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Obituary: Dr. Dale Birkle Dreer

March 21, 2016

Doctor Dale Birkle Dreer 

Dale Louise Birkle Dreer (1955-2016)

Submitted by Lynn Wecker, PhD 

Dale Louise Birkle Dreer, Chief of the Office of Scientific Review at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), National Institutes of Health, passed away on Saturday, March 12, 2016 after a brief illness.  Dale was born November 11, 1955 in Fort Eustice, Virginia.  She received a B.S. in chemistry from Bridgewater College and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the Medical College of Virginia (VCU) in 1982 under the tutelage of Dr. Earl F. Ellis investigating the effects of norepinephrine on arachidonic acid metabolism in feline cerebral cortex and murine neuroblastoma cells.

Following graduation, Dale pursued post-doctoral studies with Dr. Nicolas Bazan at the Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans where she studied arachidonic acid metabolism and lipoxygenase activity in the retina and cornea, and characterized the increase in free fatty acids in brain and neuronal cultures in response to increased neuronal activity.

In 1988, Dale accepted a faculty position in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at West Virginia University (WVU) Medical Center led by Dr. Bill Fleming.  During the 12 years Dale spent at WVU, she established an independent NIH-funded research program, mentored 4 Ph.D. students, and rose through the ranks from Assistant to full Professor.  Her initial focus characterized seizure-induced alterations in free fatty acids and diacyglycerols, following which she became very interested in stress and corticotropin-releasing factor.  These studies represented the primary focus of Dale's efforts until 2000, when she left academia to serve as a grants administrator for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM, which became NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health.

Dale's scientific expertise on brain structure and function, particularly as related to the consequence of drugs and environmental insult exposure, in concert with her commitment to research, led to her well-deserved promotion in 2009 to Chief of NCCAM's Office of Scientific Review.

In addition to her scientific endeavors, Dale was active in her community serving as Parliamentarian for the American Society for Neurochemistry (ASN) from 1995-2001 and as a member of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) Program Committee from 2004-2009.  In March 2015 at the ASPET Graduate Student-Postdoctoral Colloquium at EB in Boston, Dale presented a talk entitled "Working for America" that was very interesting and well received by all. 

Dale is survived by her husband Duane Dreer, her stepson Jacob Dreer, her sister Karen and her brother Kent and his wife Rene.  Beyond her scientific expertise, Dale was known for her patience, infectious smile and personality.  We will all miss her greatly.

Last updated: March 21, 2016 

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