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Henken, Deborah

Formal Title:

Health Scientist Administrator


Dr. Henken is responsible for administering research in the area of developmental neurobiology, including neurogenesis, pattern formation, cell lineage specification, differentiation, migration, and cell fate, neural crest, growth cone formation and axon guidance. Normal and abnormal neural tube formation resulting in neural tube defects (including spina bifida, holoprosencephaly, and anencephaly) are of high program relevance, especially those focusing on genetic and environmental etiologies.





6710B ROCKLEDGE DRIVE Room 2433, MSC 7002
Bethesda ,MD 20817


Deborah B. Henken, Ph.D., joined the staff of the DBSVB in 1996. She is responsible for administering research in developmental neurobiology and related topics in genetics. Areas of study include neural crest, neurogenesis, and neural guidance mechanisms. She came to the NICHD after completing the NIH Grants Associate Program. She studied biological responses to virus infection in the nervous system while an intramural scientist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and regeneration and plasticity during post-doctoral training at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. A graduate of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, she received her doctorate degree from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, in experimental psychology.

At the NICHD, Dr. Henken is chair of the Neuroscience Steering Committee and the K99/R00 Transition Committee.  She is a member of the NICHD Staff Training Committee and serves on a variety of working groups.

At the NIH, she is currently NICHD's representative on the Trans-NIH Predoctoral Training Program in the Neurosciences Committee, the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint Coordinating Committee and a number of NIH Neuroscience Blueprint Subcommittees (N=6).  She also represents NICHD on the EPMC New Investigator Committee, and the R&W Advisory Board, and is co-Chair of the EPMC Non-FACA Conflict of Interest Working Group.

In addition to her scientific and administrative duties, she is active in other areas including education, childcare issues (past chair of the NIH Child Care Board), and promoting the careers of women in science. She is a founding member of the Bethesda Chapter of the Association for Women in Science and has served in a number of leadership roles including president and secretary. She received the AWIS chapter mentoring award in 2008 and the NICHD mentoring award in 2011.


Publications (PubMed):

The National Institutes of Health and the growth of the zebrafish as an experimental model organism.
Neural crest as a way of knowing: new perspectives on lineage and morphogenesis.
Genetic and genomic tools for zebrafish research: the NIH zebrafish initiative.
BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research