V-SCHoLARS Advisory Committee Members

The V-SCHoLARS program is led by the joint team of Dr. Matthew Freiberg (Division of Cardiology) and Dr. John Koethe (Division of Infectious Diseases), and supported by an Internal Advisory Committee of Vanderbilt and Meharry senior faculty with experience in career development program administration, and an External Advisory Committee of nationally-recognized scientists in the HIV and HLBS research fields.

  • Simon Mallal MBBS (IAC Chair and V-SCHoLARS mentor) is the Major E.B. Stahlman Professor of Medicine and Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at Vanderbilt. Dr. Mallal is the PI of the Tennessee Center for AIDS Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), Director of the Vanderbilt Technologies for Advanced Genomics (VANTAGE), and Director of the Center for Translational Immunology and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Mallal’s research focus is drug hypersensitivity, the adaptation of HIV and other viruses to HLA restricted immune responses and the role of heterologous immunity (cross reactive immune responses) in the pathogenesis of viral infections and drug, autoimmune and other types of hypersensitivity. Dr. Mallal has led Vanderbilt’s development of single cell cellular and genetic technology, bio- informatics and statistics, developing an institutional resource and pipeline for the generation and analysis of cost-effective, high dimensional single cell data. He has mentored more than 30 clinical and translational scientists now in independent academic careers.

    James Hildreth MD is a Professor of Medicine and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Meharry Medical College. Dr. Hildreth is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, a recipient of a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award, and serves on the Harvard University Board of Overseers. He has made seminal discoveries on the role of acquired host proteins in HIV viral pathogenesis and the role of the viral infection of vaginal epithelium as a contributor to the rapid spread of HIV in Africa and other regions. Throughout his career, Dr. Hildreth has been a national leader in minority student and faculty development in the biomedical sciences, and has trained more than 15 doctoral students who have gone on to successful independent careers in academic research or research-related areas. Dr. Hildreth leads Meharry Medical College’s engagement in the TN CFAR, and his engagement will bolster the recruitment of minority Meharry MD and PhD trainees, and junior faculty, into the V-SCHoLARS program.

    Gordon Bernard MD (V-SCHoLARS Mentor) is the Melinda Owen Bass Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt and the Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR). Dr. Bernard serves as Executive Vice President for Research and Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Science. He is the PI of the Vanderbilt CTSA and the national CTSA Consortium Coordinating Center, and served as a past Chair of the NHLBI Acute Respiratory Distress Clinical Trials Network and a member of the NHLBI Advisory Council. Dr. Bernard’s research experience encompasses basic, translational, and large international clinical studies of critical illness, sepsis, and acute respiratory failure. He has a long history of mentoring younger investigators who have excelled in academic medicine, and he is the PI of Vanderbilt’s NHLBI T32 grant in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

    Katherine Hartmann MD (V-SCHoLARS Mentor) is the Lucius M. Burch Professor of Reproductive Physiology in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt and Adjunct Professor at Meharry Medical College. Dr. Hartmann is Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Scientist Development and Deputy Director of the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, with oversight of the core graduate programs included in Vanderbilt’s CTSA. Her research area is the epidemiology of pregnancy outcomes, evidence-based practice, cost analysis, comparative effectiveness, and quantitative methods. Dr. Hartman developed Vanderbilt’s tracking systems to evaluate, gather feedback, continuously improve resources, and measure outcomes for career development programs currently serving more than 350 funded trainees each year. She has personally mentored more than 95 undergraduate, clinical, MPH, PhD, and MD/PhD trainees who are now in research positions at institutions including the CDC, the NIH, and several leading universities. Dr. Hartmann served as Program Director for a T32, Director for a WRHR K12, and she is currently PI for Vanderbilt’s BIRCWH K12, the CTSA KL2 and TL1, and two institutional training programs.

    Thomas Wang MD (V-SCHoLARS Mentor) is the Gottlieb C. Friesinger III Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt, Director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, and Physician-in-Chief of the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute. Dr. Wang’s research area is cardiovascular epidemiology, risk factor control, the roles of natriuretic peptides and vitamin D in cardiovascular health, obesity-related cardiac dysfunction, and identification of novel cardiometabolic biomarkers. He has mentored many younger investigators who are currently successful physician-scientists in academic medicine, and received the Outstanding Mentor Award from Partners Healthcare in 2012. Furthermore, he is a standing member of the NHLBI MPOR study section (which reviews K23 and K24 grants for the NHLBI), and previously chaired the AHA Genomics Translational and Observational Epidemiology study section. Dr. Wang is the PI of Vanderbilt’s NHLBI T32 grant in cardiovascular research, currently in its 37th year, and joint PI of Vanderbilt’s K12 program in cardiology and emergency medicine.

    Nancy Brown MD is the Hugh J. Morgan Professor of Medicine, Professor of Pharmacology, and the Chair of the Department of Medicine. Dr. Brown is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and member of the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Brown’s research area is the pharmacogenetics and environmental factors that influence the beneficial and detrimental effects of cardiovascular drugs, and pharmacologic mechanisms affecting vascular endothelial function, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk. Dr. Brown has been a long-term advocate of physician-scientist development at Vanderbilt, including supporting the careers of women in science, and founded the Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation program. 

    Consuelo Wilkins MD (V-SCHoLARS Mentor) is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt and Meharry Medical College and Executive Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance. Dr. Wilkins is also Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core. Her research area is methods of patient and stakeholder engagement with an emphasis on engaging underrepresented populations in research. She is PI of two NIH-funded centers, the Vanderbilt-Miami-Meharry Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine and Population Health and the Center for Improving Clinical Trial Education Recruitment and Enrollment at CTSA Hubs. As Executive Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, she promotes engagement of Meharry trainees and junior faculty in trans-institutional collaborations, including training programs.

    James Wilkinson MD (V-SCHoLARS Mentor) is a Professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt and the Director of the Pediatric Center for Clinical and Translational Research. He is a member of the Cardio-pulmonary Working Group and leads research activities related to cardiac biomarkers for the NICHD-supported Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS), and served as the Senior Epidemiologist for the Florida Study Center of the NIH's National Children's Study. 

  • Amy Justice MD, PhD is a Professor Medicine and Public Health at Yale University Schools of Medicine and Public Health. She has led the Veterans Aging Cohort Study as PI since its inception, and serves on the Steering Committees of three International cross cohort collaborations (NA-ACCORD, ART-CC, and HIV-Causal). She is an internationally-recognized leader in the field of epidemiology, and has advanced our understanding of the role of chronic viral infection and inflammation on the aging process and development of cardiovascular and other comorbidities in the HIV population. She serves on several expert panels developing recommendations for care and research among those aging with HIV, and has given invited presentations at the United Nations and the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. Both Drs. Freiberg and Koethe are PIs of current NIH-funded VACS studies, and the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Justice and pursue projects in VACS will be a tremendous resource for V-SCHoLARS trainees interested in epidemiology.

    Priscilla Hsue MD is a Professor of Medicine at University of California San Francisco. Dr. Hsue is an internationally recognized leader in the area of HIV-related cardiovascular disease. She is Co-Director of the Center for Vascular Excellence at UCSF and established the HIV Cardiology Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital. Her work spans the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac death in HIV, translational studies of the biological mechanisms of HIV, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease, and clinical trials of interventions to lower inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk. She is PI of a multicenter clinical trial to evaluate the cardiovascular impact of low dose methotrexate in HIV, leader of a trial to asses IL-1β inhibition using canakinumab, and PI of a K24 award for mentoring in HIV and cardiovascular disease.

    Alison Morris MD is a Professor of Medicine in Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, Immunology, and Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center. Dr. Morris serves as Vice Chair for Clinical Research at the University of Pittsburg, the Director of the Center for Microbiome and Medicine, and the Director of the HIV Lung Research Center. She is an internationally recognized expert on lung disease in HIV-infected persons, including lung infections and COPD, and has been the PI of 6 NHLBI R01s in these areas, including the multicenter “Lung HIV” study. Her research has demonstrated the prevalence of diffusing capacity abnormalities in HIV, the role of colonizing infections in lung dysfunction, the phenotypes and risk factors for COPD, pulmonary hypertension, and other lung diseases in chronic HIV infection, and the contribution of lung inflammation to pulmonary abnormalities.

    Russell Tracy PhD is a Professor of Pathology and Biochemistry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He is a recognized expert in the area of inflammation-related coagulopathy as a risk factor for arterial and venous thrombosis in chronic HIV infection. He developed, and currently serves as Director of, the University of Vermont’s Laboratory for Clinical Biochemistry Chemistry, which performs over 100,000 biomarker and genotyping assays annually on tens of thousands of research specimens from clinical studies, epidemiological studies, and clinical trials, including the Veterans Aging Cohort Study. The laboratory also houses a major national biorepository with over 4 million samples. His research has made major contributions to our understanding of how HIV-related persistent inflammation and immune activation, despite stable ART, contribute to pulmonary, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular disease.

    Jeff Samet MD is a Professor of Medicine and Public Health, and Chief of the Section of General Internal Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. He has over 30 years of experience in substance abuse research in the HIV population and is a recognized expert in behavioral health. He has led national and international research groups in studies of the clinical and health services adverse consequences of substance abuse in Hepatitis C and HIV co-infected persons, and was one of the first to recognize and describe the increased risk for cardiovascular disease in co-infected patients. He has also led numerous studies seeking to understand the behavior and structural factors contributing to late presentation to HIV medical care, including the role of addiction, and how health systems can be tailored to increase early HIV testing, linkage to care, and retention.

    Jason Baker MD is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota. He is a recognized leader in clinical and translational research on the role of persistent inflammation in coagulation disorders and cardiovascular disease during chronic HIV disease, and epidemiologic studies of cardiovascular outcomes in HIV-infected persons. He is PI for two pathogenesis-oriented clinical studies including the use of losartan to reduce inflammation and fibrosis in HIV-related cardiac disease, and targeted anti-coagulation therapy to reduce cellular activation. He is the chair of a cardiovascular disease substudy for the START trial and member of the International Network for Strategic Initiative in Global HIV Trials (INSIGHT) Scientific Steering Committee, and he has collaborate on projects with the HIV Cohorts SUN (Study to Understand the Natural History of HIV) and VACS (Veterans Aging Cohort Study).

    Nancy Berliner MD is H. Franklin Bunn Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Hematology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is an internationally recognized expert on the role of proinflammatory mediators in the pathogenesis of anemia in the setting of aging and chronic diseases. This has included epidemiologic and molecular studies of hepcidin-mediated pathways and the development of erythropoietin resistance through TNF-mediated pathways which do not affect iron metabolism. Dr. Berliner has also collaborated with the VACS to examine anemia related disease in older adults including people living with HIV/AIDS (R01AG029154).  Her laboratory has also made major advances in the areas of neutrophil differentiation, the regulation of neutrophil-specific gene expression and function and its disruption in leukemia, and the role of coagulation defects in clinical thrombosis. In addition to serving as a resource for V-SCHoLARS trainees pursuing projects in hematology-related areas, Dr. Berliner served as co-PI of a hematology T32 training grant and successfully mentored over 50 trainees in the laboratory, many of whom have gone on to successful independent careers in science.