AAPI Trailblazers in Science

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Celebrating Dr. Vivek Murthy

Dr. Vivek Murthy

For AAPI month, the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion joins FAPAC in highlighting the incredible achievements of Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., who served as the 19th United States Surgeon General under President Barack Obama’s administration from December 2014 to April 2017.

At the age of 37, Dr. Murthy became the first member of the AAPI community as well as the youngest American to serve as the U.S. Surgeon General. During his tenure as a Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy launched multiple initiatives such as the “Turn the Tide” and “Step it Up” campaigns. He often spoke about the importance of preventative behaviors and the effects of climate change affecting our health.

Before his Surgeon General appointment, Murthy co-founded and served as the first President of Doctors for America, a nonprofit organization comprised of doctors and medical students that advocate for affordable and effective health care systems. While attending Harvard University, Dr. Murthy co-founded two non-profit organizations as well— VISIONS Worldwide, which focuses on HIV/AIDS education in the U.S. and India, and Swasthya Community Health Partnership, which helps women become health providers and educators in rural India. Dr. Murthy also created a system called Trial Networks that improves clinical trials to market drugs sooner and more safely.

Dr. Murthy grew up watching his father practice medicine in their family-owned clinic in Miami, Florida. At the early age of 18, his devotion and love for medical science jumpstarted his extensive background practicing compassionate healthcare.

Dr. Vivkek Murthy’s widely published scientific research, entrepreneurship, activism, and compassion for not only his AAPI communities, but other disadvantaged communities is exemplary. We are proud to acknowledge his astonishing work to strengthen health outcomes globally.

Trailblazers in Science

Dr. Noni Byrnes

Dr. Noni Byrnes

Center for Scientific Review

Dr. Noni Byrnes is the Director of the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Born and educated in Pakistan, Dr. Byrnes came to the US for college, initially majoring in biology at Allegheny College, until she realized she preferred chemistry. Dr. Byrnes went on to graduate school at Emory University, where she got her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry in 1994. Before working at NIH, Dr. Byrnes worked for Procter & Gamble’s pharmaceutical division, developing and evaluating analytical methods as part of drug development. In 2000, Dr. Byrnes began working at CSR as a Scientific Review Officer and worked her way up to become the Director in February 2019. As the Director of CSR, Dr. Byrnes aims to tackle some of the common critiques of the grant review process, including ensuring diverse representation among both reviewers and grantees and ensuring the peer review process leads to outstanding and impactful science being conducted across the United States and the world.

Dr. Maryland Pao

Dr. Maryland Pao

Clinical Director
Intramural Research Program, Deputy Scientific Director National Institute of Mental Health

Dr. Maryland Pao is the Clinical Director of the Intramural Research Program and Deputy Scientific Director at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Dr. Pao, a trained pediatrician and a child and adolescent psychiatrist, studies distress, suicide and correlates in medically ill children. Dr. Pao has published over 120 research articles and chapters and helped develop Voicing My Choice, a new advance care planning guide for adolescents and young adults. In May 2019, Dr. Pao received the Dr. Jimmie Holland Pioneer Award at the T.J Martell Foundation’s 7th Annual Women of Influence Awards. Dr. Pao is honored for her extraordinary work, pushing the boundaries, and achieving outstanding goals in business, work, family, home, and health.

Dr. Zhiyong Lu

Dr. Zhiyong Lu

Deputy Director, Literature Search
National Center for Biotechnology National Library of Medicine

Dr. Zhiyong Lu is the NIH’s first Earl Stadtman Investigator in the area of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. Before becoming a Stadtman investigator in 2011, Dr. Lu served as a staff scientist at NCBI in 2007. Today Dr. Lu is the Deputy Director for Literature Search at the National Center for Biotechnology. Dr. Lu devotes his career largely to research toward biomedical text mining, natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, and related areas. His longterm research goal is to develop computational methods to help better understand the natural language in biomedical text to accelerate knowledge discovery and improve health. Most recently, Dr. Lu played a key role in developing LitCovid, an open-resource literature hub that curates the most comprehensive collection of international research papers on the new coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Dr. Leighton Chan

Dr. Leighton Chan

Rehabilitation Medicine NIH Clinical Center

Dr. Leighton Chan is the Chief of the NIH Clinical Center’s Rehabilitation Medicine Department. As the leader of this department, he oversees an organization that collaborates with investigators from across the NIH community to provide innovative rehabilitation services and to develop, investigate, and apply masurements and treatments of impairments and disabilities pertaining to human function. Dr. Chan is a trained health services researcher who, along with his team, seeks to identify and eliminate disparities in the health and well being of individuals with disabilities in the US. To do this, he has established collaborations with the Social Security Adminsitration to improve their disability determination process and has ongoing projects related to quality of care given to Medicare beneficiaries and Medicare payment policy issues. Dr. Chan’s research speaks to core of the NIH mission statement, to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.

Dr. Chan’s awards include the Young Academician Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists, two outstanding teacher awards from the UW School of Medicine, and a Presidential Citation Award for excellence in research by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Chan has published more than 125 peer-reviewed articles, including 10 in The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and The Lancet.

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