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Shelia Hoar Zahm, DCEG Deputy Director, Retires

March 2012 - Linkage Newsletter

In December, Shelia Hoar Zahm, Sc.D., DCEG's Deputy Director, retired after 31 years of government service. Throughout her tenure at NCI, Dr. Zahm received numerous awards and accolades for her scientific accomplishments, breadth of scientific vision, and extraordinary organizational skills. She took on the responsibilities of Deputy Director not long after the formation of the Division and, in the words of the Director, Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr., M.D., she was a "full partner in leading the Division as we grew and changed in response to new scientific opportunities and challenges." 

Shelia Hoar ZahmDr. Zahm received her doctorate in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health, where she created the first job-exposure matrix, which continues to serve as the conceptual underpinning for assessing exposure in occupational studies. In 1980, she joined NCI, where she investigated the etiology of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the risk of cancer associated with pesticide use, and occupational cancer among women. The author of more than 270 publications, she has served on several editorial boards for leading scientific journals.

Beginning with her appointment as Deputy Director in 1998, Dr. Zahm led strategic planning for budget, personnel, policy, and practice in DCEG. She organized and chaired the Technical Evaluation of Protocols Committee and the Promotion and Tenure Review Panel, and she oversaw virtually all major DCEG initiatives. She served on more than 50 advisory committees, including panels for international research centers in Spain and Canada, the United Auto Workers/General Motors Occupational Health Advisory Board, the U.S. Military Cancer Institute Institutional Review Board, the HHS Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee, and the NIH Intramural Clinical Research Steering Committee. She also cochaired the NIH Scientific Directors' Subcommittee on Biorepository Practices and Guidelines for the NIH Intramural Research Program.

Dr. Zahm encouraged junior and senior investigators to pursue opportunities for professional growth and development. Her commitment to innovative and rigorous research as well as the highest ethical standards has earned her universal admiration. Her widespread contributions have been recognized by her receipt of numerous honors, including the HHS Secretary's Award for Distinguished Service, the PHS Special Recognition Award, the NIH Director's Award, the NIH Merit Award, the American Occupational Medical Association commendation for research excellence, and the Harvard School of Public Health Alumni Award of Merit.

According to Dr. Fraumeni, "The success of the DCEG research and training enterprise can be traced in so many ways to the inspiring leadership of Shelia Zahm. I can think of few individuals who have made such an impact in furthering the mission of NCI and NIH."