Friends of NICHD holds fall meeting and welcomes new associate director of extramural research

The coalition heard from NICHD leaders on the impact of reorganization on the institute's portfolio
On Nov. 15, the Friends of NICHD held their fall meeting and welcomed Cathy Spong, the institute's new associate director of extramural research. Dr. Spong thanked the coalition for their interest in NICHD and said she was looking forward to her new role overseeing the broad portfolio of NICHD’s research and furthering the progress of the recent NICHD reorganization that is meant to capitalize on emerging scientific opportunities and reduce barriers to scientific and interdisciplinary collaboration. The reorganization created two new branches: Gynecologic Health and Disease, currently led by Acting Director Trent McKay, and Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness, led by Acting Director Valerie Maholmes. An educational psychologist and current staff member within the Child Development and Behavior Branch (CDB), Maholmes explained that the new branch will focus on the continuum of care for children exposed to violence, abuse and maltreatment, and that there naturally will be some overlap with the CDB’s portfolio in this area but that the CDB which will continue to focus on the developmental outcomes and long-term implications of child maltreatment and neglect. It will be a challenge to grow any new or existing programs as the institute is operating under tight budgets still subject to an 8 percent reduction if sequestration is not avoided. Despite those challenges, NICHD continues support new research on LGBT health disparities, on vulvodynia and on Down syndrome as part of the NIH's Down syndrome research consortium.