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NIDA

Staff Listing

Name Title Phone
Albert Avila, Ph.D. Director, ODHD 301-496-8804
Jose Ruiz, Ph.D. Program Official 301-435-0925
Julie Huffman Program Analyst 301-443-9798
Susanne Castillo-Rinaldi, MPH Intern  

Biographies

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.

Jose Ruiz, Ph.D.
Dr. Ruiz earned a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Boston University and a Ph.D. in Genetics from George Washington University.  During his studies, he made significant scientific contributions to the understanding of ligand-receptor interactions pertinent to atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, coagulation, angiogenesis, tumor growth, and neuronal cell development. Dr. Ruiz has also contributed to studies of chromium-DNA adducts and processing of plasma reelin in humans.  While at NIDA Dr. Jose Ruiz has served NIDA as a Scientific Review Officer (SRO) since 2007. In addition to serving in the SRO role, Dr. Ruiz has participated in numerous activities attentive to training, workforce development, and diversity across the spectrum of training/career development stages. Dr. Ruiz is also experienced in developing tools for research program analyses/evaluations and the identification of subject matter experts. Prior to joining NIDA, at the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), Dr. Ruiz served as a Health Science Policy Analyst with responsibility for analyzing and reporting on research program activities and related budgets, all aspects of Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) goals, communication products, and various science policy issues.

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.

Susanne Castillo-Rinaldi, MPH
Susanne is a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) intern from Bernalillo, New Mexico. She joined the NIDA ODHD in January and will complete her internship in April 2017. She is an honors graduate of Walden University with the Master of Public Health Degree. Before returning to school in 2013, Susanne worked for 13 years as a Registered Respiratory Therapist in New Mexico, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Indiana. Susanne’s experiences as a clinician lead to her passion for disease prevention and health promotion. Susanne’s passion and goals for the future include increasing access to health care, substance abuse prevention education, community outreach, and cancer research. Susanne’s career goals are to become a health educator and substance abuse counselor for minority youth and underserved communities.  As a member of the ODHD, Susanne is happy to be a part of a team effort to reduce substance abuse and barriers to drug addiction treatment in the community.

This page was last updated March 2017