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Senior Mentors

Mentorship is embedded in the Distinguished Scholars Program (DSP). Each DSP cohort has highly respected senior investigators at the NIH who serve as dedicated mentors but also as advocates and sponsors.


Veronica Alvarez, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Laboratory on Neurobiology of Compulsive Behaviors
Lead Investigator, Center on Compulsive Behaviors

Dr. Alvarez graduated with honors and received a PhD degree in Neuroscience from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. She did postdoctoral research at the Vollum Institute of Oregon Health and Science University and at Harvard Medical School. She joined the NIH as an investigator in 2008, achieving tenure in 2015. Dr. Alvarez’s research is focused on identifying the circuits and understanding the synaptic mechanisms that drive reward seeking, reinforcement and compulsive behaviors. Her laboratory studies the effects of drugs of abuse on synapses and neuronal connectivity with the main focus on stimulant drugs and alcohol. She received the NIH Honor Award in 2015 and the Outstanding Mentor Award in 2015 and 2018, as well as the 2017 DDIR Innovation Award and 2018 Challenge Award to support the creation of the Center on Compulsive Behaviors at the NIH.

Trevor Archer

Trevor Archer, Ph.D.

NIH Distinguished Investigator
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Chief, Epigenetics & Stem Cell Biology Laboratory

Dr. Archer received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Queen's University in Canada, after which he did postdoctoral training on chromatin gene transcription and steroid receptors at the National Cancer Institute, in Bethesda. In 1992, he joined the University of Western Ontario in Canada as a National Cancer Institute of Canada Scientist. He was recruited to the NIEHS in 1999 as head of Chromatin Structure and Gene Expression. In 2003, he was appointed as Chief, Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, and in 2014 he became the founding chief of the new Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology laboratory at NIEHS. Dr. Archer has made numerous original and important contributions to the study of chromatin structure/function, epigenetics, and gene regulation in cancer cells. These studies have provided important insights into the potential regulatory role of chromatin remodeling protein complexes in modulating the activity of transcription factors.

Carolina Barillas-Mury, M.D., Ph.D.

Carolina Barillas-Mury, M.D., Ph.D.

NIH Distinguished Investigator
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Chief, Mosquito Immunity and Vector Competence Section

Dr. Barillas-Mury received her M.D. from “Universidad Francisco Marroquin de Guatemala” and her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. She did her post-doctoral training at Harvard University and at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Germany. She joined the NIH in 1993 and became a NIH Distinguished Investigator in 2016. She is interested in understanding the interactions between the mosquito immune system and Plasmodium parasites that are critical for malaria transmission, with the ultimate goal of disrupting the parasite’s life cycle and preventing human disease. Dr. Barillas-Mury received the 2010 Bailey K. Ashford Medal from the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (ASTMH) and the 2013 Sanofi/Pasteur Award in Tropical and Neglected Diseases, as well as being elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014. She received a Doctor Honoris Causa from Universidad del Valle de Guatemala in 2016, was named 2017 Alumni of the Year at the University of Arizona, and became a Fellow of ASTMH in 2017 and of the Entomological Society of America in 2020.

Juan S. Bonifacino, Ph.D.

Juan S. Bonifacino, Ph.D.

NIH Distinguished Investigator
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Associate Scientific Director, Neurosciences and Cellular and Structural Biology Division
Head, Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking

Dr. Bonifacino received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the NIH, studying the mechanisms of assembly and quality control of multi-protein complexes in the endoplasmic reticulum. He rose through the ranks to his current position as Associate Scientific Director of the Neurosciences and Cellular and Structural Division, Head of the Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking at NICHD. His laboratory investigates the molecular mechanisms by which proteins are delivered to different cellular compartments, and the diseases that result from dysfunction of these mechanisms. Specific projects include the study of coat proteins involved in intracellular transport, polarized sorting in neurons, organelle positioning and motility, endosomal retrieval pathways, and neurodevelopmental disorders caused by defects in these processes. Dr. Bonifacino was appointed NIH Distinguished Investigator in 2008 and Fellow of the American Society for Cell Biology in 2018.

T. Jake Liang, M.D.

T. Jake Liang, M.D.

NIH Distinguished Investigator
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Chief, Liver Diseases Branch
Deputy Director of Translational Research

Dr. Liang is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School. He completed his postgraduate training at Harvard Medical School, where he was an Assistant Professor of Medicine from 1990-1996. He is an internationally renowned thought leader and investigator in the field of viral hepatitis and liver diseases. His research program focuses on the virology, pathogenesis and therapeutic development of viral hepatitis and liver cancer. Dr. Liang has been an Associate Editor for the medical journals Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Gut. He served on the Governing Board of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and was its President in 2011. His outstanding contributions has been recognized with numerous national awards including the AASLD Distinguished Mentor/Clinician Educator Award and the AGA Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science. He was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, to the AAAS as a Fellow, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the National Academy of Medicine.


John Schiller, Ph.D.

NIH Distinguished Investigator
National Cancer Institute
Laboratory of Cellular Oncology

Dr. Schiller received his bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Microbiology from the University of Washington. He is currently a NIH Distinguished Investigator and Section Chief in the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute. In his 35 years at the NCI, Dr. Schiller has studied papillomavirus molecular biology, immunology and epidemiology. His current interests include papillomavirus virion assembly and infection, single dose prophylactic HPV and therapeutic HPV vaccines, and virus-like particle (VLP)-based vaccines and therapies for other infectious diseases and cancers. He and Dr. Douglas Lowy have received numerous awards for their work developing VLP vaccines to prevent the HPV infections that cause cervical and other cancers, including the 2007 Sabin Gold Medal Award, the 2014 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.


Julie Segre, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator
National Human Genome Research Institute
Chief, Translational and Functional Genomics Branch
Head, Microbial Genomics Section

Dr. Segre received her B.A. in Mathematics from Amherst College, her Ph.D. in Genetics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago. She has been an investigator at NHGRI since 2000, receiving tenure in 2007. Dr. Segre’s laboratory studies the human skin microbiome, beginning with foundational studies defining the indigenous bacterial, fungal and viral communities, as well as hospital outbreaks of multi-drug resistant bacteria. Her research integrates DNA sequence technology, algorithm development, and clinical studies to explore the diversity of microbes in and on humans in health and disease. Together with NIH epidemiologist Dr. Tara Palmore, Dr. Segre received the 2013 Service to America Medal, considered among the most prestigious for a federal employee, for their work to establish the clinical utility of microbial genomics.


John Tisdale, M.D.

Senior Investigator
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Chief, Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics Branch
Director, Trans-NIH Intramural Sickle Cell Program

Dr. Tisdale received his M.D. degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where he also received his B.A. in Chemistry. He completed an internal medicine and chief residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and then trained in hematology and was a postdoctoral fellow at NHLBI. He joined the Molecular and Clinical Hematology Branch of NHLBI in 1998 and is now the Chief of the Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics Branch. Dr. Tisdale’s research and clinical work center on sickle cell disease. His group focuses on developing curative strategies for sickle cell disease through transplantation of allogeneic or genetically modified autologous bone marrow stem cells. In 2011 the College of Charleston recognized Dr. Tisdale with the Alumni of the Year Award and the Pre-Medical Society’s Outstanding Service Award in Medicine. He was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and is a member of the American Society of Hematology.



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