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 Core. Her overall program of research provides a strong foundation to manage and lead the TN-CTSI.

Derita Bran, MSN, RN, CCRC, TN-CTSI Program Director

As the Program Director, Ms. Bran is responsible for the overall day-to-day activities of the TN-CTSI. She is responsible for integration of the core areas across the institution, state, and within the TN-CTSI; determining the optimal staffing requirements and resources needed; and hiring and supervising staff. Ms. Bran provides communications management including communications planning; information distribution; progress and performance reporting; stakeholder communications; and management of campus and community activities. She ensures compliance with NIH regulations and generates required reports. Ms. Bran will foster community engagement within UTHSC and the larger community, state wide, and regionally, as well as educate research staff and investigators about developing study protocols, monitoring compliance, and assuring adherence to regulations.

Molly Rolen, BSN, RN, CCRP, Recruitment Innovation Center Manager

Ms. Rolen leads the RIC that can assist researchers with different approaches for recruitment and retention of subjects for clinical studies. She has over 10 years of research experience.

 

 

Daniel Dibaba, PhD, Sr. Research Specialist

Dr. Dibaba conducts face-to-face consultations with researchers to discuss study design, statistical and analytical resources, tools, and methods. He is also responsible for conducting educational workshops in biostatistics and study design to various groups of researchers and trainees on campus. He has over 15 years experience as an Epidemiologist.

 

 

TN-CTSI Core Leadership

  • Research Methods Core

    Dr. Saunak Sen is a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and the Chief of the Division of Biostatistics in the department. Dr. Sen currently leads the Biostatistics Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD) Unit for the TN-CTSI. Dr. Sen is the co-leader of the Research Methods Core and will be in charge of BERD activities. He also serves as a faculty consultant in the BERD clinics. Dr. Sen is responsible for supervising the BERD Program Manager and staff statisticians. Dr. Sen is actively involved in developing educational modules about biostatistics, epidemiology, and study design. He is also involved in novel tool development and actively mentors trainees.

  • Dr. Michael Christensen received his B.S. in Pharmacy from North Dakota State University in 1978 and Pharm.D. from the University of Tennessee in 1982.  He completed a residency in pediatric pharmacotherapy at LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center and a fellowship in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  Dr. Christensen spent 6 years at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a clinical pharmacist and developed the metabolic support service.  In 1990 Dr. Christensen joined the full-time faculty at the University of Tennessee, College of Pharmacy.  Dr. Christensen has been a member of the IRB since 2000 and serves as an alternate IRB Chair. Dr. Christensen has more than 130 published articles, book chapters and abstracts.  His research interests include the design, implementation and analysis of clinical drug trials in children with an emphasis on early phase or pharmacokinetic disposition studies in children; metabolic and nutrient requirements in infants, and evaluation of prescribing trends for therapeutic areas where a high percentage of pediatric drug development programs failed to result in FDA-approved labeling for use in children.

  • Informatics Core

    Dr. Charisse Madlock-Brown is a faculty member in Health Informatics and Information Management at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She received my Master’s in Library Science and Ph.D. in Health Informatics from the University of Iowa. She has expertise in data management, data mining, and visualization. Dr. Madlock-Brown has a broad background in health informatics, with a current focus on obesity trends and multimorbidity. Other areas of interest are network analysis and emerging topic detection in biomedicine.Dr. Madlock-Brown has authored several book chapters and journal articles and continues to keep up-to-date on data integration, data architecture, database management, and analytic methods.Dr. Madlock-Brown runs the UTHSC Research Pipelines lab, which provides online interfaces for distributed computing and storage systems.Dr. Madlock-Brown’s lab can manage projects from data extraction and transformation to modeling and visualization for small-scale and big data projects.

    Dr. Robert Davis is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and is the founding Director for the UTHSC Center in Biomedical Informatics and is also the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Governor’s Chair in Biomedical Informatics. Dr. Davis has extensive experience in informatics and led the team at UTHSC that has created an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) from the Electronic Health Records (EHR) of our partner hospitals. Dr. Davis, as part of the leadership team, will oversee the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of each of the processes relating to informatics in the TN-CTSI, and co-lead the Informatics Core.

     

    Dr. Shaban-Nejad is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and a member of the UTHSC ORNL Center for Biomedical Informatics. His primary research interest is population health intelligence, epidemiologic surveillance and big-data semantic analytics through the use of tools and techniques from artificial intelligence, knowledge representation, and semantic web, particularly ontologies and knowledge bases, description logics, Category Theory, Social Network Theory, reasoning and inferencing. Dr. Shaban-Nejad will serve as an associate co-leader of the Informatics Core.

  • Hub Research Capacity Core

    Dr. Ari VanderWalde is the Associate Vice Chancellor of Research and the Medical Director for the Office of Clinical Research at UTHSC, a centralized resource that provides expertise, resources and space for clinical research. Dr. VanderWalde is the Chair of the Clinical Trials Governance Board at UTHSC which was designed to facilitate knowledge and opportunity to participate in a premier research program for human subjects research within a large federated network system created to support and facilitate the conduct and execution of clinical trials throughout the region. He is the Medical Director for the Clinical Trials Network of Tennessee (CTN2). The CTN2 was created to enable UT faculty clinical researchers to design, solicit, and conduct robust statewide clinical trials of high quality across UTHSC campuses with our respective hospital partners. CTN2 was organized to be Tennessee’s statewide multi-site clinical trial facilitator that is hospital / clinician operated, academically supported, and powered by an integrated Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) created from our hospital partners Electronic Health Records (EHR). Dr. VanderWalde is also a Professor in the Department of Medicine in the Hematology/Oncology Division. He has extensive experience supervising clinical trials and research clinics. This experience makes him the ideal candidate for the Co-Leader of the Hub Research Capacity and in charge of the Participant and Clinical Interactions, specifically Centralized Clinical Research Support and the Clinical Research Units.

    Dr. Michelle Martin is Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and is the founding Director of the Center for Innovation in Health Equity Research at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center. She has almost 20 years of experience working in partnership with community members and partners to conduct clinical trials, improve health outcomes, and eliminate health disparities. These partnerships reflect diverse experience engaging and collaborating with community groups including health departments, Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHC), faith communities, safety net and community hospitals, national organizations, and lay community members. Dr. Martin is the Core Co-Leaders of Hub Research Capacity and in that role, will work with the initiative to integrate special populations in translational research.

  • Community and Collaboration Core

    Dr. Michelle Martin is Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and is the founding Director of the Center for Innovation in Health Equity Research at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center. She has almost 20 years of experience working in partnership with community members and partners to conduct clinical trials, improve health outcomes, and eliminate health disparities. These partnerships reflect diverse experience engaging and collaborating with community groups including health departments, Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHC), faith communities, safety net and community hospitals, national organizations, and lay community members. Dr. Martin will be the Core Leader for the Community and Collaboration Core at UTHSC. Dr. Martin works with the Community Advisory Council and supervises the Community Engagement Studios.

    Dr. Sarah Rhoads is a Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in the College of Nursing and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the College of Medicine at UTHSC. She has coordinated distance education, quality improvement, and research initiatives to improve health outcomes with a focus on maternal/child health outcomes. Several of Dr. Rhoads’ research and project grants have been dedicated to the Mississippi River Delta region. Dr. Rhoads has a passion for improving health care access and outcomes in rural areas. She advocates for patient- and family-centered use of technology to connect patients with their health care providers. Dr. Rhoads partners with communities and community partners to understand and identify their needs. In July 2019, she received a federal grant to assist with nurse practitioner education and placement upon graduation in rural and underserved areas in the Mississippi River Delta Region. She is currently the site PI and Co-Investigator for a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funded study – Innovative Care Model for Older Adults with Chronic Heart Failure (i-COACH): A Comparative Effectiveness Clinical Trial for Improving Healthcare Systems.

    Dr. Shelley White-Means is Professor of Health Economics in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Translational Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Director of the CHEER Health Disparities Center. She received her MA and PhD degrees from Northwestern University. Dr. White-Means’ research focuses on health disparities facing vulnerable populations. She also has studied labor market implications and racial/ethnic decision-making of family caregivers. Her current research projects focus on developing interventions to reduce racial disparities in breast health outcomes in Memphis, where racial disparities in breast cancer mortality have ranked highest in the nation. A former President of the National Economic Association, current member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, and Secretary of the Health Disparities IG for Academy Health, Dr. White-Means received funding from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to establish CHEER, a community-based health disparities research center.

    Dr. Waletha Wasson is a 1979 graduate of the UTHSC College of Dentistry. She has over 39 years of clinical experiences with nine years at a free-standing ambulatory health care facility and 30 years in academia. She has Masters Degrees from the University of Memphis (M.P.A./1988) and University of Michigan School of Dentistry (M.S./2001). She has obtained a Master of Academy of General Dentistry (Organized Dentistry). She has been the course director of several courses; remains active in undergraduate courses, research, publications, and review referee for several journals; and presenter at conferences. Dr. Wasson is an associate professor in the Department of General Dentistry and Program Director: A 21st Century Initiative — Oral-Systemic and Population-Based Health For All. Dr. Wasson has been awarded several honors in service, education, and scholarly activities.

  • Network Capacity Core

    Dr. Mathilda Coday is a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Clinical Psychologist at the University of Tennessee Methodist Physicians. She is Investigator on several large projects studying diabetes and is currently involved in a cross-study project of behavior change techniques. Dr. Coday has extensive experience in the development and management of behavioral interventions in large and pragmatic clinical trials. Dr. Coday teaches as a Course Director in both the UTHSC Certificate and MS graduate programs at UTHSC. Dr. Coday has over 25 years of experience in multi-site clinical trial development and operations with specific and detailed expertise in recruitment and retention especially in underserved populations. She facilitates her own projects as well as provides consultation and mentoring for research programs across the department and campus. She teaches, helps develop, and mentors young investigators about ways to optimize their recruitment and retention strategies to have a successful study. Dr. Coday oversees all aspects of the Recruitment Innovation Center (RIC) and Co-Directs the Network Capacity Core.

    Dr. Karen Johnson is a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine specializing as a Physician Epidemiologist with an endowed professorship in women’s studies. For the past 28 years, her work has centered on large-scale multisite clinical intervention and observational studies in the areas of women’s health, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Dr. Johnson’s expertise and experience leading multisite large-scale trials such as the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), Look AHEAD, and SPRINT including participation in drafting and using standard operating procedures and standard common treatment protocols provides the leadership foundation needed to manage and lead the Network Capacity Core particularly focusing on the Trial Innocation Center (TIC).

  • Translational Endeavors Core

    Dr. Simonne Nouer has an MD and has completed residence training in Preventive Medicine. She also has a PhD in Epidemiology. She has worked at the Department of Public Health, in the Institute of Tropical Pathology and Public Health, in Brazil were she was involved with teaching Epidemiology to medical students, Master of Science students, and PhD students. She has been part of a team working with the World Health Organization to develop a curriculum on epidemiological methods. Upon relocating to the USA, and since joining the Department of Preventive Medicine as a Faculty member in 2009, she has been actively involved with teaching, student interaction, and curriculum design and implementation in the Master’s of Epidemiology program, the Certificate in Clinical Research program (which focuses on teaching physicians and other healthcare professionals how to conduct clinical research), and also PhD students at UTHSC. In 2010, Dr. Nouer became the Director of both the Master’s of Epidemiology and the Certificate in Clinical Research Programs, and in 2018 she became the Chair of Graduate Training at the Department of Preventive Medicine. In this role, she actively participate in student recruitment and selection; serves as student mentor, helping them to define their plan of study. Dr. Nouer has been the Director of the Academic Consortium for Applied Research (ACAR) unit within Preventive Medicine since 2016 and functioned as the associate director since 2015. Within this unit, her research activities include curriculum development, instrument design and evaluation, and expanded community research with disadvantaged and underserved populations. Dr. Nouer’s experience teaching, mentoring and directing the educational programs initially at the Institute of Tropical Pathology and Public Health at the Federal University of Goias in Brazil and now at the Department of Preventive Medicine at UTHSC highly qualifies her as the co-leader for the Translational Endeavors Core.

    Ansley Grimes Stanfill, PhD, RN is an Associate Professor and the Associate Dean of Research for the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, in Memphis, TN. Her work is on the influence of genetic and epigenetic factors on long-term outcomes in neurological injury and chronic disease. Dr. Stanfill received a BS in neuroscience from Vanderbilt University in 2003. She worked as a research assistant in genetics and neuroimaging research before receiving her BSN in 2007 from Saint Louis University. She has clinical experience in neurology and neurosurgery, endoscopy, and critical care. She received her PhD in 2014 from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center for her dissertation titled “Dopaminergic genetic contributions to obesity in kidney transplant recipients.” She was awarded an NIH/NINR F31 training grant for this project. Prior to assuming her faculty role, Dr. Stanfill also completed postdoctoral training in omics research at the University of Pittsburgh, supported by the NIH/NINR T32 “Targeted Research and Academic Training of Nurses in Genomics.” She is currently PI of a $1.1M NIH/NINR R01 titled “A multivariate predictive model for long-term disability post subarachnoid hemorrhage in Caucasian and African American populations.” In addition to her NIH support, Dr. Stanfill has received grants from Sigma Theta Tau, the International Society of Nurses in Genetics, and the Southern Nursing Research society. Along with serving as the incoming secretary of the International Society of Nurses in Genetics, she also holds memberships in the American Society of Human Genetics, the American Heart Association, the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science, and the American Nurses Association. She has been published many times in basic science and nursing research journals and regularly presents her work at local, regional, national, and international conferences.

    Dr. Karen Johnson is a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine specializing as a Physician Epidemiologist with an endowed professorship in women’s studies. 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 and her role as co-leader of the Translational Endeavors Coreprovide an excellent foundation for the expertise and experience needed to manage and lead the workforce development program.

  • KI2 Core
    Accordion Content 7
  • Dr. James Carson is Senior Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Health Professions. Prior to moving to UTHSC in August 2018, he served on the faculty at the University of South Carolina (USC) in the Arnold School of Public Health for 19 years, where he held the rank of Professor, was Department Chair, and Associate Director of the Center for Colon Cancer Research at USC. His research focus examines biological mechanisms that regulate skeletal muscle mass and metabolism, which has implications for  health outcomes that include frailty with aging and cancer patient survival. He has authored more than 110 peer-reviewed publications and received several million dollars in external research funding.  Student mentorship in research has been a cornerstone of Dr. Carson’s career and a focus of his laboratory. He has actively worked to promote diversity in biomedical research trainees, spanning high school students to post-doctoral fellows. He has served as a member of the American Kinesiology Association Diversity Committee and the American College of Sports Medicine Diversity & Leadership Training Program. Dr. Carson has been active in professional service. He is the past elected Exercise Physiology Councilor to the Environment and Exercise Section of the American Physiological Society, and a past member of the Board of Trustees for the Southeastern Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine.  He is also a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.  He received the “STAR” Award for excellence in peer review from the American Physiological Society, and currently serves as an Associate Editor for 2 journals. He has been active as a grant reviewer for the NIH, NSF, NASA, VA and AHA. He is currently a standing panel member for NIH/CSR Tumor Cell Biology Study Section and Veterans Affairs Cellular and Molecular Medicine Grant Review Panel.

Dr. Jay Fowke is an epidemiologist with a broad research program that combines prostate disease etiology, molecular epidemiology, obesity and metabolism, racial disparities research, and evaluation of measurement error and bias in research studies. He has served as PI on research grants from the NCI, NIDDK, NINR, DoD, and AICR, and is currently Chief of the Division of Epidemiology at UTHSC. For this KL2 training application, he serves as Co-PI and KL2 Director for the UTHSC site with the mission to support training the next generation of investigators. He was a standing-member of a NIH peer-review panel evaluating the merit of F31, F32, K01, K23, K07, and K99-R00 training applications from pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and junior faculty candidates seeking support and time for additional training and mentorship toward their career goals. Dr. Fowke also served on review panels for the American Urology Association to evaluate training applications from junior faculty and fellows, and served as a committee reviewer for Vanderbilt’s KL2 junior faculty training award program. He served as mentor for Vanderbilt’s NCI-R25 program to train epidemiology postdocs conducting research in cancer and molecular epidemiology. He has served as a KL2 primary sponsor, two PhD dissertation committees, and participated as a co-mentor to three PhD students. Dr. Fowke continues to provide research mentorship to junior faculty and fellows in the Department of Surgical Urology. He has sponsored summer research internships for three M2 medical students through the NCI-R25 program at Meharry Medical College (an historically black medical college), contributed to a summer research experience for Fisk University undergraduate students, and sponsored summer research internships for undergraduates through our P20 enrichment program.