NIDDK Director's Update Spring 2017

Commendations & Commencements


Photo of Dr. Anna Greka

NIDDK grantee Dr. Anna Greka received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Barack Obama. She is director of the Center for Glomerular Kidney Disease and Novel Experimental Therapeutics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, director of the Kidney Disease Initiative at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

Photo of Dr. Theo Heller

Dr. Theo Heller, investigator in the NIDDK intramural Liver Diseases Branch, has been granted tenure. His research focuses on the connections between the innate immune system and liver-related damage and repair, with a clinical concentration on noncirrhotic portal hypertension.

Photo of Dr. Benjamin Voight

NIDDK grantee Dr. Benjamin Voight, assistant professor of Pharmacology and Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania, received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Barack Obama.


Two members have joined the NIDDK Advisory Council:

Photo of Richard Knight

Richard Knight will serve on the Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases Subcouncil. He is a business strategist and a transplant patient who has lived with chronic kidney disease since 1996. He is on the Board of Advisors for the Bowie State University College of Business, and an adjunct instructor in business and marketing at the University. Knight is also vice president and chair of public policy for the American Association of Kidney Patients, serves on the Board of Directors for the Mid-Atlantic Renal Coalition and is a founding member of the End-Stage Renal Disease Health Information Technology Project, among other roles.

Photo of Dr. Jeffrey E. Pessin

Dr. Jeffrey E. Pessin will serve on the Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases Subcouncil. He is director of the Diabetes Research Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg Professorial Chair in Diabetes Research. Pessin’s NIH-funded research investigates the role of inflammatory responses in adipocyte-programmed cell death, regulation of liver lipogenesis in obesity and fatty liver disease, and exploration of a novel signaling pathways in skeletal muscles, using rodent model systems.

Photo of Dr. Jenna Baker

Dr. Jenna Baker joined NIDDK’s Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases to serve as program manager for the NIH Common Fund’s Illuminating the Druggable Genome program. She was previously a postdoctoral fellow in the National Human Genome Research Institute and taught for the University of Maryland University College in Germany. Her research focused on applying computational and functional genomic methods in the fields of evolutionary genetics, neuroscience, and pharmacogenomics.

Photo of Dr. Jennie Larkin

Dr. Jennie Larkin joined the NIDDK Division of Extramural Activities as director of the Office of Research Evaluation and Operations. She was previously, senior advisor for Extramural Program and Strategic Planning with the NIH Office of the Associate Director for Data Science, with multiple responsibilities including for the Big Data to Knowledge program. She also has served as a program officer in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and a staff scientist at The Institute for Genomic Research.

Photo of Dr. Jessica Lee

Dr. Jessica Lee joined the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition (DDN) in January as senior scientific advisor for Clinical & Translational Research in Digestive Diseases and deputy director of the division. She was previously a lead medical officer in the Division of Gastroenterology and Inborn Errors Products in the Center for Drug Evaluation at the Food and Drug Administration, where she provided scientific and regulatory guidance to industry and academic investigators on drug development programs in gastroenterology and inborn errors of metabolism.

Photo of Dr. Ryan Morris

Dr. Ryan Morris joined the Scientific Review Branch as a scientific review officer. Prior to joining the NIDDK, he was a review officer for nearly 10 years at the NIH Center for Scientific Review in the Digestive, Kidney, and Urological Systems Initial Review Group, responsible for both urological and renal study sections. His research background is in renal transport physiology.

Photo of Dr. Pamela L. Thornton

Dr. Pamela L. Thornton joined NIDDK’s Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases to oversee NIDDK’s Centers for Diabetes Translation Research and a portfolio related to the incidence, prevention, and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Her responsibilities also include addressing underserved populations and health disparities. Previously at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, she oversaw the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative, an NIH Common Fund scientific workforce development program. Prior to that, Thornton served in the nonprofit sector working on health inequities, social determinants of health, and the modernization of public health infrastructure.

Photo of Dr. Salina Waddy

Dr. Salina Waddy joined NIDDK’s Office of Minority Health Research Coordination, serving as a medical officer for health disparities in chronic disease, clinical trials, and genetics. Previously, she developed the Stroke Prevention Intervention Research Program, among other roles, at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She also served on the faculty at Emory University.

Photo of Dr. Xujing Wang

Dr. Xujing Wang joined NIDDK’s Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases to contribute to several data intensive projects, including The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in Youth (TEDDY), Human Islet Research Network (HIRN), and the Accelerating Medicines Partnership® (AMP®) program for type 2 diabetes efforts. Previously, she served as director of the Systems Biology Core in the Division of Intramural Research at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. She had also served as associate professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Alabama and a principal investigator in the UAB Diabetes Center, among other positions.

Dr. Barbara Woynarowska has become chief of the Training and Mentored Research Section, where she’ll oversee six committees evaluating NIDDK training applications within the NIDDK Scientific Review Branch. An NIDDK scientific review officer since 2004, she has organized review of many types of grants, including reviews of mentored career development and institutional training applications assigned to the Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases. Previously, Woynarowska was an associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

A Fond Farewell

Photo of Dr. Carol Goter-Robinson

Dr. Carol Goter-Robinson retired from the NIDDK Scientific Review Branch in January after 23 years of federal service, including 13 within NIDDK. A scientific review officer, she organized reviews of NIDDK centers, program projects, and clinical trials. In addition, she organized reviews of fellowship applications for the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases and other special reviews.

Photo of Dr. Peter Savage

Dr. Peter Savage retired in February after 46 years of federal service. He began his federal work as a postdoctoral fellow he studied insulin resistance in the Pima Indians at NIDDK’s Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch. In NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, he helped lead the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) trial. Most recently, within NIDDK’s Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases, Savage conceived and implemented the ongoing Restore Insulin Secretion or “RISE” study to improve and preserve the production of insulin in people with prediabetes or recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes.

Photo of Dr. Robert Wellner

Dr. Robert Wellner retired from the NIDDK Scientific Review Branch in January with 35 years of federal service, including 12 within NIDDK. A scientific review officer, he organized reviews of NIDDK’s mentored career development and institutional training grants assigned to the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, as well as reviews, of centers, program projects, and clinical trial applications, among others.

In Memoriam

Photo of Dr. Jared Grantham

Longtime NIDDK grantee Dr. Jared Grantham died on Jan. 22. Committed to helping patients and finding a cure for polycystic kidney disease (PKD), he was an internationally renowned investigator, recognized by the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) with the Homer Smith and the John P. Peters awards, two of the Society’s highest accolades. Dr. Grantham was also the founding editor of the society’s journal JASN and co-founder of the PKD Foundation.

Photo of Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore, longtime type 1 diabetes advocate and famed actress and producer, died on January 25. Ms. Moore, who had type 1 diabetes, and her husband, Dr. Robert Levine, a former NIDDK council member, have worked tirelessly on behalf of people with diabetes and diabetes research. Her decades of efforts—including serving as International Chairman for JDRF—have improved the lives of countless people with diabetes.

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