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Former NIH director to feature on Facts & Faith Fridays

Jan 20, 2023

Collins headshot

On Friday, January 27, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., former director of the National Institutes of Health and current special advisor for special projects for the White House, will join Massey Cancer Center’s Facts and Faith Fridays for a virtual discussion on the state of science and community outreach and engagement. The program will also feature updates from Cheryl J. Roberts, J.D. and Natalie Pennywell, MPH, CHES, of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) on changes to Virginia Medicaid.

Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes, his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, and his service for 12 years as the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The longest serving Presidentially-appointed director of NIH, Collins oversaw the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, from basic to clinical research. His research laboratory has discovered a number of important genes, including those responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease, a familial endocrine cancer syndrome, and most recently, genes for type 2 diabetes, and the gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare condition that causes premature aging.

Collins is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences and has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science, and the Templeton Prize.

Cheryl J. Roberts, J.D.

Roberts is the director of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), which serves 2.1 million Virginia’s citizens with a $20 billion annual budget. She leads and supports the Department’s Executive Leadership Team, DMAS staff, programs, contracts, operations, and finance in their mission to provide access to health care coverage and high quality health care. She has extensive experience in population health, and managed care delivery systems and operations.

Natalie Pennywell, MPH, CHES

Pennywell is the outreach and community engagement manager in the Policy, Regulation, and Member Engagement Division under the Deputy of Administration at the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS). She leads the Community Outreach and Member Engagement Team and is responsible for the development and implementation of effective outreach and strategic community engagement initiatives for the Medicaid and FAMIS program working across multiple sectors to include other state agencies, community organizations, and advocacy groups.

Register for the event by clicking here.

Written by: David Oglethorpe, Ed.D.

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