Profiles, Videos and Testimonials from Foundation Alumni
For more than 55 years, the PhRMA Foundation has been helping to build a larger pool of highly-trained, top-quality scientists to help meet the growing needs of scientific and academic institutions, government, and the research-intensive pharmaceutical industry. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $95 million to support scientific research.
To date, the Foundation has awarded more than 2,400 brilliant, budding scientists with awards ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 a year. These are the trailblazers who are making significant drug discoveries, starting pharmaceutical companies, leading regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and improving the lives of patients around the world.
Here is just a sampling of their stories:
Gary O. Rankin, PhD
Dr. Rankin is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University. Dr. Rankin received his PhD in Medicinal Chemistry and completed postdoctoral training in Pharmacology at the Medical College of Ohio (Toledo, OH). Dr. Rankin was a founding member of the Department of Pharmacology at Marshall University and became Chair of the department in 1986. In 2016, when all basic science departments were merged, Dr. Rankin was appointed Chair of the new Department of Biomedical Sciences and named Vice Dean for Basic Sciences. Dr. Rankin, who received a Research Starter Grant from the Foundation in 1979, has had a distinguished career as a scientist, with his research focused primarily on the bioactivation of chemicals (drugs, agricultural agents, industrial intermediates) to metabolites that are toxic to the kidney. In addition to being the recipient of many awards, he has published 20 book chapters and more than 180 peer-reviewed articles, many of them in top pharmacology and toxicology journals, and he has served as an associate editor or member of the editorial board of several professional journals.
Sam Emaminejad, PhD
Dr. Emaminejad is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at UCLA and the founder and director of the Interconnected & Integrated Bioelectronics Lab. His lab focuses on the development of an ecosystem of integrated wearable, mobile, and in-vivo physiological and environmental monitoring platforms to enable personalized and precision medicine. Dr. Emaminejad, who received a PhRMA Research Starter Grant in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics in 2018, has received numerous honors and awards, including a Distinguished Young Investigator Award for leading a multi-center program on remote patient monitoring with UCLA, Intermountain Healthcare and Stanford School of Medicine. He recently discussed his work in a short online video.
Julie Lade, PhD
Dr. Lade is a staff scientist at Amgen, where she works in the Pharmacokinetics/Drug Metabolism Department. Dr. Lade received a PhRMA Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in Pharmacology/Toxicology in 2015 and is an excellent example of a young person whose potential impact is already emerging – especially in her strong views on serving as a role model for others. You can watch a short video about Dr. Lade’s work and perspectives on women in science.
J. Craig Venter, PhD
Dr. Venter is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his numerous invaluable contributions to genomic research. He is founder, chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit, research organization with approximately 250 scientists and staff dedicated to human, microbial, plant, synthetic and environmental genomic research, and the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics. Dr. Venter received a Research Starter Grant in Pharmacology/Toxicology from the PhRMA Foundation in 1977. You can watch a short video online that highlights his work and the role the Foundation played in helping him early in his career.
Norelle Wildburger, PhD
Dr. Wildburger, of Washington University in St. Louis, is using her PhRMA Foundation funding to better understand the development process of plaque and tangles in Alzheimer’s patients. She received a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics in 2017. A short video explains and highlights Dr. Wildburger’s work. You can also watch an interview with Dr. Wildburger.
Hunter Shain, PhD
Dr. Shain works at the University of California San Francisco Department of Dermatology, where he is a cancer geneticist who published groundbreaking research on gene patterns in malignant skin cancer. He received a Research Starter Grant in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics in 2017. You can watch a short video interview online with Dr. Shain in which he describes the work of his team.
Pamela Hornby, PhD, AGAF
Since receiving a 1991 Research Starter Grant in Pharmacology/Toxicology, Dr. Hornby has had a successful career in drug research and development, including leadership at J&J Pharmaceutical R&D in the discovery of Viberzi (eluxadoline or MuDelta), which was approved by the FDA in 2015 for treatment of patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
As a toxicology PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Elizabeth Mutter-Rottmayer was awarded a PhRMA Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in Pharmacology/Toxicology in 2017. The focus of her research has been uncovering how mechanisms of DNA repair may alter environmental susceptibility as well as the efficacy of chemotherapeutic genotoxins, thus contributing to carcinogenesis.
Mark Ebbert, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience with the Mayo Clinic. He received a 2017 Research Starter Grant in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics. Dr. Ebbert’s research is focused strongly on Alzheimer’s and helping medicine better understand the origins of this deadly disease. You can watch a short video about Dr. Ebbert’s work.
Jeffrey Conn, PhD, received PhRMA Foundation funding more than 25 years ago — and it helped kick-start a career that has made important contributions to the understanding of schizophrenia and other mental disorders. You can watch a short video here, in which Dr. Conn discusses how Foundation funding helped.
Carrie House, PhD, received funding from the PhRMA Foundation that is helping her build a career in neuroscience research. Learn more about the impact of PhRMA Foundation funding on her work in this short video.
“I am honored and excited to receive the PhRMA Foundation Research Starter Grant in Health Outcomes. This award will be fundamental to my success as a young scientist. It will allow me to independently pursue research projects I am passionate about and recruit talented collaborators to my lab, improve my scientific reputation, and increase my probability for future funding to sustain my research program. The award will also allow me to develop other skills and gain the experience needed to be a successful independent researcher. In the long-term, I anticipate that this award will accelerate accomplishment of my career objectives. Thank you, PhRMA Foundation!”
Kelly Reveles, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin
“I am very grateful to have received a pre-doctoral fellowship in pharmacology/toxicology from the PhRMA Foundation. Not only is the fellowship facilitating my current Ph.D. studies, but it will also enhance my future career opportunities and has built confidence in my ability to succeed in a career in pharmaceutical sciences. Thank you and congratulations to the PhRMA Foundation on 50 years of service to the drug discovery and development community!”
Rachel Denise Crouch
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
“I am truly honored to be a recipient of the PhRMA Foundation pre-doctoral fellowship in Pharmacology/Toxicology. Receiving this award has not only helped by providing funding resources, but has bestowed confidence that I can write competitive grants in the current funding environment. Thank you to the PhRMA Foundation for providing many critical career development opportunities to young scientist.”
Natividad Roberto Fuentes
Texas A&M University
“The PhRMA pre-doctoral fellowship has provided me with the financial resources to explore scientific hypotheses in the field of pharmacology/toxicology. In addition, this award was invaluable for other aspects of my graduate training, including grant writing and networking. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.”
Robert Nathaniel Helsley
University of Kentucky
“The PhRMA foundation research starter grant made it possible for my group to generate essential preliminary data for my first NIH grant application. This grant also helped transition an urgently needed anti-influenza drug a step closer to human clinical trials.”
Jun Wang, Ph.D.
University of Arizona
“I am grateful for the support of the PhRMA Foundation Pre Doctoral Fellowship. This fellowship will play an integral role in helping me establish a career in health outcomes research and disease prevention.
University of Michigan
“The PhRMA Foundation gave me a fellowship in informatics that allowed me to get started on my post-doc in 2002. I am now a professor in the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. I wanted to thank the Foundation for the fellowship because I’m not sure what would have happened otherwise. The lab I went to didn’t have any spare money to support me and the other fellowship opportunities didn’t fit the project I proposed.”
Harvard Medical School