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NCI Leadership

Henry Rodriguez, Ph.D., M.B.A

Office Director

Dr. Rodriguez serves as the Director of the Office of Cancer Clinical Proteomics Research at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, where he oversees research decisions, development, and global oncology programs in proteomics.  Rodriguez is a recognized leader in cancer research, FDA regulatory affairs, government policy, and business management. He serves on various committees to develop agreements across Federal agencies, and to build public-private partnerships. In addition, Rodriguez is responsible for providing authoritative leadership including policy development on innovative technology initiatives that address NCI's expanding role in biomedical research (proteogenomics).

Much of Rodriguez's research has focused on the utilization of molecular-based high throughput technologies to enhance the understanding of cancer biology and improve our ability to diagnose, treat and prevent cancer.  His scientific work prior to the National Cancer Institute was conducted at the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), where he developed and served as Director of the Cell and Tissue Measurements Group. There, he led research programs in genomics, proteomics, cell imaging, and bioinformatics. At NIST, he also served as a Program Analyst in the Office of the Director, where he provided the NIST Director with technical, economic, policy analyses and counsel on issues in biology, and strategic partnerships in biotechnology.  He also was Director of a Tissue Engineering program, and served a Principal Scientist in a DNA Damage and Repair program. Rodriguez did fellowships at The Scripps Research Institute where he investigated mechanisms of activation of the K-ras oncogene by DNA base modifications, and later at the City of Hope Cancer Center where he investigated the role of oxidative damage to DNA and proteins in cancer.

Rodriguez has received numerous domestic and international awards and honors, including the Diversity Program Alumni Recognition from the Minority Biomedical Research Support program of National Institute of General Medical Sciences; Young Scientific Investigator Award from the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society; Leveraging Collaboration Award from the FDA; Service Award from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry; Distinguished Alumni Member of the Epsilon of Florida Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Florida International University, Distinguished Alumni Torch Award from Florida International University, and Dr. Herbert Wertheim Global Medical Leadership Award from the Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.

He has authored over 90 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, including co-edited a best-selling book entitled "Oxidative Stress and Aging: Advances in Basic Science, Diagnostics and Intervention."  Rodriguez holds a B.S. in biology/chemistry and a M.S. in toxicology from Florida International University, a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from Boston University, and a M.B.A. in finance and management from Johns Hopkins University School of Business.

Emily Boja, Ph.D.

Program Manager

Dr. Boja focuses on regulatory aspects of molecular diagnostics via interactions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC), as well as providing leadership in quantitative proteomic analysis of proteins and their post-translational modifications (phosphorylation, oxidation, and glycosylation, etc.) in complex biological systems. Prior to the NCI, she served as Staff Scientist and Lead of Proteomics at the Laboratory of Biophysical Chemistry, NHLBI, NIH. Her expertise originates from her research on structural/functional studies of enzymes involved in one-carbon metabolism using biophysical and biochemical approaches and later mass spectrometry and array-based quantitative analysis of complex proteomes via the integration of genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics. She holds a   Ph.D. degree in biochemistry and molecular biology (1999) from the Medical College of Virginia.

Tara Hiltke, Ph.D.

Program Manager

Dr. Hiltke provides leadership and oversight to the Monoclonal Antibody Characterization program and coordinates activities with Argonne National Laboratory. She also works in developing other methods of antigen generation. Previously, she served as a senior scientist/project manager in assay development at both Wellstat Diagnostics and BioVeris Corporation, where she developed clinical assays for diagnostic markers using electrochemiluminescence platform and magnetic beads. She holds a Ph.D. degree (1999) in biology from the University of Buffalo.

Chris Kinsinger, Ph.D.

Program Manager

Dr. Kinsinger focuses on the expansion and coordination of open data access and programmatic goals involving mass spectrometry, informatics, and biospecimens. In this role he works with NCI staff and investigators to optimize proteomics technology, establish policies for sharing data and biospecimens, and generally improve the quality and reliability of proteomic measurements. He completed postdoctoral training at NIST, where he researched fragmentation pathways of peptide ions in mass spectrometry. He holds a Ph.D. degree in chemistry (2004) from the University of Minnesota.

Mehdi Mesri, Ph.D.

Program Manager

Dr. Mesri provides leadership in integrating emerging technologies for the development of protein diagnostics and therapeutics. He coordinates activities with NCI's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Office and manages oversight to R21, R21/R33 investigator grants. Prior to the NCI, he served as a principal scientist/projects manager in the Department of Protein Therapeutics at Celera. There, he used mass spectrometry technologies to discover and validate biologic antibody targets in oncology, including prostate cancer, lung and angiogenesis. He holds a M.Med.Sci. degree in clinical pathology (1991) from the University of Sheffield, and a Ph.D. degree in immunology (1995) from the University of Aberdeen.

Robert Rivers, Ph.D.

Program Manager

Dr. Rivers entered the office as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow. Currently he serves as a Program Manager and organizes communications and outreach for the office. His doctoral research focused on the study of intrinsically disordered proteins and their propensity to aggregate. He holds a Ph.D. degree in chemistry (2008) from the University of Cambridge.

Gordon Whiteley, Ph.D.

Antibody Characterization Lab Director

Dr. Whiteley’s career began as a clinical microbiologists running the diagnostic microbiology and serology service for MDS Health Group Ltd., the largest clinical lab in Canada. Following this, he has served in various capacities in the diagnostic industry for over 25 years and has conceived, developed and commercialized more than 100 immuno assay products and instrumentation for a variety of diseases including infectious diseases, steroids and hormones, therapeutic drugs, cancer markers, and cardiac markers. He had over 15 years experience at the vice-president level in research and development for diagnostic companies. For the past 9 years, he has been a director within the Advanced Technology Program for SAIC-Frederick serving the National Cancer Institute. He holds a M.Sc. in microbiology and also a Ph.D. degree in medical microbiology (1978) both from the University of Toronto.