National Cancer Institute NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
October 20, 2009 • Volume 6 / Number 20

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NIH Mourns Passing of Former Director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein

Dr. Ruth Kirschstein Dr. Ruth Kirschstein

NIH employees and members of the scientific community mourned the loss of former NIH Deputy Director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, who passed away on October 6 at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, after a long illness.

Dr. Kirschstein and her husband, NCI Deputy Director Dr. Alan Rabson, came to NIH in the 1950s to work as pathology researchers. While at NIH’s biologics division, later part of the FDA, Dr. Kirschstein investigated a disease-causing batch of polio vaccine and helped choose the Sabin vaccine for world-wide use. In 1974, she became the first woman to direct an NIH institute, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. During her 19 years there she promoted cell and molecular biology and pushed to support young investigators and diversity in science.

Dr. Kirschstein later served as NIH deputy director for 6 years when NIH Director Dr. Harold Varmus became director in 1993. She also served twice as acting NIH director, including 29 months before Dr. Elias Zerhouni became director in 2002 and made her a senior adviser. In 2002, Congress renamed NIH’s graduate student fellowship program after Dr. Kirschstein.

“Ruth embodied the spirit of the NIH. She was an icon,” wrote current NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins in a memo to staff. “She was loved and admired by so many at the NIH, across the medical research community, among hundreds of members of Congress, and around the world.”

NCI Cancer Bulletin Recognized with NIH Merit Award

The NCI Cancer Bulletin was honored today with a 2009 NIH Merit Award for “outstanding contribution to cancer research communications” at the NCI Director’s Awards Ceremony. Now in its 6th year of publication, the newsletter currently maintains a circulation to over 48,000 researchers, physicians, nurses, survivors and their family members, and others. Many of the Bulletin’s editorial and technical staff were on hand to receive the award.

International Palliative Care Resources Available Online

IPCRC Web site

The Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice launched the International Palliative Care Resource Center,, on October 1. The Web site provides online access to global information and education resources on palliative care, including comfort, supportive, hospice, end-of-life, and bereavement care. is designed to be constantly updated with contributions from physicians, nurses, patients, families, caregivers, and other site users. Offering easy access over high- and low-speed communication links, can be accessed in developed and resource-limited nations, promoting worldwide information exchange and collaboration. NCI’s Office of International Affairs helped fund the site’s development.

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