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Former Fogarty Director Dr. Philip E. Schambra is remembered

November / December 2011 | Volume 10, Issue 6

Headshot of Phil Schambra

Former Fogarty Director
Dr. Phillip E. Schambra.

Family, friends and colleagues paid tribute to former Fogarty Director Dr. Phillip E. Schambra Nov. 2 at a memorial service held at NIH. Schambra, 76, died Sept. 11 in Rockville. The global health advocate and science diplomat was remembered as a creative, visionary administrator.

Under Schambra's leadership from 1988-98, the Center witnessed tremendous growth as its budget doubled and its research training portfolio dramatically expanded. Fogarty's flagship AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) grew substantially and, as a result, scores of scientists have been trained throughout the developing world, saving countless lives from HIV/AIDS and facilitating many breakthroughs in prevention, therapy and care. In addition, Schambra guided the development of five Fogarty extramural programs that encourage international collaborations, increase opportunities for minority scientists and build developing country expertise in environmental and occupational health science, population studies and emerging infectious diseases. Perhaps most importantly, he focused the Center's mission on building capacity in low- and middle-income countries.

"All of us here at Fogarty are grateful for the strong and creative leadership Phil provided to the Center during the critical decade he served at its helm," said Fogarty Director Roger I. Glass. "By having the vision to support and expand AITRP, he had a huge impact on the Center and on global health."

Born in Saginaw, Mich., Schambra received his bachelor's from Rice University and Ph.D. in biophysics from Yale. His government career spanned 30 years and included stints in the White House budget office overseeing research funding, at NIEHS coordinating interagency programs and at Fogarty as chief of the international relations division. From 1984 to 1988, on detail from Fogarty, he was science attaché at the U.S. Embassy in India. In this capacity, he helped address the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic and assisted with the U.S. response to the Bhopal gas leak disaster. He then served as Fogarty director until his retirement in 1998.

Tributes from his former Fogarty colleagues included a letter from Dr. Jack Chow, who went on to become U.S. Ambassador on Global HIV/AIDS, who wrote: "Phil's core style of leadership and stewardship was to discern new trends, to be out in the forefront in proposing solutions and in being bold and confident in converting ideas into a working reality."

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