NIH-CZI Junior Investigators Atlas Builders Meeting (Plenary Speakers)

Plenary Speakers Biographies

Ashley Laughney, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Physiology & Biophysics,
Member, Institute for Computational Biomedicine
Member, Meyer Cancer Center
Weill Cornell Medicine

Ashley is a principal investigator in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, the Institute for Computational Biomedicine, and the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine. Initially trained as a biomedical engineer, she developed functional spectroscopy (PhD, Dartmouth College) and single cell imaging and genomic methods (postdoc, Harvard Medical School and MSKCC) for applications in cancer biology. Her lab now integrates single cell sequencing with innovative computational and synthetic biology tools to tackle the genotype-to-phenotype problem in evolving, multi-cellular processes like cancer progression. Ashley is the recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface and her lab is supported by multiple NCI grants.

Clayton C. Yates, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
John. R. Lewis Endowed Professor
Professor of Pathology, Oncology, and Urology
Director for Translational Health Disparities and Global Health Equity Research
Program Co-Leader for Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Clayton Yates is a recognized expert in health disparity research. Dr. Yates earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in molecular pathology, as well as a certificate of training in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative medicine from the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He then went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine Department of Urology. After completing his post-doctoral training, Dr. Yates started as a tenure track Assistant Professor at Tuskegee University in the Department of Biology and Center for Cancer Research. Dr. Yates was promoted through the ranks to Full Professor. He holds Adjunct faculty positions at Clark Atlanta University Department of Biology and the Department of Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Cell-MENTOR recognized Dr. Yates (an online resource from Cell Press and Cell Signaling Technology) among the 100 most inspiring Black Scientists in America. Dr. Yates’s lab focuses on prostate and breast cancer, particularly in African Americans. Dr. Yates is featured on NCI’s website for the NCI Annual Plan & Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2023 which was provided to Congress President Joe Biden and the public. Dr. Yates currently serves on the UAB External Advisory Board (EAB) for Training of Oncology Surgeons, University of North Carolina (UNC) NCI T32 External Advisory Board, Chair of the University of Florida (UF), University of Southern California (USC), Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) U54- NCI CPACHE. He has also received numerous research honors and awards, authored over 80+ peer-reviewed publications, and is a member of the editorial board of Scientific Reports. Dr. Yates also serves as Co-Director for the Transatlantic Prostate Cancer Consortium, which focuses on understanding the tumor biology in native African men in Nigeria. Dr. Yates co-chaired the 2022 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference in April 2022. In addition, Dr. Yates is the 2022-2023 Chair of the Minorities in Cancer Research Council (MICR) within (AACR), which serves 7,000+ minority cancer-focused scientists. Dr. Yates is also the principal investigator (PI) of the NIH/NIMHD Research Centers at Minority Institutions (RCMI), site PI of CTSA (jointly with UAB-hub institution), and PI of NIH/NCI U54 Cancer Health Disparities with Morehouse School of Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Catharine Young, Ph.D.

Assistant Director for Cancer Moonshot Engagement and Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Originally from South Africa, Dr. Catharine Young holds a doctorate degree in Biomedical Sciences and completed her Postdoctoral training in Biomedical Engineering. Currently she serves at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to advance the Cancer Moonshot - The President and First Lady’s mission to decrease the number of cancer deaths by 50% over the next 25 years. Besides Catharine’s federal government experience, Catharine’s career has spanned a variety of sectors including academia, non-profit, biotech, and foreign government, all with a focus on advancing science. Awards include being selected as a TED Fellow, a New Voices Fellow of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, a Presidential Leadership Scholar, and Social Enablers top 100 most inspiring social entrepreneurs. Catharine is an advocate for women in STEM and has been a contributor to major social and media networks including TED-Ed, the Guardian and the UK Science and Innovation Network.