Jack Whitescarver, Ph.D.
Dr. Jack Whitescarver arrived at the NIAID in 1977 after a research
career in cancer and infectious diseases. “I jumped in the middle
of a snowstorm from the Harvard School of Public Health…to the NIH
and the Grants Associates Program,” he recalls, where his primary
responsibility was to work with constituent groups.
When Dr. Whitescarver came to NIAID, there was little interaction between
the Institute and advocacy or professional groups, a situation that was
soon to change. Working with then-NIAID director Dr. Richard Krause, the
two men wanted people to appreciate the importance of continued vigilance
against infectious diseases. “Just because we had a battery of antibiotics
didn’t mean that we had the cure-all for every infectious disease,”
he says. “There were no antivirals, for example, and there were
lots of viral diseases.”
Four years after Dr. Whitescarver arrived, a new virus, HIV, appeared
on the scene. As AIDS began to spread, NIAID realized the public needed
education, not only to help prevent infection but to alleviate unwarranted
fears about the disease. Although NIAID had no mandate or allocated funding
for outreach activities, Dr. Whitescarver helped organize meetings across
the country to inform people about AIDS. “The goal was to get the
truth out about AIDS, and to get rid of the myths associated with it,”
recalls Dr. Whitescarver. “There were people being kicked out of
restaurants, losing their jobs….Physicians wouldn’t work with
them and ambulance drivers wouldn’t pick up anybody whom they thought
looked like an AIDS patient.”
Dr. Whitescarver eventually left NIH for Emory University, but later returned
as the deputy director of the Office of AIDS Research, where he is currently
the acting director.
|Jack Whitescarver, Ph.D.