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Announcing Two New Associate Directors

January 27, 2021

The Faculty Associate Directors (ADs) for the MD-PhD Program are selected based on their commitment to educating emerging physician-scientists, their expertise and knowledge of medicine and science, their experience as mentors, and their administrative skills. In addition to providing formal academic advising and mentoring to MD-PhD students through annual 1:1 meetings, ADs actively participate in programmatic activities including monthly student research in progress seminars and social events, and host workshops and discussions on various career and professional development issues. The ADs meet monthly as group with administrative staff to discuss program activities/initiatives and review student issues and outcomes.

As of January 1, 2021, we are joined by two new Associate Directors, Drs. Michael Cappello and Silvia Vilarinho. Brief biographies of each AD are below:

Michael Cappello, MD is a Professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Disease), of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases) and of Microbial Pathogenesis. He is also the Chair of the Council on African Studies at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies and the co-Director for the Yale Africa Initiative. Mike brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to fill the growing need for a Faculty Associate Director who can advise and mentor MD-PhD students pursuing research and training in public and global health and medicine. In addition to providing clinical care as an infectious disease specialist at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, Mike is engaged in laboratory and field-based research focused on the epidemiology and molecular pathogenesis of parasitic diseases that affect children in developing countries. We are very excited to have an AD who can help us to work more closely with the EPH PhD programs and the Director of Graduate Studies Chris Tschudi, and who brings a global perspective to our MD-PhD training program.

Silvia Vilarinho, MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor Medicine (Digestive Diseases) and of Pathology who many of you know from her recent participation as a lecturer in the MD-PhD Frontiers course and in the Brown Bag lunch series. Silvia is a true physician-scientist who uses genetics, genomics and human samples from her clinical work on pediatric and adult cases of cholestasis of unknown origin to investigate the molecular basis of rare liver diseases. In 2019, she was awarded a Clinical Scientist Development Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation which funds the most promising young physician-scientists doing translational research in the US. Her experiences in uncovering new genetic defects that lead to not only diagnostic and therapeutic targets and options to patients, but also insights into the maintenance of normal physiologic functions will be invaluable in mentoring and advising MD-PhD students pursuing similar research and professional trajectories.

Fred Gorelick, MD, is the Henry J. and Joan W. Binder Professor of Medicine (Digestive Diseases) and of Cell Biology and has been affiliated with the MD-PhD Program for over 20 years. He is a physician-scientist and an active gastroenterologist whose research focuses on the use of cellular and animal models to investigate cellular injury and repair processes that are relevant to acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Dr. Gorelick is a former Associate Chief of Yale Digestive Diseases and a former Digestive Diseases Program Director. He has been Director of an NIH NIDDK sponsored T32 “Training Program in Investigative Gastroenterology” for over 10 years. Dr. Gorelick initiated a course for first-year MD-PhD students 15 years ago that has evolved into the current CB600/601 “Science at the Frontiers in Medicine” course and directs an F30/F31-oriented grant writing course that provides instructional course work in 3 sessions 3 times a year and also works one-on-one with students to develop grant proposals.

Tamar Taddei, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine (Digestive Diseases), is a physician-investigator focused on hepatocellular cancer and a practicing hepatologist. Dr. Taddei has significant administrative experience as former Associate Director for the Digestive Diseases fellowship program and current Chair of the Clinical Competency Committee in GI. All MD-PhD students meet with Dr. Taddei as they begin PhD research to discuss maintenance of clinical skills. She helps interested students develop individualized longitudinal clinical electives that complement their long-term clinical and research interests. Dr. Taddei has also formalized the process for student re-credentialing and their return to wards post-defense to complete clinical clerkships, electives, and sub-internship All students complete a 2-week “Re-Entry” elective designed by Dr. Taddei that refreshes their history-taking and physical exam skills on a hospitalist-directed internal medicine service prior to their return to clerkships. Dr. Taddei represents the MD-PhD program on the Medical School’s Clinical Skills Assessment Committee and Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee and meets weekly with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Medical Student Advisors to learn of any changes in policy or practice that affect MD-PhD students.

Peter Aronson, MD, is the C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) and of Cellular & Molecular Physiology. Dr. Aronson is a physician-scientist who studies mechanisms of epithelial ion transport and is a nephrologist. In addition to individual student advising/mentoring, he provides specific advising around research-residencies and academic careers. Dr. Aronson has significant administrative and leadership experience, serving as Chief of Nephrology for 15 years and active in its development as a leading clinical and research program. He was also Director of the Internal Medicine Physician-Scientist Training Program, and Director/PI of the T32 postdoctoral training grant in nephrology for 30 years. Dr. Aronson is currently Co-PI of T35 training grant that supports short term research by medical students. Dr. Aronson founded and now co-directs START@Yale, a program of mentored research training for incoming Yale MD and MD-PhD students in the summer before their first medical school year.

Faye Rogers, PhD, Associate Professor of Therapeutic Radiology, is a cancer biologist whose laboratory focuses on breast cancer and HER2-signaling. She has a long-term interest in increasing access to research training for URM students and is committed to enhancing diversity in science and medicine. She served on the Faculty Committee before becoming an Associate Director in 2016 and has assumed Directorship of the BioMed SURF pipeline program. Dr. Rogers is a member of the leadership group of the DICE (Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement) Office of the School of Medicine and works with the MD-PhD student council on Diversity and Inclusion to improve the MD-PhD program’s recruitment and retention practices.

Angeliki Louvi, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery & Neuroscience, is a neuroscientist who studies the genetics of brain vascular and structural development. She served on the Faculty Committee before becoming an Assoc Director in January 2019. Dr. Louvi has extensive experience in graduate student mentoring and education, in particular as director of the “Principles in Neuroscience” course taken by all 1st year MD-PhD and PhD students in the Neurosciences program. She serves as Chair of the MD Thesis Committee for the Department of Neurosurgery, which reviews Yale MD theses required for graduation.

Michael Nitabach, PhD, JD, Professor of Cellular & Molecular Physiology, Genetics & Neuroscience, is a neuroscientist who examines how neural circuits control behavior in the context of regulating sleep, circadian rhythms, and learning. Prior to joining Yale’s faculty, Dr. Nitabach practiced biotech and pharmaceutical patent law for 5 years. He shares his unique perspective on legal issues related to drug development, as well as on non-traditional career pathways with our trainees. Dr. Nitabach has extensive leadership & administrative experience as co-Director of the Medical Research Scholars Program (MSRP) and as PI of the NIGMS T32 Molecular Medicine award which provides PhD students with training in both medically-oriented coursework and mentored clinical experiences to bridge the gap between traditional predoctoral and medical training.

Submitted by Reiko Fitzsimonds on January 07, 2021