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, BSN, 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.

 

 

TN-CTSI Core Leadership

Saunak Sen, PhD

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.

Robert Davis, MD, MPH, and Arash Shaban-Nejad, PhD

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.

 

Phyllis Richey, PhD, Associate Co-Leader: Dr. Phyllis Richey is a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at UTHSC. She received her PhD in Exercise Physiology and specializes in exercise interventions for the prevention and treatment of obesity. Additionally, Dr. Richey also has extensive experience in clinical and community research informatics. Specifically, she has served as a co-investigator for over 20 clinical (NIH funded) and community trials for which she was responsible for the design and deployment of informatics systems and data processing needs of the studies as well as utilizing innovative technologies to deliver behavioral lifestyle interventions to participants. As a research informatics specialist, Dr. Richey will work closely with the other informatics co-investigators and healthcare agency partners to develop customized innovative informatics solutions for the TN-CTSI. Dr. Richey will provide support for investigators who need assistance with databases for clinical and observational studies.

Ari VanderWalde, MD, MPH, and Michelle Martin, PhD

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.

Michelle Martin, PhD

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.

Mathilda Coday, PhD, and Karen C. Johnson, MD, MPH

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).

Simonne Nouer, MD, PhD, and Karen C. Johnson, MD, MPH

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.

 

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.