About NIA

NACA meeting: January 27-28, 2009

Staff Changes

Dr. Marie A. Bernard, a noted geriatrician and educator from the University of Oklahoma, was named Deputy Director of the NIA, effective October 12, 2008.  Dr. Bernard brings exceptional skills and training as a physician, educator, administrator and investigator to the position at NIA, where she will take a major leadership role in directing the nation’s research program on aging.   

Dr. Bernard comes to NIA with a broad background in geriatrics and research. Prior to her appointment at NIA, she was the Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Geriatric Medicine and professor and chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.  She also held an appointment as the associate chief of staff for Geriatrics and Extended Care at the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center.  She is board-certified in internal medicine and geriatric medicine.

She recently served as president of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and as president and chair of the board of the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs.  Dr. Bernard also has participated in a wide range of committees and activities, from journal editorship to board service in a number of professional medical and aging organizations.

Her own research interests include nutrition and function in aging populations, with particular emphasis on ethnic minorities.  She has written numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on geriatric care, nutrition, medication issues and health problems among minorities.

As a member of NIA’s National Advisory Council on Aging from 2002–2005, Dr. Bernard became familiar with the Institute’s research and grant process from an administrative point of view.

A cum laude graduate of Bryn Mawr College with honors in chemistry, Dr. Bernard received her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She trained in internal medicine at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, where she also served as chief resident. She received additional training through the American Association of Medical Colleges Health Services Research Institute, the Geriatric Education Center of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School Executive Development program.

Dr. Alfonso R. Latoni has joined the Scientific Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, as Deputy Chief.  He returns to the NIA after serving in the Center for Scientific Review as a Scientific Review Officer first in the Health of the Population Integrated Review Group and later in the Biobehavioral and Behavioral Processes Integrated Review Group.  He was responsible for the Adult Psychopathology and Disorders of Aging Study Section, as well as for the Special Emphasis Panel on Alzheimer’s Disease Pilot Clinical Trials.  During his previous tenure at NIA he served as Scientific Review Administrator of the Behavior and Social Science of Aging Review Committee (NIA-S).  Prior to joining the NIH, Dr. Latoni was Director of the Minority Affairs Program of the American Sociological Association (ASA), and Program Director of ASA’s Minority Fellowship Program, a T32 institutional grant supported by the NIMH.  Previously, he was Associate Professor of Sociology and Applied Social Research at the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR), Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez, Departmento de Ciencias Sociales y Centro de Investigación Social Aplicada.  Dr. Latoni’s research interests center on the intersection of social and economic health inequalities among underrepresented populations.  His research has focused on the underclass, the elderly, and the homeless.  While at UPR, he was responsible for the formation and curricular development of courses in medical sociology, sociology of development, social economy and social policy, as well as contemporary sociological theory and the history of sociological thought.  Dr. Latoni received his BA in Sociology and Political Science from the University of Puerto Rico, his MA in Latin American Studies (social and economic development) from Georgetown University, and his PhD in Social Economy and Social Policy (Sociology) from Boston College.

Ms. Charlene Liggins joined the NIA Office of Planning, Analysis, & Evaluation team as a Senior Scientific Program Analyst.  She will lead the Portfolio Analysis Team in the office as well as provide support to a number of special projects.  Charlene began her federal career as a Presidential Management Fellow with the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  She then moved to the DHHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) where she led the development of research projects related to disability, aging, and long-term care policy.  Her areas of emphasis included LTC workforce development, family caregiving, prevention of elder abuse, and medical malpractice.  While working in ASPE, she completed a six-month detail at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France, where she assisted Health Directorate staff in collecting, analyzing, and describing recent disability trends among older adults residing in OECD-member nations.  In 2006, Charlene returned to NIH to serve as a Public Health Advisor in the NCI Office of Science Planning and Assessment.  She coordinated the NCI Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Implementation Work Group in developing a strategic plan to improve the survival rate of adolescents and young adults with cancer.  Her responsibilities also included representing NCI as an active member of the International Cancer Research Partnership where she worked with her counterpoints in Canada and the UK to assess and facilitate opportunities to coordinate research and leverage resources.  Charlene holds a Master of Public Health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, a Master of Public Administration from the University of South Carolina, and a BA in Biology from Washington University in Saint Louis.