NCI at Frederick and FNL Staff Receive Several NCI Director’s Awards

By Samuel Lopez, staff writer
Image of Ned Sharpless on speaking via video call

NCI Director Sharpless addresses the ceremony’s viewers.

National Cancer Institute Director Norman “Ned” Sharpless, M.D., had a message for NCI staff on Monday as he welcomed them to an unorthodox installment of the annual NCI Director’s Awards via video from a bedroom-turned-office inside his house.

“The show must go on because you have made sure that the work of the NCI continued and even flourished during a difficult time for our nation and our world,” he said.

And the show did go on. Although the pandemic made the traditional live ceremony impossible, NCI’s leaders united virtually across living rooms, home offices, and makeshift workspaces to commend 737 employees and contractors, including several in Frederick, for exceptional contributions made to NCI’s mission in 2020.

“It’s because of you, the professionals who make up this institution, that our work is respected all over the world,” Sharpless said, addressing the staff viewing his remarks.

The videos announcing the recipients of each award were posted to the NCI intranet. In a lighthearted nod to the unusual format this year, NCI also published a bloopers video of senior NCI leaders flubbing their lines and bantering with the staff coordinating the event.

However, despite the humor and attempts at fun, the overall takeaway was earnest and clear: 2020 was tough, NCI staff rose to the challenge, and they deserve congratulations for their work.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the work we do at the NCI at a time like this,” Sharpless said.

NCI at Frederick and Frederick National Laboratory employees who received awards are listed below. (Note: Poster has omitted the names of team members who are not part of the Frederick facilities. For a complete list of recipients on each team, please click the link for each office or center.) In the interest of clarity, national laboratory staff have been marked to differentiate them from government and subcontractor staff.

NCI Office of the Director

Administrative and Technical Support Awards: Administrative Performance

Education Outreach Program Team: James “Jim” Cherry, Cathy Cullen, Marsha Nelson-Duncan, Walter Hubert, Cushena Tribble

In recognition of the ingenuity and creativity that resulted in an increase of breadth and scope of the NCI at Frederick Education Outreach Program.

Internal Crisis Communications Team: Jennifer Forberg

In recognition of exceptional efforts to prepare, coordinate, and communicate vital, up-to-date information to NCI staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Champion Awards: Making an Impact

COVID-19 Pandemic Infrastructure and Administrative Team: Lisa Coleman, Sara Hook

For outstanding dedication and collaboration in planning and executing NCI's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in support of mission-critical research, clinical care, and administrative operations.

NCI IT On-site and Remote Computer Deployment Brigade: Patty Ferson, Stephanie Halling

In recognition of supporting NCI essential staff with first-class IT support and providing “on-the-spot” laptops to staff transitioning to telework.

Champion Awards: Promoting Collaborations

Inaugural Class of NCI IT Ambassadors: Robert “Bob” Barber, Nathan Cole (FNL), Adam Shurnitski, Fiona Vaughans

For serving as a conduit between the divisions, offices, and centers and NCI IT; being informed of new initiatives; and vocalizing their computational needs.

CBIIT Special Recognition Award

Travis Church, Patty Ferson, Cory Goodwin, Dan Grab, Stephanie Halling, Ryan Haynes, Neil Hendy, Carl “Austin” Jackson, Chris Knill, Kyle Knorr, Matt Lamb (FNL), Mary Leatherman, Chris Lee, DJ Lesko (FNL), Peter Levi, Pengyu Lin, Ian Maliszewskyj, Austin McFadden, Dylan McGill, Ryan Milligan, Dan Oleyar (FNL), Brett Smith (FNL), Vernon Smith, Robert Thompson, Michael Young (FNL)

In support of NCI-wide remote operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NCI Office of Management

Champion Awards: Making an Impact

Tanya Sappington

For outstanding leadership and contributions to the NIH Badging Work Group.

Annual Technology Showcase Team: Victoria Brun (FNL), Mary Ellen Hackett (FNL), Walter Hubert, Michele Newton, Vladimir Popov (FNL), Magdalena “Maggie” Scully (FNL)

For the establishment of the annual technology showcase to foster collaboration and licensing of NCI technologies.

Champion Awards: Promoting Collaborations

NCI Transition to Industry Fellowship Team: Joel Schneider

For supporting NCI invention development and postdoctoral career advancement.

NCI Center for Cancer Research

Scientific Awards: Clinical Science

CD22 CAR T-Cell Team: Rita Misra

For the pioneering development of CD22 CAR T-cell therapy for the treatment of relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

NIH Foregut Team: Claudia Espinoza (FNL), Cathleen Hannah (FNL), Stacy Joyce (FNL)

For outstanding achievements in advancing research of hereditary diffuse gastric cancer through the creation of a unique patient cohort and highly effective collaborations.

NCI Flow Cytometry Shared Resource Cores and Facilities Committee: Jeff Carrell (FNL), Megan Karwan (FNL), Kim Klarmann (FNL)

For exceptional initiative and leadership in enhancing flow cytometry support at the NCI through improved facility coordination, training, and strategic planning.

Administrative and Technical Support Awards: Administrative Performance

Iben Hanson

For creating and maintaining several databases that have streamlined and made more efficient purchasing, tracking of property, and service contracts.

Champion Awards: Making an Impact

Joel Schneider

For building the NCI Chemical Biology Program and establishing chemical biology as a foundational discipline in the NIH Intramural Program.

Don Court

For pioneering discoveries on gene regulation and development during the past five decades.

Champion Awards: Promoting Collaborations

Center for Excellence in Immunology Steering Committee: Mary Carrington (FNL), Scott Durum, Joost Oppenheim, Howard Young

For catalyzing trans-NIH initiatives that advance an understanding of how the immune system works and translating that information into treatments that improve human health.