Meet the Scientists

The staff scientists at the OAR oversee the research across the HIV Research Priority areas. The NIH response to the HIV pandemic requires a multi-Institute and multidisciplinary research program. OAR scientists assist in the coordination of this program by working to enhance NIH-wide collaboration and coordination, minimize duplication, and ensure that research dollars are being invested effectively and across the NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices conducting HIV/AIDS research.

Learn more about each scientist and his or her role within OAR.

Meet the Scientists
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Dr. Geetanjali Bansal joined OAR as a health scientist administrator in October 2019. Prior to joining OAR, she served as a Scientific Review Officer (SRO) in the Immunology Review Branch of the Scientific Review Program at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). There, she managed the peer review of program project grants, multi-center clinical trials, cooperative agreements and grant applications in response to complex RFAs as well as contract proposals. She was involved in the development of NIAID New Innovators Award (DP2) Program for postdoctoral trainees. Apart from her review responsibilities, she was also instrumental in systems improvements to facilitate the review process, in particular, the development and enhancement of Scientific Review Data Management System (SRDMS), that facilitates efficient collation and reporting of peer review data. Immediately before returning to NIH as SRO, she was Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Georgetown University where her research focused on cell signaling and immunopathogenesis of lung and heart diseases. Dr. Bansal earned her Master of Science (Honors School) degree in Biophysics and Ph.D. studying immunopathogenesis of cardiovascular disease from Panjab University, India. She received postdoctoral training at NIAID and NIDDK in cell signaling and molecular and cellular immunology.
Lis Caler, Ph.D. joined the OAR as a health scientist administrator in September 2019. Before joining OAR, Lis served as a Program Director in the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Division of Lung Diseases where she led the Lung Response to Pulmonary Infections, Microbiome, AIDS and Tuberculosis area, focusing on cellular and molecular lung responses to HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and non-TB mycobacterial infection, as well as other viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens that cause pneumonia. She also managed small business grants focused on inhaled therapeutics. A pivotal aspect of Dr. Caler’s program was to promote microbiome studies, launching several microbiome related programs, including an RFA to study "The Role of Dysbiosis in Cardiovascular, Pulmonary and Hematological Complications During HIV Infection". Before joining the NIH, Dr. Caler was an Assistant Professor of Genomics at the J. Craig Venter institute where she also served as the Eukaryotic Genomics Bioinformatics Manager and was part of several large genomics programs. Dr. Caler received her bachelor’s degree in Biology in the University of Buenos Aires, and her M. Phil and Ph.D. from Yale University - School of Public Health. Lis completed her postdoctoral research at the Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine studying molecular strategies utilized by intracellular pathogens to interact with their host cells, and at the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases studying the immunology and cell biology of leishmanial infections.”
Stacy Carrington-Lawrence, Ph.D., who joined the OAR in 2007, oversees the Develop Next-Generation HIV Therapies and Cross-Cutting Areas priorities. She serves as the executive secretary for the NIH AIDS Executive Committee, which is composed of senior representatives from more than 20 Institutes, Centers, and Offices with HIV research in their portfolios. This group is responsible for helping to set the priorities and agenda for NIH research related to HIV and AIDS. Prior to joining OAR, Dr. Carrington-Lawrence completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute and then served in the NIH Office of Science Policy, where she worked on public-private partnerships. 
Colleen Choi, Ph.D., joined the OAR in October 2018. Dr. Choi is responsible for examining and evaluating the impact and outcomes of OAR-funded projects as a health science policy analyst and member of the data analytics team. She is a methodologist and specializes in the social sciences, program evaluation, and data analytics. Prior to joining the OAR, Dr. Choi worked for the NIH Office of Program Evaluation and Performance (OPEP, now the Office of Evaluation, Performance and Reporting). As a health research evaluator for OPEP, she served as the lead evaluator for a variety of programs, managed the congressionally mandated NIH Evaluation Set-Aside Program, and facilitated the reporting of the Government Performance and Results Act on behalf of the NIH. Dr. Choi obtained her B.A. in Sociology, M.S. in Family Studies, and Ph.D. in Human Development.

Brenda Fredericksen, Ph.D., joined the OAR as a health scientist administrator in 2018. Dr. Fredericksen previously served as an interdisciplinary scientist administrator at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, where she worked on the development of vaccines for the influenza and the Zika viruses. Dr. Fredericksen has served as a scientific review officer in the AIDS Research Review Branch within the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Prior to joining the federal government, she was an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, where she developed an active research program examining the cell-intrinsic innate immune response for viral pathogens and collaborated with academic and industrial partners on the development of broad-spectrum antiviral agents for use against emerging pathogens and biothreats of viral origins.

Dr. Fredericksen received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Tennessee Health Services Center in Memphis and completed her postdoctoral research with Dr. Michael Gale at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Paul Gaist, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Paul Gaist, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the OAR in 1992 as a health scientist administrator. He leads the Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and Reduce the Incidence of HIV research priorities at the OAR. In addition, his responsibilities include implementation science, and program planning. Before joining the OAR, Dr. Gaist was the Deputy Director of HIV/AIDS at the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration, a former agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to that, he was an intramural scientist and researcher in the Psychobiology Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health. He has also served as Senior Science Advisor to the Director, Office of National AIDS Policy, Executive Office of the President.

Dr. Gaist received his Ph.D. in Behavioral Science Research and Health Education, as well as his M.P.H. in Health Policy and Management, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He also holds degrees in Psychology and Physiology from the University of California, Berkeley.  

Mary Glenshaw, Ph.D, M.P.H.

CAPT Mary Glenshaw, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the OAR in 2019. Dr. Glenshaw brings global health and epidemiology expertise to the Office from 13 years with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where she served the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in various capacities in Southern Africa. She served as Associate Director for Science for CDC South Africa for five years, providing strategic direction and leadership of a coordinated and impactful science portfolio to accelerate progress toward HIV epidemic control. In addition to building capacity for PEPFAR stakeholders and the South African government to produce evidence for decision-making, she also led a $50 million investment in the national community health worker program to accelerate progress toward HIV epidemic control.

Dr. Glenshaw is a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service and previously served as the CDC Botswana Prevention Branch Chief and the lead of the PEPFAR Alcohol/HIV Initiative in Namibia. Her training includes the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) postdoctoral fellowship in applied epidemiology, a Ph.D. in Health Policy and Management, and an M.P.H. in International Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as well as a BS in clinical Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California. As a native Washingtonian, Mary is excited to be back in the U.S. and part of the NIH.

Yvette Edghill Spano

Yvette Edghill Spano, Ph.D., joined the OAR as a health scientist administrator/policy planning and evaluation lead in June 2018. She joined the OAR from the Division of AIDS in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where she served as the Assistant Director of Operations of the Vaccine Research Program (VRP). Dr. Edghill Spano works with OAR leadership, as well as with scientific and budget staff, to develop and coordinate high-level documents such as the NIH Strategic Plan for HIV and HIV-Related Research, Congressional Budget Justification, and Professional Budget Justification. She has actively participated as a member of the OAR Cost-Sharing Task Force and Data Analysis team. 

Dr. Edghill Spano earned her B.S. from Caldwell University and a Ph.D. in Laboratory Medicine and Pathology from Rutgers University/University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She completed her postdoctoral research training at the University of Washington and the NIH, focusing on vaccine development and mucosal immunology for HIV in humans and the simian immunodeficiency virus nonhuman primate model, respectively. Dr. Edghill Spano joined VRP to streamline processes, implement teams, and oversee a host of other activities, including contracts, budget, and program management.

Meryl Sufian Meryl Sufian, Ph.D., joined OAR in October 2019 as a health scientist administrator. Dr. Sufian previously served as Senior Program Director of social and behavioral sciences in the Division of Integrative Biological and Behavioral Sciences at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). She also served as Program Director in the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program at the National Center on Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) where she was the lead on community engagement and program evaluation. She also conducted a national evaluation of the CTSA Program during her time in the Office of Science Policy at the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). In addition, Dr. Sufian served as Program Officer in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) when she joined NIH. Prior to NIH, Dr. Sufian had many years of experience conducting NIH-funded HIV prevention research in New York City, including demonstration and intervention research with high-risk populations, while she was research investigator at the National Development Research Institutes (NDRI) and as Associate Director of the AIDS Program at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center. She also conducted a program evaluation of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) HIV prevention program that provided direct HIV-related services to community-based organizations nationally. Dr. Sufian received her PhD in Medical Sociology from the Graduate School at the City University of New York (CUNY) and her BA in Sociology from Hunter College, CUNY.
Natalie Tomitch, M.P.H., M.B.A.

Natalie Tomitch, M.P.H., M.B.A., joined the OAR as a health scientist administrator in December 2005 and currently oversees the HIV-Associated Comorbidities, Coinfections, and Complications research priority at the OAR. This research priority seeks to identify, prevent, and treat concurrent conditions in people with HIV across the lifespan. She also manages NIH international initiatives and the portfolio of Training, Infrastructure, and Capacity Building. Ms. Tomitch joined the OAR after serving in the Division of International Relations at NIH’s Fogarty International Center. She has worked as a health educator and honed her international expertise at what is now called the Office of Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and she has worked widely across the nonprofit sector. 

Ms. Tomitch received her M.P.H. with a focus on Nutritional Science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her M.B.A. in International Business from Pepperdine University.

This page last reviewed on March 20, 2020