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Josh Fessel, M.D., Ph.D., ATSF


Office of Translational Medicine

Contact Info

Portrait of Josh Fessel


Josh Fessel, M.D., Ph.D., ATSF, is the director of NCATS’ Office of Translational Medicine, where he monitors and helps manage the center’s clinical research tasks. He also is a principal advisor to the director and others across NCATS in finding new ways to improve therapeutics development, clinical research initiatives, and cross-discipline advances in clinical research. Previously, Fessel was the senior clinical advisor in NCATS’ Division of Clinical Innovation, where he connected basic and clinical scientists and helped build bridges between multiple collaborators to ensure that the most cutting-edge clinical science moved forward.

Before joining NCATS in December 2021, Fessel was a medical officer at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, where he oversaw a large range of projects in pulmonary vascular disease. These projects ranged from basic science to multicenter clinical trials and involved all types of research grants, as well as cooperative agreements and challenge competitions. Fessel took on further roles in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including participating in the ACTIV public-private partnership and helping lead several efforts across NIH to address post-COVID-19 conditions.

Before joining NIH in 2018, Fessel was on the faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the Departments of Medicine, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology. He ran an NIH-funded research laboratory on how the ways the body gains and uses energy affect complex disease traits. These include redox biology (the gain and loss of electrons), molecular metabolism (maintaining energy balance) and mitochondrial biology (powering cells). Fessel also is a pulmonologist and intensivist. He previously maintained an active clinical practice at the Nashville VA Medical Center, where he cared for veterans and their families in the clinic and a variety of hospital settings. He has published several book chapters and more than 80 manuscripts, mentored many scientists and clinicians at all career stages, and served in local and national leadership roles with various professional organizations.

Fessel received his Ph.D. in pharmacology and his M.D. from Vanderbilt University, where he also completed a pulmonary/critical care fellowship. Learn more about Fessel via the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID).

Research Topics

Fessel’s scientific interests include bringing together different disciplines to speed innovation in each field; fostering near-real-time exchanges between fundamental molecular and cellular knowledge/discoveries and clinical knowledge/discoveries; improving science communication; and mentoring at all levels, emphasizing justice and equity through real inclusion and diversity.