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Special Spotlight: In Memoriam Alessandra Margherita Bini, Ph.D. CRCHD Program Director

, by CRCHD Staff

Dr. Alessandra Bini

Alessandra Margherita Bini, Ph.D., a Program Director in the Diversity Training Branch of the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD), passed away February 26, 2014, of Gastrointestinal Cancer. She was 63 years-old.

Dr. Bini, a long-time and highly respected scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lived in Bethesda Maryland. Beginning in 2010, she served as a Program Director at CRCHD in charge of vital funding mechanisms, such as the Ruth L Kirschstein National Research Service Award Pre-doctoral Fellowship (F31), and the National Research Service Award Institutional Training Grants (T32) Supplements. For the past four years, Dr. Bini was involved in trans-NCI and trans-NIH activities on behalf of CRCHD.

"She was a woman with great compassion, who was empowered by the joy of life, and became a scientist dedicated to improving the human condition" said Dr. Sanya Springfield, CRCHD Director. "She was passionate about furthering research on cancer disparities, and promoting the careers of the young. Helping young underrepresented students pursue medical and research careers brought her great joy."

Dr. Bini was described by her colleagues at CRCHD as a tenderhearted person always willing to contribute and assist with her knowledge of cancer health disparity science. "She had a keen and extraordinarily in-depth perspective of medical science, extensive knowledge of NIH Funding systems, and a kind and caring heart - qualities that helped make her an outstanding program director," said Dr. Peter Ogunbiyi, Chief of CRCHD's Diversity Training Branch. "She was kind-hearted, gentle and good natured, intellectually well rounded, objective and blessed with integrity."

CRCHD Program Director Dr. Anil Wali, who worked closely with her, said, "She will be dearly missed by her colleagues and graduate students whom she touched with her kindness and intellectual prowess for years to come. She has left a void that will be difficult to fill."

Prior to joining CRCHD, Dr. Bini was a highly accomplished scientist with publications in high impact scientific journals, and served as a Scientific Review Officer at Center for Scientific Review (CCR) and National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). At CRCHD, she managed the National Research Service Award (NRSA) F31 Fellowship Program for predoctoral students. She is remembered by colleagues as "always detailed oriented and methodical; she took her job responsibilities seriously, always going beyond the norm in managing her F31 portfolio."

Working closely with her predoctoral students, she provided guidance and advice to support the development of their F31 applications, helping to position them to successfully move through the grant submission, review, and re-submission process. She pioneered the introduction of an on-line assisted mock review for CRCHD supported Mentored Career Development applications.

Born in Milan Italy, Dr. Bini received her Ph.D. in pathobiology and molecular medicine from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York for work on the role of thrombosis in the progression of human atherosclerosis. Prior to that, Dr. Bini received a Dr. Biol. Sci. degree from the University of Milan, Italy, and specialized in pharmacology. At the Mario Negri, Institute, Milano, she pioneered new studies on the interaction between thrombosis and cancer.

Shortly thereafter, she was head of the Coagulation and Fibrinolysis Research Unit at Consorzio Negri Sud, Italy (1988-1992), and visiting scientist at the New York Blood Center.

She was awarded four U.S. patents for medical technologies that she invented, starting in Nov, 1998 and extending through March, 2000.

In 2001, Dr. Bini was associate laboratory member at the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute of the New York Blood Center. Her research focused on the interaction of the matrix metalloproteinases system with the fibrinolytic system in thrombosis, atherosclerosis and inflammation.

Dr. Bini served as a Scientific Review Officer for the National Institute of Aging and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) from 2002 to 2006 and for the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) from 2006 to 2010. At CSR, she worked for the Nuclear Dynamics and Transport (NDT) Study Section and for the Cell Biology and Development (F05) and Technology Development (F14) Fellowship Study Sections.

Funeral services for Dr. Bini were held at the Buddist Guhyasamaja Center, on March 8th, in Fairfax, Virginia, where fellow CRCHD colleagues shared fond memories of their friend and colleague.

"Alessandra was a kind and giving person," said Dr. Liz Perruccio, Program Director at CRCHD. "She was meticulous and so devoted to her work and genuinely cared about the young scientists to whom she provided counsel."

CRCHD Program Director Dr. Alison Lin shared that, "I came to deeply respect her strength and integrity in making some of the very difficult decisions she had to make in her life. She always strived to remain true to herself and she succeeded."

Ms. Carlene Neil-Allman, a Program Analyst at CRCHD, remembers her as a person of great "patience" and was "not afraid to share her knowledge, nor was she selfish with her time." "She would always ask about my mother and brought a book one time for my mother to read."

Ms. Susan Macharia, Administrative Support contractor at CRCHD, will never forget how "very helpful and caring" Dr Bini was when she had toe surgery, and how Dr. Bini assisted her in her recovery. "I will always treasure the memories of her kindness and friendship," Macharia said.

Dr Bini is survived by her son, Mr. Matteo Lorenzet, of Bethesda, MD. Dr. Perruccio concluded, "Matteo, your mother always spoke about you with utmost love and affection. She was a truly splendid woman and will be deeply missed."

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