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Current Lasker Clinical Research Scholars
Hans Ackerman, M.D., D.Phil., M.Sc.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar; Chief, Physiology Section, Sickle Cell Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Hans Ackerman became a Lasker Scholar in 2014. He is studying sickle-cell disease and malaria, which share an evolutionary link and many of the same disease-causing mechanisms that underlie vascular dysfunction. He is also studying how naturally occurring genetic differences change nitric-oxide signaling and vasodilation responses in blood-vessel walls. He hopes his work will contribute to the development of drugs that could prevent or treat the vascular complications of sickle-cell disease or malaria. He received his M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School (Boston), and his D.Phil. in human genetics and M.Sc. in biological anthropology from the University of Oxford in England. He completed a residency in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston); a fellowship in critical-care medicine at the NIH Clinical Center; and a research fellowship at the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He and his wife enjoy raising their three boys.
Christine Campo Alewine M.D., PH.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute
Christine Campo Alewine became a Lasker Scholar in 2016. She is conducting clinical trials to test the effectiveness of a recombinant immunotoxin in combination with standard-of-care chemotherapy in patients who have advanced pancreatic cancer. Recombinant immunotoxins are antibody-based anticancer therapeutics that deliver a potent bacterial toxin to cancer cells; the toxin halts protein synthesis in those cells. Her study may lead to advances in our understanding of whether immunotoxins can be used to treat pancreatic cancer and provide insight into technical aspects of this therapeutic strategy. Alewine received her Ph.D., in physiology, and M.D. from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (Baltimore). She completed a residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore) and a clinical fellowship in medical oncology at NCI’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Her outside activities include tennis, hiking, quilting, being a Girl Scout troop leader, and spending time with her husband and their two daughters.
Andrea Apolo, M.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar; Chief, Bladder Cancer Section, Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, National Cancer Institute-Center for Cancer Research
Andrea Apolo, a 2014 Lasker Scholar, is dedicated to improving the treatment and survival of patients with genitourinary tumors. She is designing and implementing clinical trials to test novel agents for the treatment of urologic cancers. Her primary research interest is in developing targeted bladder-cancer therapies. She is identifying molecular alterations in bladder tumors that will serve as targets for individualized treatment strategies. Another research interest is in developing new imaging modalities to improve the detection of bladder and prostate tumors. She received her M.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York); did a residency in internal medicine at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center (New York); and completed a fellowship in medical oncology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York). Her outside interests include running and spending time with her family.
Rebecca J. Brown, M.D., M.H.Sc.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity Branch, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases
Rebecca Brown, who became a Lasker Scholar in 2015, is studying the physiologic mechanisms by which the adipokine leptin alters insulin resistance and energy metabolism both dependent on and independent of its effects on food intake. She focuses on patients with rare, often monogenic disorders of extreme insulin resistance such as lipodystrophy or mutations of the insulin receptor. She applies what she learns toward the development of therapeutics for these rare diseases and is elucidating pathways that may serve as drug targets for more common disorders of insulin resistance. She received her M.D. degree from Mayo Medical School (Rochester, Minnesota) and her M.H.Sc. in clinical research from Duke University (Durham, North Carolina). She was a medical student in the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, National Institute of Mental Health; did a residency in pediatrics at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital (Cleveland); was a clinical fellow in pediatric endocrinology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and a senior fellow in clinical research in NIDDK. Before becoming a Lasker Scholar she was an assistant clinical investigator in NIDDK. Having recently become a mother, she spends a lot of time enjoying the ups and downs of parenthood and family life.
Courtney Fitzhugh, M.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Sickle Cell Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Courtney Fitzhugh, who became a Lasker Scholar in 2016, is seeking to improve—and develop new—treatment options to achieve a cure for sickle-cell disease (SCD). Although matched-sibling bone-marrow transplantation offers the best treatment for people with SCD, only 15 to 20 percent of these patients have a complete sibling match. More than 90 percent have at least a half-match such as a parent, child, or half-matched siblings. Fitzhugh is developing an alternative option that involves such haploidentical donors. Her goal is to develop a widely available, successful half-matched transplant regimen. She received her M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine; did a combined residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center (Durham, North Carolina); and a combined fellowship in adult hematology and pediatric hematology/oncology, at NIH and Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore). In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, playing board games, and watching movies.
Jessica Gill, R.N. Ph.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Tissue Injury Branch, National Institute of Nursing Research
Jessica Gill, who joined the Lasker Scholars program in 2012, is investigating effective ways to identify trauma patients who are at high risk for psychological and neurological deficits. She is developing a novel line of research to reveal the mechanisms underlying different responses to combat trauma and traumatic brain injury, and hopes to identify the clinical and biological risks that predict the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder and the neurological compromise that follows a traumatic brain injury. To better understand the risk and resiliency factors, she combines biological methods — including proteomics and epigenetics — with neuronal imaging to follow a unique sample of patients during their immediate recoveries and for years afterwards. She plans to use this knowledge to develop personalized preventive interventions. She received her Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and School of Public Health (Baltimore) and did a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Institute of Mental Health. Before coming to NIH, she was an assistant professor in the School of Nursing and Krasnow Institute for Advanced Studies at George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia). Her outside interests include spending time with her husband and their three young children, hiking, skiing, and camping.
Christian Hinrichs, M.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch, National Cancer Institute-Center for Cancer Research
Christian Hinrichs became a Lasker Scholar in 2015. He does basic and clinical research to discover and develop novel T-cell therapies that can be used to treat patients with cancer. This work includes a clinical trial of human papillomavirus (HPV)–targeted tumor-infiltrating T cells for patients with HPV+ cancers. The trial has demonstrated that this treatment can mediate the complete regression of cervical cancer in some patients. Hinrichs’s laboratory has also discovered genes for T-cell receptors that target HPV and is testing new gene-therapy treatments for patients with advanced HPV+ tumors. He earned his M.D. from the University of Missouri – Kansas City (Kansas City, Missouri). His training included a residency in general surgery at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine; a fellowship in surgical oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute .Buffalo, New York); a fellowship in surgical oncology and in immunotherapy and tumor immunology at NCI’s Surgery Branch; a residency in internal medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health (Washington, D.C.); and a fellowship in medical oncology at the NCI’s Medical Oncology Branch. Before becoming a Lasker Scholar he was an assistant clinical investigator in the NCI Surgery Branch. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing with his two young sons, and running.
Beth Kozel, M.D., Ph.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Laboratory of Vascular and Matrix Genetics, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Beth Kozel, a 2015 Lasker Scholar, is doing research to understand the person-to-person variability in rare cardiovascular disorders such as Williams syndrome (WS), a multigene deletion disorder characterized by cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, deficits in visuospatial processing, and a striking overly friendly personality. Everyone with WS has an insufficiency in the elastin gene, but not everyone has significant vascular manifestations. Modeling genetic and environmental pathways in mice has allowed her team to target therapies that improve the vascular phenotype. She is also looking at the impact of vascular flow abnormalities on end-organ perfusion and function in this population. In addition to the WS work, the Kozel laboratory collaborates with other groups to discover the genes and mechanisms responsible for new vascular disorders. Kozel earned her M.D. and Ph.D. from the Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis); did a residency in pediatrics at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital and residency in clinical genetics at Washington University School of Medicine – St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Before coming to NIH she was an assistant professor of pediatrics, Genetics and Genomic Medicine at Washington University and is an adjunct assistant professor there now. Outside of work, she and her husband keep busy with their four children and on some weekends, enjoy exploring the area.
Jung-Min Lee, M.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Women’s Malignancies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute
Jung-Min Lee, who became a Lasker Scholar in 2016, is conducting clinical and translational research to study the clinical activity and biomarkers of new immune-based DNA injury combination therapies in women who have recurrent ovarian cancer. Her research is focused on cancers that share similar molecular abnormalities: BRCA mutation-associated breast or ovarian cancer, high-grade epithelial ovarian cancer, and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Lee’s clinical trial is the first to test the modulation of immune-checkpoint activity by increasing the antigenic microenvironment with active targeted therapy. The project may have a profound impact on the near- and long-term outcomes of women with recurrent ovarian cancer. Lee earned her M.D. from Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine (Wonju City, South Korea). She did a residency in internal medicine at Holy Family Hospital, Catholic University Medical College (Seoul, South Korea); a research fellowship in pathology and cell biology at Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia); a residency in internal medicine at the Albert Einstein Medical College (New York); a clinical research fellowship on breast-cancer functional imaging at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York); and a medical oncology/hematology fellowship in NCI’s Medical Oncology Branch. Outside of work, she loves going to museums, traveling, swimming, and meditating.
Frank I. Lin, M.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar and Chief, Targeted Radionuclide Therapy Section, Molecular Imaging Program, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute
Frank Lin, who joined the Lasker Scholars program in 2016, is using targeted radionuclide therapy (tRNT) to treat cancer. Unlike conventional external-beam radiation therapy, tRNT can target and treat cancer cells throughout the entire body and has the potential to deliver lethal radiation doses to even micro-metastases. He works with pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma, mesothelioma, and prostate cancer, but tRNT can be used to treat other malignancies, too. Lin hopes to demonstrate that tRNT can be used to treat a variety of malignancies including cancers that are highly resistant to other forms of therapy. He received his M.S. in medical informatics from the University of Utah (Salt Lake City) and his M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin (Milwaukee). He did an internal medicine residency at Kaiser Permanente (San Francisco) a nuclear-medicine residency at the University of California, Davis (Sacramento, California); and was a PET/CT fellow at Stanford University (Stanford, California). Lin is also training to become a board-certified medical oncologist through NCI’s Medical Oncology Fellowship Program. His outside interests include going to museums, parks, nature centers, and playgrounds with his wife and their two daughters.
Falk Lohoff, M.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar; Chief, Section on Clinical Genomics and Experimental Therapeutics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Falk Lohoff, one of the 2014 Lasker Scholars, conducts pre-clinical and translational clinical studies with a focus on genomics and epigenetics related to the pathophysiology and treatment of alcohol-use disorders and addictions. In his pre-clinical work, which involves identifying molecular mechanisms involved in addictions, he uses methods such as human population genetics, genome-wide genotyping approaches, next-generation DNA and RNA sequencing, and epigenetic/proteomic profiling. For his clinical studies, he uses molecular biomarker, pharmacogenetic, epigenetic and functional imaging genetic approaches to translate his findings. He is leading early phase 1 and phase 2 proof-of-concept clinical trials using experimental novel therapeutics guided by molecular biomarker profiling. He received his medical degree from the Humboldt University of Berlin (Berlin) and completed residency training in psychiatry and a fellowship in neuropsychopharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). Before coming to NIH, he was an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. His outside interests include music, the arts, fencing, and working out.
Nehal Mehta, M.D., M.S.C.E., F.A.H.A.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Section of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Nehal Mehta was the inaugural scholar in the Lasker Clinical Research Scholars program in 2012. His research focuses on the role of innate immunity and inflammation in the development of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Using a trans-disciplinary approach that involves genetic epidemiology, human translational studies, and novel cardiovascular imaging approaches, he and his team study how inflammation affects insulin resistance, the development of metabolic syndrome, lipoprotein dysfunction, and atherosclerosis. He directs the largest ongoing cohort study to date in psoriasis (an inflammatory skin disease associated with increased cardiovascular risk) at the NIH Clinical Center to understand how waxing and waning inflammation contributes to atherogenesis. His team was the first to describe a link to neutrophils in atherosclerosis in psoriasis. He received his M.D. degree from the George Washington University accelerated biomedical program (Washington, D.C.) and completed his residency and fellowship training at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). He did a residency and chief residency in internal medicine; a fellowship in cardiovascular diseases, nuclear cardiology, and preventive cardiology; and a postdoctoral fellowship in genetic epidemiology with a focus on inflammation and lipoproteins. Before coming to the NIH, he was an assistant professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; an attending cardiologist in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s Coronary Care Unit; and the Director of Penn Medicine’s Inflammatory Risk in Preventive Cardiology, a position he still maintains. He also is a clinical professor of medicine at the George Washington University where he provides care in the coronary care unit. His outside interests include spending time with his wife and their two young daughters, cooking, skiing, surfing, and traveling.
Armin Raznahan, M.D., Ph.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar and Chief of the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit, Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health
Armin Raznahan, a 2015 Lasker Scholar, is striving to better understand the biology of childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorders. He and his colleagues and collaborators, work toward this goal by integrating two broad approaches. First, he uses large-scale longitudinal neuroimaging datasets to study the architecture of brain development in healthy volunteers. By modeling how neuroimaging measures of the human brain vary with age, sex, and behavior in health, we hope to advance basic developmental neuroscience while also providing a data-driven way of selecting neuroimaging measures that should be prioritized for study in atypically developing groups. Second, he uses a genetics-first strategy to study the relationship between atypical brain development and neuropsychiatric symptoms. This effort involves gathering deep-phenotypic data (spanning measures of gene expression, brain structure and function, psychophysiology, cognition, and behavior) in genetic disorders that increase risk for neuropsychiatric impairment. He harnesses these clinical data to empirically dissect the diverse biological pathways that can contribute to the emergence of neuropsychiatric syndromes. Themes of special interest within his unit include sex differences, allometry, and structure-function relationships within the central nervous system. Raznahan earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from King’s College, University of London (London). His training at King’s College Hospital, London included a medicine and surgery internship, an emergency room residency, and a residency in pediatrics. He also did a residency in psychiatry at Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospitals (London); a clinical academic fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and at Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospitals; was a clinical research training fellow at NIMH and Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London; and a senior research fellow in the NIMH Child Psychiatry Branch. Before becoming a Lasker Scholar, he was a visiting scholar in the Neurogenetics Program at the University of California at Los Angeles; and a staff scientist and assistant clinical investigator at the NIMH Child Psychiatry Branch. Outside of work he likes spending time with his wife and daughter; cooking; listening to music; dancing; and “drinking from the hose that is Twitter.”
Natalie D. Shaw, M.D. M.M.Sc. (2015)
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Clinical Research Branch/Pediatric Neuroendocrinology Group, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
A 2015 Lasker Scholar, Natalie Shaw is interested in determining the physiologic and pathophysiologic underpinnings of irregular menstrual cycles among adolescent girls. Although irregular menstrual cycles are a common part of female development, a subset of teens never make the critical transition to normal menstrual cycles. By investigating the mechanisms underlying irregular cycles after the first menses, including potential genetic and environmental contributors (such as body weight and sleep structure and duration), she hopes to identify girls at high risk for future hormonal and metabolic complications who deserve early treatment. Shaw received her M.D. from the University at Buffalo State University of New York Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Buffalo, New York) and her M.M.Sc. from Harvard Medical School (Boston). She then did a residency in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh); a clinical fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at Children’s Hospital Boston (Boston); and a research fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston). Before coming to the NIH, she was an assistant professor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician in pediatric endocrinology at Children’s Hospital Boston. Outside of work, Shaw considers herself a fitness buff (running, playing soccer, cycling, practicing yoga, and enjoying Zumba), and she loves to travel and spend time with her husband and their 2-year-old daughter.
Anish Thomas, M.B.B.S., M.D.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Developmental Therapeutics Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute
Anish Thomas, a medical oncologist with a focus on clinical and translational research of small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), became a Lasker Scholar in 2017. His goal is to systematically develop more effective therapies for patients with SCLC and similar chemotherapy-refractory tumors by targeting key pathways involved in DNA replication, repair, and chromatin remodeling. His current work builds on more than six years of experience in clinical research of thoracic cancers. Thomas received his M.B.B.S. and M.D. from St. John’s Medical College (Bangalore, India). He completed an internal medicine residency at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University (Syracuse, N.Y.); and did fellowships in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute and in hematology at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and four children.
For more information on the Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program
This page last reviewed on October 30, 2017