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Staff Listing

Name Title Phone
Albert Avila, Ph.D. Director, ODHD 301-496-8804
Julie Huffman Program Analyst 301-443-9798
Isabela Lopes, MPH Health Specialist 301-402-9575


Albert Avila, Ph.D.
Dr. Albert Avila is the Director of the Office of Diversity and Health Disparities (ODHD) within the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  There, he leads and develops the diversity and health disparities capacity building efforts for NIDA and provides guidance to the NIDA Director on related initiatives.  His primary goal for the NIDA ODHD is to enhance the number of underrepresented scientists conducting drug abuse research and receiving independent grant support.  In addition, he works across NIDA on health disparities research initiatives. Dr. Avila received his doctorate in pharmacology from Georgetown University during which he investigated the effects of cocaine, withdrawal, and stress on the neuroimmune response. Following his postdoctoral training in pain neurotransmission at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), he became an Intramural Training Director, leading programs for pre­ and post-doctoral trainees, and subsequently a Health Scientist Administrator at NIDCR managing extramural research training and career development programs.  He joined NIDA in 2008, where he served as a Program Official for five years in the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior and managed a grant portfolio in the areas of neuroimmunology, psychopharmacology, HIV and research training as they relate to drug abuse.

Julie Huffman
Julie Huffman joined the NIDA Office of Diversity and Health Disparities (ODHD) in July 2013. Prior to joining the ODHD she was in the NIDA Division Neuroscience and Behavioral. She brings over 20 years of government experience to the ODHD and has served in multiple DHHS agencies. Mrs. Huffman’s primary responsibilities include maintaining the ODHD participant databases for the diversity supplement, seminar series, and summer internship programs, tracking program participants’ NIH grant and application records, as well as handling logistical actions for the Office. She is the coordinator of the NIDA summer research internship program which includes pre­ and post­program activities and communication with participants and Principal Investigators.

Isabela Lopes, MPH
Isabela Lopes is the newest addition to the NIDA, Office of Diversity and Health Disparities (ODHD) team. Ms. Lopes joined NIDA in January 2020 and serves as a Health Specialist. In the future she will be managing the NIDA Diversity Supplement Program and will be supporting other initiatives involving health disparities and diversity at NIDA. She comes to NIDA from the DHHS, Office of the Secretary, where she began her federal career as a Pathways Intern in 2017 and upon graduation in 2019, became a Management Program Analyst. Isabela has a Bachelor of Science in Health Administration and Master of Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in Community Health Promotion. She sparked an interest in the health field when she encountered uninsured individuals and was able to experience firsthand the impact that social determinants have on health. Her interests in the health of racial/ethnic minorities, substance use and addiction research, and a passion for eliminating health disparities makes her beyond excited to be a part of the NIDA ODHD.

This page was last updated January 2020