NCATS Welcomes McInnes and Zuk to Leadership Team

NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin, M.D., kicked off 2014 by welcoming two new members of the Center’s leadership team. Pamela M. McInnes, D.D.S., M.Sc.(Dent.), began her new role as the NCATS deputy director on January 12, and Dorit Zuk, Ph.D., joined NCATS as director of the Office of Policy, Communications and Strategic Alliances just two weeks later. NCATS already is benefitting from the enormous expertise and experience they bring to the Center.

Meet Pamela McInnes

McInnes comes to NCATS with more than 25 years of NIH experience, including knowledge and expertise in clinical and translational research, extramural research management, and trans-NIH collaborations and public-private partnerships.

“I am thrilled that Pamela is joining the NCATS leadership team,” Austin said. “Her recruitment is a key milestone in our building NCATS into a catalyst for transformational change that will get new treatments to more patients more quickly.”

Before joining NCATS, McInnes served as director of the Division of Extramural Research at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). There, she was responsible for all of the Institute’s extramural research, which ranges from basic through clinical studies, including large and complex clinical and population-based trials. McInnes brings a commitment to the conduct of clinical trials that adhere to the highest standards for human subjects protection and data quality. Her work in translational sciences has led to several product development and clinical evaluation programs, and she actively collaborates with the broader extramural research community on efforts to improve health.

“I am excited to join NCATS, which is uniquely focused on solving translational process problems that aren’t a primary focus of disease-oriented programs,” McInnes said. “I look forward to collaborating with stakeholders in the government, academia, patient organizations and the private sector to revolutionize the way translational research is conducted nationwide.”

Prior to her time at NIDCR, McInnes spent 16 years at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), where she served in many capacities, including as deputy director for the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. In addition, she led the reorganization and oversight of NIAID’s complex and diverse Divisional Clinical Research Program as well as the scientific design and programmatic implementation of a Challenge Grant Program promoting joint ventures among NIH and biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Her work on contract awards to develop anthrax and smallpox vaccines required extensive collaboration and interactions with the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Defense (DOD) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The author of more than 40 peer-reviewed articles and five books, McInnes first joined NIH in 1989 as a grants associate in the Office of Extramural Programs in the Office of the Director. Before coming to NIH, she served in academic and consulting roles at Louisiana State University Medical Center, Shreveport. McInnes earned her D.D.S. and M.Sc. degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Meet Dorit Zuk

Zuk began oversight of NCATS’ policy, evaluation, reporting and communications functions on January 26. She takes the reins from Lili M. Portilla, M.P.A., who served as the office’s acting director for the prior 16 months and continues to lead partnerships and strategic alliances for NCATS.

“Translational science brings with it unique policy and communication challenges and opportunities for which Dorit’s remarkable background and skills are ideally suited,” Austin said. With more than two decades of experience, Zuk has developed NIH extramural research policy, implemented NIH-wide strategic initiatives, and edited major scientific journals, including Cell and Molecular Cell.

Zuk previously served as the science policy advisor in the Office of Extramural Research (OER) and as special assistant to the deputy director for extramural research at NIH, Sally Rockey, Ph.D. In these roles, Zuk developed, coordinated and disseminated policies and procedures on a variety of research-related issues, such as financial conflicts of interest and the strength and diversity of the biomedical research workforce. As executive secretary for the federal Research Business Models Committee, Zuk worked closely with other agencies, including the National Science Foundation and DOD, to address emerging policy issues related to the conduct of federally supported scientific research.

“I am very excited about my new role at NCATS,” said Zuk, who began her career in basic science. “I started my career doing research on translation at the molecular level, and now, I am looking forward to facilitating translational science at the people level.”

In 2007, Zuk first came to NIH as a one-year American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) science and technology policy fellow. The following year, she served as a program officer for science policy at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences before joining OER. During 2000–2007, Zuk was the scientific editor at Cell Press, serving as the deputy editor of the journal Cell from 2000 to 2002 and the editor of Molecular Cell from 2003 to 2007.

Zuk received a B.Sc. from Tel-Aviv University and an M.Sc. in biology and Ph.D. in cell biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science. She serves on the Education and Professional Development Committee of the American Society of Biochemists and Molecular Biologists and chairs the AAAS Fellowships Advisory Committee.


Posted February 2014