Bill T. Ameredes, M.S., Ph.D.
Bill T. Ameredes, M.S., Ph.D.Dr. Ameredes is a Co-Director of the Translational Research Scholars Program, and became the Director of the KL2 Scholar Program of the UTMB Institute for Translational Science (ITS), in 2013. He is a Professor, Medicine, and Pharmacology & Toxicology, with an adjunct appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He earned his M.S. in Biology (1984) at the University of Akron, and his Ph.D. in Physiology at the Ohio State University (1989), with support from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and American Lung Association. He has published over 80 papers and 150 abstracts, and has been an editorial board member for the American Journal of Physiology and the Journal of Applied Physiology. Dr. Ameredes has been a UTMB Faculty member since 2005, and was inducted into the UTMB Academy of Master Teachers in 2008, becoming a University of Texas System Distinguished Teaching Professor. Since 2009, Dr. Ameredes has been the PI and Training Program Director of the NIEHS-supported Training Program in Environmental Toxicology at UTMB. In 2012, he became one of the founding members of the UTMB Academy of Research Mentors, supported by the UTMB ITS. Over the past 20 years, his research in asthma, airway inflammation, and inhalation toxicology has been funded by the NHLBI, NIEHS, AHA, and ALA. He also teaches respiratory physiology and toxicology to graduate students and medical students at UTMB, and has an active laboratory in which post-doctoral associates, physician fellows, and graduate students are trained in research and teaching.
Tasnee Chonmaitree, M.D.

Tasnee Chonmaitree, M.D.Dr. Chonmaitree is the Associate Director of the UTMB Institute for Translational Sciences Education Office and the Co-Director of TRSP. She is Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Pathology, Distinguished Teaching Professor, the University of Texas System, member of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, Center for Tropical Diseases, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Institute for Translational Sciences.  Dr. Chonmaitree is a clinician-scientist and board-certified in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases. She has extensive experiences in patient-oriented research and clinical trials. Dr. Chonmaitree is internationally recognized for clinical research on virology of otitis media. She serves on the Boards of Directors of both the International Society for Otitis Media (professional) and the Society for Middle Ear Disease (advocacy). Dr. Chonmaitree is funded by the NIH for studying the pathogenesis and microbiota of acute otitis media. She has trained numerous medical students, residents, domestic and international fellows and junior faculty to do clinical research, and is the course director of the medical school selective/electives "Translational Research: From bench to bedside" for medical students. Dr. Chonmaitree frequently serves on the NIH study sections, special emphasis panels and other national committees, such as the NIDCD Expert Panel to update the National Strategic Research Plan on Hearing and Hearing Impairment, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society - Fellowship Awards Committee (Chair) and the American Academy of Pediatrics - Acute Otitis Media Clinical Practice Guideline Subcommittee.


After receiving her M.D. degree from Siriraj Medical School in Thailand, Dr. Chonmaitree did her pediatric training in Birmingham, AL and infectious disease fellowship in Rochester, NY (NIH postdoctoral training grant). She has been a UTMB faculty since 1981. A reviewer for several scientific journals, Dr. Chonmaitree serves on the Editorial Board of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. She has published more than 150 articles, book chapters and reviews, and is listed in America’s Top Physicians, Who's Who in Medicine and Health Care and Who's Who in the World. She is a frequent speaker at national and international meetings, symposia, and advisory boards on the relation between respiratory viruses and otitis media.

Jean Freeman, Ph.D.

Jean Freeman, Ph.D.Dr. Freeman is Associate Director of the UTMB Institute for Translational Sciences Education Office and Co-Director of TRSP. She holds the Grace Bucksch Gnitzinger Distinguished Professorship in Aging and is a Fellow in the Sealy Center on Aging. She is Professor in Internal Medicine, Preventive Medicine and Community Health, and SAHS Rehabilitation Sciences. Dr. Freeman received her undergraduate degree magna cum laude in mathematics from Mount Holyoke College and her master's in mathematics from Boston University. She earned her Ph.D. from Yale University in epidemiology and public health and has directed and developed studies in health services research for more than 35 years. Dr. Freeman was recruited to UTMB in 1992. Her recent work is focused on the use of population based healthcare datasets (e.g. Medicare claims, tumor registry data, health surveys) to develop and evaluate measures of health care access, use, and outcomes in diverse populations and clinical settings. She also collaborates extensively on interdisciplinary research teams that use these data to identify disparities in receipt of appropriate prevention and treatment services, as well as the mechanisms underlying these disparities.

Since 1996, she has had funding as PI from the Department of Defense (DAMD17-96-1-6215) and the National Cancer Institute (RO1CA72076) to examine the use and outcomes of mammography services in older women and to estimate the risks of bowel and bladder toxicities after radiation among older women diagnosed with gynecologic cancers (R01CA133069). Currently, she is a co-investigator on grant funded studies that examine patient centered outcomes in the elderly (R24HS022134 Goodwin PI), comparative effectiveness of cancer therapies in Texas (RP01207-02 Goodwin PI), rehabilitation research using large databases (R24HD065 Ottenbacher PI) and the role of nurse practitioners in the primary care of older adults (R01HS20642 Kuo PI). Dr. Freeman has over 135 publications and book chapters and has served on numerous institutional and external committees.

Dr. Freeman is also active in the development and direction of research training programs for all levels of trainees in clinical and health services research. In addition to her leadership roles in the ITS Education Office, she serves as Research Director of the UTMB's K12 Women's Health Research Scholars Program (A Berenson PI) , Associate Director for Training in the Sealy Center on Aging, and Vice Chair for Faculty Development in the Department of Internal Medicine. She is a member of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, where she serves as Director of the Health Services Research Track within the Clinical Science Graduate Program. In the Population Health Sciences program, she has directed courses (Methods in Health Services Research, Outcomes Research, Health Policy & Management) and supervised or co-supervised over 30 students in their dissertation/thesis research. In 2005, she was recognized by the GSBS Graduate Student Organization with the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Current Phase I Scholars

Mostafa Borahay, MD

Mostafa Borahay, MDDr. Borahay currently holds the position of Assistant Professor in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Born in Cairo, Egypt before moving to the US, Dr. Borahay earned his MD degree with grade of excellence with honor in 1998 from Zagazig University Faculty of Medicine in Egypt. In 2002, Dr. Borahay completed Master of Science degree and concluded residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Thereafter, Dr. Borahay accepted the appointment of assistant lecturer at the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Zagazig University. In 2004, Dr. Borahay came to the United States to join a team of researchers studying preterm labor at the University of Texas Medical Branch. After completing two years of postdoctoral fellowship and four years of residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Borahay accepted academic appointment as a faculty member at the gynecology division of the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at UTMB in July 2010.

Dr. Borahay received multiple research awards. In July 2011, Dr. Borahay was awarded an NIH K12 career development award and became Women Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) Scholar. This ensured devoting 75% of his time to research. In July 2012, He also became an Institute for Translational Sciences (ITS) Career Development Scholar, which is funded by a grant from the NIH National Center for Research Resources. Dr. Borahay serves as a reviewer for multiple scientific journals including Reproductive Sciences and Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics. His work has been presented at both national and international meetings. His research has been published in peer reviewed journals. Dr. Borahay has authored and coauthored several book chapters including an international textbook of gynecologic oncology.

Dr. Borahay achievements have been well-recognized. Marquis Who's Who® has selected your biography for inclusion in the Who's Who in the World in medicine 2011 (28th) Edition. Moreover, he has been designated as an accredited da Vinci Surgeon by Intuitive Surgical (manufacturer of the only FDA-approved robotic surgery system). Dr. Borahay has been invited as a speaker to several scientific conferences and universities both in the United States and internationally.

Dr. Borahay current research interests focuses on better understanding of pathobiology of gynecologic tumors, and development of novel treatment modalities. He is currently working on a research project focusing on possible medicinal treatment of uterine fibroids (leiomyomas). Previously, he worked on projects investigating biology of preterm labor and treatment of endometriosis.

In addition to Dr. Borahay clinical and research accomplishments, he is an outstanding teacher. He teaches and mentors medical students and resident physicians. He was awarded multiple educational awards including Willard R. Cooke Obstetrical and Gynecological Society outstanding resident teacher award in 2010. In addition, Dr Borahay received Golden apple award for medical students teaching for years 2007 through 2012.

Egle Bytautiene, MD, PhD
Egle Bytautiene, MD, PhDDr. Egle Bytautiene, M.D., PhD is an Assistant Professor and BIRCWH Scholar in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. She finished her medical training at the Vilnius University, Lithuania, and received a PhD from UTMB, Clinical Sciences Program. Egle’s research focuses on the effects of maternal prepregnancy obesity and preeclampsia on long-term maternal and offspring health, particulate she is interested in the adipose tissue function and role. She is completing research on the NIH funded grant titled “Long Term Implication of Preeclampsia: Role of Obesity vs sFlt-1 Overexpression” (R03 mechanism) and embarking on developing measures to improve metabolic status of the progeny who is at risk to develop metabolic syndrome because of maternal obesity. She is involved in serving as research mentor for Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellows as well as in working with undergraduate and medical students. Egle’s career goal is to establish and also develop herself as an independent researcher.
Sara Dann, PhD
Sara Dann, PhDDr. Dann's research focuses on understanding the interaction of enteric pathogens with the host mucosal immune system. Her goals are aimed at defining the role of common parasites, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, in intestinal inflammation and the involvement of innate immunity in this process. She is currently studying how dendritic cells and other innate cells initiate immune responses while maintaining intestinal tolerance. Understanding these processes will allow her to dissect the mechanisms involved in microbial-triggered colitis in genetically-susceptible hosts. Her findings might have very direct implications for the design of improved therapeutic and preventive strategies for the treatment of IBD.
Edgar Dillon, PhD
Edgar Dillon, PhDDr. Dillon has been active in research focused on understanding the roles of hormones and nutrition in the regulation of human skeletal muscle and bone metabolism. During his career he has worked on numerous translational physiology studies and countermeasures at UTMB and NASA aimed at reducing the musculoskeletal losses that take place due to aging (sarcopenia), disease (cancer cachexia), and disuse (prolonged bedrest and human spaceflight). He is currently involved in several clinical studies with Drs. Urban and Sheffield-Moore examining the efficacy of testosterone interventions in promoting skeletal muscle anabolism and regulation of bone metabolism in healthy older men and cancer patients through NIH funded studies at the Institute for Translational Sciences-Clinical Research Center (ITS-CRC) and in healthy individuals during long-term bed rest as part of a collaborative NASA funded project at the Flight Analog Research Unit (FARU).
William J. Durham, PhD

Bill received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from Wabash College, his Master's degree in Exercise Physiology from Ball State University, and his doctorate in Preventive Medicine from UTMB. Following graduation, Bill received post-doctoral training in skeletal muscle redox biology and excitation-contraction coupling at Baylor College of Medicine, where he eventually progressed from a post-doctoral fellow to an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. In 2008, Bill returned to UTMB, where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine.


Bill's research employs a translational, integrative approach to study the in vivo regulation of metabolism and redox status in healthy and diseased states, with particular emphases on skeletal muscle function, perceptual fatigue, and age- and cancer-related loss of skeletal muscle. Dr. Durham is also actively involved in graduate and medical student education.

Steven Fisher, Ph.D.

Steven Fisher, Ph.D.Dr. Fisher received his PhD in Rehabilitation Science from UTMB in 2008. He is a physical therapist with specialist certification in geriatric physical therapy. He is currently an assistant professor in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences supported by the K12 scholars program.


Steve’s research focuses on the better understanding the functional consequences of acute hospitalization in older patients and how activity during acute illness relates to health outcomes. He has presented his research at national conferences and published 6 papers from data collected on UTMB’s Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit. His career goal is to develop an independently funded program of research that leads to improvements in the quality of life of older adults who are acutely hospitalized.

Jonathan Hommel, PhD

Jonathan Hommel, PhDDr. Hommel received his Ph.D. in 2005 from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center while studying how the obesity hormone leptin signals to reward centers in the brain.  He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in epilepsy research in the department of neurobiology at Duke University.  Subsequently, he took a position in drug discovery at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Research Triangle Park, NC.  He established a variety of assays to evaluate different components of eating behavior in animal models, including food craving and food reward.  His research at GSK is highlighted by the progression of two compounds to phase I clinical trials in humans for the treatment of obesity and potentially eating disorders.

Dr. Hommel joined UTMB in 2010 as an Assistant Professor in the department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, and faculty in the Center for Addiction Research.  Currently, his research is focusing on CNS circuits that regulate food addiction and eating behavior.  In particular, is interested in how neuropeptides such as Neuromedin U and Relaxin 3 modulate midbrain dopamine neurons and impact sensitivity to drugs of abuse, body weight, food craving, and food reward.  To study these problems, he uses an array of techniques including gene therapy, immunohistochemistry, neuronal tracing, and fluorescent in situ hybridization in animal models of addiction and obesity.  His goal is to develop new therapies to treat drug addiction, obesity, and eating disorders. 

Yashoda Madaiah Hosakote, PhD
Yashoda Madaiah Hosakote, PhDDr. Yashoda Hosakote received her doctoral degree in Biotechnology from the University of Mysore (India) in 2005. She joined the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston as a postdoctoral fellow to work in the Department of Pediatrics and Division of Clinical and Experimental Immunology & Infectious Diseases, where she was involved in the development of novel high throughput technologies for the identification and characterization of novel protein biomarkers in airway mucosa of young infants following viral respiratory infections and understanding the pathogenic mechanism of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) induced lung inflammation. Dr. Yashoda Hosakote’s goal is to develop pre-clinical in vitro and in vivo models that differentiate the level of attenuation of potential RSV vaccine candidates by characterizing the epithelial-driven inflammatory and immunomodulatory gene expression and also to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanism of respiratory viruses induced lung inflammation, with implication for novel therapeutic strategies of lower respiratory tract infections caused by RSV. Currently, Dr. Yashoda Hosakote is working in the Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on the investigation of the role of High-mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1) in epithelial airway inflammation due to viral infections and understanding the molecular mechanisms that lead to the release of HMGB1 in response to viral induced oxidative damage.
Elizabeth Jaramillo, MD
Elizabeth Jaramillo, MDDr. Elizabeth Jaramillo received her medical training at UTMB. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine in 2012 and Fellowship in Geriatrics in 2013. She is currently an Instructor in the Geriatrics Department at UTMB. She also works with the Sealy Center on Aging, is an RCDC scholar with the Pepper Center, and is working on a Masters in Clinical Science. She is interested in Health Outcomes research and research in Health Disparities. Her specific interests include the overuse of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer in older men. She is currently looking at the cause of high variation between physicians in the ordering of PSA for prostate cancer screening.
Deepthi Kolli, PhD

Deepthi Kolli, PhDDr. Deepthi Kolli, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Clinical and Experimental Immunology and Infectious Diseases (CEIID). Dr. Kolli received a Bachelors of Science degree in Microbiology, Biochemistry and Food & nutrition from Nagarjuna University, India. She subsequently completed her Masters and obtained her Doctorate degree in Biochemistry from National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, India. She continued her education as a J. Kempner post doctoral scholar for the year 2005-2006 and completed her post doctoral fellowship in an NIH and NHLBI supported program at UTMB. She joined UTMB faculty members in the year 2009. Dr. Kolli authored and co-authored over 16 peer-reviewed journal articles and reviews. As an Immunologist, she has presented her research at numerous national and international professional meetings and was a recipient of several travel awards.


Dr. Kolli’s primary research interests include understanding the role of the mucosal immune response in the pathophysiology of viral infections such as RSV and hMPV and asthma that are relevant to the pediatric population. She is also interested in investigating the molecular mechanisms by which environmental contaminants such as second hand tobacco smoke adversely affect human health. Dr. Kolli’s career goal is to understand how the innate immune system recognizes and respond to pathogens and the role of PRRS (TLRs, RLRs and NLRs) in host mediated immunity.

Elizabeth J. Lyons, PhD, MPH
Elizabeth J. Lyons, PhD, MPHLiz came to UTMB in 2011 and is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Translational Sciences. She received a BA in English and Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and an MPH and PhD in Health Behavior & Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After obtaining her PhD in 2010, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Interdisciplinary Obesity Center at UNC before coming to UTMB.


Her research is focused on the use of technology for health promotion and cancer control. Health topics of most interest to her are obesity, physical activity, chronic disease, women’s health, and aging. She is particularly interested in health behavior theory and intervention dissemination. Her research has included pro-anorexia websites, online cancer mailing lists for cancer survivors and caregivers, and the effects of video games on energy expenditure and intake. She is currently working on developing translational interventions in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors for promotion of physical activity using video games.


She has presented at both national and international meetings and has published 8 articles in technology-mediated health research. Her career goal is to become an independent researcher and leader in the area of physical activity interventions for cancer survivors. She also hopes to include development and implementation of games in addition to evaluation.

Christine McGrath, PhD, MPH

Christine McGrath, PhD, MPHChristine joined the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at UTMB as an Assistant Professor and BIRCWH Scholar in August 2013. She received a BA in Biology with minors in Chemistry and German from Texas A&M University, an MPH in epidemiology from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, and PhD in epidemiology from the University of Washington in Seattle. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship and was a Center for AIDS and STD Training Fellow in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington.

Christine’s research interests include reproductive health and pathogenesis of fetal and postnatal health in children. While in Seattle, she was involved in a national evaluation of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and maternal and child health in Kenya, assessing cofactors of vertical HIV transmission, maternal and infant nutrition, and infant growth. She is also interested in the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection on adverse pregnancy outcomes, including the biological mechanisms of HPV/HIV co-infection on vertical transmission, and HPV infections during infancy and childhood. She has a particular interest in continuing to promote collaboration with leaders in women’s reproductive health across multiple disciplines both locally and internationally.

Techksell McKnight, MD
Techksell McKnight, MDDr. Techksell McKnight Washington came to UTMB in 2005 and is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).  She completed her residency in 2009 training at UTMB in both Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine. In 2009, while at UTMB she also earned a Master’s of Public Heath in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health (Capstone: The effect of provider-patient relationship on colorectal cancer screening among African Americans: A systematic review). In 2011, she completed a fellowship in Medical Oncology, where in her last year she served as the Chief Oncology Fellow.

During Dr. Washington’s time at UTMB, she developed an interest in cancer prevention and community outreach. Dr. Washington is active in several different community outreach programs. Some of the most recent roles have been as a member of the Advisory Board for “D’feet Breast Cancer”, a community out-reach group whose mission is raise money for free mammograms and to educate women about the importance of mammogram screening. She is also a Speaker for “Think Pink” an education outreach program designed to educate young women about the importance of breast health awareness and a founding member of “Sisters for Life” a breast cancer survivorship group for women of color.

Dr. Washington has been involved in the research of high-risk breast cancer patients and has been tasked with designing a referral program to capture individuals with a genetic or familial predisposition to develop a malignancy. Dr. Washington was recently chosen to be a Comparative Effectiveness Research on Cancer in Texas (CERCIT) scholar. CERCIT is a statewide resource for outcomes and comparative effectiveness research funded by The Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), RP101207. She is currently involved in researching the use of MRI in the evaluation of breast cancer in Texas.

Iryna Pinchuk, PhD

Iryna Pinchuk, PhDDr. Iryna Pinchuk is currently an Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the Department of Internal Medicine at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston. She learned her PhD degree in Food and Biological Sciences from the University of Bordeaux located in Talence, France. She then did postdoctoral fellowship at UT Health Center at Tyler, Tx and at UTMB at Galveston, Tx. She join UTMB faculty members in 2009. Dr Pinchuk research has been supported by Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America and American Gastroenterological Association. She is currently a KL2 scholar (2011-2014). Dr Pinchuk is co-author of a patent and authored and co-authored over 25 peer-reviewed journal articles and reviews.

Dr Pinchuk research interests are in the regulation of the human mucosal immune responses in acute and chronic inflammation, in particularly those involved in the progression of the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer (CRC). Dr Pinchuk is among the first to define that intestinal myofibroblasts/fibroblasts (IMFs or stromal cells) can serve as a suppressor of acute inflammatory responses during mucosal tolerance and that the function of these cells is disrupted in IBD and CRC. Her study are focused on understanding of: (1) how different CD4+ T cell subtypes (in particularly, Th1, 2,17, 22 and CD4+ CD25high FoxP3+ regulatory T cells) are regulated by the IMFs when compare to professional APCs and epithelial cells; (2) how those T cell populations affect the phenotype and function of the stromal cells in gastro-intestinal tract; (3) how the stromal cells immusuppressive function is disrupted during chronic inflammation and cancer.


Dr Pinchuk current project is focusing on understanding of how dysregulation of the Th1/Th17 immune balance occurs during Crohn's disease (CD), which is one of the unmet challenges of IBD research. Her project will identify the toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling processes disrupted in CD derived colonic mucosal CD90+ stromal cells and how this disruption contribute to the upregulation of the Th1/Th17 responses in CD. Dr Pinchuk is strongly believe that support and education that she will receive as an ITS Translational Research Scholar will give her the opportunity to achieve NIH R01 funding to further support the enlisted above translation research and as an independent translational research scientist, she hope to continue to bridge basic science with clinical applications.

Erik Rytting, Ph.D.

Erik Rytting, Ph.D.Dr. Erik Rytting came to UTMB in 2009 as an Assistant Professor and BIRCWH Scholar in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and holds joint appointments in the Center for Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology.  He studied Chemical Engineering at Brigham Young University, carried out research at Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute, and earned a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Kansas.  Dr. Rytting conducted postdoctoral research to develop biocompatible nanoparticles for controlled drug delivery in the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology & Biopharmacy at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.  He also received training in human placental perfusion techniques in the Institute of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Other research projects have included in silico modeling to predict drug solubility, pharmacokinetic data analysis, nanotoxicology (safety assessment of nanomaterials), and the use of molecular biology techniques, hypoxia, and fluorescence to characterize the expression and function of drug transporter proteins in the placenta.  He is active in teaching, both in the classroom and as a mentor in UTMB’s Maternal-Fetal Pharmacology and Biodevelopment Laboratories, and has served as a reviewer for eleven journals.


Dr. Rytting's research lab is currently working to develop improved drug delivery strategies, with special emphasis on drug and nanoparticle transport across the placenta.  This work will address the needs of pregnant women requiring medical therapy or diagnostics, and answer questions regarding the safety of medication during pregnancy in relation to fetal development.

Kristin M. Sheffield, Ph.D.

Kristin M. Sheffield, PhDKristin completed her Ph.D. in Population Health Sciences, Social Epidemiology track in March 2010 and accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery. Trained as an epidemiologist, she has experience with the secondary analysis of large datasets and training in advanced biostatistics and epidemiological methods. She also has experience in the research of the health of older adults. Her research interests include treatment, outcomes, and end-of-life care in patients with pancreatic cancer, and the management of complicated gallstone disease.

Dr. Sheffield works as a research methodologist in the Center for Comparative Effectiveness and Cancer Outcomes and conducts health services research related to surgical outcomes using Medicare claims data and SEER cancer registry data linked with Medicare claims. As part of her responsibilities in the Center, she acts as mentor to surgical residents who spend two years dedicated to research training.


Dr. Sheffield’s career goal is to become an independent investigator in the field of comparative effectiveness research related to surgical procedures and outcomes. Generally defined, comparative effectiveness research compares the benefits and harms of various interventions to prevent, diagnose, treat, and monitor health conditions in real-world settings.

Jonathan M. Starkey, MD, PhD

Jonathan M. Starkey, MD, PhDDr. Starkey is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Translational Sciences and Preventive Medicine and Community Health. He received a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1999. He then received an M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2003 and completed an internship in internal medicine at Parkland Memorial Hospital in 2004. Dr. Starkey came to UTMB in 2005 where his research first focused on the pathophysiology of diabetic nephropathy. In 2007, he joined the Bioinformatics Program at UTMB. From 2009 to 2011, he was a post-doctoral fellow in the  National Library of Medicine Biomedical Informatics Training Program. Dr. Starkey later received a Ph.D.  in Clinical Sciences from UTMB Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health in 2012. His research involved the development of bioinformatics tools for proteomics.

Dr. Starkey’s current research is devoted to the deployment of informatics tools for clinical research and patient care. He applies novel machine learning methods for the early identification of diabetes and its complications.

Demidmaa Tuvdendorj, MD, PhD
Demidmaa Tuvdendorj, MD, PhDDr. Tuvdendorj's mainly utilizes the stable isotope tracer techniques, which allows one to measure in vivo kinetics of different substrates (e.g., lipids, glucose and proteins). Through studies of both animals and humans her research focus is to understand the relationship between substrate kinetics and insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes related diseases. A special interest of her research is a connection between adipose tissue morphology, triglyceride kinetics and insulin resistance related pathophysiological conditions.
Tammara L. Watts, MD, PhD
Tammara L. Watts, MD, PhDDr. Watts is a graduate of the MD/PhD program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She completed her residency training in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Georgia Health Science University in 2009. From there, Dr. Watts completed advanced fellowship training in Facial Plastics and Microvascular Reconstruction. In the Fall of 2011, Dr. Watts joined the Otolaryngology Department at UTMB. Her translational research interests include understanding the tumor microenvironment of cancers of the head and neck and the role mesenchymal stem cells play in the physiology of head and neck cancer. Clinically, Dr. Watts focuses on head and neck cancer with a special interest in endocrine surgery and reconstruction of complex head and neck defects, as well as multi-level surgery for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.
Nadezhda E. Yun, MD
Nadezhda E. Yun, MDDr. Yun is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Pathology and a member of the Institute of Human Infection and Immunity.   Her research is focused on the mechanisms underlying disease development associated with infection of highly pathogenic RNA viruses, such as Lassa virus (LASV). LASV, the causative agent of Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LF), is an Old World arenavirus endemic in West Africa. LASV infect 100,000 – 300,000 people annually with 5,000 - 10,000 deaths. There is no vaccine currently available. Using reverse genetics approach we seek to elucidate the genetic determinants responsible for the high pathogenicity and mortality of LASV in humans. Also, we utilize a murine model of LF developed in our laboratory, as well as a guinea pig model to study the pathogenic processes induced by immune response to LASV infection in order to address the involvement of immune system in LF progression and facilitate design of new safe and effective antiviral strategies. Additionally, Dr. Yun is interested in vaccine and antiviral drug development against influenza A and B viruses, as well as other zoonotic RNA viruses.


Current Phase II Scholars

Soham Al Snih, M.D., Ph.D

Soham Al Snih, M.D., Ph.DSoham came to UTMB in 1998 and is Assistant Professor in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences and Fellow at the Sealy Center on Aging. She received her degree in Medicine at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, “Luis Razetti” School of Medicine (1986) in Caracas-Venezuela.  She received further training at the University Hospital of Caracas, where she completed her Internal Medicine residency in 1991 and her fellowship in Rheumatology in 1993. Then she served as faculty in the Rheumatology division taking care of patients, training of rheumatology fellows, and conducting clinical research from 1994 to 1998. During that time she was involved in several research projects related to clinical epidemiology, clinical trials, and epidemiology of rheumatic diseases in Venezuela. Also, she was the head of the epidemiology area of the National Center of Rheumatic Diseases, a national program under the umbrella of the Venezuelan Ministry of Health that organizes the medical care of patients with rheumatic diseases.


Upon her arrival in the United States, she completed her Master of Science degree in August 2001, in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch (Tesis Title: Impact of arthritis on disability among older Mexican Americans); then she completed her PhD in health services research, with special focus in the health of the older adult Hispanics in May 2005 (Dissertation Title: Disablement process among older Mexican Americans with arthritis). She was previously a recipient of a BIRCWH (Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health) program award through a K12 NIH/NICHD. She had published over 60 articles in top peer-review journals. Her work has been widely cited by researchers at the national and international levels in a number of prestigious journals. She serves in the editorial board of the Journal of Aging Health and the Open Geriatric Medicine Journal. She also serves as an invited reviewer for numerous journals, scientific abstracts for the Gerontological Society of America, and applications for the Hispanic-Serving Health Professions. She had served as Ad Hoc reviewer for the National Institute of Health/National Institute of Aging. She had presented her work at numerous national professional meetings.


She is the Principal Investigator of an R03 from the NIH/NIA to study obesity, muscle strength, and disability in older Mexican Americans and elders from Latin American and Caribbean countries. Also, she is the Principal Investigator of a Pilot Project from the Center for Rehabilitation Research using Large Datasets (R24 HD065702) to study frailty transitions and frailty-free life expectancy among older Mexican Americans, and Co-Investigator of the Longitudinal Study of Mexican American Elderly Health. Soham’ research interest include gender differences in obesity and related health outcomes (disability, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mortality), frailty, life-space mobility, functional assessment (muscle strength and lower body function), population health and health disparities, and health outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis.

Xiaoyong Bao, Ph.D.

Xiaoyong Bao, Ph.D.Xiaoyong was born in Zhejiang, China and attended Zhejiang University with a B.S. degree in Biotechnology. She came to UTMB in 1998 as a PhD candidate and got her Doctorate degree in Cellular Physiology and Molecular Biophysics in 2003. She was the recipient of Cell and Molecular Physiology Section Student Award from American Physiology Society in 2002, the Arthur V. Simmons Scholarship in 2002 and the Mason Guest Award from UTMB in 2003. She continued her education as a J. Kempner scholar for the year 2003-2004 and was supported by NIAID T32 training grant in emerging and reemerging infectious disease from 2005 to 2008.


Currently, she is Assistant professor in Pediatrics. Her research focuses on the host-virus interaction, particularly in the infection of paramyxoviruses. Her research is funded by Francis Parker Foundation and America Heart Association. As a virologist, she has presented her research at numerous national and international professional meetings. She was selected for oral presentation by Pediatric Academic Society Meeting in 2007 and 2008. She was also a receipt of travel awards from 6th International RSV Symposium in 2007 and 28th American Society of Virology Annual Meeting in 2009.She is currently funded by an NIH K22 from NIAID beginning 9/15/2010 investigating cellular responses to human metapneumovirus infection.  Xiaoyong’s career goal is to develop an in-depth and up-to-date understanding of mechanism of host-pathogen interaction and host defense to viral infection with the aim to generate suitable vaccine candidate to prevent paramyxovirus infection.

Celia Chao, M.D.
Celia Chao, M.D.Associate Professor in Surgery and member of the Sealy Center for Cancer Cell Biology. She is a Surgical Oncologist and in additional to her clinical practice, she has a basic science laboratory. Her interest is in understanding the basic mechanisms of cancer progression in order to further our ability to help patients with their disease. Her laboratory is focused on the study of carcinoma–associated fibroblasts, cancer stem cells, and signal transduction pathways coupled to the bombesin and CCK/gastrin family of gastrointestinal peptide hormone receptors in solid tumors. She is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and member of the Society of Surgical Oncology and the American Society of Breast Surgeons, and has authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles that highlight her expertise in breast cancer and her basic science studies. She is currently funded by an NIH K08 from NCI beginning 9/1/2009 investigating bombesin-activated carcinoma associated fibroblasts in colorectal cancer. She teaches medical students and general surgical residents, and trains surgical research fellow in the laboratory.
Barbara M. Doucet, Ph.D., OTR

Barbara M. Doucet, Ph.D., OTRBarbara is a clinical researcher as well as a registered occupational therapist. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences in the UTMB School of Health Professions.


 She earned both her Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy and her Master of Health Sciences degree from Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Science Center in New Orleans. She received her doctoral degree in Kinesiology from The University of Texas at Austin, where her focus was Human Movement Science and Neuromuscular Physiology. Dr. Doucet has held both clinical and administrative roles at several healthcare facilities in Louisiana and Texas and has previously served on faculty at LSU Health Sciences Center and The University of Texas at Austin.


She received AOTA Board Specialty Certification in Neurorehabilitation in 1997, and also served on the Nursing and Allied Health Professions Subcommittee for the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference. She has been active in state professional organizations, serving as President, Vice-President, Education Chair, and Standards & Practice Chair of the Louisiana Occupational Therapy Association. Other professional roles she has assumed include item writer for the AOTA Occupational Therapy Certification Examination, abstract reviewer for the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference, and book reviewer for Slack, Inc. Currently, she is an Associate Editor for The American Journal of Occupational Therapy. She is the recipient of a Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers/UTMB Sealy Center on Aging grant as well as a NIH K12 scholar under Ken Ottenbacher, PhD, here at UTMB.

Dr. Doucet has over 25 years of clinical experience working with the stroke population, her primary research interest area. She is involved in research related to methods and modalities that facilitate recovery of motor control in the upper extremity following stroke. She is also interested in the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) with these clients and her work investigates optimal patterns and parameters of NMES that promote efficient and effective recovery of paralyzed muscle tissue. Additionally, her work extends into how NMES can be used in other healthy or pathological populations such as the brain injured and the elderly to promote muscle health and recovery and maximize functional performance in daily activities.

Celeste C. Finnerty, Ph.D.

Celeste C. Finnerty, Ph.D.Celeste came to UTMB in 1994 and is now an Assistant Professor in Surgery with additional appointments to the Neuroscience and Cell Biology graduate program and the Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine. She is also an Institute for Translational Sciences Career Development Scholar, which is funded by a grant from the NIH National Center for Research Resources. She was born in Newport, Rhode Island and after moving across the US many times, she attended Rice University in Houston Texas where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. Celeste then earned her PhD at UTMB in the Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics (now Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) Department. Following a post-doctoral fellowship in the Sealy Center for Cancer Cell Biology at UTMB, Celeste became an NIH fellow in the Trauma and Burns program at the Shriners Hospital for Children Galveston / UTMB Department of Surgery. She now participates in translational research projects related to improving acute and long-term outcomes following a burn injury. Celeste mentors graduate, medical, and undergraduate students interested in translational research utilizing basic science and clinical research techniques. She is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Clinical and Cellular Immunity, and has served as a reviewer for the Journal of Burn Care and Research, the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, the Medical Science Monitor, and the Journal of Surgical Research. Her work has been presented at both national and international meetings and has resulted in more than 50 publications.


Much of the research that Celeste is involved with focuses on prevention or attenuation of the hypermetabolic and hyper-inflammatory responses induced by a burn injury; the goal is to directly translate research from the bench to the bedside within a short period of time in order to improve the outcome and quality of life for burn patients. Recent efforts within the Institute for Translational Science have formed new collaborations to investigate the use of proteomic and genomic expression profiles to identify candidate biomarkers that are associated with outcomes such as survival, development of multiple organ failure, and other post-burn sequelae. Further participation in the NIGMS-funded glue grant, Inflammation and the Host Response to Injury ( has enabled examination of changes in skin, muscle, fat, and peripheral blood leukocyte genomes and their relationship to various clinical correlates with a particular focus on patient outcome.
Celeste’s major research interests, however, are the proteomic and genomic responses to burn in skin and the long-term changes responsible for hypertrophic scarring. Following a severe burn injury, hypertrophic scarring is a major clinical problem affecting up to 91% of burn patients. Hypertrophic scars are hyperinflammatory, pruritic, painful, and disfiguring. Reduction of the hyperinflammation and maturation of the hypertrophic scar takes up to 3 years following the injury. Surgical removal is the only treatment option for severely scarred patients. The goal of this project is to correlate clinical findings with the molecular processes that occur during the post-burn healing process, resulting in normal versus hypertrophic scarring. The data from this project will allow development of therapeutic interventions that have the potential to prevent or attenuate the development of hypertrophic scarring in burn patients. An additional finding from the burn research team is that propranolol reduces hypertrophic scarring; this is the first therapeutic agent that has shown promise for scar treatment. Studies to determine how and why propranolol has this effect are underway. By combining data from clinical studies (blood flow, clinical scar evaluation, histology, serum markers) with in vitro experiments, the molecular mechanisms are being dissected, which may lead to identification of potential targets for more specific therapies. Using primary cell lines created from corresponding skin and scar explants from burn patients and normal volunteers, Celeste’s team has demonstrated that fibroblasts from hypertrophic scars are hyperinflammatory, that these cells are insulin resistant for 3-5 years post burn, and have identified pharmacologic agents which restore insulin responsiveness.

Meera R. Gupta, M.D.
Meera R. Gupta, M.D.Dr. Gupta received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Molecular Biology from Washington University in St. Louis, MO and the degree of Doctor of Medicine from Indiana University in Indianapolis, IN. She subsequently completed a dual residency in Internal Medicine-Pediatrics at Newark Beth Israel Hospital in New Jersey and fellowship in Allergy/Immunology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, OH. Dr. Gupta is board certified in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Allergy/Immunology and is currently a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

Clinically, Dr. Gupta is involved in evaluating and managing patients of all ages with asthma, allergies, drug and food allergies.   Her research interests are focused on understanding the mechanisms of immune regulation, with an emphasis on the role of dendritic cells in the modulation of immune responses. She has presented at both national and international meetings, and has published 7 articles in clinical transplantation.  Her current research focuses on the effect of respiratory infections on dendritic cell responses. Dr. Gupta’s career goal is to become an independently funded researcher in dendritic cell biology and immune regulation and directly apply these findings to patients with chronic inflammatory diseases.
Tomoko Makishima, M.D., Ph.D.

Tomoko Makishima, M.D., Ph.D.Tomoko completed residency training in general otolaryngology at the Department of Otolaryngology at Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan, and is board-certified in Otorhinolaryngology by the Japanese Society of Otorhinolaryngology. She studied molecular biology with emphasis on “apoptosis” at the Department of Molecular Biology, Kyushu University, in Fukuoka, Japan, and obtained a Ph.D. degree in medical sciences in 1998. She then completed postdoctoral training at the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 2001 to 2005. She was involved in a wide variety of clinical and basic research projects involving hereditary deafness. She was recruited to the Department of Otolaryngology at UTMB in September, 2005. She is currently a tenure-track Assistant Professor, a clinician-scientist, and the otology specialist in the department. Since 2005, while balancing her time between clinical duties and research, she has successfully mentored medical students and residents in research, which resulted in awards and prizes for their presentations at national meetings.


Tomoko’s career goal is to become an independent clinician-scientist in the field of otology. Her main interestis to determine the molecular events leading to altered auditory and vestibular phenotype and behavior in mutant mice, and to correlate these with human inner ear disease. The focus of her current project is to 1) establish the diagnostic performance of a battery of functional tests in mice to assess individual vestibular organ function involved in linear and angular acceleration input, 2) contrast compensation following unilateral-, and bilateral vestibular function loss, 3) determine the effects of aging in vestibular compensation, and 4) characterize the vestibular dysfunction in mutant mice. She hopes to build upon her basic science experience to conduct translational research on inner ear disorders in humans in the future.

Konrad Pazdrak, M.D., Ph.D.

Konrad Pazdrak, M.D., Ph.D.Dr. Pazdrak is Assistant Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a member of Sealy Center of Molecular Medicine and Institute for Translational Medicine. He is also an Institute for Translational Sciences Career Development Scholar, which is funded by a grant from the NIH National Center for Research Resources. He received both MD and PhD degree from the Medical University of Lodz, Poland. Since his residence in clinical immunology and postgraduate training his science focused on allergy and asthma. His initial research experience involved pharmacological and environmental studies in asthmatic patients resulting in defining diagnostic parameters of allergic reactions in patients with asthma and allergic rhinitis. Since coming to UTMB he was involved in studies of signaling in activated eosinophils, which brought him recognition in the field of eosinophilic and allergic inflammation as reflected by numerous awards from the national immunology and allergy societies and over 600 citations of his publications. Four years ago he joined the NHLBI proteomic center where he initiated comprehensive proteomic studies of the eosinophil and currently, his group is the only lab in the world using proteomic approach to study human eosinophil biology.


Dr. Pazdrak teaches in medical school and supervises graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in proteomics and molecular biology training. He is ad-hoc reviewer in the Journal of Immunology, Clinical and Experimental Allergy and American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Konrad’s long term professional goal is dedicated toward discovery of novel, eosinophil-based therapeutic targets for the treatment of allergy, bronchial asthma and certain viral infections. In this regard his recent effort has focused on translation of basic research discoveries into clinically relevant applications such as 1) Phenotypes of severe asthma; investigated in the Institute for Translational Sciences, 2) Mechanism of steroid resistance studied in the NHLBI UTMB Proteomics Center 3) Pathogenesis of eosinophilic esophagitis, studied in collaboration with Baylor University, Houston, and 3) Mechanisms of Strongyloides and HTLV-1 co-infection; in collaboration with Department of Infectionus Disease at UTMB and Institute for Tropical Medicine, Lima.

Timothy A. Reistetter. Ph.D., OTR

Timothy A. Reistetter. Ph.D., OTRTim is an occupational therapist who came to UTMB in June of 2008 as a K12 scholar in the Rehabilitation Research Career Development Program. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Department and in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences at UTMB. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Old Dominion University, and both his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in occupational therapy from Shenandoah University and Texas Woman’s University, respectively.  Tim’s clinical area is primarily adult rehabilitation with a focus on brain injury and stroke rehabilitation. Upon completion of his doctoral training, he worked as a research project specialist in the brain injury and stroke program at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) in Houston, Texas.  Dr Reistetter then joined the faculty at East Carolina University and started an upper extremity motion laboratory focusing on measurement and intervention approaches for rehabilitation. He is a board certified and licensed occupational therapist in Texas.


Tim has presented at local, state, and national occupational therapy and rehabilitation conferences. He has published 20 articles and co-authored two book chapters. He currently serves on the editorial boards for Occupational Therapy International and for Occupational Therapy in Healthcare. He has also served as a reviewer for the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, and the American Journal of Occupational Therapy. He is currently funded with an NIH K01 award focusing on rehabilitation outcomes with an emphasis on regional variation.

Taylor S. Riall, M.D., Ph.D.

Taylor S. Riall, M.D., Ph.D.Taylor is currently a Professor and John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research in the Department of Surgery. She is also the Director for the Center for Comparative Effectiveness and Cancer Outcomes (CCECO). She attended the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed her surgical residency and Research Fellowship in Molecular Genetics / Pancreatic Cancer at Johns Hopkins as well. She obtained her Ph.D. from the UTMB Clinical Science Graduate Program in 2007. Her honors include 8 research competition awards; Alpha Omega Alpha; the William Stewart Halsted Award in General Surgery; American College of Surgeons Medical Student Program; Phi Beta Kappa, Rutgers University; B.A. Highest Honors, Rutgers University; the Sealy Center Vaccine Development Graduate Student Award; and 5 additional undergraduate scholarship awards.


Taylor’s principal area of research health services research in pancreatic cancer and comparative effectiveness of various approaches to surgical diseases. She studies quality of care both nationally a locally at UTMB. She primarily performs analyses using large datasets such as SEER-Medicare, Medicare, and Texas State Discharge Data. She has presented her research in over 80 publications and book chapters, as well as over 20 abstracts and invited presentations. She is currently funded with an NIH K07 award evaluating underutilization of surgical resection in patients with pancreatic cancer and a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas multiinstutional grant evaluating adherence to guidelines in the post-treatment surveillance of cancer in Texas.

Heidi M Spratt, Ph.D.

Heidi M Spratt, Ph.D.Heidi came to UTMB in 2002 and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health as well as the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She attended Trinity University in San Antonio with a Bachelors degree in Mathematics. She then attended Rice University in Houston for both her Masters and PhD in Statistics. She continued her education as a Post-Doctoral Fellow here at UTMB in Bioinformatics. Heidi is also a Scientist in the Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine. She currently teaches graduate students in both statistics and bioinformatics techniques. Prior to coming to UTMB, she conducted research in the area of protein sequence functional motifs.


Since coming to UTMB, she has conducted research in the areas of classification and machine learning algorithms with special emphasis on biomarker panel creation. She is presently working on several projects including identifying biomarker panels for Hepatitis C Virus/ Hepatocellular Carcinoma disease detection and progression as well as wound healing after burns injuries, several infectious disease applications including West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever, Diabetes, and Stimulant Addiction. She is currently funded by a K25 grant from the NIH National Cancer Institute on Biomarker discovery for hepatitis C progression using machine learning techniques (SVMs).

Alai Tan, M.D. Ph.D.
Alai Tan, M.D. Ph.D.Alai is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and Senior Biostatistician in the Sealy Center on Aging, UTMB. She got her medical training in 1994 from Tongji Medical University, Wuhan, P.R.China and then took a position as a resident in Beijing You An Hospital (formerly named as Beijing Infectious Diseases Hospital), China. Alai got her M.S. in Biostatics in 2002 and Ph.D. in Clinical Science (Health Services Track) in 2004 from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Alai has been working as a statistician in UTMB since 2005. Her research focuses on the population-based health services researches using large national health database, especially in methodology issues in health services research. Alai is also a faculty member of graduate school. She teaches graduate courses and supervises graduate students. Alai’s career goal is to provide statistical expertise in collaborative researches and also develop herself as an independent researcher by obtaining external funding.
Michael Underbrink, M.D.

Michael Underbrink, M.D.Dr. Underbrink graduated from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston and completed his surgical internship and residency training in otolaryngology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He then went on to complete a clinical laryngology fellowship at the University of Washington School of Medicine, which included training at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Clinically, Dr. Underbrink's practice focus on state of the art medical and surgical techniques for the treatment of speech and swallowing disorders and diseases of the larynx.

Dr. Underbrink’s research interests involve the study of HPV infection of the head and neck. HPV infection causes respiratory papillomatosis (types 6 and 11) and is a causative agent for a subset of head and neck carcinomas (high risk types 16, 18, 31, 33, etc.). The viral oncogenes, E6 and E7, dysregulate the cell cycle, inhibit apoptosis, and promote abnormal cell growth during the course of an infection. Persistent infection of the cervical epithelium with high risk HPVs is associated with nearly 100% of cervical carcinomas and a subset of oropharyngeal carcinomas. Persistent infection of low risk HPV in laryngeal epithelium leads to respiratory papillomatosis in both pediatric and adult patients. His lab is currently determining the molecular interactions of HPV viral oncogenes within primary keratinocyte cell cultures and patient tissue samples to investigate novel therapies for the treatment of these infections within the upper aerodigestive tract.

Patricia van den Berg, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Patricia van den Berg, Ph.D., M.P.H.Patricia joined the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at UTMB as an Assistant Professor in August 2008. She grew up in Santa Barbara, CA, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. She earned her Master’s and PhD in clinical psychology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and completed her internship at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center in St. Petersburg, FL. She completed a postdoctoral research fel­lowship in adolescent health protection research at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, where she also completed an MPH in Epidemiology. Patricia is currently funded by a K23 grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for a longitudinal investigation of shared risk and protective factors for unhealthy weight control behaviors and obesity. Her research is also supported by a Hogg Foundation Mental Health Research Grant.


Patricia’s research focuses on eating- and weight-related problems and body image in adolescent girls and women. While in Minnesota, Patricia conducted research using data from Project EAT (Eating Among Teens), which is a 5-year longitudinal study of the socio-environmental, personal, and behavioral predictors of eating behaviors, weight, and body image among a large and ethnically diverse sample of adolescents. She published articles on topics such as the relationship between reading magazine articles about dieting or weight loss and unhealthy weight control behaviors (such as laxative use and vomiting) and binging 5 years later; social comparison with media images; and the frequency and effect of weight teasing across race/ethnicity and weight status. Patricia is also interested in the relationship between body image and health behaviors such as physical activity. She also has a particular interest in sociocultural influences on body image and health behaviors, including media, peer, and family influences. Patricia is continuing her research in this area at UTMB, and is especially interested in examining eating and weight-related issues in Hispanic adolescent girls.


TRSP Former Scholars

Beth Auslander, PhD (2005 – 2009) Jose Barral, MD, PhD (2010 – 2013)
Ivonne-Marie Bergés, Ph.D. (2007-2013) Elisabet Borsheim, PhD  (2005 – 2013)
Monthaporn Bryant, PhD (2010 – 2013) Quynh-Uyen Bui, MD, MPH (2005 – 2006)
Concepcion Diaz-Arrastia, MD (2005 – 2009) Micah Drummond, PhD (2009 – 2011)
Tracy Nguyen-Oghalai, MD, PhD (2005 – 2008)

Norma Perez, PhD (2007 – 2009)

Biju Pillai, PhD (2011 – 2013) Mukaila Raji, MD, MS (2005 – 2009)
Krystal Revai, MD, MPH (2005 – 2009) James Rice, MD (2006 – 2009)
Gulshan Sharma, MBBS, MPH (2005 – 2013) Navkiran Shokar, MD, MPH (2006 – 2009)       
Venkataraman Sriraman, PhD (2006 – 2008) Jeffrey R. Temple, PhD (2007 – 2013)
Kyle Timmerman, PhD (2011 – 2012) Sarah Tom, PhD, MPH (2011 – 2012)
Seckin Ulualp, MD (2005 – 2007) Fen Wei Wang, MD, PhD (2006 –2007)
Karen Williams, PhD, MHSA (2008 – 2010) Helen Wu, PhD (2005 – 2011)
Madhu lata Singh Chauhan, PhD (2011-2013) Jared Dickinson, PhD (2012 - 2013)

A. Paige Adams, DVM, PhD (2010 - 2013)