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TN-CTSI Leadership

Karen C. Johnson, MD, MPH, Co-Director of the TN-CTSI

Dr. Johnson is an Endowed Professor of Women’s Health and Preventive Medicine at UTHSC. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine, and also holds a Master’s of Public Health degree. For the past 28 years, her work has centered on large-scale interventional and observational studies of adults in the areas of women’s health, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, as well as risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and aging, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, smoking cessation, and health disparities. Dr. Johnson is currently the PI of the NHLBI-funded Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) in Memphis and Vice Chair of the National SPRINT Steering Committee. She is also the PI of the Look AHEAD weight loss study funded by NIDDK. Dr. Johnson is an investigator for the Women’s Health Initiative and was the PI of the Memphis site during the clinical trial phase. She has been course director for the Randomized Clinical Trials Course in the Masters of Epidemiology degree program at UTHSC and actively mentors young investigators in clinical research methods and the ethical conduct of research. Dr. Johnson’s expertise in leading significant, large-scale, multisite clinical trials (many of which were cooperative agreements) and her role as Co-Director of the TN-CTSI, a statewide institute housed at UTHSC, provide an excellent foundation for the expertise and experience needed to manage and lead the TN-CTSI.

Michelle Martin, PhD, Co-Director of the TN-CTSI

Dr. Martin is a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Founding Director of the Center for Innovation in Health Equity Research. As a psychologist, Dr. Martin brings to the TN-CTSI a career focused on addressing disparities (racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and rural) across different chronic diseases in partnership with communities and multidisciplinary academic colleagues. She has led and co-led large-scale federally-funded projects with goals and structures similar to the TN-CTSI. These roles include her leadership as one of the Multiple PIs of a three institution NIMHD-funded U54 consortium (U54MD008602) that focused on reducing chronic disease through health policy research, and her Co-PI role on a multistate NIMHD-funded U24 grant, a consortium that brought together 5 cancer centers across the country to increase the recruitment of minorities to cancer trials. Dr. Martin has recently assumed a critical role on a newly-funded P01 (1P01CA22997) for which University of Alabama at Birmingham is the lead institution. On the P01, Dr. Martin will Co-Direct the Recruitment and Retention Module. Her overall program of research provides a strong foundation to manage and lead the TN-CTSI.

Margaret Lynn, LMSW, RDN, CCRP, CIP, Director of Clinical Research Development

As the Director of Clinical Research Development, Margaret is responsible for training, education and compliance of clinical research staff.  She holds two state of Tennessee healthcare provider licenses:  Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist and Licensed Master of Social Work. She has twenty-seven years of experience with regulatory clinical compliance for public and private agencies inclusive of OHRP, FDA, GCP, CDC, OSHA, HIPAA, local and state health departments, and funding agencies. She has twenty years of healthcare and community-based research experience with seventeen of those years spent in clinical research. Margaret has been a Certified IRB Professional (CIP) since 2014 and a Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP) since 2009.  She currently serves as a member of the  UTHSC IRB Full Board Section 3 Committee.

Veronica G. Brown, PhD, MSPH, Research Data Analyst I

Dr. Brown serves as the Data Analyst for the TN-CTSI and the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD) Unit of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.  She earned her Masters in Public Health from Meharry Medical College and doctorate in Epidemiology & Biostatistics from the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.  After obtaining her doctorate, Dr. Brown went on to complete her postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Medical Branch, as an NIH T32 trainee, and the University of Houston School of Pharmacy.  Prior to her arrival at UTHSC, she worked as a State Regional Epidemiologist for the Texas Department of State Health Services focusing solely on the COVID-19 Emergency Response.  Dr. Brown’s studies and interests have involved research methods and design, health disparities, cancer prevention, and infectious diseases. 

Kendria Barnes, MSPH, RN, Program Evaluation and Research Specialist

As the Program Evaluation and Research Specialist, Mrs. Barnes is responsible for developing and overseeing the implementation of the evaluation plan and data tracking for the Tennessee Clinical and Translational Science Institute (TN-CTSI).  She will develop the overall evaluation strategy and approach, develop and implement policies and procedures that will be used to evaluate and track the TN-CTSI programs. In addition, Mrs. Barnes will direct the collection and reporting of metrics and outcome data, analyzing and interpreting quantitative data, and utilizing data collection methods such as interviews and focus groups, to produce evaluation reports.  She has eight years of public health experience at the state and local level with managing programs, conducting statewide needs assessment, policy evaluation and implementation and analyzing data.

Ashley Evans, MS, Community Engagement Specialist and Recruitment Manager

As the Community Engagement Specialist and Recruitment Manager, Ashley is responsible for developing and managing strategies for recruitment and community engagement across the state and with diverse populations. She oversees the Recruitment Innovation Center (RIC) and protocols for recruitment strategies; collaborates with locally affiliated groups public relations efforts to address issues affecting the well-being of the people of the community; and affiliates with local/national community engagement committees to improve strategies and outcomes.