About NIA

NACA meeting: September 24-25, 2008

Staff Changes

Dr. Jeannette Johnson has joined the Scientific Review Branch as a Scientific Review Officer. Prior to her position at NIA, she was employed at the Social Research Center of Friends Research Institute in Baltimore, MD, where she was responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis prevention programs for American Indians. In the past, she was the Director of the Center on Research for Children and Families at the University of Buffalo, Director of Research in the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland, and Special Assistant to the Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. She is a cross-cultural psychologist with extensive administrative and scientific experience both managing and conducting research for high risk populations. She has published three books and over 100 publications in peer reviewed journals. In addition, she has received extensive funding from federal and non-federal sources to conduct her research. She received her B.S. from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. from the University of Vermont. She is a descendant of the Huron Indians.

Dr. Chyren Hunter has joined the Division of Extramural Activities as Deputy Director and Research Training Officer. Prior to her current position at NIA, she was a Program Director in the Division of Extramural Research for the National Eye Institute (NEI) at NIH, where she was the Group Leader in the Retinal Neuroscience and Oculomotor Systems Programs. She also served as the Research Training Officer for the NEI. Previously she was a Program Director in the Division of Extramural Research at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, administering a portfolio of grants in Auditory Neuroscience and Development. Dr. Hunter came to NIH in 1989 on an Intramural Research Training Award fellowship to pursue postdoctoral research at the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She was a Staff Fellow and then Senior Staff Fellow in the Neurochemistry Section of National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) at the NIH. Her research on the molecular characterization of glutamate receptors and their role in excitatory neurotransmission in the mammalian central auditory system resulted in numerous peer reviewed publications and review articles. Dr. Hunter has been active throughout the larger NIH community. She was selected into the NIH Senior Leadership Development Program and hosted educational programs for the NIH community as a member of the NIH Staff Training in Extramural Programs (STEP) Committee. She has served on review panels for the Office of Research on Women’s Health and was a representative to the NIH Zebrafish Coordinating Committee. She has received numerous citations for her efforts, most recently the 2007 NEI Directors Award. She attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, where she received her B.A. in Bio-Psychology. She obtained her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences (Neurobiology) at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine through the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Program of the City University of New York.

Dr. Peter R. Rapp has joined the Intramural Research Program as Chief, Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology (LEG), and director of the Neurocognitive Aging Section. Prior to coming to NIA, Dr. Rapp served on the faculty of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, hold various positions since 1997 including Interim Chair of the Fishberg Department of Neuroscience (2006-2008), the Mount Sinai Endowed Chair in Neuroscience, Co-Director of the Graduate Training Program in Neuroscience, and a joint primary appointment in the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development. His extramural research on the cognitive and neurobiological consequences of normal aging has been continuously funded since 1989, including a recent M.E.R.I.T award from NIA. Dr. Rapp received his Ph.D. in Biopsychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986, and after training at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, CA, he accepted a position on the faculty at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including the position of Section Editor for Neurobiology of Aging. Author of numerous basic research reports, reviews, and book chapters on aging, Dr. Rapp’s research at NIA will focus on epigenetic contributions to age-related cognitive decline, in vivo imaging studies of neurocognitive aging, and the development of strategies aimed at promoting optimally healthy cognitive aging.

Dr. Andrew Singleton has accepted the position of Chief, Laboratory of Neurogenetics (LNG) in the Intramural Research Program. He has served as Acting Chief of LNG since the departure of Dr. John Hardy in May 2007. Dr. Singleton joined NIA in 2002 as an investigator and chief of the Molecular Genetics Unit. The LNG works on the genetic basis of neurological disorders including Parkinson's disease, dystonia, ataxia, dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This research is performed using a variety of methodologies, including family based linkage and positional cloning in addition to genome-wide association. The goal of this research is to identify genetic variability that causes or contributes to neurological disease in order to facilitate understanding of the molecular processes underlying disease. Dr. Singleton currently serves on the scientific advisory board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, and the Lewy Body Dementia Association; he is a member of the editorial boards of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Neurogenetics and Annals of Neurology. Dr. Singleton was awarded the Boehringer Mannheim Research Award in 2005 and in 2008 was awarded the NIH Director’s Award and the Annemarie Opprecht Award for his work on Parkinson’s disease genetics.

Dr. José M. Velázquez joined the Division of Aging Biology (DAB) in June 2008 as a Senior Health Scientist Administrator in the Genetics and Cell Biology Branch. Dr. Velázquez has worked for the NIH for fifteen years, most recently as Program Director for Functional Genomics and Chief of the Genetics and Proteomics Research Branch at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He served as the Program Director for Genetics and Molecular Biology in the Division of Extramural Research and Training at the National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences, and as Program Director for Genetics at the National Institute on General Medical Sciences. He has extensive experience in the oversight of research grants and contracts in the scientific disciplines of genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, and functional genomics. Dr. Velázquez will serve as Director of the Cell Biology Program in the Division of Aging Biology. His portfolio includes research and training grants in cellular senescence and cell proliferation, translational and post-translational control, age-dependent protein damage, signal transduction mechanisms, and age-dependent tumors.