On May 17, the NIH community will gather to remember the many contributions of Dr. Ruth L. Kirschstein, who died on October 6, 2009. She is sorely missed by all of us at the National Institutes of Health.
During her 50-year tenure at NIH, Dr. Kirschstein assumed many responsibilities and exemplified and defined the role of scientist-administrator at NIH. Among her assignments, Dr. Kirschstein served as the Acting Director of NCCAM from November 2006 to January 2008. She led the transition of the Center from the leadership of its first Director, Dr. Stephen Straus, to me. While her position at NCCAM was a temporary assignment, she took an active role in all components of the position, ensuring the continued scientific rigor of NCCAM’s grants, encouraging and attracting outstanding investigators, and providing her wise counsel to our staff over this time.
Dr. Kirschstein embodied the spirit of the NIH. She was loved and admired by her NIH colleagues, as well as countless others across the medical research community and around the world. There are few at the NIH who were not touched by her warmth, wisdom, interest, and mentorship. She served as a strong positive role model for me and other woman scientists, and I am forever grateful for the spirit, candor, and thoughtfulness she brought to her work.
The NIH has lost one of its most dedicated public servants, one with a huge heart and brilliant mind. Her service to NCCAM was but one event in a very remarkable career.
—Josephine Briggs, M.D.