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Tenured and Former Scholars
Andrea Apolo, M.D.
Senior Investigator and Chief of the 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.
Catherine Ann Cukras, M.D., Ph.D.
Currently: Senior Medical Director, Roche Pharmaceutical Ophthalmology
Formerly: Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, Clinical Trials Branch, National Eye Institute
Catherine Ann Cukras, who became a Lasker Scholar in 2018, is excited that her research is furthering progress on the treatment and prevention of blindness. In particular, she uses multidisciplinary approaches to understand the patterns of photoreceptor dysfunction and degeneration in retinal degenerative disease and to design and implement interventional clinical trials. After receiving her M.D.-Ph.D. from Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri), she did an internship at Presbyterian Hospital (Philadelphia), a residency in ophthalmology at the Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), and a Medical Retina Clinical Fellowship at the National Eye Institute. “The NIH is like family,” she said. “I am lucky to be able to be part of an environment that fulfills me and enriches me as a person.” Outside of work, she loves spending time with her husband, three children, and a puppy.
Jessica Gill, R.N. Ph.D.
Currently: Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and School of Medicine
Formerly: Acting Deputy Director, Senior Investigator and Chief of the Brain Injury Unit, Tissue Injury Branch, National Institute of Nursing Research
Jessica Gill who was one of the first two Lasker Clinical Research Scholars in 2012, is investigating effective ways to identify trauma patients who are at high risk for psychological and neurological deficits. Her novel findings demonstrate the mechanisms underlying neurological symptoms and deficits in military personnel with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), as well as athletes with concussions. Her research laboratory uses leading-edge technology to identify and link omic biomarkers to neuronal damage through brain-imaging methods that are unique to the NIH. She continues to develop methods for identifying brain-injured patients who are at risk for a poor recovery. Her discoveries are providing the foundation for early interventions to prevent the often irreversible symptoms resulting from post-TBI neurological damage. 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.
Currently: Chief of the Section of Cancer Immunotherapy and Co-Director of the Cancer Immunology and Metabolism Center of Excellence at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and Professor of Medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Formerly: Senior Investigator and Chief of the Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch, National Cancer Institute-Center for Cancer Research
Christian Hinrichs conducts basic and clinical research to discover and develop new cellular therapies for patients with cancer. He was the first to use T-cell therapy to cure patients with an incurable epithelial cancer—he used tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to treat metastatic cervical cancer. His laboratory research has defined the importance of viral and non-viral tumor antigens in immunotherapy for viral cancers, which has important implications for how we study and treat these malignancies. In addition, he discovered the genes for T-cell receptors that target viral antigens and demonstrated that treatment with T cells engineered to express these receptors is safe and has clinical activity in advanced-stage cancers. Hinrichs earned his M.D. from the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine( Kansas City, Missouri). He trained in general surgery at the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine; surgical oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, New York); tumor immunology at NCI’s Surgery Branch; internal medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (Washington, D.C.); and medical oncology at NCI’s Medical Oncology Branch. Before becoming a senior investigator, he was an assistant clinical investigator in the NCI Surgery Branch (2012-2015) and a tenure-track Lasker Clinical Research Scholar in the NCI Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch (2015-2020). Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his family, listening to live music at local venues, and running.
Robert Hufnagel, M.D., Ph.D.
Currently: Senior Investigator, Center for Integrated Healthcare Research, Kaiser Permanente, Hawaii
Formerly: Lasker Clinical Research Scholar; National Eye Institute
Rob Hufnagel, a 2021 Lasker Scholar, is dedicated to understanding mechanisms of human genome variation that cause blindness in children. He uses a translational approach combining clinical molecular approaches and developmental biology to improve diagnosis and establish gene:disease and genotype:phenotype relationships. In particular, he uses genomics, stem cell engineering, and gene editing to establish patient-centered disease models for translational and preclinical studies. After receiving his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio), he completed his Pediatrics and Clinical Genetics residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, followed by fellowships in Clinical Ophthalmic Genetics at the National Eye Institute (NEI/NIH) and Clinical Molecular Genetics and Genomics at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI/NIH). He loves spending time with his family and their dog, Helix.
Beth Kozel, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Investigator and Chief of the 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.
Nehal Mehta, M.D., M.S.C.E., F.A.H.A.
Currently: Clinical Professor of Medicine, George Washington University
Formerly: Senior Investigator and Chief of the 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 to psoriasis. Most recently, his team described the first in-human observation that treating psoriasis with biologic therapy reduces inflammation and improves coronary artery disease, a finding which received an NHLBI Orloff Science Award in 2018. 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.
Senior Investigator and Chief of the Section on Developmental Neurogenomics, Human Genetics Branch, National Institute of Mental Health
Armin Raznahan is striving to better understand the biology of childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorders. Together with his colleagues and collaborators, he works 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, he hopes 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 Section include sex differences, evolutionary patterning, 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 completed 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.”
H. Nida Sen, M.D., M.H.S.
Currently: Senior Director/Clinical Lead of Ophthalmology Clinical Development, Janssen Retina
Formerly: Chief of the Unit on Clinical Translational Immunology, Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute
H. Nida Sen became a Lasker Scholar in 2018. As a Lasker Scholar, she worked to develop biomarkers and novel therapeutic approaches in an effort to better understand and treat uveitis, an immune-mediated eye disease which is an important cause of blindness. She received her M.D. from Hacettepe University Medical School (Ankara, Turkey) and an M.H.S. from Duke University (Durham, North Carolina). She did a residency in ophthalmology at the Ankara Training and Research Hospital (Ankara, Turkey); a residency in ophthalmology at George Washington University (Washington, D.C.); and a clinical fellowship in uveitis and ocular immunology at the National Eye Institute. When she’s not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and cooking.
Anish Thomas, M.B.B.S., M.D.
Senior Investigator and Chief of the Developmental TherapeuticsBranch, 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.
This page last reviewed on November 15, 2023