Urologic Diseases Research Updates
Director of NIDDK Urology Programs Nyberg Retires
Leroy M. Nyberg Jr., Ph.D., M.D., senior urology adviser and director of urology programs at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), retired September 2009 after 31 years of Government service. He spent 21 years at the NIDDK.
During his career, Nyberg published more than 90 scientific publications and about 100 abstracts and helped train dozens of future scientists and clinicians. He was awarded the National Institutes of Health Director's Award for contributions to and development of the NIDDK Urology Program and the American Urological Association's Distinguished Contribution Award for "outstanding contributions to the science and practice of urology."
"Lee was instrumental in devising, promoting, and overseeing many landmark clinical studies and trials that changed the treatment of common, consequential, and costly urologic conditions," said Robert Star, M.D., director of the NIDDK's Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases.
Nyberg oversaw the Medical Therapy of Prostate Symptoms trial, which showed that a combination of finasteride and doxazosin-two drugs for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia-is more effective than either drug alone. Other clinical studies for which he served as program director or scientific officer include the Urinary Incontinence Treatment Network, the Interstitial Cystitis Clinical Research Network, the Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Urinary Symptoms clinical trial, and the Research in Vesicoureteral Reflux trial. Nyberg was also project officer for Urological Diseases in America-a compendium on the epidemiology, costs, and impact of urologic diseases-the Rand Interstitial Cystitis Epidemiology Study, and the Boston Area Community Health Study.
Nyberg began his research career at Columbia University, where he earned a doctorate studying androgen and estrogen receptors in the rat prostate. After graduate school, he returned to his home state to attend medical school at the University of Massachusetts. He intended to extend his graduate research into medicine by specializing in endocrinology, but a variety of factors, "too many to enumerate," according to Nyberg, led him to the fields of surgery and urology.
After years of academic study, Nyberg said he joined the Navy Reserves to "see the world." While he was at the NIDDK, the Navy called him to active military status to help set up a tent hospital in the Saudi Arabian desert, where he was in charge of the urology clinic.
Before coming to the NIDDK in 1988, Nyberg held faculty positions at The Johns Hopkins University; the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, later serving as urology chief at the affiliated Charleston Memorial Hospital; and the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Additionally, he served as chief of urology at the VA Medical Center in Hartford, CT.
As for the future of urology, Nyberg sees new therapies on the horizon for troublesome bladder disorders that are not effectively treated. "There are numerous basic science advances in the study of the bladder that will soon translate into the clinic," he said. Specifically, he mentioned the identification and characterization of uroplakins-key proteins involved in the regulation of the cells lining the urinary tract-and bacterial "pods," which sequester bacteria from antibiotics and allow infection to persist.
"What I will miss most about working for NIDDK is seeing the excitement of new investigators getting their first big grant, major publication, or academic promotion," said Nyberg. "Sending people off on a productive and rewarding research career was the most enjoyable part of my job."
Nyberg currently resides in the historic Bolton Hill area of Baltimore, where he is actively involved in community relations with the nearby Maryland Institute College of Art. Nyberg's retirement plans include lots of hiking and honing his photography skills. He also plans to volunteer at a community health clinic.
NIH Publication No. 10-5743