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Hail and farewell to a valued staff member

Felipe Sierra
Felipe SIERRA,
Division Director,
Division of Aging Biology (DAB)

Dr. Nancy Nadon, chief of DAB’s Biological Resources Branch, is retiring next month, and I undertake this writing with very mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m elated that Nancy will now be able to fully enjoy the benefits of retirement. But on the other hand, I’m sad to see such a fair-minded and accomplished colleague leave the NIA.

Nancy joined the Division of Aging Biology in 1998. She assumed the role of chief of the Biological Resources Branch when it was created in 2006 to promote research on animal models and comparative biology of aging. As branch chief, Nancy was responsible for training new program officers, steering the development of Funding Opportunity Announcements, and all the other activities that normally accompany such a position. As in all her other endeavors, she succeeded admirably.

The challenge of managing biological resources

The research community probably knows Nancy best as the scientific officer for the NIA Interventions Testing Program and for the tremendous job she has done of managing the biological resources that the community depends on to carry out important NIA-supported research. For the past 11 years, Nancy has been in charge of a complex set of contracts dealing with resources such as rodents and biological repositories, among others.

The complexity of these activities cannot be overemphasized. Imagine having to predict—four years in advance—how many aged male and female C57Bl/6 mice researchers would need. It would be morally and financially unacceptable to raise and age too many rodents, while it would be detrimental to the field to raise and age too few. So, the number of animals entered into the pool at any given time must be adjusted constantly, based on usage trends and projections. And then, someone comes up with an interesting paper, an appealing RFA, or a concept such as geroscience, and we get more requests for animals than usual. If contingency plans had not been made four years in advance, we would have a dire shortage of animals, along with a lot of annoyed researchers. I think you can see why I think so highly of Nancy! Her grasp of these details and her ability to navigate the ever-changing landscape is simply amazing!

How we will move forward

But all is not lost with Nancy’s pending departure. Nancy has helped us ensure continuity of the oversight for these critical resources and projects, and we have hired two very talented people to manage these complex contracts: Francesca Macchiarini and Manuel Moro. Nancy has devoted considerable thought and time to developing their expertise. Heidi Brogdon will continue to run the order desk, as she has so ably done in the past.

I cannot close without emphasizing Nancy’s many other contributions to our division. Nancy is well respected among her colleagues for her consistent professionalism, her creative and well-balanced solutions to problems and, perhaps most important, her almost infinite patience and deep wisdom. Nancy will be missed both within the NIA and among our grantees. We all wish her the best as she embarks on this next exciting and rewarding stage of her life.