2023 Award Winners

Junior Award: Jennifer Strafford Stevens, PhD

Dr. Jennifer Strafford Stevens, PhD, has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences since 2018. She is also co-Director of the Grady Trauma Project, which is one of the largest research studies on civilian trauma and PTSD in the United States, and she is Director of the Neuroimaging Core for the Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation at the Atlanta Veterans' Affairs (VA) Health Care Center.

Dr. Stevens' groundbreaking work focuses on identifying risk biomarkers for PTSD following acute traumatic events, particularly in the context of civilian trauma and women's risk for PTSD. Using structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a longitudinal design post-trauma, Dr. Stevens has identified several fMRI-based neural phenotypes ("biotypes") that strongly predict future vulnerability or resilience to a transdiagnostic profile of PTSD-related symptoms. This work, which was recently published in the American Journal of Psychiatry has been hailed as a "landmark" study by the Leibniz Institute for Resilience and was highlighted in the National Institute of Mental Health Progress Report for 2021 and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Newsletter. Dr. Stevens routinely publishes her findings in high-impact journals and has secured multiple NIMH grants. She has quickly become a leader at Emory and internationally in advancing our brain-based understanding of trauma-related psychopathology.

Senior Award: Guido Silvestri, MD

Dr. Guido Silvestri, MD, is a renowned immunologist who has worked on the cure for HIV using primate models. He is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Comparative Pathology and Professor and Vice-Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Silvestri is an extremely accomplished leader in HIV research with a long track record of highly cited, high-impact work. His research focuses on studies of AIDS pathogenesis, prevention, and therapy, mostly using non-human primate models of SIV and SHIV infection. While antiretroviral treatments can suppress HIV replication, the virus can still find life-long refuge in reservoirs of infected cells. Dr. Silvestri's laboratory has developed an approach for overcoming these obstacles. By reactivating the viral reservoir (shock), the stage is set via immunotherapeutic methods to eliminate (kill) and, thus, cure HIV. As explained in a commentary to their Nature article, the "shock and kill" strategy developed by Dr. Guido's team offers "the most robust and reproducible disruptions of viral latency reported so far."

Dr. Silvestri's accomplishments as a world-class scientist are reflected in his funding accomplishments. One of Dr. Silvestri's proposals recently received the Martin Delaney Colaboratories Award, the flagship NIH program for multidisciplinary approaches to HIV cure research. The score on this grant was so impressive that Dr. Silvestri received the 1% Award from The School of Medicine. In addition to his activities as a scientist, Dr. Silvestri is the Chair of a large department, where he maintains substantial administrative responsibilities. He also finds time to host a weekly "Conversations on Racism Discussion Group," which has profoundly impacted his colleagues. Dr. Silvestri's accomplishments as a scientist have raised the possibility of a cure for HIV. His role as a leader promise to provide a foundation for the success of others in our community and beyond.