Elena Silva Casey
Professor and Chair, Department of Biology, Georgetown University
1996 B.S. and Ph.D. in Biology, Stanford University, California
1999 Postdoctoral Fellow, National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK
2001 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley, CA
Fellowships and Grants
1990-1993 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, National Research Council
1996-1999 Hitchings-Elion Postdoctoral Fellowship, Burroughs-Wellcome Foundation
2002 American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant
2005 NIH/NINDS R01
2010 NIN/NICHD R03
2012 NIH R15
Distinguished Alumni Scholar, Stanford University
Elena Silva is an Professor in the Department of Biology and the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at Georgetown University. She received her B.S. and Ph.D. in Biology at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the embryonic development of the Central Nervous System.
Being a professor of biology was not planned. As an undergraduate at Stanford, Professor Silva had always planned to enter the Peace Corps after graduation and in fact in her senior year, completed the application process and was given an assignment in Botswana, Africa. At that time, South Africa was exploding so she gave up this plan and found a position in a research laboratory. She had three different research jobs in three years trying to figure out what type of research she was most interested in. These experiences led her to pursue a Ph.D. and personal reasons led her back to Stanford for graduate school. Professor Silva did her graduate research at the Carnegie Institution on campus studying the response of blue-green algae to different colors of light. At the same time, she served as a teaching assistant as often as she could and went to weekly seminars on embryo development in the medical school. She had finally found two things, teaching and embryo development, that she loved and drove all of her future career decisions. In her final year of graduate school, she was offered a faculty position at two undergraduate institutions but chose to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship studying embryo development in the lab of Jim Smith at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. She was awarded a fellowship by the Wellcome Trust, which provided funding for research in London and then back in the US in another research lab. She chose to work in the lab of Richard Harland at UC Berkeley and was later offered a job at Georgetown University. As Director of Graduate Studies and Chair of the department, she was active in building the graduate program and promoting a research culture. As Vice Dean of Faculty Affairs, she works to promote equitable and inclusive hiring and admissions at Georgetown.