Get to Know NICHD: Text Alternative

Daniel Johnston, Ph.D.

Quote from Daniel Johnston, Ph.D., branch chief, Contraception Research Branch, and acting branch chief, Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch: “Working in the extramural program at NICHD provides opportunities to identify and address research gaps in my field and to connect investigators with similar interests and complementary skills and needs.”

A summer spent as a member of the Jackson Laboratory’s summer student program led Dr. Daniel Johnston to change his college focus from medical school to pursuing a Ph.D. in reproductive biology—a decision that would ultimately help lead him to his current position as chief of NICHD’s Contraception Research Branch.

Learn more about Dr. Johnston.

Candace Tingen, Ph.D.

Quote from Candace Tingen, Ph.D., program officer, Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch: “Program officers are stewards of the science, but you have to care about the people behind the science, too. At different points in a grant lifecycle, you are a cheerleader, a therapist, a sounding board, a colleague, a nagging parent, and a fortune teller.”

From mixing “cures” using common household ingredients to participating in middle school experiments led by an inspirational science teacher, Dr. Candace Tingen doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t interested in science. However, a high school internship at NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health and Sciences was the experience that would introduce her to female reproductive health research—a path that ultimately would lead her to NICHD’s Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch.

Learn more about Dr. Tingen.

Sonia Lee, Ph.D.

Quote from Sonia Lee, Ph.D., acting branch chief, Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Disease Branch: “My best advice is to say ‘yes’ to opportunities, even if they are out of your comfort zone. You won’t always know what you are capable of, and what motivates you, until you try.”

Dr. Sonia Lee’s earliest inspiration came from her father, an anesthesiologist who would often take her to the hospital to meet the healthcare providers with whom he worked. She learned very early that she wanted to be a part of science the way he was and make a similar impact.

Learn more about Dr. Lee.

Paul Williams

Quote from Paul Williams, Director, Office of Communications: “Never turn a task down, no matter how rudimentary it may feel. Each assignment is an opportunity to learn, and you can advance farther in your career if you understand the process and have a can-do attitude.”

As the director of NICHD’s Office of Communications, Paul Williams helps promote NICHD’s research initiatives and results. This work enables the public to understand how the institute improves the health and wellbeing of women, children, and people with disabilities.

Learn more about Paul Williams.

Chris McBain, Ph.D.

Quote from Chris McBain, Ph.D., Acting Scientific Director, Division of Intramural Research: “Everyone in my lab is an equal—whether you are a post-bac or a staff scientist, everyone has a voice that can be heard without judgment. This attitude has led us to some incredible discoveries that have come from seemingly minor observations by young trainees.”

Dr. Chris McBain attributes the start of his interest in science to a chemistry set his parents gave him for his birthday. However, that start took much deeper root thanks to the influence and enthusiasm of high school chemistry and biology teachers, who taught him through early science experiments that science could be fun.

Learn more about Dr. McBain.

Gisela Storz, Ph.D.

Quote from Gisela Storz, Ph.D., Associate Scientific Director, Division of Intramural Research: “There is more flexibility in a career path than you might imagine. Keep pursuing the opportunities that you find interesting and give you energy, and keep your options open.”

Dr. Gisela Storz always loved nature and enjoyed science fairs in elementary and middle school. She would later become interested in research through a work study job preparing materials for a cell biology lab during her freshman year of college.

Learn more about Dr. Storz.

Theresa Hayes Cruz, Ph.D.

Quote from Theresa Hayes Cruz, Ph.D., Director, National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research: “Rehabilitation should be based around the needs and desires of the person participating in the care. I learned this powerful lesson through my experiences working with people with physical disabilities and talking to care partners and family.”

Dr. Theresa Hayes Cruz’s love of math and science led her to study biomedical engineering. Her experience working in a rehabilitation hospital with people with stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and other physical impairments inspired her to pursue her biomedical engineering Ph.D. and a career in research rehabilitation.

Learn more about Dr. Cruz.

Alison Cernich, Ph.D.

Quote from Alison Cernich, Ph.D., Deputy Director, NICHD: “NICHD supports critical science for populations about whom I care deeply. As a woman, as a parent, and as an ally of people with disability, I see the benefit of our science every day.”

Dr. Alison Cernich had different plans for her future career until cinematic inspiration redirected her path. As NICHD’s Deputy Director, she proudly represents the science the institute supports and steps up to whatever the role brings her, including this past year’s many COVID challenges.

Learn more about Dr. Cernich.

Diana W. Bianchi, M.D.

Quote from Diana W. Bianchi, M.D., NICHD Director: “What brought me to NICHD was the opportunity to give back to a country that welcomed my immigrant family and to be able to have a greater impact for the populations we serve.”

Dr. Diana Bianchi’s interest in science and research began through her love of nature and the profound influence of watching her family cat give birth and continued to grow thanks to the influence of exceptional female role models throughout her high school and higher education training.

Learn more about Dr. Bianchi.

Veronica Gomez-Lobo, M.D.

Quote from Veronica Gomez-Lobo, M.D., Director of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, NICHD: “Opportunities to create a world class program in pediatric and adolescent gynecology that involves rare conditions would not be possible outside of NIH.”

Dr. Veronica Gomez-Lobo wanted to be a doctor from the age of 12. Her interest in medicine initially grew from a desire to care for underserved populations. As a resident, she discovered a love for teaching, and as a residency director, she added scholarship and research to her list of interests.

Learn more about Dr. Gomez-Lobo.

Return to Get to Know NICHD.

top of pageBACK TO TOP