The mission of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) is to promote and improve the health of individuals, families, and communities. To achieve its mission, NINR supports research and research training through grants and fellowships.
The NINR DESP Team
Part of the NINR Division of Extramural Science Programs (DESP), NINR Program Directors are scientists who oversee the conduct of research programs within specific science areas. They are the main points of contact between NINR and the extramural research community, and serve as an advocate and resource for applicants and investigators seeking NINR research and training grants.
NINR-supported research is divided into five areas of science:
- Symptom Science
- Technology and Training
- End-of-Life and Palliative Care
Individuals are strongly encouraged to contact the Program Director in their area of interest to discuss proposed research projects and/or training opportunities. If you are interested in a topic area not identified, please contact any of the Program Directors listed below and they can direct you to the right person.
Marguerite Littleton Kearney, PhD, RN, FAAN
Director, Division of Extramural Science Programs
Dr. Kearney is the Director of NINR’s Division of Extramural Science Programs. She leads the activities of the Division. Before coming to NINR she was the Associate Dean for Research and Professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. She has held faculty appointments at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Medicine, the University of Maryland School of Nursing, and Rush University College of Nursing. Her area of research is on the effects of female hormones on cerebrovascular recovery after cerebral injury. Dr. Kearney holds a PhD from Rush University, a MSN in adult care/trauma nursing, and a BSN from Augusta University (formerly the Medical College of Georgia).
Yvonne Bryan, PhD
Deputy Director, Division of Extramural Science Programs
Chief, Office of Extramural Research Administration
Dr. Bryan is the Deputy Director of DESP and Chief of the Office of Extramural Research Administration (OERA). Dr. Bryan is responsible for assisting Dr. Kearney in leading, managing, and coordinating NINR’s extramural scientific programs. In addition, she has oversight and coordination responsibilities for the four branches within OERA (Grants, Review, Council Operations, and Extramural Policy and Procedures Implementation). Prior to her current role, Dr. Bryan served as the Special Assistant to the NINR Director and the Chief of NINR’s Office of Extramural Programs. Following her training as a registered nurse at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Dr. Bryan earned a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a PhD in psychology at Concordia University in Montreal and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Dr. Bryan joined NINR in 2001 as a Program Director, having previously held several academic and research positions.
Office of Extramural Programs
Nara Gavini, PhD, MPhil
Chief, Office of Extramural Programs
Dr. Gavini is the Chief of the Office of Extramural Programs (OEP), where he is responsible for overseeing all OEP activities. Before joining NINR, Dr. Gavini served as a Health Scientist Administrator at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, where he led scientific, training, and diversity initiatives. Dr. Gavini has held professorship at Bowling Green State University; served as Head of the Department of Biological Sciences at Mississippi State University; and as Cross-Cluster Program Director at the National Science Foundation. He has served as the Principal Investigator on NSF, NIH, and USDA grants. His scientific expertise includes molecular biosciences, and computational modeling.
Office of End-of-Life and Palliative Care Research
Dr. Miller is Chief of the Office of End-of-Life and Palliative Care Research (OEPCR) overseeing NINR’s end-of-life and palliative care extramural activities. Previously, she was Head of the Office of Research on End-of-Life Science and Palliative Care Investigator Training, and Education in NINR’s Division of Science Policy and Public Liaison. After completion of an NIH/NICHD/NIH Clinical Center post-doctoral fellowship, she continued as an NIH Intramural Scientist and Principal Investigator of numerous protocols focused on: biomedical image processing and analysis, fetal aerodigestive development, 3D-4D sonographic technologies including tissue characterization, fluid dynamics, orofacial kinematics, musculoskeletal sonography, and automated contour and surface deformation techniques. She received the NINR Team Award for the development and operationalization of the OEPCR and the 2018 Presidential Citation from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine for her work in building national programs of science in palliative care. Dr. Miller holds BSc, MS, MSc, and PhD degrees.
Martha Matocha, PhD
Branch Chief, Symptom Science and Genetics; Self-Management
Dr. Matocha leads the Symptom Science and Genetics and Self-Management Branch. Dr. Matocha’s research background includes work on the post-translational processing of mitochondrial cytochrome P-450 proteins and differential gene expression in a mouse model of trisomy 21. She served 13 years as Principal Investigator of the NIH-funded AIDS Research and Reference Reagent Program, a resource that acquires, develops, and ships critical research reagents to investigators around the world. Dr. Matocha has also served as a Policy Analyst for NIH with responsibilities related to the Government Performance and Results Act; NIAID Program Officer with oversight of HIV/AIDS clinical trials; and NIH Scientific Review Officer for managing reviews of research infrastructure and translational science applications. Dr. Matocha holds BS (nursing), MS (biochemistry), and PhD (biochemistry) degrees.
Michelle R. J. Hamlet, PhD
Symptom Biology; Symptom Recognition/Assessment; Symptom Clusters
Dr. Hamlet is a Program Director overseeing a portfolio focused on symptom biology, symptom recognition/assessment, and symptom clusters. Before joining NINR, Dr. Hamlet served as a Program Director at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences where she oversaw basic research and student development programs. Dr. Hamlet also worked at the National Human Genome Research Institute, where she served as a Training Program Coordinator and oversaw and developed new intramural training programs. Dr. Hamlet holds a BS in language arts/French from Georgetown University, a master’s in zoology from Howard University, and a PhD in cell and developmental biology from Harvard University.
Karen Huss, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, FAAN, FAAAAI, FAHA
Self-Management; Caregiving; Rehabilitative Care
Dr. Huss is a Program Director overseeing a portfolio focused on self-management of acute and chronic conditions, caregiving, and rehabilitative care. Dr. Huss’s portfolio addresses research on the health needs of caregivers and individuals with chronic conditions and self-management interventions and technologies to sustain health and optimize functional capabilities. Dr. Huss’ portfolio encompasses multiple conditions including heart failure, chronic renal failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary conditions, cancer, and the interface between the biological and behavioral sciences. Dr. Huss previously served in the United States Army Nursing Corps. She was an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing with joint appointments at the Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Huss holds a BSN, MSN, and PhD in nursing science.
Lois A. Tully, PhD
Genomics; Symptom Management
Dr. Tully is a Program Director overseeing a portfolio focused on genomics that addresses the roles, interrelationships, or moderating influences of genes, environment, and behavior on symptom manifestation, disease risks, and patient outcomes. Dr. Tully also oversees a symptom management portfolio, which focuses on biobehavioral approaches to reduce or eliminate adverse symptoms resulting from chronic conditions. Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Tully was employed by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she served as the Deputy Chief of the Investigative and Forensic Sciences Division and the Program Manager of NIJ’s Forensic DNA Research and Development Program. Dr. Tully holds a BS in medical technology, an MS in forensic sciences, and a PhD in medicine with a concentration in human genetics.
Rebekah Rasooly, PhD
Branch Chief, Wellness; Technology and Training
Dr. Rasooly is the Branch Chief for wellness, and technology and training, with interests in program evaluation and precision medicine. Her background is in genetics, genomics and policy issues related to sharing specimens and data from clinical studies. Prior to joining NINR, Dr. Rasooly was a Program Director and Deputy Division Director for the Division of Kidney, Urologic & Hematologic Disease at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She also did policy work in NIH’s Office of Extramural Programs. Dr. Rasooly received her undergraduate degree from Harvard and her PhD in genetics from Michigan State University. She joined NIH after serving as an Assistant Professor at St. John’s University, a Visiting Professor at Johns Hopkins University and an Assistant Deputy Scientific Director for the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man database.
David Banks, PhD, MPH, MSSW, RN
Training; Basic, Biomedical, and Behavioral Research
Dr. Banks is the Extramural Research Training Officer at NINR overseeing NINR’s F and T Series Research Training Programs. Dr. Banks is a nurse scientist who has published articles on blood donation, elder care, HIV/AIDS, and other topics in scientific journals including the American Journal of Public Health; Journal of Black Psychology, and Transfusion. In addition, he represents NINR on the NIH Training Advisory Committee and the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce Working Group. Dr. Banks holds a BSN, BA (economics), MPH, MS (social work), and PhD (human development).
Augie Diana, PhD
Technology; Small Business Research; Big Data; Physical Activity
Dr. Diana is a Program Director overseeing NINR’s technology portfolio. Dr. Diana serves as coordinator of NINR’s Small Business Research programs (SBIR and STTR). In addition to technology, Dr. Diana’s research areas have included physical activity, communications/media, and dissemination/implementation research. Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Diana oversaw national cross-site evaluations and data/technology initiatives at federal and state agencies. Dr. Diana’s background also includes design and implementation of community-based research studies. Dr. Diana holds a BA, MA, and PhD (all in Sociology).
Rebecca Henry, PhD, RN
HIV/AIDS and Immune Function
Dr. Henry is the HIV/AIDS coordinator for NINR and a Program Director overseeing a portfolio focused on HIV/AIDS/immune function. She is an experienced clinician and public health professional and has conducted research and problem-solving studies among immigrant and minority groups in the United States, as well as in communities in Laos, the Philippines, Ghana, Guyana, and Mexico. During her tenure with the Demographic and Health Research Group, Dr. Henry worked with researchers and physicians from around the world on major health initiatives including evaluation strategies to measure the impact of the President’s Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief. Dr. Henry holds a BS (nursing), MA (anthropology), and a PhD (anthropology).
Sung Sug (Sarah) Yoon, PhD, RN
Dr. Yoon is a Program Director overseeing a portfolio focused on women’s health and data science. Dr. Yoon completed post-doctoral training at the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke, served as a coordinator in the National Stroke Registry at CDC, and was an epidemiologist in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey at the National Center for Health Statistics. Most recently she was a Scientific Review Officer at NIH’s Center for Scientific Review, where she was responsible for the Nursing and Related Clinical Science study section. Dr. Yoon holds a BSN and a PhD (clinical epidemiology).
Lynn S. Adams, PhD
NINR Centers Program
Dr. Adams is a Health Scientist Administrator in the Office of End-of-Life and Palliative Care Research overseeing a portfolio focused on palliative care. Prior to joining NINR, she was a Health Scientist Administrator for the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, and cancer subject matter specialist on human health risk assessments at the Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Adams was also a research fellow at the City of Hope where she led preclinical research studies of breast and prostate cancers. Dr. Adams holds AS, BS, and PhD degrees.
Karen A. Kehl, PhD, RN, FPCN
NINR Centers Program
Dr. Kehl is a Health Scientist Administrator in the Office of End-of-Life and Palliative Care Research overseeing a portfolio focused on end-of-life care and hospice. Dr. Kehl’s research background focuses on improving preparation of families for care in the last phase of life in the home hospice setting. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing. Dr. Kehl is a Fellow in Palliative Care Nursing and holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Nursing.