Deborah B. Henken, Ph.D.

Program Officer

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Deborah B. Henken, Ph.D., joined the staff of the DBSVB in 1996 and is responsible for administering the branch Program on Developmental Neurobiology. Areas of study include neural crest, neurogenesis, and neural guidance mechanisms. She received her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and spent a year at the University of Oxford, England, before returning to North America to obtain her doctorate degree from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, where she studied neural regeneration using the goldfish as a model system. She continued to study neural plasticity in the peripheral nervous system of a rodent model while pursuing postdoctoral training in the Anatomy Department at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. Dr. Henken then took a position as a senior staff fellow in the intramural programs of the NIH, where she studied biological responses to viral infection in the nervous system and how it effects neural plasticity. She joined the NICHD extramural division after completing the NIH Grants Associate Program and has the distinction of being that Program’s final graduate.

Dr. Henken currently chairs NICHD’s Neuroscience Workgroup, K99/R00 Transition Committee, and the WorkLife Enrichment (WE) Committee. She is a member of NICHD’s Staff Training Committee and serves on a variety of Institute working groups. She also represents NICHD on a number of trans-NIH groups, including the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint Coordinating Committee, Adult Aging and Dependent Care Committee, and the NIH Green Team. Over the years, she has received numerous awards recognizing her contributions. In addition to her scientific and administrative duties, she is involved in professional communities that promote work-life balance, K-12 science education, and the careers of women in science. She is a founding member of the Bethesda Chapter of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and has served in a number of leadership roles including president and secretary. She received the AWIS chapter mentoring award in 2008 and an NICHD mentoring award in 2011.

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