NIH Extramural Research Head Resigns

Sally Rockey, deputy director of extramural research at the National Institutes of Health, is leaving the agency this fall to lead an agriculture nonprofit.

Jun 11, 2015
Jef Akst

WIKIMEDIA, NIHSally Rockey, long-time deputy director of extramural research at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), is resigning to accept a position at a new nonprofit called the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, she announced today (June 11).

“It is bittersweet for me,” she wrote on her popular blog Rock Talk. “It has been an extraordinarily hard decision to leave NIH, an incredible agency with an incredible mission, one of which I have loved being part. Working with the extramural community has been an amazing experience, as your work contributes so much to improving lives around the nation, and around the world, through your research.”

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, which is just one year old, handles private donations to research at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). “This is a newly formed foundation that I will lead through its formative first years,” Rockey wrote. “This position brings together my experience at NIH and my previous 19 years with the USDA. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.”

Rockey will stay with the NIH through mid-September, to allow time for her replacement to be found. “I will greatly miss her wisdom, courage, and creativity as we tackle the knotty issues associated with extramural grant funding, especially in this particularly stark budget climate,” NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement. “Sally has done an outstanding job of steering the NIH through many challenging times and we will be forever in her debt.”