TWD 2017 About TWD 2017 Speaker Information

TWD 2017 Speakers/Presenters
(listed in alphabetical order by last name; Updated: 06.16.17)

William Atkins, Ph.D.

Avery August PhDAvery August, Ph.D., is professor of immunology and chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. He is principal investigator of three NIAID-supported grants and the NIH-funded Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program at Cornell University, as well as chair of the Steering Committee for the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). Dr. August received a PhD in immunology from the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Rockefeller University. He conducts research exploring signals that regulate the activation of immune cells, including mast cells, CD8 memory T cell development, and CD4 effector T cell differentiation.

Steven Barnett MDSteven Barnett, M.D., is the Director of the CDC-funded Rochester Prevention Research Center: National Center for Deaf Health Research, and is the Program Director at UR for the NIH-funded Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate program. He was also medical director (2002-2015) of the award-winning Strong Connections, the University of Rochester Medical Center's pioneering Telehealth Sign Language Interpreter Services Program.

Michael Bender PhDMichael Bender, Ph.D. is a program director in the NIGMS Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology, where he manages grants in the areas of RNA processing and protein synthesis, and serves as project officer for the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository. He also manages the Postbaccalaureate Research Education (PREP) program. Prior to joining NIGMS, he was an associate professor and associate head of the department of genetics at the University of Georgia. Bender earned a B.A. in biology from Goshen College and a Ph.D. in molecular, cellular and developmental biology from Indiana University. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Anissa J. Brown, PhDAnissa J. Brown, Ph.D., is a program director for the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity, Undergraduate and Predoctoral Training Branch.  In this position, she oversees the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative.

Patrick H. Brown, PhDPatrick Brown, Ph.D., is a program director in the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity.  In this position, he administers diversity-focused institutional research training grants, individual fellowships and administrative supplements. Prior to joining NIGMS, Brown was a chemistry teacher at Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Before that, he was chief of the Quantitative Methods for Macromolecular Interactions Unit at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). Brown earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Maryland, College Park. He conducted postdoctoral research at the former University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute.

Luis Cubano, PhDLuis Cubano, Ph.D., is a program director in the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity. He manages the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program and also the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U-STAR) program.. Prior to joining NIGMS, he served as professor and associate dean for research and graduate studies at the Universidad Central del Caribe, in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Cubano earned a B.S. in cellular and molecular biology from Tulane University, an M.S. in biology from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a Ph.D. in biology from Kansas State University. He conducted postdoctoral research at Tulane University Medical School.

Erin Dolan PhDErin L. Dolan, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Senior Scholar in Biology Education in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Georgia. She is also the editor-in-chief of the CBE-Life Science Education journal. Dolan’s lab investigates science research in an education context, including scalable ways of involving students in research experiences and effective mentoring of undergraduate researchers.

Christina "Christie" Drew PhDChristina (Christie) Drew, Ph.D., joined the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training, Program Analysis Branch in 2007 and became branch chief in 2009. She received her Ph.D. in geography from the University of Washington in 2002 for her work on transparent communication of complex environmental health decisions. She has a Master of Health Science degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, and an undergraduate degree in government from the College of William and Mary.

Drew has been a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle and the Institute for Evaluating Health Risks in Washington, D.C. She has also worked at the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe in Copenhagen and at Ross & Associates Environmental Consulting in Seattle. Her research interests have included environmental health risk communication, nuclear waste cleanup, community-based participatory research, geographic information systems, children’s environmental health, pesticide exposure, and research evaluation.

Lourdes Echegoyen, Ph.D.

Jessica Faupel-Badger, Ph.D., is director of the NIGMS Postdoctoral Research Associate (PRAT) Program and Jessica Faupel-Badger PhDmanages Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) grants in the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity. Before coming to NIGMS, Faupel-Badger served as a senior biomedical scientist and deputy director of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at National Cancer Institute (NCI). Prior to that, she was a health science policy analyst at National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. Faupel-Badger earned her B.S. in biology from Gettysburg College, a Ph.D. in tumor biology from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and an M.P.H. in epidemiology and biostatistics from George Washington University. She conducted postdoctoral research at NCI, where she currently serves as an adjunct investigator in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. 

Alison Gammie PhDAlison Gammie, Ph.D., is Director of the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity, which supports the Institute's research training, career development and diversity-building activities through a number of programs at the undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral and faculty levels.

Prior to joining NIGMS, Gammie served as a senior lecturer in molecular biology at Princeton University, where she also directed the university's Program for Diversity and Graduate Recruitment in Molecular and Quantitative Biology and its Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Molecular and Quantitative Biology. She was also an associate clinical member at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Her research focused on understanding how defects in DNA mismatch repair lead to cancer.

Gammie earned a B.A. in biology from Reed College and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Oregon Health Sciences University. She conducted postdoctoral research at Princeton University.

Miguel Garcia-Diaz, PhDMiguel Garcia-Diaz, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Director of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Graduate Program in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine.


Kenny Gibbs, Jr., Ph.D.

Odaine Gordon, Ph.D.

Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, Ph.D.

Klarissa Jackson Hardy PhDKlarissa Jackson Hardy, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.  Dr. Hardy received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University in 2011 after receiving her B.S. in Chemistry from Jackson State University in Jackson, MS. During her graduate studies at Vanderbilt, she conducted research in the laboratories of Drs. Jack Roberts and Jason Morrow in the Division of Clinical Pharmacology. Her work focused on utilizing mass spectrometry to study the formation and metabolism of biologically active lipids (eicosanoids) derived from arachidonic acid. While in graduate school, she served as a teaching fellow for the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, and she tutored undergraduate and high school students in biochemistry, organic chemistry, and general chemistry. In 2011, Dr. Hardy was awarded the UNCF-Merck Postdoctoral Science Research Fellowship to conduct research at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. During her postdoctoral training, she studied drug metabolism and mechanistic toxicology under the mentorship of Drs. Allan Rettie and Sidney Nelson. Her research focused on identifying the metabolic pathways involved in the formation of chemically reactive metabolites of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib, which is associated with idiosyncratic liver toxicity. Dr. Hardy recently joined the faculty in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Lipscomb, where she is developing a research laboratory to investigate the underlying biochemical and cellular mechanisms of drug-induced liver injury. Her research interests include characterizing the role of drug metabolism and transport in the initiation of drug-induced liver injury and identifying the downstream cellular responses that occur during the pathogenesis of liver toxicity.

Peter Hauser PhDPeter C. Hauser, Ph.D., is a deaf clinical neuropsychologist with an interdisciplinary research background. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Research and Teacher Education at the National Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Research Initiative Director of Neurocognitive Foundations of Visual Language and Visual Learning at the National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning at Gallaudet University.

Crist Khachikhian, Ph.D.

Laura Kingsford, Ph.D.

Sailaja Koduri, PhDSailaja Koduri, Ph.D., is a program director in the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity, where she manages the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U-​STAR) program and Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program. She also manages research grants in the areas of receptors, drug targets and signal transduction in the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry.

Koduri was formerly a scientific review officer at National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and prior to that she worked as a senior scientist at BioReliance. She earned a B.S. in chemistry from Nagarjuna University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Central Food Technological Research​ Institute, both in India. Koduri conducted postdoctoral research at the Howard University College of Medicine and National Cancer Institute.

Barry Komisaruk, PhDBarry Komisaruk, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor in the Psychology Department, director of the Minority Biomedical Research Support Program, and former associate dean of the Graduate School at Rutgers University-Newark.  Dr. Komisaruk received a B.S. in biology at The City University of New York and Ph.D. in psychobiology from Rutgers University. He was a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow in neuroendocrinology at the Brain Research Institute, University of California at Los Angeles. Joining the Rutgers-Newark faculty in 1966, Komisaruk was a professor in the Institute of Animal Behavior and Department of Zoology.  With a penchant for finding new research avenues to explore, Komisaruk received a Board of Trustees of Rutgers University Excellence in Research award and the Hugo G. Beigel Research Award of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. His major research interests include: functional neuroimaging of genital sensory response; neurophysiology, neuropharmacology and neuroendocrinology of reproductive behavior; and neural control of autonomic genital function. He is senior author of The Science of Orgasm, a comprehensive look at the biology and neuroscience of orgasm, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, as well as The Orgasm Answer Guide, a general readership book from the same publisher. He has published more than 155 academic journal articles and chapters.

Donna H. Korzick, Ph.D.

William LaCourse, Ph.D.

Gordon Laurie, Ph.D.

Jon Lorsch, PhDJon Lorsch, Ph.D. became the director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) in August 2013.  In this position, Lorsch oversees the Institute's $2.5 billion budget, which supports basic research that increases understanding of biological processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention.  Lorsch came to NIGMS from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he was a professor in the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1999 and became a full professor in 2009. A leader in RNA biology, Lorsch studies the initiation of translation, a major step in controlling how genes are expressed. When this process goes awry, viral infection, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer can result. To dissect the mechanics of translation initiation, Lorsch and collaborators developed a yeast-based system and a wide variety of biochemical and biophysical methods. The work also has led to efforts to control translation initiation through chemical reagents, such as drugs. Lorsch continues this research as a tenured investigator in the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Lorsch received a B.A. in chemistry from Swarthmore College in 1990 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University in 1995, where he worked in the laboratory of Jack Szostak, Ph.D. He conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University in the laboratory of Daniel Herschlag, Ph.D.Lorsch is the author of more than 70 peer-reviewed research articles, book chapters and other papers. He has also been the editor of six volumes of Methods in Enzymology and has been a reviewer for numerous scientific journals. He is the author on two awarded U.S. patents. His honors include six teaching awards from Johns Hopkins.

Lorsch's other activities have included membership on the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology's mentoring committee, the RNA Society's board of directors and NIH review committees. Since joining NIH, he has taken on several leadership roles, including serving on the NIH Scientific Data Council, Administrative Data Council and Extramural Activities Working Group, which he co-chairs.

Rafael Luna, PhDRafael Luna, Ph.D., is one of five directors of NRMN, specifically the Administrative Core operated through Boston College.  Dr. Luna earned his bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a Historically Black College and University.  During his junior year at Southern, he was one of six individuals selected from a nationwide process to participate in the inaugural Minority Biomedical Research Training Program at NHLBI/NIH.  Dr. Luna thoroughly enjoyed his biomedical research experience at NIH, as he subsequently earned his doctorate in Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and was awarded a Diversity Supplement through NIAID/NIH to continue his doctoral research.  Dr. Luna performed his postdoctorate research at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and at Harvard Medical School in Boston.  At Harvard Medical School, Dr. Luna received a Diversity Supplement through NIGMS/NIH and subsequently a F32 NRSA postdoctoral fellowship through NIGMS/NIH.  Dr. Luna's biomedical research centered on the mechanisms of protein synthesis.  More specifically, his research contributed to elucidating the sequence of protein-protein interactions that facilitate the decoding of the initial start codons of messenger RNAs.

Dr. Luna is a dynamic speaker and has led lectures and workshops throughout the United States and Europe.  Dr. Luna believes in giving back to the community by serving as a little league coach for 10 years in inner city Boston, and four years ago was elected as the President of Mission Hill Little League.

Philip R. Mayeux, Ph.D.

Thi Nguyen, Ph.D.

Keith C. Norris, MD, PhDKeith C. Norris, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Medicine, UCLA Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research. He is an internationally recognized clinician scientist and health policy leader who has been instrumental in shaping national health policy and clinical practice guidelines in the area of kidney disease. He is a leading health disparities researcher and a powerful advocate for increasing minority biomedical researchers (working from K-12 to junior faculty) and enhancing the research infrastructure of minority institutions. He was the founding PI for the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Translational Research Network (RTRN), the only National NIH network dedicated to reducing health disparities. He also served for 7 years as the president of the RCMI Program Directors Association. He currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Ethnicity and Disease, a multidisciplinary journal focusing on minority ethnic population differences in health promotion and disease prevention, including research in the areas of epidemiology, genetics, health services, social biology, and medical anthropology. He also serves as an associate editor for the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

Richard Okita PhDRichard Okita, Ph.D., is a program director in the NIGMS Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry, where he administers grants in the areas of drug metabolism and transport, drug-induced toxicology and drug delivery. He also manages predoctoral T32 pharmacological sciences and postdoctoral T32 clinical pharmacology training grants, F32 postdoctoral fellowships in the pharmacological sciences, anesthesiology and clinical pharmacology; and trauma, burn and perioperative injury, and mentored career development awards in clinical pharmacology. Prior to joining NIGMS, Okita was a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Washington State University. He earned a B.A. in bacteriology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in biochemical pharmacology from the University of Southern California. Okita conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas.

Christine Pribbenow, Ph.D.

Victoria "Vicky" Prince, Ph.D.

Veerasamy Ravichandran, PhDVeerasamy "Ravi" Ravichandran, Ph.D., is a program director in the NIGMS Division of Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology. He manages research, resource and training grants in the areas of biomedical technology, bioinformatics and computational biology. Ravichandran oversees the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development program and is also involved in facilitating and coordinating trans-NIH activities related to big data. Earlier in his career, he was a staff scientist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a research scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and an associate research scientist at Yale University School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania. Ravichandran conducted postdoctoral research as an IRTA fellow in the NCI Laboratory of Pathology and Experimental Immunology Branch. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, master’s degrees in biochemistry and philosophy/clinical biochemistry, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Madras in India. Ravichandran also earned a master’s degree in computer science and bioinformatics from John Hopkins University and a certificate degree in database development from George Washington University.

Mercedes Rubio PhDMercedes Rubio, Ph.D., is a program director in the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity, where she primarily oversees Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research and Supplements to Promote Re-entry into Biomedical and Behavioral Research Careers. Before joining NIGMS, Rubio was chief of the Psychopathology Risk and Protective Factors Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health and was assistant director of that Institute’s Individual Research Fellowship Program. Rubio earned a B.A. in sociology from California State University, Bakersfield, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she also completed postdoctoral training in the field of health disparities.

Desiree Salazar PhDDesirée Salazar, Ph.D., is a program director in the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity, where she administers the Diversity Supplement Program, and the Re-entry Supplement Program. She is also a program officer for the IPERT R25 and the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative. 

Michael Sesma PhDMichael Sesma, Ph.D., is chief of the Postdoctoral Training Branch in the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity, where he oversees postdoctoral programs for research training, postdoctoral fellowship, career development programs, as well as the Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) and workforce modeling programs. Sesma returned to NIGMS after a 10-year career at the National Institute of Mental Health, where he was chief of the Research Scientist Development Program in the Office for Special Populations. Before that, he was a scientific review administrator in the NIGMS Office of Scientific Review and a program director in the Institute's Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology. Sesma earned a B.A. in biology and psychology from the University of California, San Diego, and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Riverside. He conducted postdoctoral research at Vanderbilt University.

Vivian Siegel, Ph.D.

Melanie V. Sinche

Shiva Singh PhDShiva Singh, Ph.D., is chief of the Undergraduate and Predoctoral Training Branch in the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity (TWD). This branch supports predoctoral T32 training programs, predoctoral F30 and F31 fellowships, and a broad array of undergraduate and graduate student development programs. Singh currently administers a portfolio of institutional research training grants at the interface of the behavioral and biomedical sciences. Previously, he managed several other programs in TWD as well as research grants in the areas of host-microbe symbiotic relationships, microbial community ecology and adaptive responses to stress in the Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology. He also oversaw systems biology, scientific workforce modeling and complex biological systems modeling grants in the Division of Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology. Prior to joining NIGMS, Singh was chair of the department of biological sciences and director of biomedical research and training programs at Alabama State University. He earned a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in plant sciences from Pant University of Agriculture and Technology and a Ph.D. in microbiology from Auburn University. He conducted postdoctoral research at Auburn University and Argonne National Laboratory.

Joe Skrivanek, Ph.D.

Lisa Parker Smith, Ph.D.

Stefan Strack, Ph.D.

Jamboor K Vishwanatha PhDJamboor K. Vishwanatha, Ph.D.  is a Regents Professor and Vice President for Diversity and International Programs, and Director of the Texas Center for Health Disparities at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.  He is a principal investigator of the National Research Mentoring Network, a NIH Common Fund initiative to provide mentorship, networking and professional development for a diversified biomedical and behavioral workforce.
Dr. Vishwanatha received his Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of South Carolina in 1983. Dr. Vishwanatha’s research is in cancer molecular biology, experimental therapeutics and nanotechnology.  His laboratory is investigating genetic markers that predict development of aggressive prostate and breast cancers, and nanotechnology-based therapies for breast and prostate cancers.
Dr. Vishwanatha is actively involved in mentorship and networking programs to diversify the biomedical research workforce, and has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students from under represented groups in biomedical sciences.  As the director of the Texas Center for Minority Health, Education, Research and Outreach (Texas Center for Health Disparities), a Center of Excellence funded by the National institutes of Health, he has directed health disparity research, education and community outreach programs.  For the past 11 years, he has organized the annual Texas Conference on Health Disparities that attract national speakers and participants.    He serves on the external advisory committees for University of Puerto Rico-Cayey, PR; St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas; Alabama State University, Montgomery, Alabama; and Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia.  He has been an active member of the AAMC GREAT Group, SACNAS and ABRCMS.

Stephanie Watts, Ph.D.