Santa J. Tumminia, Ph.D., was appointed Deputy Director of the National Eye Institute (NEI) on November 12.
“Dr. Tumminia brings to the deputy post a deep understanding of vision research and a wealth of experience managing science programs at the national level. The NEI has already benefitted greatly from her steadfast dedication to supporting the highest quality science,” said NEI Director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D.
Her appointment follows a national search conducted by an NIH committee chaired by George Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Tumminia earned her Ph.D. in biology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. In 1991 she joined the NEI as a senior staff fellow in the Laboratory of Mechanisms of Ocular Diseases. She then spent five years with the Foundation Fighting Blindness, the largest private funding source for retinal degeneration research, where she oversaw a $12 million vision research grant portfolio.
After returning to the NIH in 2003, she served as a special assistant to the NEI director and was promoted in 2013 to associate director for science strategic initiatives and programs. She provides ongoing oversight of key NEI biomedical initiatives such as eyeGENE®, a pioneering public private genomic medicine initiative that ties advances in ophthalmic disease gene identification and disease phenotype to clinical care.
A long-time mentor to NIH staff in administrative, scientific and clinical careers, Tumminia was honored with an NIH Director’s Award for mentorship in 2018. She also served on numerous trans-NIH committees, including the NIH-wide Strategic Plan Working Group.