Dr. Gayle Lester is director of the Division of Extramural Research (DER). Dr. Lester held the position in an acting role following the reorganization of the NIAMS extramural program in April 2018. She assumed the director position in March 2020 and oversees both DER and the Office of Extramural Operations (OEO).

In addition to her programmatic management of grants, Dr. Lester serves as the project officer for the public-private partnership Osteoarthritis Initiative, a group of NIAMS contracts that supports a longitudinal cohort study on knee osteoarthritis and the discovery of biomarkers. She led NIAMS’ efforts focused on bone quality and biomarkers for osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, and continues to serve as project director for the Foundation for NIH Biomarker Consortium Bone Quality Project. Dr. Lester has received numerous NIH Director’s Awards for her work related to the Osteoarthritis Initiative, diagnostic imaging and biomarker development.

Dr. Lester joined the NIAMS in January 2001. Prior to her arrival at the NIH, she was a professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests included ligament healing, hormonal control of bone metabolism, measurement and regulation of bone mineral density, biochemical markers of bone turnover and articular cartilage biochemistry. She received a Kappa Delta Award for Excellence in Orthopaedic Research in 2000 for her work with Dr. Laurence Dahners on ligament growth and development. She has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications and several book chapters from this segment of her career.


Mary Baldwin College
B.A., Chemistry

Medical College of Virginia
Ph.D., Pharmacology


Health Science Administrator, NIAMS, NIH, Bethesda, MD

Research Professor, Departments of Orthopaedics and Pharmacology,
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Last Updated: March 2020