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In Honor of Ruth Kirschstein, M.D. Print Email

October 7, 2009   Ruth L. Kirschstein, M.D., a beloved and highly esteemed scientist and leader of the U.S. scientific research community, died peacefully on Tuesday, October 6, 2009.

The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) honors Dr. Kirschstein for her decades of public service and her dedication to research and research training in the United States.

In 2004, the NPA bestowed its inaugural Distinguished Service Award upon Dr. Kirschstein for her profound and sustained contribution to improving the postdoctoral experience. At that time she was serving as the Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Institutes of Health.

Stacy L. Gelhaus, Ph.D., Chair of the NPA Board of Directors, said, "Her influence extended well beyond the walls of the NIH. Thanks to her leadership, excellent training opportunities for scientists and researchers were created and supported. She was an inspiration to new scientists and will be deeply missed by the postdoctoral community." Gelhaus is a recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA).

Because of Dr. Kirschstein's success as a successful physician-researcher through her medical internships, residencies, and research in pathology, she rose through the ranks of the government agency that became known as the Food and Drug Administration. She was the first female Director of an Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), serving from 1974 to 1993 as the Director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. She also served as both Deputy Director and Acting Director of the NIH.

Dr. Kirschstein has contributed her vision and leadership in scientific realms, working to advance genome science and women's health, and in administrative and political realms, such as working with Congress to achieve doubling of the NIH budget. In addition, she has worked tirelessly, both privately and publicly, to create and support research training opportunities for scientists and researchers. Her advocacy on behalf of all individuals, including those from diverse or underrepresented backgrounds, was above and beyond the call of duty.

In 2002, Dr. Kirschstein's outstanding service to our country was acknowledged by the U.S. Congress, when they renamed the National Research Service Awards (NRSA) as the Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA program. Her legacy will live on within the research community, as postdoctoral researchers and others conduct research in her name.

By-Jennifer Reineke Pohlhaus, Ph.D., Vice Chair of the NPA Board of Directors


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