Education Leadership

Lloyd Cantley, MD, Rajita Sinha, PhD and Eugene Shapiro, MD serve as co-directors for YCCI’s educational program. Drs. Cantley, Sinha and Shapiro have broad oversight of the program, overseeing the mentoring program and the Scholar selection process.
  • Lloyd G. Cantley

    Co-director, Education

    From the beginning of his career, Lloyd Cantley, MD, has enthusiastically pursued teaching and mentoring. As a fellow at Harvard University, he taught medical students; today, in addition to his appointment as co-director of education, he teaches physiology case conferences to first year medical students, which he has done for the last 15 years. “I love watching the light bulb come on when something makes sense to people,” he said.

    Dr. Cantley is a noted nephrologist who studies the mechanisms of renal tubule formation and repair. He has mentored about 40 trainees in his lab, where he studies the mechanisms by which kidney cell regeneration occurs following acute kidney injury in to order to develop therapies to enhance this process. During the last decade or so, he has focused on how the immune response to kidney injury regulates the repair process. He has shown that the immune system is abnormally activated in polycystic kidney disease and that this accelerates cyst growth in mouse models. His goal is to identify pathways that would be logical targets for drug therapy to either accelerate normal repair in the case of acute kidney injury or block repair pathways in polycystic kidney disease or chronic kidney disease. He is conducting preclinical trials in mice and is in the process of defining targets, some of which may be suitable for existing drugs for other diseases.

    As he has transitioned into a senior researcher, Dr. Cantley increasingly recognizes the importance of guiding the next generation of investigators. He views his role at YCCI as mentoring on a larger scale in which he has the opportunity to guide young investigators on how to become successful researchers, in much the same way that clinician educators guide residents. He is interested in the approach young faculty members take in answering research questions and relishes the chance to offer a fresh perspective on their work, which is often outside the area of his expertise.

    “At some point, you start seeing your trainees succeed and realize you’re impacting them, just as others impacted you,” he said. “I was inspired by my mentors, so it’s my turn to inspire the next generation.”

  • Eugene Shapiro

    Co-director, Education

    As a researcher who has had continuous NIH funding since 1983 and has mentored hundreds of young researchers, Eugene Shapiro, MD, is ideally suited to lead YCCI’s educational program. His commitment to training the next generation of researchers is evident in the enthusiasm he brings to teaching and mentoring and his longstanding involvement in many of Yale’s educational programs.

    He served as a charter faculty member of the Investigative Medicine Program since its inception in 2000, has served as deputy director since 2004, and continues to direct a number of courses in the program. He has been co-director of education for YCCI since 2007 and has played a critical role in the success of the Scholars program, which has supported more than 100 Scholars, the vast majority of whom continue to thrive in ladder faculty positions at Yale and other academic institutions.

    “My vision is to maximize opportunities for young investigators so they can become leaders in their fields, conducting patient-oriented research so they can have a maximal impact on the health and well being of patients,” he said. He finds it greatly rewarding when junior colleagues get excited about research and are able to reach their goals.

    His interest in mentoring extends beyond informally and formally mentoring younger colleagues. Dr. Shapiro was an author of a report of the results of a national trial of the effectiveness of a curriculum to train mentors. Despite the significant time commitment involved in mentoring, typically little attention is given to training faculty for this vital role. The response to the training program was so positive that Dr. Shapiro and Patrick O’Connor, MD, associate director of YCCI’s T3 translational research core, continue to co-teach a yearly course on mentoring for Yale faculty.

    An experienced clinical epidemiologist in pediatric infectious diseases, Dr. Shapiro is especially interested in vaccines and in Lyme disease. His research in these areas makes him an exemplary role model for junior investigators. He is currently involved in studies on the effectiveness of HPV vaccine in clinical practice. This work includes qualitative research to discover the reasons why uptake of the HPV vaccine is so low in the U.S. and a case-control study to evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccine by age at the time of vaccination and the number of doses given.

    He also conducts research on Lyme disease that is focused on medically unexplained symptoms. In collaboration with Wendy Silverman, PhD, Alfred A. Messer Professor in the Child Study Center and professor of psychology, and integrative medicine specialist Ather Ali,ND, MPH, MHS, associate research scientist in pediatrics, he is investigating new approaches to therapy that include mindfulness-based stress reduction.

  • Rajita Sinha

    Co-director, Education

    Rajita Sinha, PhD, has been fascinated by emotions since her youth, when she studied Indian classical dance, a disciplined practice filled with emotional expression. She later studied biological psychology and the physiological manifestations of emotion, working with addicts and people with psychiatric disorders. She was intrigued by brain mechanisms underlying stress, cravings and addiction. “The abundance of choices available in the world, and easy access to commodities, including highly palatable foods and drugs, challenges the body’s motivational systems in novel ways,” she said.

    Today, Dr. Sinha is internationally known for her pioneering research on the neural and biobehavioral mechanisms linking stress to addiction. She directs the Yale Stress Center, which was started with one of the largest interdisciplinary Consortium grants from the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of stress and self control on addictive behaviors and chronic disease. The collaborative research conducted at the Yale Stress Center by Dr. Sinha and other scientists includes the disciplines of neuroscience, genetics, psychiatry, basic neurobiology, diagnostic radiology, endocrinology, epidemiology and public health and clinical and behavioral outcomes. The Center is also developing and testing interventions to reverse the toxic effects of stress and loss of self control that drive addictive behaviors. Dr. Sinha is also examining the role of long-term stress and repeated stress exposures in alcohol and substance dependence to develop new therapies to reduce compulsive motivation for alcohol and drugs of abuse.

    Dr. Sinha’s work has shown that addiction itself debilitates the ability to handle stress, which has led her to conduct studies on medications to strengthen the brain circuitry involved in the ability to regulate emotions and cravings. Stress and addictions are major risk factors for cancer and chronic diseases, prompting her to explore the biological underpinnings of these relationships. “We tend to divide up the body but that’s not how all diseases work,” she said. She has developed a clinical research core focused on developing large scale data sets to study genetic and environmental interactions that affect the risk of developing addictions and chronic disease.


    She brings her interdisciplinary focus to her mentees and her role as co-director of education, where she provides guidance in connecting trainees and Scholars to colleagues in different disciplines. She is also focusing on increasing the diversity of both trainees and the faculty who mentor them. Having mentored dozens of young investigators, she enjoys helping them shape their ideas into actual scientific hypotheses and watching them get hooked on research.

  • Joseph Craft

    Director, Investigative Medicine Program

    Dr. Joseph Craft is Paul B. Beeson Professor of Medicine and Professor of Immunobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine, and past chief of the Section of Rheumatology at Yale. He received his degrees in chemistry as a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and in medicine as an Alpha Omega Alpha graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Dr. Craft did postgraduate training in internal medicine and in rheumatology and immunology at Yale, and has been on the faculty at that institution since 1985. At Yale, he teaches undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. He directs a research laboratory devoted to understanding the immune response to pathogens and vaccines, and dissecting and treating autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, with a primary focus upon the differentiation, metabolism, and function and regulation of T cells that promote B cell maturation in secondary lymphoid organs. His research has been continually supported by the National Institutes of Health since 1985, and he is a two-time R37 (MERIT) Awardee. He has been a primary mentor for over 20 postdoctoral fellows and for 21 PhD and MD/PhD graduate students, including 7 graduate students currently in his lab. Dr. Craft is Director of the Investigative Medicine Program at Yale, a unique program designed to provide Ph.D. training for physicians, and in his capacity as Director of the program and its Director of Graduate Studies, has supervised training of over 50 Investigative Medicine PhD students. Dr. Craft is recipient of the Bohmfalk Teaching Prize at Yale School of Medicine for outstanding teaching in the basic sciences. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Kunkel Society. Dr. Craft also is a member of the Board of Lupus Therapeutics of the Lupus Research Alliance, devoted to initiating novel therapeutic trials in lupus, and past Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors at the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). He is former chair of the Immunological Sciences (now HAI) and current member of the Arthritis, Connective Tissue and Skin Diseases (ACTS) standing study sections at NIH, past chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Alliance for Lupus Research, and a former Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences and Kirkland Scholar. He is co-founder of L2Diagnostics, a company in New Haven, CT, formed in partnership with Yale University and devoted to discovery of new diagnostics and therapeutic targets for immunological and infectious diseases, and is currently a member of its Board of Directors.

  • John Forrest

    Director, Multidisciplinary Pre-Doctoral Training Program in Translational Research

    John Forrest, Jr., MD, who has been directing the office of student research for the past 25 years, is professor of medicine and program director for TL1, which funds clinical research training for medical, nursing, and biomedical engineering students.

    Dr. Forrest is a highly respected investigator with NIH R01 funding in the area of hormonal regulation of ion transport. He has published approximately 150 articles on his work in peer-reviewed journals. He is chairman of the thesis committee of the medical school and has served as thesis advisor to many students during the past three decades, meeting with them individually to counsel them on their training pathway. He has a special talent for infusing enthusiasm for investigation into his students, many of whom have been awarded prizes for their research.

  • Cary Gross

    Director, National Clinical Scholars Program

    Dr. Cary Gross is a Professor of Medicine and Director of the National Clinician Scholars Program at Yale, after serving as Co-Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program at Yale previously. His research addresses comparative effectiveness, quality, and population health, with a focus on cancer prevention and treatment. He is a founding Director of Yale’s Cancer Outcomes Public Policy and Effectiveness Research (COPPER) Center. His research has been supported by the National Cancer Institute, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the American Cancer Society, among others. As a former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar, Dr. Gross has advanced training in biostatistics, epidemiology, research ethics, and outcomes research.Over the past 10 years, he has actively mentored more than 50 trainees, including medical students, medical residents, and post-doctoral fellows, and has been recognized nationally (by the Society of General Internal Medicine) for his commitment to mentorship.