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2022 21st Century Scholars Program Scholars

Meet Our Program Scholars

Selection for the program is competitive and is prestigious recognition of outstanding accomplishments in promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Scholars

Stephanie M. Davis, Ph.D.

Stephanie M. Davis, Ph.D.
Small Business Program Coordinator
Office of Translational Alliances and Coordination
Division of Extramural Research Activities
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Dr. Stephanie M. Davis received her B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology in 2012 from Florida Southern College. She received her M.S. in medical sciences (2015) and her Ph.D. in molecular pharmacology (2016) from the University of South Florida. She was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Neurology. In addition to her postdoctoral appointment, she also interned part-time with the UK Office of Technology Commercialization from January to July 2019. In 2019, she was selected for the 2019-2020 Executive Branch AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellows Program, where she served as a Program Manager in the NIA Office of Small Business Research. She has served as the NHLBI Small Business Program Officer since December 2020.

Samson Gebreab, Ph.D.

Samson Gebreab, Ph.D.
Program Director, Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Dr. Samson Gebreab is a Program Director at NCI’s CRCHD, where he contributes to programmatic efforts to Build Collaborative Partnerships in Cancer Research. He also manages the NCI Research Supplements to Promote Diversity, Reentry and Re-integration in Cancer Research Careers. Previously, he worked as a mathematical statistician at the Center for Tobacco Products where he led workgroups for sampling design, data analyses, and data delivery for the PATH Study. Prior to that, he was a Staff Scientist at NHGRI, serving as an Associate Investigator of Genomics, Environmental and Social Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease in African Americans. He was also actively involved in mentoring summer students and postdoctoral fellows. He received his joint M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in statistics and spatial epidemiology from Utah State University, and his M.Sc. in geographic information science from Wageningen University (Netherlands). He completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Christian Gomez, Ph.D.

Christian Gomez, Ph.D.
Program Director, Lung Biology and Disease Branch
Division of Lung Diseases
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Dr. Christian Gomez obtained his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of Chile (2004), trained as a postdoctoral fellow in immune-pathology of aging at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago (2004-2008), worked as an independent cancer researcher at the Mayo Clinic (2008-2011), and led a research program on pathobiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (2011-2021). His scientific interests include immunology, organ-associated injury, experimental disease therapeutics, and biological determinants of health disparities. Since May 2021, he has managed the cell-based lung inflammation and repair portfolio within the Division of Lung Diseases, NHLBI. He has mentored and supervised >50 individuals of diverse backgrounds, participated as a principal investigator or co-investigator in >10 projects focused on issues related to underserved populations, and published >27 articles on issues relevant to underserved populations. As a Program Officer, he is committed to addressing obstacles to achieve inclusion and diversity in the biomedical research workforce.

Raquel Greer, M.D., M.H.S.

Raquel Greer, M.D., M.H.S.
Senior Scientific Advisor
Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

Dr. Raquel Greer is a Senior Scientific Advisor in the Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases at NIDDK and oversees research to identify and test strategies to reduce/eliminate health disparities and advance health equity for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Previously, she served as an Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, where she also received her medical degree and completed her internal medicine residency training. Her research program focused on improving health care quality and promoting health equity among individuals with CKD, hypertension, and diabetes. She also served as the Education Director for the Johns Hopkins Brancati Center for the Advancement of Community Care where she helped to develop and oversee initiatives to increase the diversity of the health care workforce. And, to develop and implement curricula to improve the competency of health professionals to understand and address the social determinants of health with and within the communities they serve.

Thomas Houze, Ph.D.

Thomas Houze, Ph.D.
Program Officer
Division of AIDS
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Dr. Thomas Houze was born in New York, NY. He received his B.S. from State University of New York (SUNY); Ph.D. from the University of Gothenburg; and an M.Sc. from Chalmers University of Technology. His graduate studies led to his becoming an entrepreneur, co-founder, and co-inventor with patents for the therapeutic stem cell start-up company Celixir, followed by his M.B.A. with honors (2022) from Purdue University Global. He is knowledgeable in intellectual property and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) and has also worked as a data scientist. He is currently a Program Officer in NIAID’s DAIDS, which oversees funding of HIV-related research, and is applying AI/ML to enhance data-driven decision-making at DAIDS. He joined NIH as a postdoctoral fellow and was elected president of the Black Scientist Association, where he helped establish the NIH-wide Stadtman Lecture series. He is currently an ARSC subcommittee member.

Shailesh Kumar, Ph.D.

Shailesh Kumar, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Division of Neuroscience and Behavior
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Dr. Shailesh Kumar joined the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior (DNB) in December 2020 as a Health Scientist Administrator (Program Officer). His portfolio includes basic, translational, and clinical research on sleep, circadian rhythms, and alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Before joining NIAAA, he worked as a Staff Scientist at NHLBI, where his research provided insights into the mechanisms, cellular functions, and genetic networks underlying sleep and circadian rhythms. His current responsibilities include providing scientific expertise to NIAAA, other ICs, and different federal agencies; developing requests for applications; making funding recommendations; interacting with and advising extramural researchers; and fostering alcohol and sleep research through meetings and workshops. He has also been participating in NIAAA’s Diversity Supplement subcommittee, reviewing diversity supplement applications, and making recommendations for funding along with several others. In addition, he has been promoting URG researchers through IDeA mechanisms.

Holly Moore, Ph.D.

Holly Moore, Ph.D.
Program Officer, Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Branch
Division of Neuroscience and Behavior
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Dr. Holly Moore is a program officer at NIDA with expertise in cognitive neuroscience and translational psychiatry. She has a passion for improving translational research, more specifically, creating translational neuroscience that is meaningfully informed by social determinants of health and health disparities. She is also committed to a change in the “biomedical research and engineering ecosystem” to one that is more equitable, that incentivizes innovative science through functionally diverse teams, and facilitates collaboration across academic, private and government sectors. She was first in her family to complete a four-year degree (B.S., psychology and chemistry at Wright State University). She completed her Ph.D. and postdoctoral training at The Ohio State University and University of Pittsburgh, respectively. Dr. Moore was a faculty member in psychiatry at Columbia University for over 17 years, where in addition to her research, she directed several infrastructure and resource sharing programs.

Maggie A. Morris Fears, Ph.D.

Maggie A. Morris Fears, Ph.D.
Acting Knowledge Management Coordinator, Office of the Director, Scientific
Review Program Division of Extramural Activities
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Dr. Maggie A. Morris Fears is a Scientific Review Officer at NIAID, having joined NIH in 2019. She earned her B.S. from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. Her scientific background is in immunology, and before joining NIAID, she pursued research in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. She also spent three years as the biomedical sciences graduate programs director at her previous institution (2016-2019). This experience gave her a love of training and helping trainees as they grow in their scientific careers. She also developed her interest in increasing diversity and equity in the scientific workforce during this time. Currently, she leads an outreach group for diversity in the Scientific Review Program at NIAID. She also serves on the NIH EDI Native American Engagement Committee and the NIH ARSC (external recruitment subcommittee).

Jagpreet Singh Nanda, Ph.D.

Jagpreet Singh Nanda, Ph.D.
Scientific Review Officer
Division of Extramural Research
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

Dr. Jagpreet Singh Nanda earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India and completed his postdoctoral training in biophysics at Johns Hopkins University. Before joining NICHD as a Scientific Review Officer, he worked as Staff Scientist in the Laboratory on Mechanisms and Regulations of Protein Synthesis within NICHD’s intramural research program. His areas of scientific specialization include enzymology, RNA biology, and eukaryotic gene expression and regulation. He is associated with various NIH programs aimed at mentoring and promoting science among youth from underrepresented and financially disadvantaged communities such as the High School Training and Enrichment Program (HiSTEP), the Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellowship Program, and the Summer Internship program (SIP). He has been honored with the NICHD Director’s Award for outstanding mentorship (2019), and NIH’s summer mentor award (2018, 2020).

Deborah D. Philp, Ph.D.

Deborah D. Philp, Ph.D.
Program Officer, Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program Branch
Division of Clinical Innovation
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)

Dr. Deborah D. Philp is a Program Officer in the Education and Training Section of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program Branch within the Division of Clinical Innovation at NCATS. Prior to NCATS, she was a research training specialist in the Office of Research Training and Special Programs in the Division of Extramural Activities at NIAID. Before NIAID, she was an intramural training director at NIDCR. Dr. Philp received the Harvey J. Bullock Equal Opportunity Achievement NIH Director’s Award and an NIH Director’s Award with the NIH Anti-Harassment Policy Development Team. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the City College of New York (CUNY); received her doctorate in molecular, cell and developmental biology at the CUNY Graduate Center; and completed her postdoctoral training at NIDCR.

Lumy Sawaki-Adams, M.D, Ph.D.

Lumy Sawaki-Adams, M.D, Ph.D.
Program Director
Division for Research Capacity Building
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

Dr. Lumy Sawaki-Adams' fundamental desire to help others and love for science led her to obtain an M.D. in 1991 and a Ph.D. in 1999. With a lifelong commitment to diversity, inclusion, and building an equitable world, she has devoted over 25 years of her career in academia as a clinician scientist spearheading research programs on disability and to improve quality of life for people with conditions such as stroke and spinal cord injury. She has mentored, coached, and sponsored students, postdoctoral fellows, medical residents, and clinicians. In 2021, she became a Program Officer at NIGMS to support programs in states with historically lower levels of NIH funding by managing complex grants (U54 and P20). She is co-authoring her first FOA aimed to increase resources for conducting clinical trials in those states. She is deeply invested in increasing nationally underrepresented investigators in biomedical research (R16) and is excited to serve as a Program Officer for several RADx UP awards.

Melissa M. Smarr, Ph.D.

Melissa M. Smarr, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator, Population Health Branch
Division of Extramural Research and Training
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

Dr. Melissa M. Smarr received her doctorate in environmental health sciences from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, followed by postdoctoral training at NICHD, and a tenure-track assistant professor position at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. Her broad research portfolio at NIEHS includes reproductive health, metabolic health across the life course, environmental epidemiology, environmental health disparities and environmental justice. She has co-organized and moderated scientific meetings and workshops to engage current and potential grantees from populations that are underrepresented in the environmental health sciences community and listening sessions with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and non-traditional stakeholders. Additionally, she led the development of the Maintaining and Enriching Environmental Epidemiology Cohorts to Support Scientific and Workforce FOA (RFA-ES-22-001), to promote widespread data sharing and scientific collaborations inclusive of researchers from underrepresented groups in science and especially those at MSIs.

Lisa T. Wigfall, Ph.D.

Lisa T. Wigfall, Ph.D.
Scientific Review Officer, Population Sciences and Epidemiology Branch
Division of AIDS, Behavioral and Population Sciences
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)

Dr. Lisa T. Wigfall is a Scientific Review Officer (SRO) at CSR. Prior to joining CSR, she co-chaired the Department of Health and Kinesiology's Climate and Diversity Committee at Texas A&M University from 2018-2020. In November 2020, she joined the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as Associate Director for the Cancer Prevention Research Training Program. Her role included recruiting a diverse pool of postdoctoral fellows and undergraduate, graduate, medical, and other health professional students. In her current role as an SRO within CSR, she objectively manages the review of the scientific and technical merit of grant applications that are submitted to NIH for funding consideration. Since joining CSR in September 2021, she has volunteered to serve as an ally member of the CSR’s newly launched Inclusion Diversity Equity Accessibility (IDEA) Council.

 

 

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