new therapeutic strategies.

Dr. Austin received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1986 and obtained clinical training in neurology as a resident and clinical fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he eventually became chief resident. From 1991 to 1996, he was a Research Fellow in Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Since 1996, Dr. Austin has been working at Merck Research Laboratories, most recently as the Director of Genomic Neuroscience in the Department of Neuroscience. He played a key role Merck's pharmacogenomics program and started a schizophrenia drug development project team that has identified two molecular targets now being tested for the treatment of the disease.

Dr. Jenkins will continue NHGRI's mission to educate health professionals and the public about the role of genetic medicine in the clinic, as well as the health and societal implications of the HGP. In addition to her part-time position at NHGRI, Dr. Jenkins will continue to serve as the Clinical Nurse Specialist Consultant in Cancer Genetics at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where she has been since 1997.

Jean Jenkins, RN, Ph.D., FAAN Dr. Jenkins received her B.S.N. in nursing from the University of Maryland in 1975 and her M.S.N. in oncology nursing and education from Catholic University of America in 1984. Dr. Jenkins earned her Ph.D. from George Mason University in 1999. In 2000, she was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She began her career at the National Institutes of Health in 1975 and has served as a Public Health Service Corps officer since 1986.

NHGRI is one of the 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, which is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Additional information about NHGRI can be found at its Web site:

Geoff Spencer
Phone: (301) 402-0911

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Last Reviewed: July 31, 2012