Where were you born?
What school did you attend?
BS degree in Chemistry from the College of New Rochelle, NY, Ph.D. in Neurochemistry from Fordham University, Post-Doctoral training in Behavioral Neuroscience at State University of New York at Stony Brook
What IC do you work for?
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
How many years have you worked at the NIH?
I have worked at the NIH since January 2000 - first at the Neurology Institute (NINDS) and then NCCIH since 2010 to present.
What gained your interest in the NIH?
I share the goals and mission of the NIH to improve public health and seek fundamental knowledge through scientific investigation. As a biomedical science researcher, my work has been funded by the NIH. In addition, I have served for many years as a standing member of various Study Sections of the Center for Scientific Review (CSR).
What kind of work do you do at the NIH?
I am the director of the Division of Extramural Research of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). In that capacity, I am responsible for development of scientific programs or areas of science that fulfill NCCIH's mission as well as planning, implementation and policy. NCCIH is one of 27 components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with a mission to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and alternative medicine interventions and their roles in improving health and health care. I also am Chair of Women World in Neuroscience, an international mentoring and networking organization with the primary mission of identifying, promoting and implementing mentoring and networking opportunities for women neuroscientists across the world.
What message would you like to send to young Blacks who are considering going to college?
Always strive to excel academically and to gain experiential knowledge in the chosen field of study. Make mentoring and networking essential components of the college experience.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in research?
Biomedical research held a special appeal because of the level of intellectual curiosity and passion required. Starting in high school, I had the opportunity to be exposed to the scientific enterprise and it was clear to me that it would be the path for me.
What would you say is your most significant contribution to science or medicine?
For many years, while in academia (first at the University of New York at Stony Brook and later at the University of Maryland), I developed and characterized a genetic model of depression - the congenital learned helpless. My work included the behavioral and molecular biology characterization of this model that was used a screening tool for antidepressant drug research.
Regarding your career here at NIH, what accomplishment are you the most proud of?
At the Neurology Institute, I directed the Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience research program - As one of the initial members of the "Cognitive and Emotional Health" trans-NIH working group, our work resulted in the development of the "NIH Tool Box" a battery of test for behavioral function (cognition, emotion, motor and sensory). At NCCIH, I oversee all the scientific research programs for Complementary and Integrative Health - I am particularly proud of the research programs developed on non-pharmacological approaches for pain management and our programs on technology and methodological advances for the natural products field.