Past Mentored Research Career Development Scholars

2014 Scholars

B. Alex Foster, MD

B. Alex Foster, M.D., M.P.H., is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Inpatient Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and a member of the Research to Advance Community Health (ReACH) Center.  Dr. Foster received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego where he graduated with honors with degrees in physiology and neuroscience, as well as philosophy, subsequently working at that university as a research associate in the laboratory of Dr. Steve Wasserman on problems of innate immunity.  He completed his M.D. at Oregon Health and Science University, and he received a MPH with a focus on biostatistics and epidemiology from the same institution with a thesis focusing on disparities in Hispanic child health.  Dr. Foster completed his pediatrics residency at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City and completed two  projects while there, looking at community approaches to pediatric obesity.  His research interests are driven by the problems pediatricians encounter daily with a focus on using comparative effectiveness and positive deviance methods to discover best practices.  These interests include obesity, diagnostic ultrasound, intravenous fluids, and shared decision making.  The focus of the KL2 project is applying the concept of positive deviance to the problem of early childhood obesity in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where the rates of obesity are some of the highest in the nation.  He hopes to develop a model for community-based obesity treatment that begins early in childhood and uses existing practices in the community to provide sustainability by design. 

Lisa McGill-Vargas, MD

Lisa McGill-Vargas, M.D.,is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. McGill-Vargas earned her medical degree from Loma Linda University School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency training and subsequent fellowship in Neonatology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. As a result of her research exposure and clinical experience in caring for premature infants, she developed a profound interest in the incidence and effects of hyperglycemia in this vulnerable population. During her fellowship training, Dr. McGill-Vargas initiated her research career by studying glucose metabolism in prematurity. This led to a Marshall Klaus Perinatal Research Award for her research, studying hepatic insulin signaling and gluconeogenesis in prematurity. The focus of her KL2 project is to investigate the etiologic basis for the higher incidence of hyperglycemia in premature infants.  Specifically, she aims to study glucose regulation and hepatic gluconeogenesis at various stages of postnatal development in a premature animal model. Dr. McGill-Vargas’ long-term career goal is to become an independently funded investigator identifying ways to improve glucose control in the perinatal period, which in turn will decrease the long term consequences seen in preterm infants such as diabetes and obesity.

Nicholson, Susannah MD PictureSusannah Nicholson, M.D., M.S., is a Fellow and Clinical Instructor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma and Emergency Surgery. Dr. Nicholson graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Duke University. She then earned a Medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She completed her General Surgery residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. During her residency, she also completed a research fellowship, earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Investigation and was awarded a NIH Loan Repayment Award for her research in the role of endogenous carbon monoxide and hemoperitoneum following trauma. She completed a fellowship in Surgical Critical Care in July 2014 and is a faculty member in the Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma and Emergency Surgery. Dr. Nicholson’s research focuses on the role of the innate immune system and inflammation in trauma patients. The goal of her KL2 project is to improve our understanding of immunoinflammatory complications in trauma patients, focusing on the potential role of intracellular components released into the circulation following injury called Damage-associated molecular proteins (DAMPs). She plans to measure DAMP levels in adult and elderly trauma patients, assess changes in immune cell activation, and relate her findings to clinical outcomes. Dr. Nicholson’s overall goal is to improve patient outcomes and the management of critically ill patients following trauma.

Cynthia Mojica, PhDCynthia M Mojica, Ph.D.,is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Health Promotion Research in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Mojica is a graduate of the University of California, Davis (Bachelor of Arts and Science in Psychology and Biology) and the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health (M.P.H. and Ph.D.). She completed a post-doctoral fellowship (NIH R25 Career Development Program in Population-Based Cancer Prevention and Control) at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA and is an alumna of the W.K. Kellogg Fellowship in Health Policy Research and the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Service Research Award (NCI). Dr. Mojica has an extensive background conducting health services research in cancer prevention and control, specifically increasing cancer screening and diagnostic follow-up, with an emphasis on community and clinic-based intervention development among ethnic minority and underserved populations. She has expertise in program evaluation, developing and tailoring bilingual cancer prevention interventions, and experience working directly with communities. She is principal investigator of a cancer prevention services project from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), and has participated as a research collaborator (Co-PI and co-investigator) with colleagues on studies that have focused on developing and evaluating culturally relevant interventions and materials for Hispanic/Latino populations. Through her KL2 project, Dr. Mojica will utilize mixed methods to design a novel health-decision tool on colorectal cancer screening for Latino men. Her long-term goal is to conduct patient-centered outcomes research to help individuals make informed health care decisions.

Lora Talley Watts, Ph.D., is an Instructor in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, with joint appointments in the Department of Neurology and the Research Imaging Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  Dr. Watts earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.  Dr. Watts did her Ph.D. training in Pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio under the mentorship of George Henderson, PH.D. and was awarded a NIH F30 predoctoral training grant to study the effects of ethanol on the developing brain.  In her postdoctoral training under the mentorship of James Lechleiter, Ph.D., she showed that a purinergic agonist (2meSADP) had remarkable neuroprotective effects under various conditions in a mouse rose-bangle stroke model using optical imaging, cellular and immunohistological techniques.  She was selected as a NIH T32 postdoctoral trainee to initially support this work and was subsequently awarded a NIH F32 postdoctoral training grant to complete this project.  Dr. Watts has won numerous awards for her scientific work and has many published peer-reviewed journal articles.  Since becoming faculty, Dr. Watts has established a traumatic brain injury (TBI) research laboratory within the Research Imaging Institute to study novel neuroprotecitve agents to combat the progressive nature of neurodegeneration following  TBI.  She has received funding from the Translational Technology Resources (TTR) program from the Institute for Integration and Medicine and Science (IIMS) and the Mike Hogg Foundation to support her research.  The objective of the KL2 award will focus on the use of methylene blue and normobaric oxygen treatment following traumatic brain injury using a combination of magnetic resonance imaging, molecular and behavioral techniques.  Dr. Watts’ long-term career goal is to become an independently funded investigator and to discover novel therapeutics to combat neurodegeneration following traumatic brain injury.

2013 Scholars

Gregory J. Aune, MD, PhDGregory J. Aune, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and a member of Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute. Dr. Aune received his undergraduate education from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with separate degrees in chemistry and biology. He graduated from the MD/PhD program at the University of Texas at Houston in 2005. Through a partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center, his MD/PhD program, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Dr. Aune conducted his graduate work under the supervision of Yves Pommier, MD, PhD, director of the NCI Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology. The focus of his PhD dissertation was the molecular mechanism of cytotoxicity of the novel DNA minor groove alkylator, Ecteinascidin 743. He completed his pediatrics residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD in 2008 and subspecialty training in hematology-oncology in 2010 here at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, where he was the inaugural Greehey Fellow in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. A 22-year survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Dr. Aune is a strong advocate for raising awareness of the late effects associated with pediatric cancer therapy and his personal experiences greatly inform both his clinical work and basic research. The focus of his KL2 project is to develop a pediatric mouse model of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity through close collaboration with the San Antonio Cardiovascular Proteomics Center. With this model, he aims to identify novel biomarkers of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity and elucidate the complex mechanisms that follow both acute anthracycline myocardial damage and the pathologic processes that result in cardiac dysfunction decades later.

2012 Scholars

M. Danet Lapiz-Bluhm, PhD, RNM. Danet Lapiz-Bluhm, PhD, RN, is an Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing (SON), University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Of Asian-Hispanic descent, she originally hails from the Philippines where she finished her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Cebu State College (now Cebu Normal University, Cebu). She obtained further education and training in Biomedical Sciences (Neuroscience) as an Australian International Development Assistance Bureau merit scholar at the University of Queensland, a predoctoral trainee at the Department of Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) and an international merit scholar of the Council for Vice Chancellors and Principals of UK and University of Nottingham (England, UK) for her doctoral degree in Biomedical Sciences. Postdoctoral fellowship training was done at H. Lundbeck A/S (Denmark) and the UT Health Science Center’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (Pharmacology). She has received numerous awards for her scientific work on the effects of stress on neurobiological systems and cognition. She has presented in national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. She has been a principal investigator (PI), co-PI, or co-investigator for grants from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), TriService Nursing Research Program, Clinical and Translational Science Pilot Award from the Institute for the Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS), Nursing Advisory Council, and a Hogg Foundation Grant for Mental Health. The objective of her KL2 proposal is to transition her preclinical rodent-based stress research to a translational patient-oriented research on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her long term career goal is to become an independently funded leading investigator on the neurobiological mechanisms involved in PTSD.

Ai-Ling Lin, Ph.D.Ai-Ling Lin, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, with joint appointment in the Research Imaging Institute and the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Lin earned a Bachelor of Science in Radiological Sciences at National Yang-Ming University in Taipei, Taiwan, followed by a Ph.D. and postdoctoral work at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Lin’s expertise is in developing translational, non-invasive functional MRI (fMRI), MR spectroscopy (MRS) and positron emission tomography (PET) methods to measure quantitative metabolic and hemodynamic profile (MHP) in the brain. Her long-term goal for developing such methods is to apply them in aging and age-related neurodegenerative disorders, using them to investigate pathophysiology and as biomarkers for disease progression and treatment efficacy. Dr. Lin’s research on imaging-based MHP has won her considerable recognition, including the Young Investigator Bursary Award from the International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism and the Outstanding Poster Award from the Organization for Human Brain Mapping and Gordon Research Conference – Brain Energy Metabolism and Blood Flow. In addition to the KL2 award, Dr. Lin also receives funding from the Translational Technology Resources (TTR) Supplement Award from the Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS) and the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) for her research on cognitive aging and neurological disorders.

Edward A. Medina, M.D., Ph.D.Edward A. Medina, M.D., Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology, Division of Hematopathology, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Medina received his undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. He graduated from the Physician-Scientist (MD/PhD) Training Program at the University of California, Davis, where his thesis research focused on the mechanisms by which pro-inflammatory cytokines mediate insulin resistance in adipocytes. His research accomplishments included a number of first-author publications as well as several research awards, including a prestigious Medical Scholars Research Fellowship from the American Diabetes Association. He went on to complete residency training in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology followed by a fellowship in Hematopathology at the UT Health Science Center. While in clinical training, he maintained his productivity in cell signaling research, spear-heading a project in Dr. Michael Berton’s laboratory that sought to clarify the signaling pathways utilized by Francisella tularensis to suppress the pro-inflammatory response of macrophages. His findings were published in the Journal of Immunology. He now seeks to exploit his clinical expertise in Hematopathology to establish a basic and translational research program focused on the pathogenesis of multiple myeloma. As a KL2 scholar, he aims to shed light on the mechanistic basis for the well-documented epidemiological link between obesity and multiple myeloma, which is particularly timely given the rising incidence of obesity and the relatively high incidence of multiple myeloma in the United States.

Andrew D. J. Meyer, M.D., M.S.Andrew D. J. Meyer, M.D., M.S., is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Critical Care, Department of Pediatrics, and School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Meyer completed his undergraduate training in Nuclear Engineering and Material Science Engineering at University of California at Berkeley. He then went on to complete a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering, Medical Degree, and Residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems. Following residency, he completed a fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care at the Children’s National Medical Center and then immediately joined the faculty at the UT Health Science Center. Dr. Meyer’s lab integrates biomedical engineering and medical research to improve the lives of critically ill children. His current emphasis is to focus on the pathophysiological basis of the untoward effects of Cardiopulmonary Bypass (CPB) on blood components in critically ill children. Through the KL2 program, Dr. Meyer will work to (1) establish a reproducible CPB model that simulates the pediatric condition, (2) Use the established model to evaluate device improvements and biopharmaceuticals as effective therapeutics, (3) understand the pathophysiology of microparticles generated by pathological shear stress as possible therapeutic targets for further studies, and (4) translate research findings into clinical practice with the overall goal to improve the clinical outcomes of pediatric patients suffering from life-threatening heart or lung failure. Dr. Meyer’s research rationale is to better understand the mechanisms behind the complications associated with devices, with the goal to improve the treatment of these and other diseases and to ultimately decrease the overall mortality and morbidity of children in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Robert Svatek, M.D.Robert Svatek, M.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Svatek earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Texas at Austin and a Medical Degree at the University of Texas Southwestern. He completed his urology residency training at the University of Texas Southwestern and a fellowship in Urologic Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, during which time he also completed a Masters in Clinical Research Investigation at the University of Texas at Houston. Thus, his training is appropriately suited to translate laboratory observations to the bedside and to facilitate basic research through clinical observations. As a urologic oncologist, Dr. Svatek performs surgical procedures on all urologic malignancies. In particular, his practice represents a large referral population of patients with advanced bladder cancer from central and south Texas. Dr. Svatek’s research aims to understand the role of immune dysfunction in the response to immunotherapy for bladder cancer, using a laboratory component that incorporates animal models while concurrently enrolling patients into a study using a novel therapeutic approach for bladder cancer. He has been a principal investigator (PI), co-PI, or co-investigator for grants and funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Southwest Oncology Group, Clinical and Translational Science Pilot Award from the Institute for the Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS), and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Dr. Svatek’s overall research goal is to improve outcomes for patients with bladder cancer.

2010 Scholars

Amina El Jamali, PhD.Amina El Jamali, PhD., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She earned her PhD degree from Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris based on a series of studies showing the physiological importance of G protein regulation in various biological models. In September 2001, she was awarded a fellowship by the Pierre and Marie Curie Institute to support studies aimed at identifying new therapeutic targets in heart failure at the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin. This work sparked her interest in the pathophysiological roles of reactive oxygen species (ROS), a theme that continues to guide her research. Dedicated to developing translational research in the field of oxidative stress and inflammatory diseases in man, she joined in 2004 the laboratory of Dr. Robert Clark, a physician-scientist expert in inflammation in the Department of Medicine at UTHSCSA. Here, Dr. El Jamali made the original discovery that the NOX enzymes are strongly activated by H2O2, a membrane-permeant form of ROS and identified the molecular signaling pathway involved. She demonstrated that this regulatory mechanism is operative in a variety of cells, likely comprising a major pathway in oxidative stress-related disorders. She is a co-investigator on a VA Merit Review grant to study the dysregulation of the phagocyte NADPH oxidase NOX2 in aging. As a principal investigator her main project is to study the role of NOX-derived ROS in metabolic syndrome / type 2 diabetes. Since oxidative stress has been associated with insulin resistance, a key early feature of this disease, her current work is focused on the role of NOX in insulin resistance. Dr. El Jamali concluded her tenure as a KL2 Scholar upon receipt of an NIH K01 Award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) for her research titled, Role of NADPH oxidase in insulin resistance (1 K01 DK084297-01), on August 1, 2011.

 

Ashley Acheson, Ph.D.Ashley Acheson, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychiatry and the Research Imaging Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). While completing his graduate training at the University of Buffalo, SUNY, he studied the effects of brain lesions and pharmacological and genetic manipulations on decision-making and impulse control in rodents. While completing postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago, he examined effects of pharmacological and physiological manipulations on decision-making and impulse control in humans. Later, while completing additional postdoctoral training in neuroimaging at UTHSCSA, his research examined brain activation differences in young adults with and without a family history of alcoholism. Dr. Acheson’s primary research interests involve studying the behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms that underlie risks for addictions. His current projects include imaging neural circuits that regulate impulse control and other processes in individuals at risk for developing substance use disorders. Research populations include children and young adults with family histories of substance use disorders, adolescents with Conduct Disorders, and combat veterans with Post Traumatic Stress disorder. He is also conducting a longitudinal behavioral study on the relationships between the development of impulse control and substance use disorders in adolescents.

 

Christopher  Frei, Pharm.D., M.Sc.Christopher Frei, Pharm.D., M.Sc., is an Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin and the Pharmacotherapy Education and Research Center, Division of Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine, at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Frei completed his pharmacy degree (2001), Master’s degree (2003), residency (2003), and post-doctoral training (2005) at the UT Austin and the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio and he joined the faculty at both universities in January 2006. Dr. Frei is a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist who focuses on the study of clinically important infectious diseases, including pneumonia and skin and soft tissue infections. He is particularly interested in emerging antibiotic resistance among Gram-positive bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus. His research approach involves antibiotic epidemiology and pharmacokinetics-pharmacodynamics. Through the KL2 program, Dr. Frei will be learning to combine these methodologies with new information about microbial genetics to help improve treatment for patients with community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA) infections. Dr. Frei has been a principal investigator/co-investigator for a number of studies and has published his work in several leading medical and scientific journals, including the American Journal of Medicine, Chest, Antimicrobal Agents in Chemotherapy, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Clinical Microbiology and Infection, Pharmacotherapy, Current Medical Research and Opinion, Journal of Pediatric Surgery, and the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

 

Roman V. Kuranov, PhD.Roman V. Kuranov, PhD., is an Instructor/Research in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He graduated from Lobachevsky State University in Nizhny Novgorad, Russia in 1995 with a Master’s in Physics, followed in 2003 by his PhD in Laser Physics from the Institute of Applied Physics Russian Academy of Science. After completing his postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, he continued with his postdoctoral studies at UT Austin in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He joined the UT Health Science Center in August of 2009 where he currently holds appointments in the Department of Ophthalmology and the Research Imagining Institute. Dr. Kuranov’s research focuses on translating a non-invasive, high resolution imaging modality, functional Optical Coherence Tomography, for use with major eye disorders including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age related macular degeneration. His research aims are to develop early imaging biomarkers of diabetic retinopathy and other retinal disorders, and to longitudinally investigate the underlying pathophysiology of the diseases. The goal of Dr. Kuranov’s research is early diagnosis for patients with these disorders, improved outcomes, and prevention of blindness.

 

Alina Maloyan, Ph.D.Alina Maloyan, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor/Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She received her PhD in Physiology in 2004 from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. While in graduate school she became interested in cardiac physiology and pathology. Studying alterations in the biophysical and biochemical properties of cardiac contractile proteins allowed Dr. Maloyan to investigate the different aspects of cardiac pathology. She completed her postdoctoral training at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the Division of Molecular Cardiovascular Biology. In 2009, Dr. Maloyan joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UT Health Science Center, where she conducts research at the Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research (CPNR) with an emphasis on cardiovascular health and development. There, Dr. Maloyan is working to define the effect of maternal under and over-nutrition on the expression of fetal cardiac miRNAs using miRNA profiling. Dr. Maloyan’s research builds on the hypothesis of fetal programming developed by Professor David Barker in 1990’s, which suggests that increased risks of cardiovascular or metabolic diseases could originate in response to adverse intrauterine conditions during fetal life and infancy. Dr. Maloyan’s research proposes that identification of specific cardiac miRNA affected by adverse intrauterine conditions will reveal unique biomarkers that are reflective or predictive of heart diseases triggered by fetal programming.

 

2008 Scholars

Photo-Espinoza.jpgSara Espinoza, M.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology, and Palliative Medicine. A native Texan from Corpus Christi, Dr. Espinoza earned her medical degree from The University of Virginia School of Medicine in 2000. She completed her residency training at The University of Rochester Medical Center in 2003 and then completed a three-year clinical and research fellowship in Geriatrics and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Espinoza joined the faculty of the Department of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center in July 2006.
Dr. Espinoza’s research uses state-of-the-art technology to investigate the pathophysiology of frailty, an important clinical geriatric syndrome which causes older adults to be at risk for multiple adverse events with age. Her translational research project aims to compare plasma glycoproteins with frailty in participants of the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA), using lectin-targeting strategies, 2-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and mass spectrometry. This will be the first study to apply comparative proteomics to the study of human aging or frailty. Her mentors for this project are Dr. Arlan Richardson, Director of the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, and Dr. Helen Hazuda, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Clinical Epidemiology and Principal Investigator of SALSA.

 

Photo-Gelfond.JPGJonathan Gelfond, M.D., Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a medical school alumnus of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. After medical school, he completed his Ph.D. at the Department of Biostatistics at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health and has received numerous awards including a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellowship.
Dr. Gelfond specializes in the statistical and computational analysis of genome-wide data. Dr. Gelfond writes, “Genome-wide studies have given an unprecedented perspective for understanding biology and human disease. Much like modern 3-D MRI studies give insight into the inner state and workings of the whole body and large-scale disease processes, the new technologies of gene expression microarrays and other genome-wide assays allow a comprehensive and information-rich survey of the molecular workings of tissues and the basis of disease.” Dr. Gelfond is working on genomic applications in oncology, aging research, and chromosome abnormalities.

 

Photo-Restrepo.jpgMarcos I. Restrepo, M.D., M.Sc., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Divisions of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He is an investigator at VERDICT, a health services research center for the Veterans Administration at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Audie L Murphy Division. Dr. Restrepo is board-certified in internal medicine, infectious disease, pulmonary disease and critical care medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians.
Dr. Restrepo earned his medical degree from the CES University, Medellín, Colombia. He fulfilled an internal medicine internship and an internal medicine residency at the UT Health Science Center. Following this, he completed fellowships in infectious disease, pulmonary disease, and critical care medicine, also at the Health Science Center. In 2003, he received a Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation from the Graduate School of Biomedical Science at the Health Science Center.
Among Dr. Restrepo’s areas of research interest are the evaluation of the impact of immunomodulatory agents in patients with sepsis and pneumonia. In addition, he is interested in the application and implementation of evidence-based guidelines into clinical practice in order to improve the health outcomes and quality of care of patients critically ill in the intensive care unit with respiratory infections. He is a principal investigator/co-investigator on a number of National Institutes of Health–supported clinical trials. His scientific writings have been published in medical textbooks and journals, including JAMA, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Clinical Infectious Diseases, American Journal of Medicine, Journal of Critical Care, and The European Respiratory Journal.

 

2006-2008 Scholars

The first group of South Texas Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Career Development (MCRCD) Scholars at the UT Health Science Center was supported through collaborative funding from the Vice President for Research Office, the Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. The program was designed to increase the translation of basic science discoveries into clinical practice and to transfer best practices into the community. Because clinical research requires the ability to understand complex problems and issues that cross disciplinary lines, the program emphasized team-based, multi- and inter-disciplinary clinical research training.

For the 2006-2008 Program, five outstanding, diverse candidates were identified from 19 applications. The 2006-2008 MCRCD Scholars were:

scholarAdelita Cantu, RN, PhD – Clinical Instructor in the Department of Family Nursing, School of Nursing. A San Antonio native, Dr. Cantu’s MCRCD research focused on behavior change related to the initiation and maintenance of physical activity in Mexican American women. In 2008, Dr. Cantu received an Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Faculty Award for her work in facilitating connections with community agencies, educational colleagues and city and county leadership, where she was described as having “a passion for the underserved and compassion for everyone she meets.” Following completion of the MCRCD Program, Dr. Cantu continued to focus her research on examining how the environmental context affects decisions about the initiation and maintenance of physical activity.

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Silvana Papagerakis, MD, PhD – Assistant Professor/Research in the Department of Dental Diagnostic Science, Dental School. As a physician with postgraduate training in oral and maxillofacial surgery, Dr. Papagerakis’ MCRCD research focused on evaluating novel diagnostic and prognostic markers in patients with oral, head, and neck cancer. After leaving the MCRCD Program, she became a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor Medical School, where her research and publications focused on desmoplakin expression and prognosis in human oropharyeal cancer and gene-expression in oral squamous cell carcinoma

scholarDipen Parekh, MD – Clinical Assistant Professor in the Dpartment of Urology, School of Medicine. Recruited from Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Dr. Parekh was interested in developing clinical trials to improve the diagnosis and management of renal cell carcinoma. As a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Urology, Dr. Parekh was awarded a Distinguished University Chair in 2009, which was established with a $2 million donation in support of Dr. Parekh’s work to use robotic technology for removal of kidney, prostate, and bladder cancers and to continue meaningful research in the field of urologic oncology.

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Devjit Tripathy, MD – Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Diabetes Division. Dr. Tripathy’s medical training spanned continents, with primary medical training in India, two years of training in the laboratory of Professor Leif Groop at Lund University, Sweden, and training in internal medicine and endocrinology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. An endocrinologist involved in insulin resistance research, Dr. Tripathy’s investigations were designed to examine the effects of lipotoxicity and glucotoxicity on insulin signaling, mitochondrial function, and the activation of inflammatory pathways in muscle. Following completion of the MCRCD Program, his research continued in the Department of Medicine, Diabetes Division, at the UT Health Science Center. Recent focus has included topics on the association of retinol binding protein 4 and insulin resistance, insulin and renin-angiotensin-aldosterone signaling systems, and possible links between lipotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction, and insulin resistance. Dr. Tripathy has also served the South Texas region as a consultant for a Borderplex Council study of diabetes and metabolic syndrome in Hispanics who use atypical antipsychotics.
 

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John Zeber, PhD – Dually appointed as an Assistant Professor/Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the UT Health Science Center and Investigator at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital. Dr. Zeber’s doctorate in Health Services Organization and Policy was followed by post-doctoral research fellowship training at the health affairs research and development center (VERDICT) at the STVHCS VA Hospital, where he developed the VA’s National Psychosis Registry. His research interests have included serious mental illnesses, substance abuse, cost-effectiveness and health policy decisions, health beliefs and care-seeking behavior, program evaluation, quality of life, ethnic disparities in psychiatric diagnosis or treatment, barriers to medication adherence, vulnerable patient populations, and how health beliefs affect treatment decisions. Dr. Zeber has also been a co-investigator with several VERDICT projects studying patient and system dynamics of patient with chronic health conditions and burden of illness for patients with medical and psychiatric co-morbidities

 

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