Current Lasker Clinical Research Scholars

Hans Ackerman, M.D., D.Phil., M.Sc.

Hans Ackerman, M.D., D.Phil., M.Sc.

Lasker Clinical Research Scholar; Chief, Physiology Section, Sickle Cell Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Website: http://irp.nih.gov/pi/hans-ackerman

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.

Andrea Apolo, M.D.

Andrea Apolo, M.D.

Lasker Clinical Research Scholar; Chief, Bladder Cancer Section, Genitourinary Malignancies Branch, National Cancer Institute-Center for Cancer Research

Website: http://irp.nih.gov/pi/andrea-apolo

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.

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

Website: http://irp.nih.gov/pi/rebecca-brown

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.

Jessica Gill, R.N. Ph.D.

Jessica Gill, R.N. Ph.D.

Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Tissue Injury Branch, National Institute of Nursing Research

Website: http://irp.nih.gov/pi/jessica-gill

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.

Christian Hinrichs, M.D.

Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch, National Cancer Institute-Center for Cancer Research

Website: http://irp.nih.gov/pi/christian-hinrichs

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.

Beth Kozel, M.D., Ph.D.

Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Laboratory of Vascular and Matrix Genetics, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Website: http://irp.nih.gov/pi/beth-kozel

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.

Falk Lohoff, M.D.

Falk Lohoff, M.D.

Lasker Clinical Research Scholar; Chief, Section on Clinical Genomics and Experimental Therapeutics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Website: http://irp.nih.gov/pi/falk-lohoff

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.

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

Website: http://irp.nih.gov/pi/nehal-mehta

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.

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

Website: http://irp.nih.gov/pi/armin-raznahan

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)

Natalie D. Shaw, M.D. M.M.Sc.

Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Clinical Research Branch/Pediatric Neuroendocrinology Group, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Website: http://irp.nih.gov/pi/natalie-shaw

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.

For more information on the Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program

This page last reviewed on March 31, 2016