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Ambassador Highlights

Imagine all that you can achieve in a research career

Participation in the NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) has had a major impact on the careers of research scientists. Initial evaluation findings show that research scientists who participated in the NIH LRPs stay in research, apply for and receive more research grants, continue to publish in scholarly journals, and contribute to science.

These stories highlight the achievements of current and former LRP awardees who are making noteworthy contributions in their respective fields.


Erik Anderson, MD

Rheumatologist/ Elmezzi Scholar
Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine

“I think the LRP will provide additional exposure to research colleagues and networking opportunities. Although I just recently received the award this month, there have already been great opportunities, such as an invitation to participate in the Ambassador Program and attend the NIH Regional Seminar and LRP Awardee Reception”


Ramon Barajas, MD

Neurological Radiologist
Oregon Health Science University

“The LRP program has connected me to a network of phenomenal scientists across the country which has opened up potential collaborations and future grant applications. The ability to pay off student loans more than a decade in advance has really provided tremendous financial flexibility to remain in an academic research faculty position”


Chris Barrett, MD

Postdoctoral Fellow
Taffe Lab, Koch Institute
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PGY-3 PGY-3 Resident in General Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Harvard Medical School

“Receiving an LRP award allowed my wife and I to afford to start a family rather than constantly worrying about how we would balance student debt with the expenses of raising a young family while building our academic careers”


Jennifer L. Bellamy, PhD, MSSW

Associate Professor
Graduate School of Social Work
University of Denver

“Another way the LRP has helped me, which was completely unexpected, was building my network of colleagues and scholars. Over the years, even before becoming an ambassador for the program, I would network with other awardees, and we would share our experiences and our applications to help others apply for this amazing opportunity”


Tobey Betthauser, PhD

Research Associate
Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
Department of Medicine
University of Wisconsin
Madison School of Medicine and Public Health

“Receiving an LRP award has been a tremendous first step to gain confidence, credentials and financial stability as I take the next steps in becoming an independent researcher. . It has also allowed me to establish connections and begin dialogue with individuals at the NIH and the NIA that will undoubtedly be beneficial as I work towards obtaining future research awards and grants”


Hailey Bulls, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow – Behavioral Oncology
Moffitt Cancer Center

“Obtaining an LRP award was just as impactful for my husband as it was for me. We’ve been married since before I started graduate school, and he shouldered much of the financial burden throughout the 4 years of graduate school, 1 year of clinical internship, and the first year of fellowship - not to mention moving across state lines more than once in pursuit of my degree”


Nicholas Burris, MD

Assistant Professor
Department of Radiology
University of Michigan

“The most significant impact of the receiving the LRP has been the ability to focus my time and energy on the development of my research and junior academic career without an overwhelming sense of anxiety related to my large student debt burden”


Pajarita Charles, PhD

Assistant Professor
School of Social Work
Institute for Research on Poverty
University of Wisconsin-Madison

“The LRP awards have been invaluable as they allowed me to pay off significant educational debt and at the same, enabled me to focus and build my research career to achieve independence as a research scientist. I started as a post-doc and went on to obtain a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. The LRP was a crucial part of that process”


Lisa Christopher-Stine, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine and Neurology
Director, Johns Hopkins Myositis Center
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

“The LRP was the reason that I was able to pursue and academic rheumatology career. Had this award program not have been available, I would have never been able to shoulder the high debt burden and remain in academia”


Beth Fields, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate
Department of Occupational Therapy
University of Pittsburgh

“Receiving the LRP award has positively impacted my family. We now have the financial ability to help my husband pursue a higher degree and to start saving money to purchase our first home”


Paul Fleming, PhD

Assistant Professor
Health Behavior & Health Education
University of Michigan
School of Public Health

“We were able to buy a house last year and pay off more of my partner’s student loans each year. Those things would have never been possible if I did not receive the LRP and I had to be paying the full loan amount each month. The LRP has certainly helped alleviate the financial stress associated with large student debt”


Christine Fortney, PhD

Assistant Professor
College of Nursing
Center for Women, Children & Youth
Ohio State University

“I have a daughter who will be heading off to college soon. My husband and I were worried that my huge loan debt would impact our ability to help her with tuition and the other expenses she will have as a college student. The LRP award will significantly lessen our burden and help us to plan for her future, and ours”


Michael Johnson, PhD

Assistant Professor
College of Medicine Tucson
University of Arizona

“Uprooting a family to a different city to do a postdoc does not come without costs. It was very helpful to be able to stay the course in pursuing becoming a PI without the financial hardship of repaying my loans”


Corinna G. Levine, MD

Assistant Professor
Rhinology & Skull Base Surgery
Department of Otolaryngology
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

“The first LRP permitted me to pay back my loans while completing my MPH and saved me over $100,000 in accrued loans during residency. The second LRP enables me to put my salary toward purchasing a home”


Jennifer R. Marin, MD, MSc

Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

“The potential amount of loan repayment is substantial, and this can mean significant stress lifted from individuals and their families as they begin their academic careers. Additionally, the LRP got me to focus my research more concretely during my post graduate training years”


Henrika McCoy, PhD, MSW

Associate Professor
Jane Adams College of Social Work
University of Illinois at Chicago

“Receiving an LRP provided supportive evidence regarding the importance of my areas of research”


Kristen Miller, DrPH, CPPS

Senior Research Scientist
Medstar Health

“The award provided me the confidence and clout to move forward with multiple grant applications and a transition to a Senior Research Scientist position with the leading human factors research team in the nation”


Peter P. Nghiem, DVM, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences
Texas A&M University

“Obtaining an NIH LRP has significantly improved my biosketch and has validated the cumulative hard work that I and my mentors have invested into my career development”


Phillip Pierorazio, MD

Associate Professor of Urology and Oncology, Kidney Cancer Biomarkers for Early Diagnosis and Risk Stratification
John Hopkins School of Medicine

“I have met phenomenal colleagues both in and outside of my institution through the LRP. This has facilitated collaborative research and more grant applications”


Michael Schultz, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Radiology
Department of Chemistry
Department of Radiation Oncology
University of Iowa

“Professionally, the LRP represents a significant award from the National Cancer Institute, which is a career builder in and of itself. In addition, interacting with mentors and recommenders on the project has led to other collaborative research activities and funded grant proposals”


Emily K. Sims, MD

Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Indiana University
School of Medicine

“Pediatric endocrinologists are one of the lower paid medical specialties. As I made the decision to focus on research, a major concern was making sure that I could pay off my medical school loans. Through the LRP, after this most recent renewal I will be free of student debt”


Stefanie Sisley, MD

Assistant Professor
Children's Nutrition Research Center
Baylor College of Medicine

“The LRP has given my family significant financial benefit as it will allow me to pay off my medical school loans almost 20 years ahead of schedule”


Fatima Stanford, MD

Obesity Medicine Physician Scientist
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School

“The LRP has dramatically reduced the burden of student loans while allowing me to fulfill my life dream of conducting research as an obesity medicine researcher. I have encouraged many of my mentees and colleagues to apply for the LRP, and the LRP has served as a springboard board outstanding research careers”


Jonathan G. Stine, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine and Public Health Sciences
Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology
The Pennsylvania State University
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

“With the LRP has come notoriety and prestige. I have been asked to be on a panel of LRP awardees at Penn State in order to share my experience and success story so that other applicants may learn from this. My family is very proud of me for receiving this award. I would be unable to be the professional and researcher I am without their loving support”


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