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NIDA

Office of the DER Director

What We Do:

Provide leadership and oversight for NIDA’s extramural programs, including extramural policy and scientific review, grants management, research training, operations planning, and trans-NIH initiatives.

Staff:

  • Susan Weiss, Ph.D. - Director
    Dr. Weiss is the Director of the Division of Extramural Research (DER) at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH); which, oversees NIDA’s extramural programs, research training, operations planning, and trans-NIH initiatives, such as the Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN) and the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. Dr. Weiss is also a Senior Science Advisor to the NIDA Director. Previously, she served as the Chief of the Science Policy Branch and Acting Director of NIDA's Office of Science Policy and Communications, where she provided leadership and oversight for all of NIDA’s interactions with its diverse stakeholders. Read a more detailed biography
  • Katia Howlett, Ph.D., M.P.P., M.B.A. - Deputy Director
    Dr. Howlett joined the Division of Extramural Research (DER) at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2015 as Senior Scientific Program Manager. Prior to joining DER, she served as Project Director of the NIDA Blending Initiative and the SAMHSA National Campaigns contracts. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Director of the Underage Drinking Prevention Education Initiatives contract with SAMHSA. Dr. Howlett received her Ph.D. in Public Health from the University of California at San Diego and San Diego State University, Master of Public Policy from Pepperdine University, and Master of Business Administration from the Johns Hopkins University.  Her doctoral training in Public Health focused on health behavior and the prevention of risky behaviors including primary prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and other consequences of alcohol misuse. She has expertise in the fields of mental health, public health and safety, health policy, health communication, and substance abuse and addiction. She is widely published in the fields of mental illness and substance use disorders, on topics as varied as adolescent substance abuse, technology based health interventions, mood and anxiety disorders, and health-related quality of life. 

Office of Trans-NIH Initiatives

  • Gayathri J. Dowling, Ph.D. - Director, Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Project
    Dr. Dowling is the Director of the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Project at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH). The ABCD Study is the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. Partnering with educators and parents, scientists with the ABCD study will recruit 10,000 children at age 9-10 and follow them through their teens and into early adulthood to explore how diverse experiences during adolescence shape brain, cognitive, social, emotional, and academic development. Previously, Dr. Dowling served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Science Policy, Engagement, Education, and Communications at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Chief of Science Policy at NIDA. In these positions, she provided scientifically-based information to patients and their family members, health professionals, researchers, policy makers, and other stakeholders to inform policy and promote the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of diseases. She has also served as a Program Director with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and as a Scientific Review Administrator at the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Dowling earned a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of California at Davis, where she studied the developing nervous system, and subsequently conducted research at the Parkinson’s Institute. Along with publishing multiple scientific papers and a range of multimedia products, Dr. Dowling has earned numerous awards and widespread recognition for her work.
  • Elizabeth Hoffman, Ph.D. - Scientific Program Manager (Contractor)
    Dr. Hoffman joined the Division of Extramural Research (DER) at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2016 as Scientific Program Manager on contract for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. She is a cognitive neuroscientist with a background in neuroimaging research and science policy. Prior to joining the ABCD team, Dr. Hoffman conducted research on face perception in the Intramural Program at NIMH, taught psychology and cognitive neuroscience at a number of institutions, and advocated for science and health policy priorities in the U.S. Senate and at the American Psychological Association. Dr. Hoffman holds a Ph.D. in cognitive neuropsychology from the George Washington University.
  • Carolyn Tucker - Extramural Support Assistant
    Mrs. Tucker has over a decade of experience as an Extramural Support Assistant at NIDA.  She joined the Division of Extramural Research (DER) and the ABCD Project in October 2015. Mrs. Tucker has assisted in the coordination of division and institution workgroups as well as logistical and planning operations.  Her academic experience includes coursework in applied sciences at the University of the District of Columbia and additional training in Project Management.  She is a proud parent advocate for children with special needs and serves as the Secretary for the Parents of Children with Down syndrome of Prince George’s County in Maryland.

Office of Research Training

  • Michele L. Rankin, Ph.D. - Training Director
    Dr. Rankin serves as NIDA’s Training Director in the Division of Extramural Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH). She provides policy and programmatic oversight of the various training and career development grant programs at NIDA. Dr. Rankin also serves on the NIH Training Advisory Committee (TAC) and other trans-NIH committees as the NIDA representative for research training. Previously, Dr. Rankin served as the Deputy of the Science Policy Branch within the NIDA Office of Science Policy and Communication and as a Health Program Specialist in the Neurodegeneration cluster at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). In these roles, she supported a broad portfolio of neuroscience research and provided scientific information to a variety of stakeholders to inform public policy and promote the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders. Dr. Rankin earned her doctoral degree in Neuroscience from the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University, specializing in olfactory signal transduction and completed her postdoctoral training in the NIH intramural program of NINDS within the Molecular Neuropharmacology Section examining dopamine receptor regulation.
  • Flair Lindsey - Program Analyst
    Ms. Lindsey joined the Division of Extramural Research (DER) at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a program analyst within the Office of Research Training in 2015. She provides guidance on NIDA research training programs to applicants, coordinates numerous research training activities and prepares and evaluates research training data. Additionally, Ms. Lindsey serves as the lead contact on the “NIDA Research Education Program for Clinical Researchers and Clinicians” R25 program.  Prior to her position with DER, Ms. Lindsey developed and coordinated several diversity research training programs at NIDA beginning in 1995. She received her B.A. in Mass Media: Journalism from the University of the District of Columbia.

This page was last updated January 2017