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Harold Varmus Announces Distinguished Molecular Biologist and Physician to Head The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

February 10, 1998




Photo of Dr. Battey
James F. Battey, M.D., Ph.D.

Harold Varmus, M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced James F. Battey, M.D., Ph.D., as the new Director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). The NIDCD is the federal focal point of human communication research. The NIDCD conducts and supports research and research training in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech and language. Dr. Battey has served as the Acting Director of the NIDCD since the retirement of the institute's first director last year.

In making the announcement, Dr. Varmus noted, "Dr. Battey is a skillful and energetic leader who will bring the finest scientists to the challenges of human communication research. As acting director, he has already been at work on a new strategic planning process designed to include both extramural and internal advice for identifying areas of opportunity in both basic and clinical research. I am pleased he is going to be able to continue this effort."

In 1995, Dr. Battey was named and continues to be the Director of the Division of Intramural Research for the NIDCD until a national search for a new Director of the Division of Intramural Research is successfully completed. As the Institute's Scientific Director, he has encouraged and overseen an emerging program studying the molecular genetics of diseases and disorders of human communication affecting more than 46 million Americans. Under his leadership, there has been a restructuring of intramural clinical research and the development of significant laboratories and staff for the study of many diseases and disorders including otitis media, several forms of hereditary hearing impairment, stuttering, and autism, as well as the creation of a new laboratory of chemosensory research.

"Human communication research has at this moment more possibilities for productive exploration than at any other time in history. Standing on the solid foundation of the investigations conducted over the past decades and the exciting potential of new tools and new teams of scientists, we will continue to pursue the challenge of understanding normal and disordered processes of human communication. I am grateful for this appointment and look forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder with the scientific community, the public and with the creative and dedicated NIDCD staff as we remain attentive to the needs of the 46 million Americans who are challenged by diseases and disorders of human communication," said Dr. Battey.

Dr. Battey began his education at the California Institute of Technology, where he earned a B.S. degree with honors in physics. He earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at Stanford University, where he pursued residency training in pediatrics. His postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School was under the direction of the eminent scientist, Dr. Philip Leder.

Dr. Battey has served the NIH since 1983, first on the staff of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), followed by an appointment as the chief of the Molecular Neuroscience Section in the Laboratory of Neurochemistry, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). He returned to the NCI in 1992 to head the Molecular Structure Section of the Laboratory of Biological Chemistry.

The Public Health Service has honored Dr. Battey with both its Public Health Service Commendation Medal in 1990 and the Public Health Service Outstanding Service Medal in 1994. Dr. Battey also serves as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine. He is author or co-author of over 120 research articles and is co-author with Leonard Davis and Michael Kuehl of Basic Methods in Molecular Biology now in its second edition.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders is one of 18 institutes of the National Institutes of Health.

Last Updated Date: 
February 10, 1998