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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIAMS Names Colbert, Lester to Leadership Positions

Dr. Robert A. Colbert

Dr. Robert A. Colbert

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has appointed Dr. Robert A. Colbert as director of the institute’s Clinical Research Program. Colbert, who joined NIAMS in 2008, had served as deputy clinical director since 2012 and as acting clinical director since June 2018.

Prior to coming to NIH, he was a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati and director of the division of rheumatology at the children’s hospital. He was also associate director of the University of Cincinnati’s Physician-Scientist (M.D./Ph.D.) Training Program from 1998 to 2008.  

He trained in clinical and postdoctoral research in rheumatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. Colbert earned his M.D. and Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and trained in pediatrics at Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, N.Y.

Dr. Gayle Lester

Dr. Gayle Lester

NIAMS also appointed Dr. Gayle Lester as director of the Division of Extramural Research. She had held the position in an acting role since the reorganization of the institute’s extramural program in April 2018. She assumed the director position in March and will continue to oversee both DER and the Office of Extramural Operations.

Lester joined NIAMS in January 2001. Prior to her arrival at NIH, she was a professor in the department of orthopaedics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests included ligament healing, hormonal control of bone metabolism, measurement and regulation of bone mineral density, biochemical markers of bone turnover and articular cartilage biochemistry.

In addition to her management of grants at NIAMS, she continues to serve as project officer for the Osteoarthritis Initiative, a group of contracts with the institute that support a longitudinal cohort study focused on knee osteoarthritis and the discovery of biomarkers funded through a public-private partnership. 

Lester received a doctorate in endocrine pharmacology from the Medical College of Virginia. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at UNC, she joined the faculty.

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