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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”


Justin Benoit, MD, MS, FAEMS

Assistant Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Cincinnati

“Talk to someone at your institution who is a NIH LRP awardee. They will have invaluable advice on how to be successful. As an LRP Ambassador, I am “batting a thousand” helping other clinicians achieve this award!”


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”


Carinne Brody, DrPH

Associate Professor, Global Health
College of Education and Health Sciences
Touro University, California

“Aside from the financial benefits, the LRP program gave me more confidence in my research. The fact that NIH researchers reviewed my portfolio and my body of work and thought I was worthy of this award made me feel so honored”


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”


Thomas Cherpes, DVM, MD

Assistant Professor
Department of Comparative Medicine
Stanford University
School of Medicine

“I would have gone into biomedical research if the LRP did not exist, but it is impossible to articulate how useful this award was for career planning and decision making. This program was even more supportive of my professional development than I realized at the time”


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 an academic rheumatology career. Had this award program not been available, I would have never been able to shoulder the high debt burden and remain in academia”


Hilary L. DeShong, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Mississippi State University

“Receiving the LRP award has been a tremendous. The LRP has helped lay the groundwork for applying for other external grants through NIH”


Amaka Eneanya, MD, MPH, FASN

Assistant Professor
Palliative and Advanced Illness Research (PAIR) Center
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

“In addition to your mentors, have multiple people read your application. It is very helpful to hear perspectives from others even if they are not knowledgeable about your proposed topic. Also, reapply if you do not receive the award the first time!”


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”


Ryan Funk, PharmD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice
Medical Center
University of Kansas

“Receiving the LRP has proven greatly beneficial to my continued efforts to establish myself as an independent clinical scientist. It has provided both a positive moral and a monetary impact that will have a significant influence on my career”


David M. Jacobs, PharmD, PhD

Assistant Professor
School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Buffalo

“The LRP award showed my mentor the potential of my work and we used LRP-related research projects as preliminary evidence for a recent NIH K08 application”


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”


Jennifer L. Kraschnewski, MD, MPH

Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health Sciences
Vice Chair of Clinical Research
Department of Medicine
Director, Penn State Project ECHO®

“Keep trying! Just like in research, being persistent pays off! I wasn’t successful applying to the LRP on my first attempt”


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”


Ben Lewis, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Neurocognitive Laboratory
Center for Addiction Research & Education
University of Florida

“By decreasing my financial burdens, the LRP allowed me to focus more on work and family, leading to a substantial overall improvement in my mental health & well-being”


Ashley Linden-Carmichael, PhD

Assistant Research Professor
Department of Biobehavioral Health
Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center
Pennsylvania State University

“Receiving an LRP from the NIH has been life-changing in that it has afforded me time to focus on building my research program rather than paying off my large student loan debt. As an early career researcher (earned my PhD in August 2016), this award came at a perfect time!”


Molly Magill, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Director of Biostatistics
Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies
Brown University
School of Public Health

“There is prestige involved in being an LRP recipient; it is a competitive grant award. Because my student loan debt was paid, I was able to stay in a fiscally-high risk research faculty position”


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”


Debraj "Raj" Mukherjee, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor
Department of Neurosurgery
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

“Through the support of the NIH LRP, I have been able to use financial resources that otherwise would have gone toward paying down my student debt to instead support development of my research team and the purchase of my first home. This has allowed both my research endeavors and my family to flourish in ways that I otherwise couldn’t have imagined during this relatively early phase of my career”


Sara Myers, PhD

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activity
Associate Professor
Department of Biomechanics
University of Nebraska

“One major unexpected benefit is the network of other LRP recipients through the ambassador program, individuals I’ve met and connected with who are also LRP recipients, and the opportunity to mentor other junior faculty through their own LRP process”


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”


John Paul Shen, MD

Assistant Professor
Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology
CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research
Anderson Cancer Center
University of Texas

“One good aspect of the LRP is that it forced me to learn how to write a competitive NIH style grant early in my academic career; grant writing is a skill critical to succeeding in an academic environment”


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
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”


Jennifer K. Trittmann, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
Ohio State University
Principal Investigator
Center for Perinatal Research
Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

“Receiving the LRP was pivotal in my career as an academic neonatologist. LRP was my first successful grant through NIH NHLBI, and through it my research program was validated as having high potential to improve the lives of babies with lung disease”


Tracy Wharton, PhD, LCSW

Assistant Professor
School of Social Work
College of Medicine: Clinical Sciences
Academic Health Sciences Center
University of Central Florida

“The LRP gave me the opportunity to establish myself on the tenure track without having to worry about student loan payments as part of my budget. Moving to a new place, establishing a life there, and investing in the time and travel to build collaborative connections is challenging”


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