Message from Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones - New Director of NUCATS

Get to Know the Incoming NUCATS Leadership

NUCATS Director
Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones

NUCATS Deputy Director
Dr. Justin Starren

Hello Everyone,

On June 15, I will have the great honor of assuming the role as director of the NUCATS Institute.  Even though I am excited about my new role, I am even more excited and humbled to be working with such an accomplished institute that has effectively transformed the way Northwestern University does clinical and translational research.   With this incredibly strong foundation, I look forward to working on the next chapter of NUCATS. 

I cannot talk about the accomplishments of NUCATS without acknowledging the founding director, Dr. Philip Greenland.  It was his vision and leadership that brought NUCATS into being and revolutionized the research and collaborative infrastructure at Northwestern.  I congratulate Dr. Greenland on his amazing, enduring work, and wish him the best of luck in his continued research on cardiovascular disease.

I would also like to thank Dr. William Lowe for his service to NUCATS as part of the founding team and as deputy director.  He will continue to be a strong asset to Northwestern with his diabetes research at the Center for Genetic Medicine and as Vice Dean of Academic Affairs.

With the leadership transition, I am pleased to announce the next deputy director of NUCATS – Dr. Justin Starren.  In just a short time, Dr. Starren has made his mark as the director of the Northwestern University Biomedical Informatics Center (NUBIC) at NUCATS, strengthening the center as a leader in bioinformatics medical research and development.  Dr. Starren has also been involved with the Clinical and Translational Award (CTSA) community since 2007, so his familiarity and expertise is greatly welcomed and highly valued.  With his talent and strong vision, NUCATS is lucky to have him co-piloting the ship.

And now, most importantly, what does the future look like for NUCATS?  I recognize that this is a time of transition and uncertainty, not just for NUCATS, but for the whole CTSA Consortium.  National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a new NIH division, is now regulating the CTSA grant.  Priorities and areas of focuses have changed and will continue to evolve.  And, as you know, NUCATS is up for grant renewal this year.  To be sure, there is uncertainty.

But I am optimistic and enthusiastic.  The mission of the CTSA -- to improve human health -- remains strong , and this will remain NUCATS’ mission.  NUCATS is centered around the CTSA grant, but it is clear that NUCATS is also much more than that.  NUCATS has become an integral part of research infrastructure at Northwestern with full support from all of our Northwestern Medicine partners (the university, Feinberg School of Medicine, and our clinical affiliates).  In order for Northwestern Medicine to be a leading-edge research and health care enterprise – a place desirable for both investigators and patients to come to – it needs NUCATS.

NUCATS has such a great story to tell.  At its simplest, it is a story about improving human health in this country by improving our approaches and capabilities in clinical and translational research.  As the new director, my pledge is to continue and enhance that story. 

To close, I would ask everyone to refer to the mission and vision of NUCATS:

Mission: Accelerate the translation of research discoveries to improve human health


  • Catalyze health research collaborations
  • Engage the community as equitable partners
  • Train and support new translational investigators and research teams
  • Provide infrastructure that promotes innovative translational research and entrepreneurship
  • Create a unified culture, committed to results

With this in mind, a vibrant future of clinical and translational research at Northwestern is assured.  Thank you and I can’t wait to get to work!


Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones

About Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD ScM FACC FAHA

Donald Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Lloyd-Jones will become the director of NUCATS and the senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine on June 15, 2012. He is a Tenured Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and of Medicine; Director of the Program for Cardiovascular Risk Estimation, Communication and Prevention; and Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He is also Interim Director of the Cardiovascular Clinical Trials Unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones earned a BA from Swarthmore College, an MD degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a Master of Science degree in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. He completed internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where he served as Chief Medical Resident. He also did his cardiology training and then was on faculty at MGH and Harvard Medical School, and was a staff research associate at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Framingham Heart Study. He moved to Northwestern University in 2004.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ research interests lie in cardiovascular disease epidemiology, risk estimation, and prevention. A main focus of his research has been investigation of the lifetime risks for various cardiovascular diseases, and factors which modify those risks. Other areas of interest include CVD risk estimation using novel biomarkers, imaging of subclinical atherosclerosis, and the epidemiology of hypertension. He actively mentors junior investigators who have received numerous awards and honors.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, a member of three panels of the NHLBI’s current Clinical Guidelines for Cardiovascular Risk Reduction, and recipient of numerous teaching awards including the Patterson Award for Teacher of the Year from the Department of Medicine and the Teacher of the Year from the Division of Cardiology at Northwestern University. He is a past recipient (in 2010) of the American Heart Association Chairman’s Award for volunteer service. In 2011, he was inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).

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About Justin Starren, MD, PhD, FACMI

Dr. Justin Starren
Dr. Justin Starren

Dr. Justin Starren will become the deputy director of NUCATS on June 15, 2012.  He also recently joined Northwestern University as director of the Northwestern University Biomedical Research Center (NUBIC) at the Feinberg School of Medicine. He is also chief of the newly-formed Division of Biomedical Informatics in the Department of Preventive Medicine, and remains an adjunct associate professor of Clinical Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University.

 From 2006 to 2010 Dr. Starren was the first director of the Biomedical Informatics Research Center at Marshfield Clinic.   At Marshfield he grew the informatics research activity four-fold, and founded the Interactive Clinical Design Institute.  He also designed the informatics infrastructure for the Wisconsin Genomics Initiative.

 Dr. Starren began his informatics career at Columbia University, starting as the first doctoral student in biomedical informatics and becoming an associate professor of Clinical Biomedical Informatics.  At Columbia, he directed the technology components of the IDEATel project, an 8-year, $60 million project, to evaluate the role of home telehealth in the management of Medicare patients with diabetes.

Dr. Starren has been active in AMIA leadership throughout his career. He has been active in AMIA nearly all of his professional life, starting in 1993 as a Session Chair in the Fall Symposium.  Some in AMIA have referred him as the “money guy”, because he joined the Finance Committee in 1996, becoming Finance Committee Chair in 1998 and AMIA Treasurer from 2004-2007.  In those positions he guided AMIA in the development of a reserve fund, creation of a strategic investment policy, selection an external auditor and in dealing with Sarbanes-Oxley.  As AMIA Treasurer, he also championed the restructuring of AMIA which created the salaried President position (held first by Don Detmer and now by Ted Shortliffe).  That change has led to a significant growth in AMIA revenue, activity and span of influence. He has also served on various AMIA taskforces, most recently the Clinical Research Informatics Taskforce, which resulted in the new Clinical Research Informatics Summit meeting. In 2009 he was elected to the AMIA Board of Directors.

He has received many awards including being named one of the Top 10 IT Innovators by Healthcare Informatics Magazine. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Washington University, St. Louis; a combined medical degree and master's degree in immunogenetics from Washington University School of Medicine and Ph.D. in medical informatics at Columbia University. He is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics and has served on the Wisconsin eHealth Care Quality and Patient Safety Board.

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