NCI Frederick and FNL Staff Receive Honors at 2022 NCI Director’s Awards

By Lisa Simpson, staff writer
Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, director of the National Cancer Institute, smiling and wearing glasses, addresses the audience via webcam.

Several hundred National Cancer Institute staff converged on NCI’s Shady Grove campus last month to celebrate the annual NCI Director’s Awards ceremony in a way they hadn’t been able to for the past several years: together.

Coworkers and colleagues greeted each other in person while enjoying refreshments and watching pre-recorded award videos from senior NCI leaders in a hybrid, open-house version of the 2022 awards ceremony.

New NCI Director Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., welcomed the participants via video from her home office, offering congratulations to this year’s awardees, as well as thanks to all NCI staff, for their contributions to the advancement of cancer research. “You have done this work in a time still very complicated by the pandemic and all of the challenges that have come with it, but you've never let that stop you from doing what is needed for the people who are counting on us,” said Bertagnolli.

More than 750 NCI government and contracted employees, including more than a dozen in Frederick, received awards in recognition of their contributions to cancer research in 2022.

Bertagnolli noted that collective efforts by NCI staff have helped continue the overall decline in the nation’s cancer rate, enhanced our understanding of fundamental cancer biology, and improved anticancer therapies for people with cancer so they can enjoy a better quality of life during treatment.

“One of the most important ways NCI contributes to cancer research is to bring together people with the brightest minds and the biggest hearts and make it possible for them to do their very best work,” said Bertagnolli.

The videos announcing the award recipients for each category, including remarks from Dr. Bertagnolli and other NCI senior leaders, are posted to the NCI intranet, and the popular bloopers and outtakes reel is back for 2022.

Among all deserving awardees, many of whom work with NCI and Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNL) in Frederick, we’d like to highlight our local awardees. For a complete list of recipients on each team, please click the link for each office or center. In the interest of clarity, FNL staff have been marked to differentiate them from government and subcontractor staff. (Note: please sign in to myNCI before opening the links to go straight to the awards videos.)

NCI Office of the Director

Champion Awards

Walter Hubert—For mentoring NCI's Office of Scientific Operations and much beyond.

iCURE Team and Workgroup: Laura C. Hooper—In recognition of sustained and outstanding efforts leading and implementing the Intramural Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences Program.

NCI Halo Project Team: Scott Lawrence (FNL), David A. Scheiblin (FNL), Lawrence Sternberg (FNL), George Zaki (FNL)—For outstanding support in the development and advancement of the enterprise-wide NCI HALO 2D image analysis and digital pathology resource.

10th Annual Symposium on Global Cancer Research Team: Janene Nusraty (FNL)—For exceptional collaboration to plan, execute, and publish the NCI Symposium on Global Cancer Research for the global cancer research and control community.

Scientific Awards

Human Tumor Atlas Network Program Team: Rachana Agarwal (FNL), Yuriko Mori (FNL)—In recognition of outstanding scientific leadership of the Human Tumor Atlas Network.

NCI Office of Management

Administrative and Technical Support Awards

Patent Legal Services Workflow Team: Andrew May, Megan Osele, Mandie S. White—For being instrumental in setting up a new system to manage the finances involved in new NCI Patent Legal Services contracts.

Champion Awards

CCR ARC Advisor Team: Codi Cover, Cheryl Smith—For fostering exceptional collaborations in the creation and distribution of the outstanding monthly newsletter, The ARC Advisor.

NCI Center for Cancer Research

Administrative and Technical Support Awards

Julia Lam—For exceptional efficiency and creativity in managing scientific conferences.

Champion Awards

RNA Biology Initiative Group: Thomas Gonatopoulos-Pournatzis, Shuo Gu, Laura C. Hooper, Wei-Shau Hu, Xinhua Ji, John Schneekloth, Sandra Wolin—For creating an environment that facilitates the exchange of information on the biological and therapeutic roles of RNA and supports tenure-track and trainee RNA scientists.

Scientific Awards

Jordan Meier—For exceptional achievements in total chemical synthesis used to expand the epigenetic regulatory role of acetylation.

NCI-Compass Program of the Laboratory of Pathology Group: Yu Jin Lee (FNL)—For the development of state-of-the-art clinical sequencing services of large NGS oncology panels and whole exome sequencing to support precision cancer diagnostics and oncology.

NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics

Scientific Awards

Sherlock-Lung Team: Belynda Hicks (FNL), Amy Ann Hutchinson (FNL), Kristie Jones (FNL)—In recognition of innovation and insights into the origin and diversity of lung cancers in never smokers.


Lisa Simpson is a technical editor in Scientific Publications, Graphics & Media (SPGM), where she edits corporate reports, client projects, and scientific manuscripts, and writes for the Poster newsletter. SPGM is the creative services department and hub for editing, illustration, graphic design, formatting and multimedia training and support for NCI Frederick and Frederick National Laboratory.