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Environmental Factor

July 2011

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Rider honored by U.S. Public Health Service medical officers

By Eddy Ball
July 2011

Lisa Rider, M.D., Fred Miller, M.D., Ph.D., and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard  Carmona, M.D.

Rider, right, was joined by Miller, left, and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, M.D., at her most recent promotion ceremony in 2005. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Rider)

As modest as she is talented, hardworking, and dedicated, NIEHS physician-scientist and clinical researcher Captain (Capt.) Lisa Rider, M.D., is quick to acknowledge the help of others in shaping her professional achievements. Among those milestones is her selection as 2011 Physician Researcher of the Year by the Physicians Professional Advisory Committee (PPAC) of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS), which represents the nearly 900 medical officers in the more than 6,000-member Corps.

When the PPAC notified her of its intention to honor her, Rider acted characteristically by pointing out the important contributions to her career by her colleague and mentor in the Environmental Autoimmunity Group (EAG) based in Bethesda, Md., Principal Investigator and fellow USPHS commissioned officer, Capt. Fred Miller, M.D., Ph.D.

"I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this recognition by the Public Health Service," Rider said. "I greatly appreciate all of the support, guidance, and wisdom that Fred Miller has provided through much of my career, and also to NIEHS for a climate that promotes our mission of improving the public health through scientific advances."

Rider, who is deputy chief of the EAG and an officer in the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS, received her award June 21 at the annual meeting of the USPHS Officers Association, the 2011 USPHS Scientific and Training Symposium, in New Orleans. She was singled out for her groundbreaking research in the area of a mysterious and debilitating autoimmune disease among children, a condition thought to be triggered by environmental exposures and genetic polymorphisms.

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Combining basic and clinical research

"[This award is] presented in recognition of her noteworthy basic and clinical research into juvenile dermatomyositis," read the citation on her plaque. "Her leadership in epidemiologic and clinical studies has contributed substantially to public health practice. Her career achievements are in the highest tradition of the United States Public Health Service."

Rider is one of the leading authorities on clinical presentations, pathogenesis, and treatment of idiopathic inflammatory myopathies, particularly the childhood forms of these diseases. She is first author with Miller on a milestone publication( Exit NIEHS released earlier this year in the Clinician's Corner of the high-impact Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

In its recommendations to clinicians and researchers, the paper presented a compelling argument for systematically categorizing heterogeneous myositis syndromes into mutually exclusive and stable phenotypes by using clinical and immune response features of the myositis syndromes.

Rider's award is one of three presented to senior USPHS medical officers each year, honoring clinicians, researchers, and applied public health executives. Two additional awards recognize the achievements of junior officers and inactive Reserve Corps physicians.

The awards ceremony participants pose for a group photo.
Shown at the awards ceremony June 20 are, left to right, Chief of Staff to the Surgeon General R.Adm. Christopher Halliday, D.D.S.; Chief Professional Officer R.Adm. Clare Helminiak, M.D.; Rider with Research Physician of the Year plaque; Cmdr. Meena Vythilingam, M.D., with Applied Public Health Physician of the Year plaque, Cmdr. Michael Truesdell, M.D., with Clinical Physician of the Year plaque; Lt. Cmdr. Ezra Barzilay, M.D., with Junior Physician of the Year plaque; and Deputy Surgeon General R.Adm. Boris Lushniak, M.D. (Photo courtesy of Paul Jung)

USPHS researchers and clinicians at NIEHS

Along with Rider and Miller, USPHS commissioned officers play important roles as scientific administrators, researchers, and clinicians working at the Research Triangle Park, N.C., headquarters of NIEHS. They are part of the 103 USPHS physicians and the total 328 USPHS commissioned officers working at NIH in all categories.

Commander (Cmdr.) Paul Jung, M.D., serves as chief of staff in the Office of the Director; Capt. Aubrey Miller, M.D., is NIEHS chief medical officer; and Rear Admiral (R.Adm.) William Stokes, D.V.M, is director of the NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM). Diane Forsythe, D.V.M., chief of the Comparative Medicine Branch, and Deputy Chief Mary Grant, V.M.D., are retired commissioned officers.

Principal Investigators Capt. Matt Longnecker, M.D., Sc.D., and Capt. Jack Taylor, M.D., Ph.D., are heads of Epidemiology Branch research groups at NIEHS. Taylor has a dual appointment in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis. Epidemiology Branch Principal Investigators Allen Wilcox, M.D., Ph.D., and Walter Rogan, M.D., are retired commissioned officers.

On the clinical front, Lieutenant (Lt.) Cmdr. Lindia Engram is an occupational health nurse in the NIEHS Health and Safety Branch, Cmdr. Debra King is a medical technologist in the NTP Clinical Pathology Group, and Lt. Cmdr. John McLamb is a health physicist in the NIEHS Health and Safety Branch.

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