June 16, 1998
Nathanson To Direct
U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services
Out of Africa|
Research on Rare Genetic Disease
Leads to Ancestral African Culture
By Carla Garnett
"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage -- to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainment in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness and the most disquieting loneliness." -- Alex Haley
When author Alex Haley revealed his Roots in the late 1970's, everyone in the
nation, it seemed, wondered about their own great-great-great grandfolks. As a
result, the genealogical quest fever spread, particularly among African Americans.
It took Haley more than a decade to trace back several generations, but as most
Black people realize, not many of similar heritage will be able to unearth their
lineage even that soon. That's because few, if any, reliable records of the
centuries-long Atlantic slave trade remain to help in the search. That's what
became all too apparent to NIAMS rheumatologist Dr. Paul Plotz in 1992, when
"a chance occurrence" pointed his research on a rare muscle disorder to West
Africa and "the greatest undocumented migration of modern times."
By Irene Edwards
Gov. Lawton Chiles
The Stone House was officially named the "Lawton Chiles International House" at
a dedication ceremony May 13 held under a tent on the grounds of the house. The
event, naming Bldg. 16 for Gov. Lawton Chiles of Florida, brought together
members of Chiles' family and staff, members of the Florida congressional
delegation, and representatives of the NIH community to celebrate the occasion.
The house is a locus for international activities supported by the Fogarty
International Center, other NIH institutes and centers, and HHS.