Intern awarded Goldwater Scholarship
Victoria Rose Sharon, who worked as a summer intern in the Department of
Transfusion Medicine last year, is the recipient of the 2002 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.
The scholarship is awarded to 300 undergraduate students in the United States and
Puerto Rico who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue a career in mathematics,
the natural sciences, or engineering.
Sharon is a junior at Columbia University in New York, majoring in biology and neuroscience
and behavior. She will receive a $7,500 award to cover tuition, fees, books, and room and
board for one year.
"She is an outstanding student and has done an outstanding job," said Dr. David Stroncek.
"That's why we are here-to bring students into the lab and teach them. We want them to have
a good experience and hope it will lead to a career in the clinical sciences."
Sharon worked with Dr. Stoncek for two months last summer. She researched the filterability
of red blood cells from people who carry the sickle cell anemia trait.
"I think my experience at NIH is what helped me to get the award," said Sharon. "It was just
a wonderful experience and it will definitely help me in the future."
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Not your typical rabbi
Teacher of Orthodox and "Polydox" brings new evening quorum outreach program
It's been said that Rabbi Reeve Brenner, of the Clinical Center's Department
of Spiritual Ministry, isn't your typical rabbi. And it's true. In his off time he raises
endangered turtles and releases them back into their natural habitats, and invents
competitive sports. But his work on the NIH campus is far more demanding, even hectic.
"I stay very busy," he laughs. "A chaplain at NIH has to be prepared to be supportive
of the needs of the entire diversity of the Jewish community," he explains. "That means
everything from an orthodox minyan, which is a quorum of men who pray during the week and
conducts a service, to Reform, conservative or secular members of the community and their
religious and service needs."
Because of this diversity, Brenner says, he serves as a rabbi of not only the orthodox
community, but of what he calls the "polydox" community. "That's everyone who isn't
orthodox," he tacks on. "When we have a service for the High Holy Days, it's much more
of a progressive, liberal service because we know the orthodox community has its own
As part of its continuing outreach to the orthodox Jewish community, the Department of
Spiritual Ministries recently announced a completely new program of Monday and Wednesday
worship quorums on the 14th floor of Building 10.
When patients check in to the Clinical Center and indicate that they're Jewish, the
rabbi soon comes calling, combining genuine concern with well-honed humor. "Hello, I'm
Rabbi Brenner," he says, greeting both patients and family members. "How can I waste your
time this morning?"
Most are very receptive.
"You see, a rabbi is a teacher. Nothing is off-limits because every Jew looks upon a
rabbi as his or her rabbi, regardless of where they come from. It's almost like the
extension of a familyan interchangeable uncle you can turn to in confidence."
Often, Brenner's duties are routine, obtaining candles or Torah texts for ceremonies,
or arranging for the dietary requirements of patients. But there are also the spiritual
needs that he meets for both Jewish and non-Jewish patients.
"Sometimes I'll call on a patient and end up talking to other patients and visitors who
drop by, and we have discussions," he says. The topics range from mundane to the philosophic.
One of the philosophical views Brenner expresses concerns atheism.
"It's difficult to be a Jewish atheist," he proclaims, "because you have to ask what idea
of God you have problems with and why. It's a philosophic position and it's more complex
than merely saying God is some consciousness in the sky, a super being-that's a very
narrow understanding of God. You have to earn being an atheist; you have to explain
what problems you have with Borowitz's conception or Kaplan's conception and all the
disciplines that deal with it. You have to define the God you deny, and for that you
need a good education."
Patients who are very sick and near death many times inquire of the rabbi about what
lies beyond this life. "They're concerned," Brenner says, "not only that there is a God,
but if there's anything waiting for them. The answer, of course, is that we don't know.
I say it's a 'country of no report.'"
In such circumstances, Brenner gives what he calls the "dragonfly analogy."
When dragonfly larvae are deposited on the bottom of a fresh water body, they exist in
a community, he explains. When the time comes, they "pop up" and ascend to the surface.
There, they find a reed or blade of grass and climb it, finally breaking free of a
protective shell and emerging as a dragonfly.
"Each one of the larvae community may think, when another pops up, that it dies," he says.
"One of the others may say to it, 'When you pop up, please communicate with us and
let us know what it's like.' But after its metamorphosis, the dragonfly can only
hover near the surface of the water. It can't convey that there's a different world,
a different consciousness. It's in a land of no report."
Brenner has been with the Clinical Center for three years and loves his work. About
half his time, he says, is spent at NIH. The rest of the time he spends writing books
and enjoying his grandchildren. His books include The Faith and Doubt of Holocaust
Survivors and Yiddle's Riddles. He is currently completing Jewish, Christian, Chewish,
and Eschewish: Interfaith Pathways for the 21st Century. His books have won the National
Jewish Book Award and the Yivo Prize.
An avid basketball player and fan, Brenner is enthusiastic about the sports he invents.
"There are plenty of running-, jumping-, speed-, stamina-, strength-oriented sports,"
he says. "I love''em all. Baseball, football, soccer, rugby, basketballI've played 'em
all. But how many non-aggressive ball-playing sports can you name? How many games do you
know where you're not playing against someone, you're playing with or alongside someone?"
Brenner, in fact, is the president of The Bankshot Organization and has dedicated an entire
website to such sports (http://www.bankshot.com/).
Rabbi Brenner is one of the Clinical Center's staff of five chaplains. For further
information on the Monday and Wednesday quorums, or to contact him, call (301) 496-3407.
by John Iler
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NIH'ers rally to beat the beltway blues
The Beat the Beltway Blues commuter bus route from Annapolis to downtown Bethesda
via Glenarden and Silver Spring is back in action with the help of nearly 100 NIH employees.
The route, which was slated to end April 30 due to low ridership, received overwhelming
support when 70 NIH employees met with Senator Ulysses Curry (District 25, Prince George's
County), at the Maryland Senate Office Building in May to request continuance of the bus
"We made a big difference," said Betty Wise, Clinical Imaging Processing Service,
Diagnostic Radiology Department. "If we had not gone to the Senate Building with the
large number of people that we had, we would not have been taken seriously."
Wise took on the role of coordinator along with several other NIH employees; the group
got 300 riders to sign petitions for the bus route to continue and sent letters to Senator
Curry who granted them a meeting sponsored by the Maryland Transportation Authority.
The group presented a slide presentation about the benefits of commuting and offered to accept
an increase in fare in order for the bus route to continue.
"This is a great benefit for NIH commuters," said Wise. "It's an easier way to get to work,
and a stress reliever. You can relax in a comfortable coach bus, read, and not have to worry
about the traffic. It makes for a more productive day."
Tom Haden agrees. "Using mass transit or other forms of public transportation benefits the
employee," said Haden, a traffic management specialist with the Office of Facilities
Planning, Office of Research Services. "It saves employees money in gas and auto insurance
and also decreases roadway congestion."
According to Haden, 4,000 NIH employees currently commute by public transportation and
receive Transhare, an incentive to encourage employees to commute by public transportation
or vanpool. Employees can receive up to $100 a month in Transhare subsidies, but must be
willing to surrender any NIH parking permits and off-campus parking access cards.
In an effort to encourage carpooling, NIH has made 536 carpool parking spaces available
on campus. Currently, there are only 316 carpools and 10 vanpools registered with the
NIH Parking Office.
"When employees commute together or use other forms of transportation, it cuts back on
the greenhouse emissions and also reduces the number of cars on the campus parking lots,"
said Haden. "However, with varying work schedules, some employees find it difficult to
carpool or even be locked into timed schedules that are used by buses or vanpools."
Instead, most employees rely on the 848 off-campus parking spaces and take one of four
off-campus shuttles to the main campus.
According to the 2000 Census, nearly seven out of 10 Washington area residents are choosing
to drive alone to work. The average one-way commute has increased to 32 minutes, up three
minutes from a decade ago.
But those statistics don't matter to Wise, who will continue to commute via the Beat the
Beltway Blues bus. "Before I started riding this bus, if I woke up with a headache, I
would just call in sick, because I knew it wasn't going to get any better by the time
I fought traffic and got to work," she said. "Now I just take some aspirin, get on the
bus, and when I get to work I feel much better."
For more information about the Beat the Beltway Blues bus or to find a route in your
area, visit http://www.mtamaryland.com/index.cfm.
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Here's the scoop on Pharmacy's ice cream social
This is a tale about appreciation, remembrance, and ice creama tale that occurred in
May but seems a more fitting summer story.
When the Pharmacy staff held an ice cream social on May 13 they probably weren't thinking
about President Ronald Reagan's 1984 designation of July as National Ice Cream Month, or
how 90 percent of Americans enjoy ice cream. But they may have been wondering why the
Pharmacy Department was hosting it at all.
It all began with the Pharmacy Residency Class of 2001. The class wanted to give
something back to the Pharmacy team for the training, mentoring, and support they had
given the residents. To show their gratitude, residents sponsored the department's
inaugural Pharmacy Ice Cream Social last year.
Pharmacy staff decided to keep up the tradition in 2002. "We wanted to continue it
in the spirit of the 2001 Class and in memory of Kelli Jordan," said Chuck Daniels, chief,
Pharmacy Department. Jordan, a resident in that Class, passed away in the fall of 2001.
Whether the focus of a social gathering or just eating pleasure, ice cream has been
historically popular, as evidenced by the amount Americans consume each yearabout 23
quarts per person.
In terms of the Pharmacy staff's ice cream social though, just how much of the sweet stuff,
aside from the cones, sprinkles and sundae fixings, was there?
"Last year it was like a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop in here," said Patricia Smith, program
support specialist. This past May, according to Smith, management made sure to "gear up with
at least eight and a half gallons."
Vanilla, chocolate, Neapolitan, and butter pecan were America's top five favorite individual
flavors in 2001. Pharmacy's leading flavor this year (by definition, the "one that ran out
first"), was Edy's 'Almond Joy' said Smith.
The Pharmacy Residency is a one-year postgraduate program with four different areas of
concentration-Pharmacy Practice; Drug Information and Pharmacotherapy; Oncology; and
Please don't call Ben & Jerry's.
by Dianne Needham
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