NIDDK Director's Update Spring 2014

Commendations & Commencements


Dr. Leslie Baier

Dr. Leslie Baier, investigator in the NIDDK intramural Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch, has been granted tenure. She leads the Diabetes Molecular Genetics Section that conducts molecular, genetic and genomic research to identify genetic risk factors for obesity and type 2 diabetes. These findings could lead to the development of more-targeted and personalized prevention and treatment approaches.

Dr. Raj K. Goyal

NIDDK grantee Dr. Raj K. Goyal won the 2013 William S. Middleton Award by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Service’s highest honor for scientific achievement. Goyal is the Mallinckrodt Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and staff physician at the VA Boston Healthcare System. The award recognizes his service to the VA and seminal contributions to understanding esophageal and gastric physiology and clinical disorders including Barrett’s esophagus, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diffuse esophageal spasm, esophageal pain and gastroparesis.

Dr. Shingo Kajimura

NIDDK grantee Dr. Shingo Kajimura received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Kajimura is an assistant professor at the University of California San Francisco Diabetes Center and Department of Cell and Tissue Biology. His work focuses on the molecular basis of fat cell development and energy homeostasis.

Dr. Bruce Spiegelman

NIDDK Advisory Council member Dr. Bruce Spiegelman won the 2013 Manpei Suzuki International Prize for Diabetes Research. The prize recognizes his groundbreaking contributions to many landmark discoveries in adipocyte biology and energy homeostasis. Spiegelman is the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Professor of Cell Biology and Medicine at Harvard Medical School.


Dr. Francesco Celi

Dr. Francesco Celi, staff clinician in the NIDDK Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity Branch, departed NIDDK after more than 10 years of federal service. His work focused on understanding the pathways that lead to time- and tissue-specific activation of thyroid hormone signaling. In January, Celi became professor and chair of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

Five members joined the NIDDK Advisory Council in February:

Dr. Jean Schaffer, Ellen Leake, Dr. Eugene Chang, Dr. David Brenner, and Cindy Hahn
Clockwise from bottom left, Dr. Jean Schaffer, Ellen Leake, Dr. Eugene Chang, Dr. David Brenner, and Cindy Hahn joined the NIDDK Advisory Council. Here they stand with NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, center.

Dr. David Brenner joined the Digestive Diseases and Nutrition subcouncil. He is vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the school of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Brenner is a clinician and leader in the field of gastroenterological research. His work focuses on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of fibrotic liver disease and the genetic basis of liver disorders. Brenner is former editor-in-chief of Gastroenterology and former professor and chair of the department of medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Eugene Chang joined the Digestive Diseases and Nutrition subcouncil. He is a clinician and the Martin Boyer Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago. Chang’s research focuses on host-microbial interactions of the intestine, particularly in defining communication signals/pathways involved in maintaining intestinal homeostasis. He has defined several novel mechanisms and mediators of action of probiotic organisms that are being developed as therapeutic agents. Chang is a longstanding NIDDK grantee, including a previous MERIT award, and is director of the NIDDK Silvio O. Conte Digestive Diseases Research Core Center at the University of Chicago.

Cindy Hahn joined the Digestive Diseases and Nutrition subcouncil. She is the president, CEO and founder of the Alagille Syndrome Alliance, an international nonprofit serving people with the rare genetic disorder Alagille syndrome and their families. Hahn has served as the patient advocacy group committee chair for the NIDDK-funded Childhood Liver Disease Research and Education Network and on the Patient Advocacy Group Committee of the NIDDK-funded Cholestatic Liver Disease Consortium. She has also served as a stakeholder reviewer of grant applications for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Ellen Leake joined the Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism subcouncil. She is the former chair of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) lay review committee, a current member of the JDRF research and executive committees, and a current member of the Canadian Clinical Trial Network lay review committee. Leake joined the JDRF International Board of Directors in 2008 and is chair of the development committee. She also co-founded Mississippi Cures, an advocacy and public policy group in support of stem cell research.

Dr. Jean Schaffer joined the Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism subcouncil. She is the Virginia Minnich Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Her research focuses on lipotoxicity. Through basic studies involving genetic screens in cultured cells, Schaffer’s laboratory has identified critical molecular players in the lipotoxic response.

Share this page
Facebook X Email WhatsApp LinkedIn Reddit Pinterest