Faculty Fellowship

Our program offers a two-year, non-degree faculty fellowship program for Harvard Medical School junior faculty, which is designed to address the need for additional support to conduct clinical and/or translational research and to free junior faculty from clinical and teaching demands at a key point in their career development. Each faculty fellow will receive $100,000 over a two-year period to support their scholarly efforts. Faculty fellows are required to devote appropriate time toward the development of their academic career, to meet regularly with their mentors, and to present at the annual Minority Health Policy Meeting.


Doctoral degree (e.g. MD, PhD, DO, DMD, DDS). Harvard faculty appointment at the level of instructor or assistant professor. Applications will also be considered from clinical or research fellows who are in the process of appointment/promotion to instructor and/or assistant professor at Harvard University. U.S. Citizenship or permanent residency.

How to Apply

The Faculty Fellowship application cycle is currently closed. The 2023 application cycle will open later this year.

2021-2023 PFDI Faculty Fellow

Dennis Spencer, MD, PhD, Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital

Mentor: Seth Rakoff-Nahoum, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Associate Physician in Pediatrics, Boston Children’s Hospital

Division Chief: Scott B. Snapper, MD PhD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Chief, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Boston Children’s Hospital

Project Title: Modification of Gut Microbiome Antibiotic Resistance through Dietary Glycans

Project Description: The gut microbiome plays an important role in health and disease. One of these important roles is excluding opportunistic enteric pathogens by “colonization resistance.” Bacteroides is the predominant Gram-negative bacteria of the human gut where it competes and survives with a unique capacity to metabolize a diverse range of dietary glycans. Depletion of the Bacteroidetes phylum during antibiotics use is associated with increased risk of enteric infections, including Clostridium difficile. There is a link between diet and the microbiota as well as an important role for metabolism in bacterial antibiotic susceptibility. My preliminary data establishes carbohydrate-specific effects of antibiotic susceptibility in Bacteroides ovatus during cultivation in vancomycin. Further, Transposon Sequencing (TnSeq) studies identified carbohydrate utilization genes associated with antibiotic fitness effects. My project, “Modification of Gut Microbiome Antibiotic Resistance through Dietary Glycans” hypothesizes that specific glycans tune antibiotic susceptibility in Bacteroides and that this may be understood to devise targeted antibiotic-specific prebiotic strategies to promote colonization resistance. To test this, we will: determine which dietary sugars impact antibiotic susceptibility across antibiotic class and Bacteroides strains (Aim 1); use next generation sequencing approaches to elucidate mechanisms by which sugars modulate antibiotic susceptibility (Aim 2); and assemble co-resident Bacteroides communities isolated from pediatric BMT patients’ stool to identify patient-specific optimal sugars that maximize Bacteroides resistance while minimizing opportunistic gut pathogens (Aim 3). This project involves collaboration with BCH Heme/Onc/SCT, utilizing stool from pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplant patients. The work also benefits from use of the Harvard Biopolymers facility.

Biography: Dennis Spencer, MD, PhD is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School (HMS). A physician-scientist, he is an investigator in the Rakoff-Nahoum laboratory (HMS/BCH) with a focus on the impact of diet on the composition and function of the gut microbiome. Spencer is a faculty advisor in the HMS Office of Recruitment and Multicultural Affairs as well as faculty chair of the BCH Graduate Medical Education Committee’s Joint Diversity & Recruitment subcommittee. He was recently awarded the 2021 Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award from HMS. The National Medical Association has also recognized Spencer as a 2021 Top Physician Under 40 Award recipient. He completed the HMS Fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at BCH following his residency at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital/Stanford University. Spencer is a graduate of the Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan-Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program, obtaining a PhD in Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology from The Rockefeller University. He is also a proud alumnus of Morehouse College.

Protected Time for Research: Two-year faculty fellowship supports junior faculty at critical juncture
Originally published in HMS News | June 28, 2021

2020-2022 PFDI Faculty Fellows

Hermioni Amonoo, MD, MPP, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Department Chair: David A. Silbersweig, MD, Stanley Cobb Professor of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Mentor: Jeffery C. Huffman, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital

Project Title: Development of a positive psychology intervention to improve mood and health related quality of life in patients post hematopoietic stem cell transplantation- Proof of Concept Trial

Project Description: Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is a potentially curative treatment for some hematologic malignancies. Notwithstanding the promising nature, the transplantation process and recovery is intensive and fraught with potential life-threatening complications during recovery. Hence, HSCT recipients have a high burden of distress and quality of life (QOL) deficits. Most efforts to achieve optimal psychological weli-being in this population have targeted the reduction of distress (e.g., depression). However, positive psychological well-being ( e.g., optimism), can buffer against this distress and has been prospectively associated with improved QOL and survival in this population. Positive psychological interventions (PPis), which utilize systematic activities (e.g., recalling positive life events) to promote psychological well-being, have consistently and durably enhanced psychological health and QOL in medical settings, but have never been used in HSCT patients. Given the need for new programs to promote well-being and recovery after HSCT, the proposed project will develop and test a novel PPI in this population to fill this unmet need. I will develop the PATH (Positive psychology for Allogeneic Transplantation of Hematopoietic stem cells) intervention via a review of the literature and application of theoretical frameworks, then test its acceptability (via quantitative participant ratings and qualitative feedback at exit interviews) in a one-arm proof-of-concept trial (N= l0; Aim 1). Next, I will test its feasibility and preliminary efficacy on health outcomes in a pilot randomized controlled trial (N=60; Aim 2). In sum, the HMS-PFDD Award will prepare me to become an independent investigator and leader who develops novel evidence-based supportive oncology interventions.

Biography: Hermioni L. Amonoo, MD, MPP, is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a staff physician in the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). She is also the associate training director of the BWH/HMS Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program.

Amonoo was born and raised in Accra, Ghana and miraculously moved to Indiana to complete her BSc in biology and chemistry at Purdue University. She then completed her MD and MPP at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She completed her clinical training at the Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program and the BWH/DFCI Consultation Liaison Psychiatry and Psychosocial Oncology Fellowship. Her clinical work in medical psychiatry and psychosocial oncology inspired her research program aimed at understanding distress in vulnerable cancer populations to inform the development of novel supportive oncology interventions that impact health outcomes.

Randy Miles, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital

Department Chair and Mentor: Constance D. Lehman, MD, PhD, Professor of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Project Title: External Validation and Clinical Assessment of a Deep Learning Risk Prediction Model for Mammography Interpretation

Project Description: While recent studies evaluating artificial intelligence (AI) demonstrate promising results, it is imperative that AI tools are thoroughly assessed prior to widespread use to avoid past mistakes with implementation of conventional computer assisted detection (CAD), which led to increased healthcare costs despite only marginal benefit. Current AI studies largely share the following that may limit maximal clinical utility: 1) requirements for large, well-curated datasets to train and validate algorithms, which may not be representative of real-time clinical imaging data 2) validation using internal data sets only, limiting generalizability to diverse patient populations, equipment manufacturers, and/or clinical settings, and 3) lack of evidence on how AI tools can be implemented to maximize clinical impact. We have previously published on our AI model using deep learning techniques, developed from institutional data using 223,109 consecutive screening mammograms performed in 66,661 women from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2016, that predicts breast cancer risk, based on a woman’s current mammogram. Our model obtained an AUC of 0.82(95%CI:0.80,0.85). Personalized risk prediction scores determined by our model can potentially be used by radiologists to improve radiologist’s interpretative performance, if provided at the time of mammography interpretation. To inform clinical implementation of our model, we aim to 1) validate our AI model utilizing imaging data from a large, diverse external dataset and 2) quantitatively determine the effect of our model on radiologist interpretative performance. Together, this work has the potential to positively impact breast cancer screening by providing a framework for clinical implementation of our model to improve radiologist performance.

Biography: Randy C. Miles MD, MPH, is an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is originally from Green Level, NC., completed his BS in chemistry from Hampton University graduating Summa Cum Laude with honors, and obtained his MD from Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, where he co-led health missions to underserved regions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Miles’s international public service led him to obtain a MPH from Harvard T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health, where he was awarded the Zuckerman fellowship. During this time, he learned about racial disparities in breast cancer mortality and discovered his passion for improving breast cancer care in traditionally underserved groups. His clinical practice as a board- certified radiologist, specializing in breast imaging, includes image interpretation of digital mammography, digital breast tomosynthesis (“3D mammography”), breast ultrasound (including automated breast ultrasound (ABUS)), and breast MRI. He also performs image- guided procedures including breast biopsies, aspirations, wire/seed localization, and lymphoscintigraphy. His clinical, research, and public health efforts center around improving breast cancer outcomes primarily through 1) identifying barriers to breast cancer screening, 2) creating patient-centered initiatives to improve access to breast imaging services, and 3) examining how to improve delivery of high quality, guideline- concordant breast care for all patients using artificial intelligence. Within the breast imaging division, he has a leadership role in community health, where he has led research efforts focused on reduction of breast cancer screening barriers, appropriate utilization of supplemental screening tools, and assessment of online patient educational materials for factors related to health literacy. In addition, Miles currently works with international hospitals to improve all facets of care in breast imaging related to physician training, workflow optimization, and patient experience.


Read about PFDI Faculty Fellows Alumni.