The programs mission: to train the next generation of physician-scientists to provide compassionate patient care, lead discovery in biomedical disease-oriented research and translation of basic biomedical research to applications in clinical care, and take leadership roles in biomedical research, medical education and healthcare components in academic departments and medical centers. 

Below are brief biographies and contact information for each admissions committee member. Please feel free to contact us with any questions, comments or concerns.

photo of David W. Stepp, PhD

David W. Stepp, PhD

  • Director, MD, PhD Program, University System of Georgia
  • Leon Henri Charbonnier Endowed Chair in Physiology
  • Co-director of the Department of Medicine’s Research Residency Track
  • Professor, Vascular Biology Center


Dr. David Stepp is a federally funded investigator and a 21-year faculty member in the Medical College of Georgia’s Vascular Biology Center. Stepp, Leon Henri Charbonnier Endowed Chair in Physiology, also directs the Vascular Biology Center’s graduate program and is co-director of the Department of Medicine’s Research Residency Track. He is a co-principal investigator with VBC Director, Dr. David Fulton, on a $3.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.  He is the contact principal investigator with Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, physiologist and dean of The Graduate School at Augusta University, on a $1.5 million T32 NIH training grant. Stepp also leads the MCG training program for the new American Heart Association Cardio-Oncology Strategically Focused Research Network. His research has been continuously extramurally funded for 20 years, including six awards from the NIH and four awards, including a Scientist Development Grant, from the AHA. His work has resulted in over 80 publications including signature work in high-impact cardiovascular journals such as Circulation, Circulation Research and Hypertension. Stepp has also provided extensive review service to several NIH study sections, including serving as chair of the Vascular Cell and Molecular Biology Grant Review Committee from 2015-17. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988 from the University of South Carolina and his doctoral degree in physiology from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1993. From 1993-96 he was a senior research fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle. He came to MCG in 2001 from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he was a research assistant professor.

photo of Lawrence C. Layman, MD

Lawrence C. Layman, MD

  • Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, and Physiology
  • Chief, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Section of Reproductive Endocrinology, Infertility, & Genetics
  • Robert B. Greenblatt, MD Distinguished Chair in Endocrinology
  • Co-director, MD, PhD Program, University System of Georgia
  • Office: CA-2006


Dr. Lawrence C. Layman graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, completed residency in Ob/Gyn at the University of Louisville and a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrine and Genetics at the Medical College of Georgia. He is board certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology; Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility; Clinical Genetics; and Clinical Molecular Genetics. He serves on the Reproductive Endocrine Division of the American Board of Ob/Gyn. Dr. Layman actively sees patients and investigates genetic aspects of puberty and reproduction and has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1997. Research contributions include the identification of human mutations in patients with pubertal disorders and infertility including the GNRHR, FSHB, CHD7, WDR11, and ESR1 genes and their associated phenotypes. He is also actively involved in student training at both undergraduate and graduate levels and he serves on the Reproductive Endocrine Division of the American Board of Ob/Gyn.
photo of Nevin A. Lambert, PhD

Nevin A. Lambert, PhD

  • Regents’ Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Special Advisor, MD, PhD Program, University Systems of Georgia
  • Office: CB-3522


Dr. Nevin Lambert received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology with a focus in synaptic electrophysiology from Kent State University in 1991. He completed postdoctoral training at Duke University, and joined the faculty of the Medical College of Georgia in 1996, where he is currently Regents’ Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology. He has mentored multiple undergraduate and M.D., Ph.D. and Ph.D. graduate students in his laboratory. He has served on the M.D., Ph.D. Admissions Committee since 2000, and as Director or Co-Director of the Program from 2010-2015. His research focuses on G protein-coupled receptor signaling complexes and regulation of G protein signaling in CNS neurons and other cells, and is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

photo of Kathryn Bollinger, MD, PhD

Kathryn Bollinger, MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
  • Office: BA-2727


Dr. Kathryn Bollinger received an MD/PhD degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin. She completed residency training in ophthalmology followed by a fellowship in glaucoma at the Cleveland Clinic, Cole Eye Institute.  Dr. Bollinger is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and serves as a staff ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist within the Augusta University Department of Ophthalmology. Her research focuses on development of novel neuroprotective treatments for glaucoma, and her laboratory is funded by the National Eye Institute. She is a recipient of the Alcon/ARVO Young Clinician Scientist Award, an American Glaucoma Society Mid Career Clinician Scientist Award, and a Medical College of Georgia Exemplary Teaching Award for Graduate Medical Education. She has mentored numerous medical students and residents in the laboratory and clinic. She serves as a Patient Education Ambassador for the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
photo of Darren D. Browning, PhD

Darren D. Browning, PhD

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Member, Augusta University Cancer Center
  • Director, Biochemistry and Cancer Biology Graduate Program
  • Office: CN-1164


Dr. Darren Browning earned his PhD in Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Toronto in Canada in 1995 and carried out post-doctoral training in the Department of Immunology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. He joined the research faculty in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1999, moving to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Medical College of Georgia in 2001. Dr. Browning’s laboratory, funded by the Arthritis Foundation, Georgia Cancer Coalition, American Cancer Society, and currently the NIH, has a long-standing focus on cyclic-GMP signaling with current studies exploring the therapeutic effects of activating cGMP signaling in the colon mucosa; in particular, that phosphodiesterase inhibitors increase cGMP levels in the colon mucosa, and that this is chemopreventative for colon cancer, and is therapeutic for ulcerative colitis and constipation. Dr. Browning interacts regularly with clinical faculty in the Digestive Health Center at Augusta University, and with pharmaceutical companies to further the long-term goal of understanding the signaling mechanisms and translational potential to benefit human patients. He is actively engaged in education and teaches biochemistry to 1st year Medical students.
photo of Askiel Bruno, MD

Askiel Bruno, MD

  • Professor, Neurology
  • Office: BI-3076


Dr. Bruno graduated with a Master's of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of California in Los Angeles. He received his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine, and completed an Adult Neurology Residency program at the West Los Angeles VA Hospital and UCLA. He did a Stroke Fellowship at the University of Iowa. Dr. Bruno provides clinical service primarily for in-patients with acute stroke. His research is focused on clinical stroke, including acute interventions and preventions. His latest National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke funding is for leading a clinical efficacy trial of hyperglycemia management during acute ischemic stroke.
photo of Leslie Petch Lee, PhD

Leslie Petch Lee, PhD

  • Associate Dean for Campus Integration and Academic Enhancement
  • Director of Phase 1 and 2 Curriculum, AU/UGA Medical Partnership
  • Office: Winnie Davis Hall 106


Dr. Lee received her PhD in Pharmacology and carried out postdoctoral training in Cell Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). During her graduate and postdoctoral training, she studied growth factors and cell adhesion initiated signaling pathways involved in the regulation of cell growth and proliferation. Following postdoctoral training, Dr. Lee was appointed Associate Director of the Molecular Virology Core facility of UNC-CH's Center for AIDS Research. In this capacity Dr. Lee contributed to numerous national and international basic and clinical studies on HIV drug resistance and response to therapy. Dr. Lee joined the Provost's Office at the University of Georgia in 2005, was appointed Phase 1/2 Curriculum Coordinator for the Medical Partnership in 2008, and became Assistant Dean for Curriculum in 2010. In her current role as Associate Dean, Dr. Lee works with colleagues at MCG and UGA to promote clinical and basic science research opportunities at UGA for MCG students from all campuses, and to promote and develop existing and new dual degree programs. She also provides administrative oversight for the Medical Scholars Program at the Partnership and serves as the point of contact for dual degree programs that work with UGA degrees. Dr. Lee has an adjunct appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MCG, and has represented the Medical Partnership on the Medical College of Georgia Instructional Technology Advisory Committee, the Phase 1/2 Curriculum Committee, the Curriculum Oversight Committee, and the Admissions Committee.
photo of Xin-Yun Lu, MD, PhD

Xin-Yun Lu, MD, PhD

  • GRA Eminent Scholar Chair in Translational Neuroscience
  • Office: CA-3006


Dr. Lu graduated from Binzhou Medical College in 1987. She received a master’s degree in biochemistry from Guangdong Medical College in 1990 and her PhD in pharmacology from Washington State University in 1998. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan, and joined the faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 2003, being promoted to associate professor in 2009 and becoming a full professor in 2013. In 2017, she was recruited to the Medical College of Georgia as the GRA Eminent Scholar Chair in translational neuroscience. Dr. Lu’s research aims to understand the molecular link between metabolic disturbances and neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Her laboratory is particularly interested in adipocyte-derived hormones (ie, adipokines), determining how adipokines signal to target neurons in the brain, modulate neural plasticity, and contribute to emotional control and cognitive regulation. Her research has revealed new insights into the role of adipose tissue-brain crosstalk in the pathogenesis and treatment of depression and PTSD.vvv
photo of Brian J. Miller, MD, PhD, MPH

Brian J. Miller, MD, PhD, MPH

  • Associate professor of Psychiatry and Health Behavior
  • Office: EG-3014


Dr. Brian Miller earned his BS in mathematics from Vanderbilt University, a combined MD/MPH degree from  The Ohio State University, and a PhD in psychiatric epidemiology from the University of Oulu, Finland. He  completed his general psychiatry residency and fellowship in psychotic disorders at Medical College of Georgia, where he served as chief resident. He joined the faculty in 2010. Dr. Miller's laboratory, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, Stanley Medical Research Institute, and National Association for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), has a focus on inflammation/cytokines as a potential biomarker and therapeutic target in schizophrenia. He has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Outstanding Young Clinical Science Faculty Award from Medical College of Georgia, the American Psychiatric Association Kempf Fund Award for Research Development in Psychobiological Psychiatry, and an Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In addition to his research, Dr. Miller leads the general psychiatry journal club and clinical case conference, and serves as a PGY-4 outpatient clinical supervisor.
photo of Mumtaz V. Rojiani, PhD

Mumtaz V. Rojiani, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Medicine (Oncology) & Pathology
  • Office: CN-3112


Dr. Rojiani received her PhD from the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at UMDNJ (now Rutgers University), Newark NJ. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at the British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver BC and University of Florida in multiple areas of cancer biology.  During her tenure at USF and at MCG-AU Dr. Rojiani has focused her research on the tumor microenvironment and matrix biology. More specifically, she is investigating the MMP-independent functions TIMP-1 in lung adenocarcinoma. Dr. Rojiani is also a coinvestigator on a grant investigating Hypoxia and Src Signaling in prostate cancer metastasis.  She has mentored undergraduate, graduate and medical students as well as postdoctoral fellows. She has served on MCG’s medical student admissions Task Force and is presently coordinating the Georgia Cancer Center’s introductory program ‘Introduction to Oncologic Pathology’.
photo of Brian Stansfield, MD

Brian Stansfield, MD

  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
  • Office: CB-3212A
Dr. Brian Stansfield graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 2004 and completed his residency in general  pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Georgia. He went on to Indiana University to complete a fellowship in neonatal/perinatal medicine and a post-doctoral research fellowship through the NIH-sponsored Pediatric Scientist Development Program. He joined the section of neonatology at the Children's Hospital of Georgia in 2013 with a joint appointment in the Vascular Biology Center. Dr. Stansfield's laboratory, funded by the Department of Defense and American Heart Association, focuses on cardiovascular manifestations and aberrant angiogenesis related to inherited mutations in the p21 Raspathway. Dr. Stansfield is also interested in the effect of early life growth trajectories on future cardiovascular risk and has several ongoing collaborations with scientists in the Georgia Prevention Institute to study the relationship between fetal growth restriction and visceral adiposity in later life. He is also actively involved in the training of clinician-scientists through the neonatal-perinatal medicine fellowship at Augusta University - Medical College of Georgia and serves as a thesis mentor for graduate PhD, MD, and undergraduate students.
photo of Jennifer C. Sullivan, PhD

Jennifer C. Sullivan, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Physiology
  • Office: CB-2204
Dr. Jennifer Sullivan received her PhD in cardiovascular pharmacology from Albany Medical College in 1999 before coming to the Medical College of Georgia for her post-doctoral training in the Vascular Biology Center.  She joined the Medical College of Georgia faculty in the Department of Pharmacology in 2004 and the Department of Physiology in 2014.  Dr. Sullivan’s laboratory, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association, seeks to address gaps in our knowledge regarding the mechanisms controlling blood pressure in males vs. females.  Hypertension affects ~33% of adults in the U.S. and uncontrolled hypertension increases the risk of kidney disease, stroke, heart disease, aneurysm and peripheral artery disease. Recent studies in her laboratory are directed toward determining sex differences in blood pressure control with respect to three major pathways known to regulate cardiovascular health: the nitric oxide pathway and oxidative stress, the renin-angiotensin system, and inflammation. Notably, Dr. Sullivan is committed to service to the scientific community and currently serves multiple leadership roles for American Heart Association and the American Physiological Society. She is also actively involved in graduate and medical education and serves as thesis mentor for PhD students and Medical Scholars.
photo of Stuart A. Thompson, PhD

Stuart A. Thompson, PhD

  • Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease
  • Office: CB-2607


Dr. Stuart A. Thompson received his PhD in Microbiology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1992, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University. He joined the faculty in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University, subsequently moving to the Medical College of Georgia in 1999. Dr. Thompson currently funded through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases studies the gastrointestinal bacterial pathogens Campylobacter jejuni and Helicobacter pylori, specifically, gene regulation events that contribute to the pathogenesis of these organisms, including biofilm formation, motility, oxidative stress resistance, and interactions with host epithelial cells. He is actively involved in student training at the undergraduate, graduate PhD and MD, PhD. levels and has also served on multiple research review boards, including for the National Institutes of Health, US Department of Defense, US Department of Agriculture, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, UK Wellcome Trust, and British Medical Research Council.
photo of Neal L. Weintraub, MD

Neal L. Weintraub, MD

  • Professor of Medicine, Section of Cardiology
  • GRA Kupperman Eminent Scholar in Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Interim Chief, Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiology
  • Associate Director of the Vascular Biology Center
  • Office: CB-3330


Dr. Neal L. Weintraub graduated from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1984.  He completed clinical training in Internal Medicine at Emory University and the University of Illinois and undertook a combined research/clinical Cardiovascular Fellowship at St. Louis University from 1991-1995.  He joined the faculty at the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1995, rising to the rank of Professor of Medicine in 2005 and serving as Interim Division Director of Cardiovascular Diseases from 2003-2005.  In 2006, he was recruited to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine as the Stonehill Professor of Medicine and Director, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases.  In 2013, Dr. Weintraub was recruited to Medical College of Georgia. Dr. Weintraub’s laboratory, funded by NIH since 1997, is focused on vascular biology with emphasis on oxidative stress, inflammation, and obesity.  In particular, his work has advanced the understanding of the role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) disease and mechanisms of adipose tissue dysfunction in obesity.  As a clinical cardiovascular physician, Dr. Weintraub treats patients with a variety of cardiovascular disorders and has been ranked among the Best Doctors in America for many years.  He also conducts clinical research in stem cell therapy, heart failure, and remote cardioprotection.  Dr. Weintraub is Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Cardioception, LLC., a biotech company established in 2010 that is utilizing the skin’s natural protective functions to develop innovative therapies for limiting heart damage in the setting of a heart attack. 
photo of Elinor Mannon, BA

Elinor Mannon, BA

  • Student member, MD/PhD Program, University System of Georgia
Elinor is a 6th year MD/PhD student in the University System of Georgia’s MD/PhD program. She graduated from Wellesley College in 2016 with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Biological Sciences. She is currently a fourth-year graduate student in Dr. Paul O’Connor’s lab in the Department of Physiology, where her research focuses on understanding the immunologic and metabolic effects of sodium bicarbonate therapy, as well as elucidating the signaling mechanism for the splenic cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway (CAIP). She has presented first-author abstracts related to her work at institutional, national, and international meetings, and has a first-author review highlighting the current controversy in the field of the CAIP, along with several other co-authored publications. In addition to serving as a member of the MD/PhD Admissions Committee, Elinor serves as a Co-Chair for the American Physician Scientists Association’s Policy Committee and as President of the Medical College of Georgia Honor Council. In her spare time, Elinor enjoys running, cooking shows, and all things coffee.
photo of Rebekah Robinson, BS

Rebekah Robinson, BS

  • Student member, MD/PhD Program, University System of Georgia
Rebekah is a 6th year MD/PhD student in the University System of Georgia’s MD/PhD program.  She graduated from Armstrong State University (now the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern University) in 2016 with degrees in Biology and Biochemistry.  She is currently a fourth year graduate student in the Shruti Sharma lab in the Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine at Augusta University, and her research is focused on the role of interleukin 6 (IL-6) cytokine signaling in renal cell carcinoma.  She has co-authored five publications and presented her work at several local, regional, and national conferences.  In her spare time, Rebekah enjoys cooking and spending time outdoors.