Our Team

The PBRN Resource Center provides nfrastructure development, training, research development and consultation to investigators and PBRN members. 


Picture Polly Noel

Polly Noel, PhD - Director of the Center for Practice-Based Research Networks is also an Associate Professor/Research in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Noel is a clinical health psychologist with over 20 years of experience as a health services researcher. Her research has focused primarily on evaluating and improving quality of chronic illness care, especially for individuals with chronic conditions that are under-recognized or sub-optimally managed in the primary care setting. Dr. Noel is the Co-Director of the Senior Health Alliance for Research (SHARe) a PBRN with a geriatric health focus. 

Team Members

Picture of Walter L. Calmbach, M.D., MPH

Walter L. Calmbach, M.D., MPH is a professor in the Dept. of Family & Community Medicine at UTHSCSA. He is the founder and director of the South Texas Ambulatory Research Network (STARNet), and is actively involved in local and national research projects with this research network. He currently serves as chair of the steering cmte of the Federation of Practice Based Research Networks, a national organization representing PBRN's around the country. Dr. Calmbach also directs the Primary Care Research Methods & Statistics Conference, a meeting funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) aimed at presenting new and emerging methods of primary care research. He is board certified in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine, and his primary clinical interest is in primary care sports medicine. His primary research interests include physical activity promotion and methods related to practice-based research networks.

Dr. Robert Ferrer

Robert Ferrer, MD, MPH  serves as the  Director of the Community Engagement Function within the Institute for the Integration of Medicine and Science.  Dr. Ferrer  is Professor and Deputy Chair for Research in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He has experience in health services research related to primary care quality improvement and care redesign.  In 2002, he was the recipient of a Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Since 2005, he has co-directed a practice-based research network that includes six community health centers.  He has also worked on the evaluation team for the American Academy of Family Physician’s National Demonstration Project on patient-centered medical homes.  He is currently on the leadership team for two local PCMH implementation projects.

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Rahma Mungia, BDS, MSc, DDPHRCS is co-director of the South Texas Oral Health Network, as well as Clinical Coordinator for the South Central Area Health Education Center and Associate Professor/Research at the UT Health SA Department of Periodontics. She oversees all STOHN research and infrastructure activities. Her primary interest is in dental public health, especially tobacco cessation. She has also completed research on the effects of lead exposure in young children. 


Elisabeth de la Rosa, MS - Community Engagement Coordinator serves as the point of contact for the IIMS Community Engagement Team. She works with the Community Engagement Team leaders to develop and implement programs that facilitate the continuation and formation of community and academic research partnerships. For almost 15 years, she has coordinated different projects and research studies within the UT System. She has been a part of the IIMS Community Engagement Team since 2009 and has worked alongside various partners to help develop, implement, and evaluate various projects that address community health concerns including diabetes, environmental health, teen pregnancy, and suicide. Ms. De la Rosa received her Masters of Science in Sociology from UTSA in 2006. She believes that it is important to work shoulder-to-shoulder with community members on projects that address health concerns that matter to them.

Picture Melanie Taverna, RDH, MS

Melanie Taverna, RDH, MS is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Graduate Programs for UTHSCSA Dental Hygiene. Ms. Taverna is the Co-Director of the South Texas Oral Health Network (STOHN) and is a member of the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network. She has worked in the dental field since 1984, as an office manager and dental hygienist. Her interests include geriatric oral health. She hopes to increase inter-department collaboration in education and research to improve oral health for senior populations.

Picture Inéz I. Cruz, PhD, LMSW

Inéz I. Cruz, PhD, LMSW is the Director of the Residency Research Network (RRNet), a practice based research network composed of family medicine residency programs that began a collaboration in 1997. She is also the Director of Research Operations and faculty member for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. Dr. Cruz uses qualitative research methods to focus on the meaning of living with chronic illnesses. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, and a Doctorate in Social Work, with an emphasis in Public Health from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Currently her work centers on Quality Improvement and administration of a Texas 1115 Healthcare Transformation waiver/Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program.

Picture Donna Roybal, MD

Donna Roybal, MD is the Director of the South Texas Psychiatric Network and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatr Psychiatry at UT Health San Antonio. In addition, she is the Director of the Child & Adolescent At Risk Evaluation for Bipolar Disorder (CAARE-BD) Program. Dr. Roybal completed her residency and fellowship training at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at the Stanford University School of Medicine where she evaluated and treated numerous complex medical-psychiatric illnesses with psychotherapy, medication and behavioral interventions. She also specializes in the neuroimaging and research of children and adolescents with and at-risk for bipolar disorder.