1. In 2005, cancer surpassed heart disease as the number one killer in the United States among people under the age of 85. One of the biggest obstacles to breakthroughs in cancer treatment has been insufficient information sharing between clinicians and researchers. A team from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) led by Dr. Subhashree Madhavan has begun a new effort that stands to break down the barriers to information sharing and revolutionize the way we conduct cancer research, moving us closer to the goal of reducing suffering and death due to cancer.

    This project, known as Rembrandt (Repository for Molecular BRAin Neoplasia DaTa), is a joint initiative of NIH's National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

    Rembrandt is designed to bridge the gap between biological and clinical information on brain cancer. It is a database that will house two sets of valuable data. The first set comes from a National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trial and the largest genetic/clinical corollary study ever conducted on brain tumors. As part of this trial, hundreds of brain tumor surgery patients throughout the country are having samples of their tumors sent to NCI for exhaustive genetic and molecular analysis, and the findings will ultimately be correlated with the clinical course of the individual patient. The second type of data to be housed in the database is a wide array of molecular and genetic data regarding all types of brain tumors. Understanding the biology behind these tumors and overlaying this valuable data on clinical data will provide clues to discover new therapies.

    Rembrandt marks a shift toward better information sharing and greater emphasis on finding practical treatments for individuals fighting this disease. The concrete benefits of Rembrandt include enabling physicians to identify individualized and tailored therapies to treat brain tumor patients.

    One of the major challenges of this project is that it requires researchers and clinicians to work together along with software engineers to manage the input from patients and bring all of their contributions together.

    With significant experience in biology research, bioinformatics and software development, Dr. Madhavan was the perfect person to bridge the differences between the various parties. She was hired by NIH specifically to lead this project, and she built the architecture of Rembrandt from the ground up. In the end, she had to draw on all of her scientific, diplomatic and technical skills to get the job done.

    Through the Rembrandt project, Dr. Madhavan and her team are bringing together the disparate communities in biomedicine so that the whole can be more than the sum of the parts in the fight against cancer.

    # vimeo.com/8575399 Uploaded 254 Plays 0 Comments
  2. Most often, people tend to view the federal government as Goliath. But the reality is that government is not monolithic and is largely made up of a bunch of Davids trying to cast stones against injustice. One of those stone-throwers is Elizabeth Grossman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and she's got an arm that would make George Steinbrenner drool. Ms. Grossman represents victims of discrimination, and she has taken on her share of giants, including Woolworth's, TWA and Bell Atlantic. But she made history when she tackled Morgan Stanley.

    Working with a small 7-member legal team and on behalf of more than 300 current and former female employees of Morgan Stanley, Ms. Grossman filed a sexual discrimination suit against the Wall Street giant in September 2001. She and her team laid out a simple case: there were few women executives at Morgan Stanley; they held lesser positions and earned lower compensation relative to men; and they experienced slower career advancement, all as a result of unlawful discrimination. After three years of arguing the case against Morgan Stanley's entire in-house counsel team and more than two dozen lawyers from some of New York's most high-powered private firms, the firm entered into a $54 million Consent Decree, EEOC's second largest gender-bias settlement ever and the largest with a Wall Street firm. Two million dollars of this settlement will be set aside to pay for diversity training and gender management programs.

    With more than 60,000 women working in the financial services industry in New York City alone, the impact of this settlement extends far beyond a few hundred women at Morgan Stanley. The federal judge who would have heard the case if it had gone to trial, Richard M. Berman of the Southern District of New York, said, “The Consent Decree, in my opinion, is a watershed in safeguarding and promoting the rights of women on Wall Street.”

    Ms. Grossman's victory in EEOC v. Morgan Stanley is merely the jewel of an impressive 12-year career in government. She has litigated more than 100 EEOC lawsuits, many of which established important legal precedents. Her settlement with Del Laboratories was the first sexual harassment case to provide more than $1 million in relief for the victims. As a result of EEOC v. Bell Atlantic, some 11,000 employees had credit for retirement restored after taking time off for pregnancy and maternity leaves. And partly due to her cases, companies no longer cap health benefits for workers with AIDS.

    With her impressive record, it should be no surprise that the paper of record for big business, The Wall Street Journal, has designated this government lawyer as one of 50 “women to watch.”

    Ms. Grossman has also been a positive force in her own work environment. She has combined case development with training, mounting a mock trial both to improve advocacy and motivate the legal team. She also loves her work, and her energy is a positive influence on her co-workers. “Feeling like you're doing the right thing 100 percent of the time is great,” said Grossman. “I'm never working on something that I don't believe in.”

    As a New York Times profile on Ms. Grossman said, she “seems genetically coded to take on the status quo.” Fortunately for our government and “little guys” everywhere, the status quo she chose to focus on was the persistent discrimination that still permeates our society. Cynics would say that discrimination in the workplace is inevitable and can never be totally eradicated. Elizabeth Grossman goes to work every day to prove those cynics wrong, and our country is stronger for her efforts.

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  3. Alan Estevez has an unenviable job. It is his responsibility to develop polices and processes to ensure that the vast quantities of food, fuel, medicine, clothing munitions and weapons parts needed to sustain globally deployed US forces are available to them. To do his job, he has to work across the Department of Defense and with 60,000 suppliers of materiel. He has to be absolutely certain that DoD processes ensure every single deployed Service member has what he or she needs, when he or she needs it, because otherwise that person's life may be at risk. It might sound impossible, but Estevez has uncovered a key to getting the job done, and his work is transforming military logistics for the 21st century.

    To understand the difficulty of Estevez's job, it is important to understand our military history of logistical problems. During Desert Storm, the inability of military commanders to track and locate shipped containers was well-documented, and more than half of the 40,000 cargo containers shipped to the theater, including $2.7 billion worth of spare parts, went unused. The Army estimated that if an effective method for tracking and locating cargo had been in place during Desert Storm, it would have saved them $2 billion.

    To determine the most effective ways to improve our military's logistical operations, the Department of Defense looked to the private sector to see how they do business. Alan Estevez, as Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Supply Chain Integration, was charged with creating improvements and efficiencies in the military supply chain. Alan saw companies like Wal-Mart looking to use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to coordinate the flow of goods in and out of their warehouses. He began the development of policies and processes that would require vendors to use of this technology when shipping supplies to DoD, thereby bringing the technology being implemented by the world's largest retailer to use for the world's most powerful fighting force.

    Alan was also instrumental in the development and deployment of a worldwide RFID infrastructure called the In-Transit Visibility network, which significantly improved the tracking of military supplies. The result of this initiative and other reforms promoted by Estevez has been marked improvements in the efficiency of military logistics and significant savings for our military.

    Estevez's technologies are altering the way the Pentagon plans and executes military operations. Critical supplies in the theater can be located and deployed in minutes, as opposed to days during Desert Storm.

    Alan Estevez saw that new technologies were changing the way business was done in America, and he was determined to see that our military was not left behind. He met with members of the private sector and helped put the latest technology to work for our armed forces, taking the factory to the foxhole. Estevez is making the seemingly impossible possible, and the result of his work is a more effective and more efficient fighting force.

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  4. Quick question: Who has a higher customer satisfaction rating—McDonald's or the Internal Revenue Service? According to a USA Today survey, American taxpayers are “lovin' it,” because the IRS beats out Mickey D's. It might seem hard to believe that “the most unpopular organization in America” could beat out the chain that has set standards for efficiency and quality control. But the truth is that when it comes to improving customer service, few entities in the country have come further, faster than the IRS. And no one has done more to make this transformation possible that the man who has taken the IRS from paper filing to point and click—Terence Lutes.

    As the driving force behind the e-File program, which allows the public to submit their tax returns online, Lutes has literally transformed the way Americans interact with the IRS, reducing the burden on taxpayers and improving the speed and accuracy of tax filing operations. Under his leadership, the number of tax returns being filed electronically has tripled, reaching 61.5 million in 2004, and more than half of all 1040 forms are now paperless.

    e-File is the ultimate win-win program. Individual taxpayers who file electronically benefit by receiving their refund in as few as 10 days, receiving electronic proof of receipt from the IRS within 48 hours and being able to conveniently file their taxes from their home computers. Government benefits because the IRS avoids expensive and error-prone paper handling. This not only increases processing speed but cuts costs by roughly 90 percent.

    Electronic filing has actually been around for years, but in 1997 Terence Lutes and his co-workers really took it to scale and started the process of making it more accessible to the individual tax filer. The key to his success was his ability to build positive relationships with the tax preparation and software development communities who were essential to expanding the availability of e-filing. For years these communities had adversarial relationships with the IRS, but by the late 90s, the IRS and industry were working together cooperatively on a number of initiatives.

    While e-File's first major expansion began in 1997, it keeps getting better, thanks in large part to the public-private partnerships Lutes helped develop. In 2002, Mr. Lutes brokered an agreement to address one of the remaining barriers to electronic filing—cost. He negotiated a deal with the private sector Free File Alliance to provide free online commercial tax preparation and electronic filing services to at least 60 percent of the individual taxpaying population. In 2003, nearly 2.8 million people used this service, known as Free File, and that number grew by 26 percent in 2004 and doubled in 2005.

    Terence Lutes has also made the IRS more user friendly by leading the redesign of the IRS Web site. IRS.gov now provides links to Free File sites, an interactive refund status application and other useful information for taxpayers. Forbes magazine cited irs.gov as a “Best of the Web” site in 2002. In 2004 the site handled over 500 million downloads of forms and publications. And in this fiscal year, the site has had nearly 150 million visitors in the just the first eight months.

    And if all of this weren't enough, Terence Lutes is going global. He is the chair of a multi-national task force that includes his counterparts in foreign governments. Together they are working to expand and improve government e-services worldwide.

    With Terence Lutes' leadership, the IRS has gone from being the poster-child of unpopular government to posting remarkable gains in efficiency and customer satisfaction, proving the adage that recent technological advances are making virtually anything possible.

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  5. In late 2003, an international debate was raging over whether or not direct elections were possible in post-Saddam Iraq, with questions ranging from the capacity of the Iraqi people to make such a dramatic break with tradition to more practical matters such as the lack of accurate voter rolls. Few people did more to prove that these barriers could be overcome and make the historic January 2005 national elections possible than 29-year-old Foreign Service Officer Tobin Bradley. While leaders were asking if elections could be held, Bradley was actually holding them in more than a dozen cities in southern Iraq. And the voting system he employed would eventually be used as the basis for the January 2005 national elections.

    Mr. Bradley was one of the first members of the Foreign Service to volunteer for duty in Iraq. From September 2003 to May 2004, he served as the Political Advisor for the Coalition Provisional Authority in the Southern province of Dhi Qar, Iraq, about 230 miles from the relative safety of the Green Zone in Baghdad. His mission was to develop sustainable government and democratic institutions for the new Iraq.

    In one of Iraq's poorest, politically split, and most damaged provinces by Saddam Hussein, Mr. Bradley set out to establish direct district and city council elections. In the Dhi Qar province, described as a backwater even by Iraqi standards, almost all of Mr. Bradley's work to set up these council elections was without precedent, forcing him to constantly make changes on the fly.

    For each election, he used his Arabic speaking skills to build trust with local Iraqis, organizing town meetings and seeking input. He would then organize a committee of unaffiliated residents to determine the conditions for the candidates, such as the minimum age requirement. Next, he had to come up with a way to decide how residents would qualify to cast ballots. Without up-to-date voter rolls, Bradley decided to use computer generated cards that had been issued by Hussein's government to distribute rations.

    Among other information, these cards identified the head-of-household and ration distribution centers. In the first two elections that Bradley ran it was one family one vote. This meant that virtually only men voted. But Bradley knew that he needed to do more to increase participation by women. So Bradley changed the rules to give two votes to each family – a red stamp for women and a blue stamp for men. He also worked with local activists to develop ads and workshops to educate women, and men, about women's civil rights and responsibilities. As a result, women's participation jumped from just three female voters in the first few elections he ran to more than 20 percent of the electorate in most elections and over 40 percent in another. In fact, Salwa Daidan, a schoolteacher, was so influenced by Bradley's efforts that she decided to run for office. She won, becoming the first woman freely and directly elected in the Shi'a south.

    Another major obstacle to overcome was security. In one instance, noted insurgent Moqtada al Sadr's forces tried to disrupt Bradley's work, cutting off the city with an armed blockade and stationing snipers aimed at Bradley's compound and other Coalition positions throughout the city. After two direct attacks on his position, Bradley, the only Arabic-speaker on the compound during this period, communicated directly with Al-Sadr's interlocutor and convinced the al-Sadr group to stand down their forces.

    All of Bradley's work was done on a shoestring budget, with elections typically costing about $600 each.

    Bradley's success in organizing 15 elections garnered positive international press and provided a boost to those arguing that timely elections in Iraq were actually possible. But perhaps the significant impact of Bradley's work came from his use of the ration cards.

    When the United Nations team was planning the national elections, they met with Mr. Bradley to learn how he had used the ration cards in the local elections. UN officials subsequently determined that this was the most effective strategy for creating a voter registry, and they used this system for the January 2005 national election.

    In February 2004, The Washington Post said Bradley's work “may stand as one of the most ambitious democratic experiments in Iraq's history, a project that goes to the heart of how Iraq's next government should be chosen.” In light of the success of the 2005 national election, it now seems safe to drop the qualifier. Tobin Bradley made history.

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