Fair winds and best wishes, Director Berg

Dec 06 2010 Published by under NIH, Tribe of Science

An announcement from the National Institute on General Medical Sciences today indicates that Jeremy Berg, Ph.D., will step down as Director of the NIGMS

to become associate senior vice chancellor for science strategy and planning in the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. He will also be a faculty member in the department of computational and systems biology at the university’s School of Medicine. Berg anticipates leaving NIGMS at the end of June 2011, at which point an acting director will be named if the search for a new director is still under way.

A loss for the NIGMS ($2B annual budget, about 10% of all NIH awards) and a loss for their extramural scientists, I have little doubt. Our readers here at the blog know that Director Berg has been a proponent of communicating grant review outcome data via blog entries and the NIGMS website page on funding trends. We grant geeks appreciate this tremendously. We also appreciate the promise that his efforts hold for expanding this type of openness into the other ICs.

My readers will also appreciate the reason given by Director Berg for stepping down at this point of his career. After all, the Directorship of one of the NIH ICs is a pretty lofty appointment.

“I had no intention of leaving NIGMS at this point, but am doing so in support of the career of my wife, a leading breast imaging clinical researcher. After a change in her situation earlier this year, she was recruited by many institutions around the country, and the University of Pittsburgh offered tremendous opportunities for each of us,” Berg added.

Many of us are in dual-professional and even dual-academic partnerships these days. There are struggles and compromises that are almost as varied as the number of couples involved. Here's a member of a partnership taking what looks, to all appearances, like a bit of a downgrade in support of professional opportunities for his spouse. No matter what the variety of reasons in their household, this has good optics. Another classy bit of legacy that Berg brings to the table.

Best wishes to Director Berg in his new position.

You can leave a note on his own blog announcement here.

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