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Leadership Team

Director

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Christopher S. Williams, M.D., Ph.D.

Director, Medical Scientist Training Program
Associate Dean, Physician-Scientist Education and Training
Professor, Medicine
Associate Director, Harrison Society, ABIM Research Residency in Medicine

Dr. Christopher S. Williams, Associate Dean for Physician-Scientist Education and Training, Professor of Medicine, and Associate Director of the Harrison Society, serves as Director of the Vanderbilt MSTP. Dr. Williams is an alumnus of the Vanderbilt MSTP and obtained his residency in internal medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine followed by a fellowship in gastroenterology. Dr. Williams is a physician-scientist with clinical interests in epithelial biology, intestinal wound healing and carcinogenesis. Dr. Williams has served as an MSTP Advising College Leader since 2011 and was named Director in May 2016.



    Associate Directors

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    Lourdes Estrada, Ph.D.

    Associate Director for Academic Programs & Operations, Medical Scientist Training Program
    Associate Professor, Biochemistry
    Co-Director, Immersion Phase Curriculum 2.0

    Dr. Lourdes Estrada, Associate Professor of Biochemistry, serves as Associate Director of the MSTP. Dr. Estrada was raised in Puerto Rico, received her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and completed her postdoctoral training in pediatric genetics at the University of Michigan. In 2004, Dr. Estrada joined the Vanderbilt Department of Cancer Biology to serve as Scientific and Education Officer for a multidisciplinary team of scientists in the NCI-funded Center for Cancer Systems Biology at Vanderbilt (CCSB@V). As a medical school educator, Dr. Estrada has served as Co-Director of the Curriculum 2.0 Immersion Phase, a small group facilitator for case-based learning, and a Portfolio Coach. Dr. Estrada is responsible for the operational management of the MSTP including the overall management of student training, finances, scholarship, and alumni relations.  Dr. Estrada has been with the MSTP since 2016.


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      Ambra Pozzi, PhD

      Associate Director for Graduate Education, Medical Scientist Training Program
      Professor, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Medicine

      Dr. Ambra Pozzi, Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Medicine, serves as Associate Director of the MSTP. Dr. Pozzi completed doctoral training at the University of Florence, postdoctoral training at The Scripps Research Institute and joined the Departments of Medicine and Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt in 2000. Her research studies the molecular mechanisms of kidney fibrosis, focusing on cell-matrix interactions and arachidonic acid-derived eicosanoids in kidney injury. Dr. Pozzi served as an MSTP Advising College Leader for 9 years and joined the MSTP Leadership Team in 2016.


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        John M. Stafford, M.D., Ph.D.

        Associate Director for Clinical Education, Medical Scientist Training Program
        Associate Professor, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Medicine

        Dr. John Stafford, Associate Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Medicine, serves as Associate Director of the MSTP. Dr. Stafford is an alum of the Vanderbilt MSTP where his graduate studies defined how metabolic signals are coordinated at the level of gene transcription. His medical residency, and a Harrison Society Scholars fellowship in Endocrinology were also performed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Since his appointment to the Vanderbilt faculty in 2008, Dr. Stafford directs an active research program in obesity and lipid metabolism. He is also a clinician at the Veterans Administration Tennessee Valley Healthcare System. In addition to his research and clinical goals, Dr. Stafford is dedicated to training physician-scientist as part of the endocrinology fellowship program and Vanderbilt MSTP. Ultimately he is interested in defining and targeting the pathways that lead to cardiovascular disease in high-risk patients with obesity, diabetes, and the elderly. Dr. Stafford served as an MSTP Advising College Leader for 10 years and joined the MSTP Leadership Team in 2021.


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          Danny G. Winder, Ph.D.

          Associate Director for Graduate Training, Medical Scientist Training Program
          Bixler-Johnson-Mayes Professor, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Pharmacology and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
          Director, Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research

          Dr. Danny G. Winder, Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research, serves as Associate Director of the MSTP.  Dr. Winder completed doctoral training at Emory University, postdoctoral training at Columbia University and joined the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics here in 1999.  His research focuses on synaptic mechanisms in addiction, anxiety and depression.  Dr. Winder joined the MSTP in 2013.



            Assistant Director

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            Megan A. Williams, Ph.D.

            Assistant Director, Medical Scientist Training Program
            Instructor, Pharmacology

            Dr. Megan A. Williams serves as Assistant Director of the MSTP. Dr. Williams earned her PhD in 2015 from the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Vanderbilt. Dr. Williams directs the recruitment and admissions process, student communications, and outreach for the MSTP, as well as the MSTP Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Dr. Williams joined the MSTP Leadership Team in 2015.



              Managers

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              Leigh Ann Gardner, M.A., C.R.A.

              Grants Manager, Medical Scientist Training Program

              Leigh Ann Gardner serves as the Financial Unit and Grants Manager for the MSTP. She earned a BA in History from Mississippi University for Women and an M.A. in Public History from Middle Tennessee State University. She obtained her CRA (Certified Research Administrator) certification in 2019. Leigh Ann has worked in research administration since 2016. Leigh Ann is responsible for MSTP financial unit management including pre- and post-award contract and grant management.


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                Bryn Sierra, M.S., M.Ed.

                Program Manager, Medical Scientist Training Program

                Bryn Sierra serves as Program Manager for the MSTP. Bryn earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Florida State University, a MEd in Curriculum and Instructional Design from Vanderbilt University, and a MS in Information Science from University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Since 2007, she served as Program Coordinator for the Ingram Scholarship Program at Vanderbilt University. She is responsible for hosting program events, implementation of post-matriculation activities, and financial matters related to students’ accounts and individual grant award applications. Bryn joined the Vanderbilt MSTP Leadership Team in 2018.