NHGRI appoints Drs. Sara Chandros Hull and Shawn Burgess as new deputy scientific directors
Longtime NHGRI researchers will help lead institute’s vibrant Intramural Research Program.
The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, has selected Sara Chandros Hull, Ph.D., and Shawn Burgess, Ph.D., as deputy scientific directors of NHGRI’s Intramural Research Program.
The Intramural Research Program at NHGRI is a worldclass research and clinical enterprise that conducts basic, translational and clinical research in genetics and genomics. The program, housed within the institute’s Division of Intramural Research, consists of over 50 investigators across nine organizational branches and centers that seek to advance human health through genomics research.
Drs. Hull and Burgess replace former deputy scientific director Paul Liu, M.D., Ph.D., who served in that role for 12 years.
"Sara and Shawn bring complementary skill sets to this important position, which will serve our highly successful Intramural Research Program well,” says NHGRI Scientific Director Charles Rotimi, Ph.D. “With Sara’s extensive expertise and research in bioethics and program administration skills, and Shawn’s experience leading scientific programs and mentoring scientists, I am excited to bring new perspectives and knowledge into the program’s leadership team.”
As deputy scientific directors, Drs. Hull and Burgess will be primary advisors to NHGRI’s scientific director, Dr. Rotimi, and oversee the day-to-day operations of various intramural offices, core facilities, centers and programs.
They will also help promote activities to foster collaborations among investigators. Working with the scientific director, the deputy scientific directors will facilitate regular external reviews of all NHGRI intramural research investigators by the institute’s Board of Scientific Counselors to ensure that the research being conducted is of the highest caliber. The scientific director and deputy scientific directors routinely represent NHGRI on various NIH-wide committees, serving as liaisons between the institute and the rest of NIH.
Sara and Shawn bring complementary skill sets to this important position, which will serve our highly successful Intramural Research Program well. With Sara’s extensive expertise and research in bioethics and program administration skills, and Shawn’s experience leading scientific programs and mentoring scientists, I am excited to bring new perspectives and knowledge into the program’s leadership team.
Dr. Hull is an associate investigator in the NHGRI Office of Scientific Core Facilities; director of the NHGRI Bioethics Core; and chair of the NIH Intramural Institutional Review Board, a position from which she will retire, given her new responsibilities. Since joining NIH 24 years ago, she has been studying the intersections of research ethics, genomics research and technology development and has focused on topics such as secondary genomics research findings and equity in genomics research. She was recently on detail at the NIH Tribal Health Research Office, where she helped develop policies, guidance and training programs for ethical Tribal research. Before joining NIH, she earned a Ph.D. in health policy from Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Brandeis University.
“I am thrilled to work more closely with Dr. Rotimi and the entire group of NHGRI intramural investigators to support our collective commitment to ensuring that all people benefit from the advances in genomics,” says Dr. Hull.
Dr. Burgess is a senior investigator in the NHGRI Translational and Functional Genomics Branch and head of the branch’s Developmental Genomics Section. Since joining the institute 22 years ago, he has focused on understanding the function of genes in the zebrafish genome by developing and using efficient gene-knockout technologies to understand the genomic basis of traits of interest. For example, he has been leading efforts to study genes associated with human deafness using the zebrafish as a model. Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Burgess completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in genetics from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.
“I aim to help make NHGRI’s Intramural Research Program a community in which researchers can attain the highest levels of scientific excellence,” says Dr. Burgess. “Having been an NHGRI intramural researcher for over two decades, I hope that everyone would like to stay here for as long as I have.”
Drs. Hull and Burgess began their roles as deputy scientific directors on Oct. 1, 2023.
Last updated: October 2, 2023