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New NINDS Office of Special Programs in Neuroscience

For release: Monday, April 5, 1999

In an effort to further recruit and train the next generation of minority neuroscience research professionals, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has created the Office of Special Programs in Neuroscience. The new office is headed by Alfred W. Gordon, Ph.D., an 11-year veteran of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who has extensive experience in developing innovative neuroscience research programs at minority institutions.

"Dr. Gordon has provided extraordinary leadership to the neuroscience community and the NIH in assessing biomedical research and research training opportunities from a strategic perspective," said NINDS Director Gerald D. Fischbach, M.D. "He will be instrumental to our goal of enlisting scientists at minority medical and graduate schools who can implement effective approaches to reduce health disparities among minority populations. These groups are historically at increased risk for disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system."

Key objectives of the new office include developing a diverse, highly trained national workforce of neuroscience research and health professionals; assisting minority institutions to sustain competitive basic and clinical neuroscience research programs; developing effective neuroscience research and research training programs to better serve the needs of communities and regions that rely on minority health institutions; enhancing the role of basic, translational, and clinical neuroscience as a viable career option for administrators and scientists, with particular emphasis on identifying those individuals who are committed to improving access for medically underserved minority communities; and working with the NINDS intramural division and national science foundations to develop new programs that recruit and train minority neuroscientists in creating a premier national neuroscience center at NIH.

"Our goal is to better promote neuroscience research and research training opportunities for African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and other minority populations nationwide," said Dr. Gordon. "By doing so, we hope to reduce the burden of stroke and other disease disparities among underserved populations, create partnerships with minority academic and medical schools to attract and train future neuroscience health and research leaders, and promote greater scientific discussion of and minority recruitment in clinical trials." He hopes to develop kindergarten through grade 12 educational programs that will bring brain and nervous system science into classrooms, homes, and communities nationwide; increase stroke awareness and treatment options among underserved populations; and encourage minority medical schools to develop programs on stroke and other neurological disorders that have a strong impact on minority populations.

Assisting Dr. Gordon in program initiatives are Levon Parker, the NINDS Minority and Special Concerns Program Officer and Director of the Summer Program in the Neurological Sciences; John Ruffin, Ph.D., Associate Director, NIH Office of Research on Minority Health; and staff at other NIH neuroscience institutes.

Most recently, Dr. Gordon served as the NINDS Special Initiatives and Developmental Programs Officer, where he created basic and clinical neuroscience research projects and programs, particularly those involving faculty, students, and fellows at minority institutions. He also spent 6 years managing the Institute's Training Grant and Career Development Review Committee. He was an Intramural Research Training Fellow and Staff Fellow at NIH and a National Research Council Fellow at the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Gordon received his undergraduate degree from Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama; did postgraduate work at the University of South Carolina; and earned his master of science and doctorate degrees at Atlanta University in Georgia. He is a graduate of the NIH Health Scientist Administrator Associates Program and the NIH Management Cadre Program. A member of the NINDS Equal Employment Opportunity Committee since 1993, he has served as chair since early 1996.

The NINDS is the nation's premier supporter of research on the brain and nervous system and a lead agency for the Congressionally designated Decade of the Brain. The Institute supports and conducts a broad program of basic and clinical neurological investigations and is part of the NIH, located in Bethesda, Maryland.

Originally prepared by Paul Girolami, NINDS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.

Last Modified August 7, 2009