Looking Forward to Serving as NINDS Deputy Director!

Looking Forward to Serving as NINDS Deputy Director!

By: Nina Schor, NINDS Deputy Director

Photo of Nina Schor, M.D., Ph.D.
Nina Schor, M.D., Ph.D., will be joining the NINDS as the Deputy Director. Photo courtesy Dr. Nina Schor

It is truly an honor and a pleasure, as I assume the position of Deputy Director of NINDS, to send my very first NIH web message to my new colleagues and friends! For me, joining the leadership team at NINDS is a bit like coming home. Over the past 11 years, I have been Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief at the University of Rochester. Like being a child neurologist, this role fit my passion for enriching the lives and well-being of children, but it often pulled me away from my neuroscience “family” and neuropharmacology roots. So, I am excited to be back in my topical home and to bring to NINDS all that I have learned through running a large department and children’s hospital, partnering with the local community, and supporting trainees, faculty, employees, and families in Rochester. What a privilege it will be to work to improve the lives of people with neurological disorders across a national stage!

I suspect that like many of my new colleagues, it was that potential to make a national impact that greatly fueled my interest in coming to NINDS. In my view, making that impact requires achieving three mission-critical goals.

First, we must ensure the robustness of investigator-initiated intramural and extramural neuroscience research programs in ways that foster creativity and intellectual rigor. Tomorrow’s progress in reducing the burden of neurological disorders depends upon the science we develop today. Unfettered, intellectual freedom in basic science research is essential to build knowledge and drive innovation, and strong bridges between the laboratory, the clinic, and the community are equally essential to translating the best new ideas into meaningful clinical advances and other applications. While knowledge without action may not be optimal, in medicine, action without knowledge and understanding is at best unwise and at worst, dangerous.

Second, we must consistently fuel the research pipeline with a diverse cadre of enthusiastic, promising, and innovative neuroscience students, trainees, and physician-scientists. For our patients and their families, this pipeline represents the promise of innovation in neurology and neuroscience, and – if we make it happen – it is key to their future.

Finally, we must communicate the role of neuroscience and a message of partnership and hope for understanding, cure, and prevention of disease to the public - it is their investment that makes our work possible.  I feel privileged to have witnessed and contributed to the vast evolution of neuroscience and neurology over the past several decades. In my career, I heard increasingly detailed descriptions that characterized more fully and sharply the mechanisms behind the syndromes we encounter in our clinics and hospitals. Recently, I and others have generated clinical applications that followed directly from these mechanisms. Our gross observations, microscopic depictions, electrophysiologic studies, and molecular discoveries are finally leading to strategies that connect back to patients and families to prevent and treat and, yes, even cure, diseases of the nervous system. This enormous success must not be our best-kept secret any more. No patient or family should leave our offices or our hospitals without knowing why our work is so important. No medical student should graduate without understanding the value of neuroscience and neurology research for their future patients. No legislator, financial manager, politician, or business person should go without knowing why this research is mission-critical for the health and well-being of their constituents today and for generations to come.

The time is now. The need is great. And the potential is limitless. Never before has the gap between biomedical research and clinical practice been so narrow. Never before have our creativity and collaborative spirit been so important as we understand previously cryptic mechanisms of neurological health and disease and forge health care solutions for people challenged by individual medical, psychological, and socioeconomic circumstances. NINDS is uniquely poised to ensure that the best of biomedical science is applied to make tomorrow’s state-of-the-art better than anything of which we dare to dream today. I am so very much looking forward to this journey with you!

Related links:

NINDS Names Dr. Nina Schor as Deputy Director

Thursday, January 18, 2018