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Past Retreats: 2012 Speaker Profiles

Samuel E. Bish, Ph.D.

Dr. Samuel E. Bish (Sam) is a Licensing and Patenting Manager at the NIH Office of Technology Transfer (OTT). Prior to joining NIH OTT, Sam completed a postgraduate fellowship in the Technology Transfer Center at the National Cancer Institute. In his current position, Sam handles a portfolio of over 200 NIH inventions and over 450 patents/patent applications that include patented technologies, patent pending technologies, and research tools. He also manages the patent prosecution efforts for these technologies in coordination with NIH's contract law firms. In addition, Sam markets these NIH technologies to commercial parties that may be interested in developing them. To develop NIH inventions into therapeutics, diagnostics, and research reagents to benefit public health and spur economic development, he also negotiates license agreements with companies to grant them access to materials and/or the intellectual property rights.

Dr. Bish earned a B.S. from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. He earned his Ph.D. in cell biology and molecular genetics working in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel C. Stein at the University of Maryland in College Park. While there, Dr. Bish investigated the host-pathogen molecular interactions that enabled Neisseria gonorrhoeae to invade, survive within, and escape from human epithelial cells.

Ajay Chitnis, Ph.D.

Dr. Chitnis is a Senior Investigator and Head of the Section on Neural Developmental Dynamics. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and conducted his postdoctoral research at The Salk Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School). He came to the NIH in 1997 as a tenure-track investigator and was promoted to Senior Investigator in 2005. Dr. Chitnis received an NICHD Scientific Director's Award in 2011 and obtained a membership in the Faculty of 1000. Research in the Chitnis laboratory focuses on understanding how the lateral line system is established by the posterior lateral line primordium as it migrates from the ear to the tip of the tail periodically depositing neuromasts, using the Zebrafish model.

Joan C. Han, M.D.

Dr. Han is an Assistant Clinical Investigator and Head of the Unit on Metabolism and Neuroendocrinology at NICHD. She graduated from Harvard College and Medical School and completed her residency at Children's Hospital Boston and Boston Medical Center. In 2004, she began her pediatric endocrinology fellowship at the NIH. Dr. Han was a Senior Clinical Fellow from 2007-2009, and then was appointed as an Assistant Clinical Investigator in 2009. She was recently awarded an NIH MERIT Award and Bench to Bedside Award in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Her research focuses on the neuroendocrine regulation of energy balance and neurocognitive function.

Kristofor Langlais, Ph.D.

Dr. Kristofor Langlais is a Health Science Policy Analyst in the NIH-Office of Biotechnology Activities (OBA), where he focuses on projects related to NIH's genetic data-sharing policy. Prior to leaving the bench in October 2011, he was an NICHD postdoctoral fellow for three years, carrying out fruit fly epigenetics research and participating in a number of activities away from the bench. For example, Kris co-founded the NIH Science Policy Discussion Club, served on FelCom, chaired the NICHD Fellows Retreat Committee, wrote for The NIH Catalyst, and worked with the National Postdoctoral Association Advocacy Committee. In October 2010, Kris served for three months as an International Health Analyst at the HHS Office of Global Affairs, within the Office of the Secretary. There he supported senior leadership to advance HHS global health activities in Southeast Asia. Prior to arriving at NIH, Kris taught at Vermont Community College and Middlebury College, where he also conducted postdoctoral research in reproductive genetics. He also was a high school science teacher for a year at Okemo Mountain School. In 2005, Dr. Langlais received his Ph.D. in molecular and developmental biology from Oregon Health Sciences University.

David Page, MD

Dr. David Page is Director of the Whitehead Institute, professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

If you are a male, Dr. David Page may know more about your Y chromosome than anyone else in the world. And don't worry ladies; Page's investigations haven't ignored the X chromosome. In fact, he was the first person to discover that the sex chromosomes are evolutionary products of what were once two autosomes. As a young college graduate with the "research bug," Page trained in the laboratory of Dr. David Botstein at MIT, while earning an M.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program. Through the program, he discovered not only his love for medicine, but also his attraction to laboratory experiments and his fascination with the mysteries of DNA, which would set the stage for the rest of his scientific career. Throughout his scientific career, he has conducted fundamental studies of mammalian sex chromosomes and their roles in germ cell development, with special attention to the function, structure, and evolution of the Y chromosome. His laboratory recently completed the sequencing of the human Y chromosome in conjunction with the Washington University Genome Sequencing Center, and discovered molecular evolutionary mechanisms by which the Y chromosome became functionally specialized, in male germ cell development and spermatogenesis. Moreover, the lab discovered and characterized the most common genetic cause of spermatogenic failure in humans, the deletion of the AZFc region of the Y chromosome.

Boots Quimby, Ph.D.

Dr. Quimby is the Associate Director of the Integrated Life Sciences Program in the Honors College at the University of Maryland (UMD). Over the past six years, she has taught a variety of molecular genetics and cell biology courses while leading college teaching workshops at UMD. Prior to joining the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at UMD as a full-time instructor, she earned her Master of Arts degree in teaching from the University of South Carolina. Thereafter, she taught high school science in Atlanta, Georgia for eight years. She then returned to graduate school and received her doctorate in genetics and molecular biology from Emory University. She conducted her postdoctoral research at NICHD in Dr. Mary Dasso's laboratory, exploring the role of nucleocytoplasmic transport in the cell cycle. She began her new associate director position this past August, which allows her to integrate student affairs, university administration, and teaching of a newly developed scholarship-in-practice course.

Irina Ramos, Ph.D.

Dr. Irina Ramos is a Downstream Process Engineer in the division of Biopharmaceutical Development at MedImmune. For the past three years, she has been developing and optimizing a scalable purification process for monoclonal antibodies and supporting technology transfer activities into the cGMP manufacturing to supply clinical trials. After receiving her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Porto in Portugal, she was awarded a scholarship to complete her Ph.D. degree in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Her dissertation research developed a novel methodology for examining residue specific equilibrium unfolding constants of an Alzheimer's disease related protein, β-amyloid, and exploring its interaction with cell membrane. From this study, key proteins were identified to be linked to the β-amyloid-induced biological activity.

Ronda Rolfes, Ph.D.

Dr. Ronda Rolfes is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at Georgetown University, where she has been a faculty member since 1995. She obtained her Ph.D. at Purdue University and completed her postdoctoral research with Dr. Alan Hinnebusch in NICHD. Her research program investigates how fungal cells, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans, sense environmental conditions and communicate this information to alter gene expression. She has obtained funding from both the NIH and NSF to support these projects, and has mentored over two dozen undergraduates and five graduate students with research projects. While at Georgetown, she teaches undergraduate courses in Genetics and Advanced Molecular Biology, and graduate courses in Foundations in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Christopher A. Whittier, D.V.M, Ph.D.

Dr. Whittier joined the veterinary team at the National Zoological Park in 2010 to coordinate Smithsonian's work on the PREDICT project, part of USAID's Emerging Pandemic Threats program. In this role, he works to develop training and resource materials to identify and integrate Smithsonian field projects that can complement PREDICT wildlife sampling. He also coordinates Smithsonian training activities such as field necropsy workshops. He previously completed his Ph.D. and six years working in central Africa as the regional field veterinarian for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. During that time he was based in Rwanda performing clinical duties as a wildlife veterinarian monitoring and treating wild gorillas in five national parks of three different countries. He also helped establish and manage a captive facility for confiscated orphan gorillas and manage and implement an employee health program for >500 people working with wild gorillas. He was concurrently completing his Ph.D. research on molecular diagnostics and epidemiology of infectious agents in wild gorillas, which included surveying the health of wild gorillas, advancing molecular diagnostics, and modeling disease spread. At the Smithsonian, he is continuing veterinary work with gorillas in the Central African Republic, where he delivered the first prophylactic vaccination campaign in wild apes in 2010.