Profiles, Videos and Testimonials from Foundation Alumni
For nearly 60 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 $110 million to support scientific research.
To date, the Foundation has awarded more than 2,700 brilliant, budding scientists with awards ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 a year. These trailblazers 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.
Below is just a sampling of their stories.
The PhRMA Foundation caught up with Dr. Ebbert, winner of a 2017 Foundation Starter Grant in Translational Medicine, to talk about his work using cutting-edge sequencing technologies and bioinformatics to study Alzheimer’s disease etiology and develop pre-symptomatic diagnostics and meaningful therapeutics. He is an assistant professor in the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky.
Almost a decade ago, Dr. Hohman received a PhRMA Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Translational Medicine to study genetic risk factors and neuroimaging biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease. Today, he is an associate professor of neurology, director of the Biomarker Core, and principal investigator of the Computational Neurogenomics Team focused on Alzheimer’s Resilience and Sex Differences at Vanderbilt University’s Memory and Alzheimer’s Center. We spoke with Dr. Hohman about his research and how it has evolved since receiving the Foundation award.
In 2021, Dr. Fortin earned a PhRMA Foundation Starter Grant in Drug Discovery to research small molecules that could inhibit one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, the buildup of tangles of twisted proteins called tau. We asked Dr. Fortin, an assistant professor of basic medical sciences, physiology, and pharmacology at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, to tell us more about her work and what she hopes to accomplish in Alzheimer’s disease research.
The winner of a 2021 Starter Grant in Health Outcomes Research from the PhRMA Foundation, Dr. Barthold conducts research examining the relationships between health policies, health care utilization, and health outcomes and inequalities. He is a research assistant professor and faculty fellow at the Comparative Health Outcomes, Policy, and Economics (CHOICE) Institute at the University of Washington.
Dr. Onukwugha received a PhRMA Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Health Outcomes Research. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and is the Executive Director of the Pharmaceutical Research Computing Center at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Dr. Onukwugha is a national leader in health economics and outcomes research, and is gaining attention for her efforts to address disparities in health care – an issue that is a priority for the PhRMA Foundation.
Paul Campbell, PhD
Cancer is the second most-common disease-related cause of death in the United States (after heart disease), taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Some forms of cancer are particularly deadly, including pancreatic cancer, which Foundation alumnus Paul Campbell, PhD, is working hard to eliminate. Dr. Campbell, who received a Foundation Research Starter Grant in 2016, is an Assistant Professor at the Marvin and Concetta Greenberg Pancreatic Cancer Institute, part of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA., where he specializes in cancer signaling.
Dr. Jewell is an expert in drug delivery, immunotherapy, biomaterials, and biotechnology/pharmaceuticals. He is currently the Minta Martin Professor of Engineering in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland and a Research Biologist with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs – where he has earned distinction for his important research in immunology and vaccines. The work of Dr. Jewell and his colleagues at the University of Maryland is offering new hope for patients – including recent efforts to design an immunotherapy strategy to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Bumpus is the Director of the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, where she has had a distinguished record of achievement. In her role at Johns Hopkins, she also holds the E.K. Marshall and Thomas H. Maren Professorship in Pharmacology. Dr. Bumpus is a recipient of both a PhRMA Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship in pharmacology/toxicology and a pharmacology/toxicology Research Starter Grant from the Foundation. Dr. Bumpus’ research has continued to focus on drug metabolism and the pharmacology and toxicology of metabolites. In particular, she is known for her studies on the metabolism of antiviral drugs used to treat HIV-1 and how genetic variations in drug-processing enzymes may influence their efficacy. She was recently honored by Microsoft as one of 30 national “African American change makers” as a part of its Legacy Project.
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