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    AAMC MOSAIC 2021 Cohort Scholars

    AAMC’s MOSAIC Program Scholars are select National Institute of Health (NIH)-K99/R00 awardees who hail from diverse backgrounds, for example from groups underrepresented in research, as they transition from postdoctoral appointments into academic research faculty positions.

    Ayobami Akenroye
    Ayobami Akenroye, MD, MPH

    Ayobami Akenroye, M.D., M.P.H.

    Project Title: Synthesizing Trial and Real-World Data on the Use of Biologics in Patients with Severe Asthma

    Institution: Brigham and Women’s Hospital

    Funding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

    Ayobami Akenroye grew up in Ile Ife, Nigeria, where she graduated at the top of her medical school class prior to arriving in the U.S. to pursue an M.P.H. from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is a trained internist and allergist/immunologist. Her research interests include the use of innovative statistical designs on establishing the comparative effectiveness and predictors of response to biologics in the treatment of asthma. As part of her work, she has uncovered disparities in the use of biologics for asthma treatment and continues to work on uncovering factors associated with these disparities. Dr. Akenroye is also interested in career transitions from clinical fellowships to faculty, especially for individuals underrepresented in academia. She looks forward to continuing as a role model and mentor to undergraduate and postdoctoral trainees.

    Grant ID: K99MD015767

    Elizabeth Brown
    Elizabeth Brown, PhD

    Elizabeth Brown, PhD

    Project Title: The Neural Basis for Aging-Dependent Decline in Taste Function

    Institution: Florida Atlantic University

    Funding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Aging

    Elizabeth Brown grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and became interested in research as an undergraduate volunteer in a lab at Florida State University. There, she received her B.S. degree in anthropology and then went on to receive her Ph.D. in biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Brown is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Texas A&M University, where her current research interests broadly focus on understanding the genetic and neural circuits that regulate chemosensory function. As the first person in her family to graduate college, Dr. Brown is committed to advocating for and mentoring trainees from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds.

    Grant ID: K99AG071833

    Lisandra Vila Ellis
    Lisandra Vila Ellis, MD

    Lisandra Vila Ellis, M.D.

    Project Title: Mechanism of Pulmonary Endothelial Cell Heterogeneity and Its Role in Disease

    Institution: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Funding: NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

    Lisandra Vila Ellis’ interest in medicine began as a child growing up in Cuba, offering “medical services” to her family and neighbors, such as taking their blood pressure at home. She received her medical degree at Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Monterrey, Mexico, and subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her research focuses on the development of blood vessels in the lung, and how the disruption of this process can lead to disease. Dr. Vila Ellis' commitment to diversity has included teaching at an undergraduate institution that serves underrepresented populations and mentoring minority students. She serves on different committees of the North American Vascular Biology Organization, where she also started a podcast for the scientific community to discuss relevant topics, including diversity and inclusion. She will start a faculty position at Northwestern University in the fall of 2023.

    Grant ID: HL155845​

    Cristal M. Hill
    Cristal M. Hill, PhD

    Cristal M. Hill, Ph.D.

    Project Title: Dietary Protein Restriction Remodels Adipose Tissue to Defend Against Age-Related Metabolic Decline

    Institution: University of Southern California

    Funding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Aging

    Cristal M. Hill grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, with ambitions in veterinary medicine, but a strong interest in endocrine diseases developed while working at a local veterinary clinic during high school. Dr. Hill received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in animal sciences from Tuskegee University, with a thesis centered on inflammatory responses during cardiovascular disease. She then moved to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where she earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology, microbiology, and biochemistry. Her training included a heavy focus on the mechanisms of biological aging. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is currently an assistant professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California, where her lab focuses on the effect of dietary protein restriction on the cellular and molecular changes in adipose tissue that impact metabolic health during aging. Dr. Hill’s commitment to fostering diversity includes teaching at all levels and mentoring undergraduates at various minority-serving institutions. She has held the positions of co-chair, trainee vice-chair and secretary of the diversity, equity, inclusion, and opportunities committee of the American Aging Association trainee chapter. Dr. Hill continues to support diversity by endorsing an environment of institutional inclusion in the biomedical research workforce for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.

    Grant ID: AG070273

    Layla Khalifehzadeh, Ph.D.
    Layla Khalifehzadeh, Ph.D.

    Layla Khalifehzadeh, Ph.D.

    Project Title: Flexible and Wireless Bioelectronics for Continuous Monitoring of Intracranial Pressure

    Institution: Arizona State University

    Funding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

    Layla Khalifehzadeh received a dual Ph.D. in chemical engineering and nanotechnology and molecular engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle. During her graduate studies, she obtained training in biomaterials design, polymer chemistry, and tissue-implant interactions. She also learned about Food and Drug Administration regulations and the clinical translation process of medical devices. Her research focused on developing new classes of degradable polymers for cardiovascular stents. Dr. Khalifehzadeh then pursued a unique interdisciplinary path during her postdoctoral studies at Stanford University, working on designing bioelectronic platforms for early diagnosis of cancers, with an emphasis on brain tumors. After completing this program, she joined Arizona State University as an assistant professor of chemical engineering. Her current interdisciplinary research lies at the interface of engineering and translational medicine and focuses on the development of polymer-based, wireless, implantable, or wearable bioelectronic platforms for disease diagnosis and therapy. Dr. Khalifehzadeh was a member of the Diversity Initiative Center at Stanford and has been consistently leading efforts to promote diversity among underrepresented and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. She serves on various diversity committees and plans to continue her efforts by creating and leading outreach programs as an independent investigator.

    Grant ID:EB031178

    Benard Ogola
    Benard Ogola, PhD

    Benard Ogola, Ph.D.

    Project Title: Interplay of Sex Hormones and Chromosomes in Vascular Oxidative Stress and Arterial Stiffening

    Institution: Augusta University

    Funding NIH Institute/Center: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

    Benard Ogola is an assistant professor in the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in Georgia. He received his B.A. in biochemistry from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo. Dr. Ogola’s research focuses on vascular biomechanics and the role of sex hormones and sex chromosomes in arterial stiffening. Through the MOSAIC Postdoctoral Career Transition Award, he is dedicated to promoting diversity in biomedical research by mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds in the challenges and successes of basic research. He is also a summer scholar of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Ogola plans to continue engaging with underrepresented minorities while establishing his lab.

    Grant ID: R00HL155841

    Mallory A. Perry
    Mallory A. Perry, PhD, RN

    Mallory A. Perry-Eaddy, Ph.D., R.N.

    Project Title: Pediatric Recovery After Sepsis Treatment in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

    Institution: University of Connecticut

    Funding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of General Medical Sciences

    Mallory A. Perry-Eaddy grew up in Connecticut, where she developed her inquisitive nature and love for science. She found her passion as a pediatric critical care nurse in Hartford, caring for children and their families in their most vulnerable and life-changing moments. These experiences led her to pursue a Ph.D., for which she examined the underlying biopsychosocial factors associated with the transition from acute to chronic pain in children recovering from spinal surgery. Her current postdoctoral research focuses on the outcomes of children who survive critical illness in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). As a MOSAIC scholar, Dr. Perry-Eaddy aims to explore the potential association of inflammation in post-PICU physical outcomes, especially in children who survive sepsis. She is committed to advancing science and increasing diversity in all its forms. Mentorship has been pivotal in Dr. Perry-Eaddy’s career; as such, giving back is foundational. She has served as a mentor to diverse biomedical students, including nurses interested in research and pediatric critical care, where diversity is greatly needed.

    Grant ID: R00GM145411

    Evan J. White
    Evan J. White, PhD

    Evan J. White, Ph.D.

    Project Title: Neuroscientific Exploration of Cultural Protective Factors in American Indians

    Institution: Laureate Institute for Brain Research

    Funding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

    Evan J. White is a principal investigator at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research and director of Native American research and the electroencephalography core. He is a member of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and also descendant from the remaining federally recognized bands of Shawnees—the Eastern Shawnee Tribe and Shawnee Tribe. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology with an emphasis in quantitative methods at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and completed his predoctoral clinical internship at the Charleston Consortium in South Carolina. His research focuses on utilizing tools of psychophysiology and neuroscience to understand the neural underpinnings of risk and resilience factors for psychopathology. Dr. White is currently seeking to delineate the neural correlates of the protective role of cultural engagement against poor mental health outcomes among American Indian populations.​

    Grant ID: K99MD015736

    Meet our 2022 Cohort Scholars