For selection as a MERIT Research Mentor, the interested individual must be a full-time faculty member and hold a tenure-track appointment. He/She must submit a CV to the MERIT Program Executive Committee for review at

Criteria for selection include strength of publication record, depth of training record, commitment to the training of MERIT Scholars, and current funding resources; MERIT Research Mentors must demonstrate current R01 funding or equivalent grant support to host and train a MERIT Scholar. MERIT Research Mentor applications are re-evaluated every three years for evidence of current training and funding.

Current Research Mentors:

Anupam Agarwal, MD - Department of Pathology
Regulation of heme oxygenase gene expression in kidney and vascular injury

Namasivayam Ambalavanam, MD - Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology
Neonatal pulmonary vascular remodeling and hypertension

Steven N. Austad, PhD- Department of Biology
Biology of Aging, Evolution, Ecology of Infectious Diseases, Scientific Communication

Shannon Bailey, PhD - Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Molecular mechanisms of chronic alcohol and obesity induced fatty liver disease

Scott Ballinger, PhD - Department of Pathology
Environmental cardiology, free radical biology, mitochondrial function

Dave Bedwell, PhD - Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics
Mechanism of Translation Termination and Therapies to Suppress Stop Mutations

Mary-Ann Bjornsti, PhD - Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Mechanisms of tumorigenesis

Markus Bredel, MD, PhD – Department of Radiation Oncology
Basic, translational, and clinical investigations of primary brain tumors and brain metastases

Cynthia J. Brown, MD – Department of Medicine
Low mobility and fall-risks in older, hospitalized patients

Thomas Buford, PhD – Department of Medicine
Exercise and aging

Chenbei Chang, PhD – Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology
Growth factor signaling and transcription regulation in vertebrate development

Jim Collawn, PhD - Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology
Cystic Fibrosis; Endocytosis; Protein Trafficking

Christine Curcio, PhD – Department of Ophthalmology
Age-related macular degeneration

Ronit Elk, PhD - Professor of Medicine
Culturally-based palliative care

Amit Gaggar, MD, PhD - Professor of Medicine
Adult CF, lung transplantation

Tim Garvey, PhD - Department of Nutrition Sciences
Molecular and physiological pathogenesis of human insulin resistance

James George, PhD – Department of Surgery
Transplantation immunology

Michael Gray, PhD – Department of Microbiology
Bacterial sensing and response to reactive chlorine species

Alecia Gross Gutierrez, PhD - Department of Vision Sciences
Molecular mechanisms of retinal disease and ciliopathies

Pauline Jolly, PhD - Professor of Epidemiology
Pathogenesis of HIV and other lentiviruses

Nina Kraguljac, MD – Department of Medicine
Disease processes underlying psychosis spectrum disorders

Eugenia Kharlampieva, PhD - Department of Chemistry
Development of bio-mimetic materials for therapeutic application

Stacey Krueger-Hadfield, PhD – Department of Biology
Patterns of gene flow across species and responses to environmental perturbations

Brittany Lasseigne, PhD – Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology

Farah Lubin, PhD - Department of Neurobiology
Molecular transcriptional mechanism in learning/memory and neurological disorders

Lori McMahon, PhD - Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology
Synaptic plasticity and hippocampal dependent learning  

Shahid Mukhtar, PhD – Department of Biology
Systems biology, functional genomics, bioinformatics, plant immune networks

Tim Nagy, PhD - Department of Nutrition Sciences
typical antipsychotic drug-induced weight gain; obesity, caloric restriction, and cancer; small-animal phenotyping

Michael Niederweis, PhD - Department of Microbiology
Regulation of solute transport in M. tuberculosis

Carlos Orihuela, PhD – Department of Microbiology
Host pathogen interactions for development of invasive pneumococcal disease

John Parant, PhD – Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Regulation and causes of genomic instability in cancer and other diseases

Jennifer Pollock, PhD – Department of Medicine
Role of nitric oxide in vascular and renal function

Chander Raman, PhD - Medicine-Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology
Mechanisms of Autoimmunity Development

Sasanka Ramanadham, PhD - Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology
Role of Lipid Mediators in Signal Transduction

Nicole Riddle, PhD – Department of Biology
Role of epigenetics in gene regulation and disease

Samiksha Raut, PhD – Department of Biology 
Environmental Toxicology

David Schneider, PhD – Department of Biochemistry
Control of RNA polymerase transcription

Rosa Serra, PhD - Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology
Mechanism of TGF-ß Action in Developmental and Disease Processes

John Shacka, PhD - Department of Neuropathology
Targeting the autophagy-lysosome pathway for therapeutic in age-related neurodegenerative disease

Brian Sims, MD, PhD – Department of Pediatrics
Understanding the cellular mechanisms involved in premature brain injury

Trygve Tollefsbol, PhD - Department of Biology
Cancer and aging epigenetics

Hubert Tse, PhD - Department of Microbiology
T-cell responses in Type 1 diabetes

Linda Wadiche, PhD - Department of Neurobiology
Development of adult-generated neurons

Pengfei Wang, PhD-  Department of Chemistry
Organic Chemistry, Photochemistry, Carbohydrate Chemistry, Synthetic Methodology, Photoresponsive Materials, Synthetic Vaccines and Vaccine Adjuvants

Qin Wang, PhD
 - Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology
Regulation of GPCR trafficking, signaling and in vivo functions

Stephen Watts, PhD - Department of Biology
Physiological responses to nutritional and environmental stressors in aquatic animals

Scott Wilson PhD - Department of Neurobiology
Neurodegenerative disorders and developmental disabilities

Mike Wyss, PhD - Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology
Neuroplasticity in aging and neuro cardiovascular control

Qinglin Yang, PhD - Department of Nutrition Sciences
Mechanisms of heart failure

Brad Yoder, PhD - Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology
Mechanisms of primary cilium assembly and function

Martin Young, PhD – Department of Medicine
Interrelationship between cardiac metabolism and contractility

Nabiha Yusuf, PhD – Department of Dermatology
Innate immune mechanisms in tumor development