Maryrose Franko, PhD

Executive Director

maryrose [at] healthra [dot] org

Dr. Maryrose Franko is Executive Director of the Health Research Alliance. Working closely with the organization’s board, she sets its strategic priorities, advances its members’ objectives through key programs, and develops tools for the nonprofit biomedical community.

Dr. Franko’s background includes over 20 years of program management at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), including strategic planning as well as creating, implementing, and managing over a dozen programs and initiatives. These include graduate, medical student and postdoctoral research fellowships, and an innovative and groundbreaking joint initiative with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Franko also ran both the graduate and undergraduate programs at HHMI’s state-of-the-art research facility, Janelia Research Campus, and created professional development opportunities for Janelia’s postdocs. Dr. Franko’s collaboration with the Burroughs Wellcome fund to develop a residential Lab Leadership and Management course, led to the creation of Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty, and the companion guide, Training Scientists to Make the Right Moves, which were joint efforts of HHMI and Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Dr. Franko received her PhD in molecular genetics from University of Southern California and did a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health before joining HHMI. During her time at HHMI, Franko was a founding board member of HRA, serving from 1995 to 2012. While a member of HRA, she initiated and led the Early Career Scientist Working group which is now the Research Workforce and Early Career Development working group. She serves on many boards, including the Center for Open Science, and Northern Virginia’s new interactive science museum – the Children’s Science Center.

Jenna Hicks, PhD

Assistant Director

jenna [at] healthra [dot] org

Dr. Jenna Hicks is HRA’s Assistant Director. Dr. Hicks joined the Health Research Alliance in February 2023 as the Project Lead of the Inclusive Grantmaking Initiative, and was promoted to Assistant Director in September 2023. Dr. Hicks comes to the HRA with a background in research (both biomedical and education research), program development, and evaluation. Prior to joining the HRA, Dr. Hicks worked in graduate education administration at the University of Minnesota, where she developed, implemented, and evaluated professional development programming for biomedical graduate students and postdocs. Dr. Hicks received her PhD in biomedical sciences from the University of California, San Diego, and completed postdoctoral training in biology education research at the University of Minnesota.

Board of Directors

The Health Research Alliance is governed by a Board of Directors composed of representatives from HRA member organizations.

Sindy Escobar-Alvarez, PhD, Chair
Program Director for Medical Research
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Kristen Mueller, PhD, Vice Chair
VP, Autoimmune Arthritis Research
Arthritis Foundation

Heather Snyder, PhD, Past-Chair
Vice President of Medical and Scientific Operations
Alzheimer’s Association

Anne Hultgren, PhD, Treasurer
Executive Director
Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation

Kara Coleman, PhD, Secretary
Project Director, Pew Programs in the Biomedical Sciences
The Pew Charitable Trusts

Lara Bethke, PhD
Chief Science Officer
The Medical Foundation, a division of Health Resources in Action

Diane Bovenkamp, PhD
Vice President, Scientific Affairs
BrightFocus Foundation

Heather Calderone, PhD
Director, Research and grants
American Brain Tumor Association

Stacy Cloud
Donaghue Foundation

Glenn Dillon
Vice President of Operations
American Heart Association

Brent Dolezalek
Vice President of Operations
James S. McDonnell Foundation

Amy Laster, PhD
Vice President, Science & Awards Program
Foundation Fighting Blindness

Kelly Chavez Rose, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
American Society of Hematology

Krissa Smith, PhD
Vice President, Mission Strategy and Operations
Susan G. Komen

Maryrose Franko, PhD
Executive Director
Health Research Alliance