Members of the Academy of Research Mentors

With input from Department Chairs and the Council of Deans, 27 faculty have been selected as Founding Members, representing diverse Departments in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions. 

 

Nisha Jain Garg, Ph.D., Chair - Academy of Research Mentors
Nisha Jain Garg, Ph.D.Nisha Jain Garg, Ph.D. is currently Professor in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology. Dr.Garg has developed a strong and successful research program in the field of tropical infectious cardiomyopathy. Her research efforts have led to >45 peer-reviewed journal articles on the concept of Chagas disease, and >15 extramurally funded projects. She is currently member of the NIH PTHE study section, Associate editor of the American Journal of Pathology, and serving as Franklin Fellow at the Department of State.

Dr.Garg’s lab efforts are targeted to win the human fight against Trypanosoma cruzi that causes Chagasic cardiomyopathy. Chagas disease is a major public health threat in Latin America and Mexico, and recognized as an emerging infectious disease in the U.S.Her ongoing translational research with multiple international collaborations focuses on identifying the potential vaccine candidates, and using these candidates to develop multi-component vaccine(s) that provide protection against different T.cruzi strains in multiple animal hosts and humans. Working with young students and scientists in the lab, Dr.Garg utilizes innovative approaches to understand the pathomechanisms of oxidative stress in progressive Chagas disease, and develop adjunct therapies that can prevent or arrest the chronic heart failure.

Karl Anderson, M.D. - Preventive Medicine & Community Health (PMCH)

Karl Anderson M.D.Karl Anderson received his BA degree in Human Biology and an MD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.  His postgraduate training in Internal Medicine was at Vanderbilt University Hospital, Nashville and New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY.  During a fellowship in Gastroenterology also at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center he performed laboratory based clinical research on bile acids and lipids.  After working for 2 years on hepatitis B and tropical diseases at the US Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2 in Taiwan, he returned to the Rockefeller University in New York and began working with an established research team on porphyrias, heme metabolism and nutritional and environmental effects on drug metabolism.  He is board certified in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine.  Anderson came to UTMB as a professor in the Departments of Preventive Medicine (Division of Human Nutrition) and Community Health and Internal Medicine (Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology) in 1987.  He founded and directs the graduate program in Clinical Science, which has produced almost 60 PhD or MS graduates, oversees educational activities of the Institute for Translational Sciences (ITS), and is associate director of the ITS Clinical Research Center.  His research focuses mostly on evidenced-based treatment and diagnosis of human porphyrias.  He has published >110 peer-reviewed articles and >100 reviews, book chapters and on-line modules, and served on numerous NIH and FDA grant review panels.  He has mentored or co-mentored 15 PhD and MS students, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty.  Dr. Anderson has had continued federal grant funding while at UTMB. 

Bill T. Ameredes, M.S., Ph.D. - Internal Medicine (PUL)/PMCH

Bill T. Ameredes, M.S., Ph.D.Dr. Ameredes is a Professor with tenure in the Department of Internal Medicine at UTMB, with an adjunct tenured appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Ameredes earned his B.S. in Biology (1981), and M.S. in Biology (1984), at the University of Akron, and earned his Ph.D. in Physiology at the Ohio State University (1989), with support from the National Institutes of Health, and the American Heart Association. He has published over 80 papers and 150 abstracts, and has directly mentored 8 PhDs, 4 PhD-postdoctoral fellows, 13 sub-specialty physician fellows, and 4 undergraduate students working in his research laboratory over the course of his 25-year research career. 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, in the areas of airway smooth muscle biology and allergic airway inflammation, in the context of obstructive airway diseases, such as asthma and COPD. Since 2009, Dr. Ameredes has been the PI and Training Program Director of the NIEHS-supported Training Program in Environmental Toxicology (ETox), which has been continuously funded by the NIEHS for over 22 years. As Director of the ETox Training Program, he has mentored over 20 Ph.D. and post-docs over the past 5 years. In 2013, Dr. Ameredes was appointed as the KL2 Scholar Training Program Director of the NIH/NCATS Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program at UTMB, and is a co-director of the Translational Research Scholars Program (TRSP), in which he provides direction to CTSA-supported early-stage assistant professors and instructors in the development of their careers. Dr. Ameredes was appointed as a founding member of the UTMB Academy of Research Mentors in 2012, and was appointed as the Vice Chair of the ARM in 2013.

Mahmoud Ahmed, Ph.D. - OB/GYN
Mahmoud Ahmed, Ph.D.Dr. Ahmed has a B.Sc. (Chemistry and Botany), M.Sc. (Biochemistry) from Cairo University in Egypt and Ph.D. (Biochemistry) from the university of Tennessee health Sciences Center at Memphis, TN. His postdoctoral training in membrane biochemistry and biophysics was at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. He is currently Mildred Harvey and Phyllis Hankins Distinguished Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Director, Maternal-Fetal Pharmacology and Bio-development Laboratories as well as Professor in the Graduate Programs, Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Pharmacology & Toxicology.

His research focused on the structure and functions of biological membranes. He was first to identify opiate receptors and their mediated functions in human placenta. He spent over 30 years trying to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying several of human placental functions that relate to heroin addiction during pregnancy as well as maternal and neonatal outcomes of the addict. Approximately 15 years ago, he hypothesized that the human placenta acts as a functional barrier that regulates fetal exposure to xenobiotics including medications. He demonstrated that the activities of placental metabolic enzymes and transporters regulate the extent of fetal exposure to a medication. He also demonstrated that these activities are also subject to variation due to polymorphisms in their genes.

During the last 15 years, he reported information that gave credence to the hypothesis by investigations of several medications used in pregnancy for treatment of various medical conditions that inflict the pregnant patient To name a few, methadone, buprenorphine, LAAM, glyburide, metformin, rosiglitazone, 17-hudroxyprogetronecaprote, and bupropion.

His research has been funded by NSF, NIDA, NICHD, private organizations and pharmaceutical industry.
During his tenure of over 44 years in four U.S. Universities, he has trained and mentored numerous medical and graduate students, clinical and research fellows as well as junior faculty members.
G. A. Shakeel Ansari, Ph.D. - Pathology

G. A. Shakeel Ansari, Ph.D.Dr. Ansari is a Professor with tenure in the Department of Pathology at UTMB.  Dr. Ansari earned his B.S. in Chemistry (1966), M.S. in Chemistry (1984), and M.Phil. in Chemistry  and  Ph.D. (1973) in synthetic organic chemistry from Aligarh Muslim University (India), with support from the University Grants Commission and Counsel of Scientific and Industrial Research (India). He has published over 160 papers and trained several graduate and postdoctoral fellows holding leadership positions in academics and in industry over the course of his 38-year research career. He teaches lipid biochemistry, molecular toxicology and nutrition to graduate students and medical students at UTMB, and has an active research laboratory. Since 1980, Dr. Ansari has been continuously funded by agencies such as the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, World Health Organization, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). His current research focus (supported by NIEHS and NIAAA) is chemical-induce autoimmune diseases, toxicity of petrogenic aromatic hydrocarbons and alcoholic liver diseases and their effect on human health using systems biology approaches.  Dr. Ansari was appointed to the UTMB Academy of Research Mentors in 2012.

Abbey B. Berenson, M.D., Ph.D. - Ob/Gyn; Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health

Abbey B. Berenson, MD PhD Dr. Berenson is a senior clinical researcher, gynecologist, and mentor, with an international reputation for studies of health issues among reproductive-aged women. She has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers and has maintained extramural federal grant support since 1994. Sponsors include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Defense (DoD), several private foundations, and  the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). She is currently engaged in a cancer prevention project to increase HPV vaccination rates among young adult women (CPRIT PP120150). She also leads a research career development program for junior faculty (NIH/K12HD052023) and a postdoctoral program (NIH/T32HD055163). Focused on women’s health, both programs are in a 2nd cycle of NIH funding.  She is the founding Director of the UTMB Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health (CIRWH). She developed a center infrastructure that promotes involvement and success of junior faculty from a number of departments. Seed grants from CIRWH have helped 10 investigators obtain pilot data which has led to more than $5 million in NIH grant funding at UTMB  In addition, Dr. Berenson has served on the national level as a board examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has also served on numerous committees for American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the board of directors for the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society, and was the first female president of the Central Association of Obstetricians & Gynecologists. In addition, she was a panel member for the CDC’s US Guidelines for Contraceptive Management and have been a member of several Scientific Review Groups for the National Institutes of Health.  During the past 25 years, Dr. Berenson has mentored 14 MDs and 31 PhDs, the majority of whom have remained in academic  research and have obtained funding as principal investigators on their own external awards.

Anish Bhardwaj, MD - Neurology, Chair, Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs

Anish Bhardwaj, MDAnish Bhardwaj, MD, MBA, CPE, FAHA, FCCM, FAAN, FANA joined UTMB in August 2013 as the Chairman of the Department of Neurology, John Sealy Chair in Neurology, Professor in the departments of Neurology, Neurological Surgery, and Neuroscience and Cell Biology. He also serves as Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs in the School of Medicine. Dr. Bhardwaj joined us from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston where he served as Chairman and Professor of Neurology, Neuroscience, and Neurosurgery as well as Neurologist-in-Chief.


Dr. Bhardwaj completed his medical training at College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria and Neurology Residency training at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. He then completed fellowship training in Neurosciences Critical Care at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and subsequently served on the faculty of Hopkins a decade until 2006 where he rose through the academic ranks to become Associate Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Neurology. He then served as Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health and Science University until 2009. He is board certified in Neurology, Vascular Neurology, and Neurocritical Care by the United Council on Neurologic Specialties.


Dr. Bhardwaj comes to UTMB with a distinguished background in academic and clinical Neurosciences. An acknowledged national and international expert in Neurocritical Care and Stroke, he has authored more than 135 publications including original peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, editorials, reviews and 5 books. His laboratory-based and translational research has focused on understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms and developing methods and strategies for protecting the brain after stroke and other forms of brain injury. He has received substantial extramural funding for these endeavors. Over the years he has served on study sections of the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association (AHA) and continues to serve as a member on numerous editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals including Stroke, Critical Care Medicine, and Neurocritical Care. He has been the recipient of several awards and honors including the Established Investigator Award from AHA and is an elected fellow of the Stroke Council of the American Heart Association (FAHA), Academy of Neurology (FAAN), American Neurological Association (FANA), and the American College of Critical Care Medicine (FCCM). He has developed major Neurocritical Care programs previously and continues to focus in implementing and expanding UTMB’s Neurosciences Clinical and Research Programs in strong collaboration with Neurosurgery, Departments of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, and the Institute of Translational Medicine.


In addition to being a program developer, Dr. Bhardwaj has an excellent track record of mentoring faculty, fellows and house staff. He has trained and mentored over 45 Clinical and Research fellows who have gone on to have highly successful career trajectories to become leaders in their fields. As Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Dr. Bhardwaj plays a major role in departmental and faculty APT and reviews, evaluations, and their development.

Sheryl L. Bishop, PhD - SON Nursing PhD Program

Sheryl L. Bishop, PhDSheryl L. Bishop, PhD is a Professor of the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Schools of Nursing and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences since 1992. Since 1996, Dr. Bishop has served as lecturer, faculty and co-chair for the Master’s program and summer Space Studies Program for the departments of Space Life Science and Space and Society at the International Space University, Strasbourg, France. As an internationally recognized behavioral researcher in extreme environments, for the last 25 years Dr. Bishop has investigated human performance and group dynamics in teams in extreme, unusual environments, involving deep cavers, mountain climbers, desert survival groups, polar expeditioners, Antarctic winter-over groups and various simulations of isolated, confined environments for space, including a number of missions at remote habitats (e.g., Mars Desert Research Station, Utah, and FMARS and the Mars Project on Devon Island, Canada). She has been a grant reviewer for the European Space Agency’s Concordia Station, the Canadian Space Agency’s Life Science Directorate, the Australian Antarctic Science Division, and the Czech Science Foundation. She routinely presents her research at numerous scientific conferences, has over 60 publications (including contribution to NASA’s latest Historical Series on Psychology in Space) and over 50 scholarly presentations in both the medical and psychological fields. She is frequently sought out as a content expert by various media and has participated in several television documentaries on space and extreme environments by Discovery Channel, BBC and 60 Minutes. Dr. Bishop is a founding member, Board of Trustee member and Senior Editor for the Journal of the Society of Human Performance in Extreme Environments, Contributing Editor for Life Sciences for Habitation (formerly the Journal of Life Support and Biospheric Sciences) and Review Editor for the Journal of Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance (formerly Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine) among numerous others.

Allan Brasier, M.D. - Internal Medicine (Endo), Director, Institute for Translational Sciences(ITS)

Allan Brasier, M.D.Allan Brasier received his BA degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California, San Diego and his MD degree from the UC San Francisco.  His postgraduate training in Internal Medicine was at the Brigham and Womens Hospital, and completed a fellowship in adult Endocrinology and Metabolism at Massachusetts General Hospital (both in Boston, MA).  There, Brasier initiated his research program in genetic control of inflammation.  He has been awarded an AHA Established Investigatorship, and was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation.  He has served on numerous NIH study panels, including as Chairman of Experimental Virology Study Section (2002-2004).  He is nationally recognized for his studies of inflammation in the cardiovascular system and airway epithelium His current research interests are in systematic identification of inflammatory gene and protein networks relevant to airway inflammation for molecular phenotyping and translational applications.  He has published >145 peer-reviewed manuscripts as first or senior author in prestigious journals, 30 invited chapters and books.  , He is a founding member of the UTMB Academy of Research Mentors; he has mentored 6 junior faculty, 12 postdoctoral fellows and 10 doctoral students.  Dr. Brasier is the co-Principal Investigator of an NIAID-funded Program Project Grant on airway inflammation, Associate Director of UTMB’s NHLBI Proteomics Center and PI of UTMBs Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA).  Currently Brasier is Nelda C and HJ Lutcher Stark Distinguished Professor of Internal Medicine, Director of the Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine (http://scmm.utmb.edu/), and Director of the Institute for Translational Sciences (https://its.utmb.edu/).  The Institute is the academic home for the UTMB CTSA which seeks to foster translational research through the promotion of multidisciplinary team science. 

Ashok Chopra, Ph.D. - Microbiology & Immunology
Ashok Chopra, Ph.D.Dr. Chopra is a Professor (tenured) in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology (M&I) and a collaborating faculty in the Institute for Human Infections & Immunity, Center for Biodefense & Emerging Infectious Diseases, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, Center for Tropical Diseases, Institute for Translational Sciences, and the Shriners Burns Institute. He earned his B.S. in Biology (1976), and M.S. (1978) and Ph.D. (1982) in Microbiology, from the Kurukshetra University, India. Dr. Chopra was a UNESCO fellow (1982-1984) at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, Prague, and was awarded Candidate of Science (C.Sc.) degree in the field of Molecular & Cellular Biology. He rose to the level of full Professor in 2000 and has mentored 17 graduate students belonging to M&I, Cell Biology, Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine (HPTM), and MD/PhD programs. Dr. Chopra has successfully trained numerous undergraduate students, ~20 postdoctoral fellows, and mentored junior faculty at UTMB and outside the campus. His earlier graduate students have settled in academia/private sector, with one student being awarded a KO1 award. Dr. Chopra served and currently chairs the M&I Graduate School Admissions Committee and represents the Program to GSBS. He is an active member of the Cell Biology Graduate Program and is involved in teaching Advanced Pathogenic Bacteriology, Microbial Genetics, and Grant Writing Courses to the graduate students, and several infectious disease modules in the Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum. While serving as the chair of the James W. McLaughlin Endowment Funds, he instituted “McLaughlin Scholars Award” to recruit excellent students with Infectious Disease research interests and developed plans to attract excellent postdoctoral fellows to UTMB. In addition, Dr. Chopra has directed the Medical Microbiology Course for the medical students and lectured in CVP and GIN Courses, and facilitated PHD, Renal & Electrolyte, or GIN modules since the inception of the new medical school curriculum. He has served on the SOM admissions committee and is a collaborating faculty on all of the NIH-funded T32- and T35- training grants on infectious diseases. In 2011, Dr. Chopra was honored with “Dr. Leon Bromberg Professorship for Excellence in Teaching,” the highest honor bestowed by GSBS. In 2012, he was elected to the “Academy of Research Mentors.” With over 180 peer-reviewed publications and cutting-edge research in the areas of bacterial pathogenesis, vaccinology and translating bench research to bed-side, he was honored by the GSBS in 2013 with the “Distinguished Faculty Research Award.” Dr. Chopra is also the holder of “Robert E Shope MD and John S Dunn Distinguished Chair in Global Health.” He has obtained funding from NIH, NSF, Private Companies and Foundations, and DoD, served on several national and international study sections, and on the editorial boards of scientific journals. Together, these honors reflect his passion and devotion for teaching, mentoring, and research.
Kathryn Cunningham, Ph.D. - Pharmacology & Toxicology
Kathryn A. Cunningham, Ph.D.Kathryn A. Cunningham, Ph.D. is currently the Chauncey Leake Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, the Director of the Center for Addiction Research and the Vice Chair of the UTMB Department of Pharmacology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). Dr. Cunningham founded and created the vision for the UTMB Center for Addiction Research, implementing key strategies to expand research and mentoring activities, recruit high caliber faculty, capture philanthropy, and optimize grant development programs. Her laboratory engages in cross-disciplinary, translational research with chemists, cell biologists and clinical scientists who are focused on target mechanisms and molecular therapeutics in addiction and related disorders. Dr. Cunningham’s research has been funded continuously by NIH for 25 years and her group has made numerous seminal observations and developed new technologies which are described in 110 peer-reviewed publications and 25+ reviews and commentaries; she holds three patents for new chemical entities with her synthetic chemist collaborators. Dr. Cunningham has mentored 40+ junior faculty, pre- and post-doctoral fellows who have published 70+ publications and received 25+ grants. She was elected President of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and was honored with the 2012 CPDD Mentorship Awardee and the 2013 CPDD Marian Fischman Memorial Award. She is Associate Editor of ACS Chemical Neuroscience, a member of the Editorial Board for Nature Neuropsychopharmacology and editor of the 2014 Nature Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews. Dr. Cunningham chaired the CSR Neurobiology of Motivated Behavior study section (2011-2013), received the ASPET-Astellas Award for Translational Pharmacology, the Hedwig van Ameringen Award at the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program and the Distinguished Faculty Research Award at UTMB. She is an active educator, mentor and board member for community programs, secondary/high schools and colleges in the region.
Nisha Garg, Ph.D. -  Microbiology & Immunology

Nisha Garg, Ph.D.Dr. Nisha J Garg joined UTMB in 2000, and currently serves as the Professor in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology, Robert E. Shope, MD and John S. Dunn Distinguished Chair in Global Health, and Associate Director of the Institute for Human Infection and Immunity and the Center for Tropical Diseases. A world renowned expert in cardiomyopathy of infectious etiology, Dr. Garg serves on external review committees of NIH, American Heart Association, and other international funding agencies, editorial boards of numerous high-caliber scientific journals, including Am J Pathol, American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease and Infection and Immunity. Recently she also served as Senior Scientific Advisor at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), engaged in implementation of Neglected Tropical Diseases Initiative of the US Government in Latin America.

Dr. Garg has made substantial contributions as an investigator, educator, and mentor. She has conducted pioneering research on understanding the pathogenesis of chagasic disease of the heart that afflict millions of people, and developing unique strategies for early diagnosis and prevention of cardiac disease. In addition to her scientific achievements, Dr. Garg has an outstanding track record as a mentor, and works on initiatives to promote the careers of junior faculty in science. Dr. Garg’s research program has been consistently funded by extramural sources. She currently has two NIH R01 research grants and is a collaborator on a number of NIH small grants. She has authored or co-authored 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including the J Am Coll Cardiol, Mol Cell Proteomics, Am J Pathol, Internatl J Cardiol, and J Immunol.

James Goodwin, M.D. - Internal Medicine (Geriatrics)

James Goodwin, M.D.Dr. Goodwin has been continuously NIH funded to study patterns and outcomes of cancer care of the elderly for more than 25 years. He and his colleagues have used large administrative data bases such as Medicare data, and Medicare data linked to SEER Tumor Registry data. He also designed and directed large longitudinal studies of community-dwelling elderly, and conducted interventions to improve access to and outcomes from cancer care in the elderly. Much of this work has involved systematic studies into the mechanisms underlying disparities in medical care and outcomes in the elderly and in race and ethnic minorities. His 300+ publications have been cited more than 17,000 times, with 75 publications cited 50+ times. He has considerable experience with mentoring and collaborating in multidisciplinary research. He has developed and directed several multidisciplinary research centers in my career. At UTMB these include the Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (an NIA P-30) which he led from 2000 to 2011, and the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities (an NCI P-50), which he led from 2003 to 2010. In the past five years he shed several major administrative responsibilities, involving directing the Geriatrics Division, the Geriatric Service Line, and the NIH funded Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center. He now spends 30% time mentoring junior faculty, supported by an Established Investigator Award from the NCI.

Mark Hellmich, Ph.D. - Surgery, Physiology & Biophysics

Mark Hellmich, Ph.D.Dr. Hellmich is a tenured Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Surgery, and past holder of the Leon Bromberg Professorship for Teaching Excellence at UTMB. He obtained his PhD in Physiology from Boston University and completed postdoctoral fellowship training at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute at Bethesda, MD. He is actively involved in the operations of the Graduate School for Biomedical Science at UTMB, serving on both the Executive and Curriculum Committees, as well as being a co-founder and director of the Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine graduate program, which received the prestigious Award for Innovation in Research Training and Education from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in 2012. He has also collaborated with educators in the School of Medicine (SOM) at UTMB to develop and implement the Translational Research Track for medical students. He is the PI on two NIH training grants: one in the Department of Surgery to support two-year research fellowships for surgical residents in basic biomedical sciences and clinical outcomes research related to gastrointestinal (GI) disease, and a second in the Institute for Translational Science at UTMB, which supports the training of pre-doctoral graduate and medical students, and postdoctoral fellows in multidisciplinary translational team science.

Dr. Hellmich also manages a productive research laboratory investigating the cellular and molecular pathophysiology of human gastrointestinal malignancies. Over the past 15 years, his laboratory has supported the scientific training of two junior faculty members, 17 postdoctoral fellows, and 12 pre-doctoral graduate and medical students. The collective work of Dr. Hellmich and the trainees he as mentored has resulted in over 90 peer-reviewed scientific publications. In addition, Dr. Hellmich has contributed to 7 books, including two editions of the textbook: Physiology of the Gastrointestinal Track (Ed. LR Johnson), and maintained over 17 years of continuous intra- and extramural grant support for his research. In addition to the training grant awards, Dr. Hellmich’s laboratory is currently supported by an R01 and STTR small business grant from the NIH, and a Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) grant totaling over $800K in direct funds per year. Projects supported by these grants are focused on defining the molecular and cellular biology of transsulfuration enzymes and the gaseous transmitter, hydrogen sulfate (H2S), in colon cancer progression and metastasis. To advance the translation of his basic science research, Dr. Hellmich is a co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of CBS Therapeutics, Inc., a UTMB start-up company engaged in the development of small molecule inhibitors of transsulfuration enzymes for the treatment of advanced colorectal cancers.

George Kramer, Ph.D. - Anesthesiology

George Kramer, Ph. D.George Kramer, PhD is a Professor in Dept. of Anesthesiology and Director of the Resuscitation Research Laboratory. His degrees are in physics, meteorology, bioengineering, physiology and biophysics. Dr. Kramer’s research focus is the study of circulatory shock, fluid therapy and resuscitation technologies. He has over 135 peer-reviewed publications and over 20 chapters and invited reviews. He is a graduate of the Texas Medical Center’s Clinical Science and Safety course, which lead to a research interest in clinical quality improvement focused on treatment of sepsis and life threatening infectious diseases. He has had a 31-year record of close collaborations with anesthesiologists, surgeons, intensivists and emergency physicians for both basic and applied research. Lab funding has come from the NIH, American Heart Association, Office of Naval Research, US Army, Shriners Burns Hospitals, National Medical Test Bed and Industry.

 

Dr. Kramer is an entrepreneur and inventor with 20 issued and pending patents; 3 commercialized products and 1 product under regulatory review. Products were developed with 4 startups, 3 of which he founded. He is currently Chief Science Officer for Arcos, Inc. and Resuscitation Solutions, Inc. He is the founder of non-profit corporations and educational organizations including SmartMonitoring.org; Foundation for Advancements of Surgery and Medicine; Resuscitation-Nurses.org; the Fluid Optimization Group; and the SALT club.

 

His mentoring experience and expertise is best used working with physician-scientists and fellows, engineers, systemic whole organism scientists and quality improvement workers. His mentoring would have limited applicability to molecular and cellular biologists.

Fernanda Laezza, M.D., Ph.D. - Pharmacology & Toxicology

Fernanda Laezza MD PhDDr. Fernanda Laezza is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology at UTMB with an adjunct appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She is a member of the Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative diseases, the Center for Addiction Research, the Center for Environmental Toxicology and the Center for Biomedical Engineering. She also has an adjunct position as Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at University of Houston. Dr. Laezza earned her MD degree at the School of Medicine in Turin, Italy, and her PhD in neuroscience at Emory University. After training as post-doctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, she started her career as independent investigator at the end of 2008 as Assistant Professor at UTMB. Within four years of her appointment, she established a vigorous research program in neuropharmacology of ion channels employing techniques ranging from molecular biology and imaging to electrophysiology in complex animal models of brain disorders, a research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health since 2012. Her work has been published in prestigious journals such as Science, Journal of Neuroscience and FASEB Journal. During her career she received awards and grants from the American Epilepsy Society, the PhRMA Foundation, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the American Society of Clinical Psychiatry (former NCDEU). She has published over 40 peer-reviewed papers, of which more than 20 in the past 4 years. Since at UTMB she has directly mentored 5 graduate students from the Pharmacology & Toxicology, Neuroscience and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology graduate programs, 16 undergraduate students and 4 high school students. She is a mentor in three T32 training grants and a co-director of an NIH funded training program led by Drs. Niesel and Houston that helps students of underrepresented minorities to successfully pursue graduate studies. In addition to facilitating and teaching in the medical and graduate schools, Dr. Laezza is the course director of neuronal synaptic transmission (BBSC 6126) since 2009. Since 2010 she also serves as the graduate school Admission Chair for the Pharmacology & Toxicology graduate program. In 2015 she was appointed as associate member of the UTMB Academy of Research Mentors.

Steve Lieberman, M.D. - Senior Dean for Administration, ex officio
Steve Lieberman, M.D.Dr. Lieberman serves the ARM in an ex officio capacity for the Dean of Medicine, assisting with administrative guidance regarding our institutional directions and initiatives.
Kyriakos Markides, Ph.D. - PMCH- Sociomedical Sciences
Kyriakos Markides, Ph.D.

Kyriakos S. Markides received his Ph.D. in Sociology in 1976 from Louisiana State University. He is currently the Annie and John Gnitzinger Distinguished Professor of Aging and Director of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Dr. Markides is the Editor of the Journal of Aging and Health which he founded in 1989. He is the author or co-author of over 350 publications most of which are on aging and health issues in the Mexican American population as well as minority aging issues in general. His research has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health since 1980. He is currently Principal Investigator of the Hispanic EPESE (Established Population for the Epidemiological Study of the Elderly), a longitudinal study of the health of 3,952 older Mexican Americans from the five Southwestern states. Dr. Markides is credited with coining the term ‘Hispanic Epidemiological Paradox’ (with J. Coreil) which is currently the leading theme in Hispanic health.  The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) has listed Dr. Markides among the most highly cited social scientists in the world. Dr. Markides is the 2006 recipient of the Distinguished Mentorship Award of the Gerontological Society of America, and the 2009 Distinguished Professor Award in Gerontology and Geriatrics from UCLA. He was also the inaugural recipient of the Pearmain Prize for outstanding service to the field of aging from the Roybal Institute on Aging at the University of Southern California. The prize was awarded in February, 2010. In 2015 he was selected to receive the Robert W. Kleemeier award from the Gerontological Society of America.

David Niesel, Ph.D. - Microbiology & Immunology, Chair

David Niesel, Ph.D.David Niesel, Ph.D. joined the faculty at UTMB in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in 1983. He was named the department chairman in 2000. Dr. Niesel received his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1980 from North Carolina State University. In 1997, Dr. Niesel was named Vice Dean for the GSBS. He was named VP and Dean in 2014 and also holds the prestigious Lawrence E. Ethridge Professorship in Graduate Biomedical Sciences.

 

As Chairman, Dr. Niesel raised the research profile of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology to a top 6 ranking in NIH funding among Microbiology and Immunology Departments nationally for the past 5 years. He was the co-founder of the UTMB Summer Undergraduate Research Program which has provided summer experiences to more than 700 undergraduates over more than 20 years.

 

Dr. Niesel’s research has been nationally funded. He investigates Streptococcus pneumoniae gene and protein expression and virulence potential of this pathogen under different environmental conditions. He has more than 60 publications, and holds 4 patents including one pending for a rapid novel sensitive method for antibiotic resistance detection in complex populations of bacteria. He participates in peer review for NASA, EPA, NSF and other national and international agencies. Dr. Niesel is co-creator and co-host of the Medical Discovery News, a radio show that is broadcast on 115 stations in 16 states, in Puerto Rico and three other countries. This program brings advances in biomedical research to the public and has won national and regional awards.

Kenneth Ottenbacher, Ph.D. - Rehabilitation Sciences
Kenneth Ottenbacher, Ph.D.Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR, holds the Russell Shearn Moody Distinguished Chair in Neurological Rehabilitation at UTMB. He is Professor and Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences in the School of Health Professions. Dr. Ottenbacher is Director of the Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition, and Associate Director for the Sealy Center on Aging. He received his PhD from the University of Missouri-Columbia and is a licensed occupational therapist. Dr. Ottenbacher’s research interests include health and rehabilitation outcomes with a focus on functional assessment, disability and frailty in older adults. He has published more than 320 scientific articles in refereed journals and is the author or co-editor of four textbooks. Dr. Ottenbacher’s research has been supported by continuous federal funding since 1984. He currently serves as PI for three federally funded research grants examining health outcomes using large datasets. Dr. Ottenbacher is PI for two training grants -- a NIH funded career development (K12) program and a postdoctoral training grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. He also serves as the core leader for the UTMB Older American Independence (Pepper) Center Research Career Development Core. Dr. Ottenbacher has supervised more than 50 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and mentored eight K-award scholars.
Regino Perez-Polo, Ph.D., Co-Chair -  BMB (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)

Regino Perez-Polo, Ph.D.  J. Regino Perez-Polo is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Member of the Institute for Translational Science and the Mission Connect Consortium. He earned a B.S and a Masters in Electrical Engineering at Cornell University and a Ph. D. in Biophysics at Stanford University with support from the National Institutes of Health and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation before doing post-doctoral training with Dr. Paul Berg at Stanford. His long-term research goal is to understand the mechanisms of cellular dysfunction that characterize acute and chronic trauma to the central nervous system and heart using an array of interventions ranging from modified liposomal gene transfer, endogenous receptor antagonists and gene specific “decoy” inhibition of transcription factor binding to promoter sites as intervention approaches to therapy at the transcriptional level. Collaborative efforts include the Baylor College of Medicine, University of Texas Houston Medical School, University of Leipzig, Germany, University of Montpellier, France, and Ben-Gurion University, Israel. He has mentored many undergraduate students, 35 Ph. D. students, 19 postdoctoral fellows and many UTMB faculty, many of which now hold leadership positions in academia and the pharma industry worldwide. Dr. Perez-Polo has published 285 peer reviewed papers, 62 chapters, and edited 15 books; he holds several patents. Dr. Perez-Polo is Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience and Associate Editor of the Journal of Neuroscience Research and serves on several other Editorial Boards. He has served on advisory boards for NINDS, NIA, NICHD, NSF, NIMH, DOD, and DOE. He has taught courses in the graduate programs of BMB, NCB, and Cell Biology as well as the Medical School. He is a member of the UTMB Academy of Research Mentors.

Montomery Pettitt, Ph.D. - Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Montgomery Pettit PhDB. Montgomery Pettitt is the Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry, and director of the Sealy Center for Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas. After his PhD from University of Houston, a postdoctoral fellowship at University of Texas at Austin, and an NIH fellowship at Harvard Dr. Pettitt joined the faculty at University of Houston as Assistant Professor in 1985. He held the position of Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, as well as Chair of Chemistry (1997-2001), of Computer Science (2000-01), and Associate Dean for Research (2007-2011). His honors include being elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been deeply involved in inter-disciplinary training and research for three decades. He also is a long time executive board member of the inter-institutional graduate program in Structural and Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics at Baylor College of Medicine. His strong commitment to mentoring and training ranges from training high school, predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees in his lab, mentoring junior and mid-level faculty, and being a member of the UTMB Academy of Research Mentors. In his career, Dr. Pettitt has mentored over 90 graduate students and postdocs in his lab. He also has been a strong supporter of the “mentoring the mentor” concept including Research Mentor Training workshops, which since 2010 have brought together more than 150 faculty from junior to senior levels to discuss critical elements of mentoring graduate students and postdocs.
Don Powell, M.D. - Internal Medicine

Don Powell, M.D.Dr. Powell is currently the Director of the Institute for Translational Sciences-Clinical Research Center and Professor, Internal Medicine and Professor, Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the he University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston. He also directs the NASA Flight Analog Research unit as part of his Clinical Research Center responsibilities. Dr. Powell stepped down from the Chair of Internal Medicine at UTMB in 2002, a position he held for 11 years and he served as Associate Dean for Research from 2002-2006.

 

A graduate of Auburn University, Dr. Powell earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Alabama, Birmingham. He completed his residency training at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston and at Yale-New Haven Community Hospital and completed a Special National Institutes of Health Fellowship in Physiology at Yale University School of Medicine. He served in the Army Medical Corp for three years at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He was a member of the faculty at University of North Carolina for 20 years, where he was Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition and Director the NIH-funded Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease. He is Board certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

 

He has been funded by the NIH for research in gastrointestinal science for over 45 years. He has served on Study Sections, Councils and Advisory Committees at the NIH, and the editorial boards of numerous medical and scientific journals. He was an Associate Editor of the Cecil Textbook of Medicine, the Yamada Textbook of Gastroenterology, now in its 5th edition, and a new 1st edition text: Principles of Clinical Gastroenterology. He has authored and co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, textbooks and chapters, teaching aids, reviews, and editorials.

 

When he was at UNC, he mentored several junior gastroenterology and basic science faculty members who have had outstanding careers as NIH-funded investigators, Digestive Diseases Center Directors, and leaders in in the fields of inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal disease epidemiology, irritable bowel syndrome, and mucosal immunology. As Chair of Internal Medicine, he guided faculty in his department who have gone on to become Division Directors, Department Chairs, and medical center Deans, Vice Presidents and Presidents. Over the past 5 years in the ITS, he has mentored two Kl2 Scholars to successful R01 and K08 awards. His philosophy of mentoring is described in a recent article; Powell DW, Mentoring: Then and Now, Gastroenterology 2014; 147:550-3. http://dx.dol.org/10.1053/J.gastro.2014.07.029

Pomila Singh, Ph.D. - Neuroscience & Cell Biology
Pomila Singh, Ph. D.

For the past 34 years, Dr Pomila Singh has remained continuously funded by the NCI and administered several NCI funded projects. Her laboratory has published more than 140 peer-reviewed papers and invited articles/book chapters, and generated several unique tools and reagents required for the successful completion of their funded projects. Dr Singh has expertise in the areas of cell and molecular biology of solid tumors, cancer stem cells, colon carcinogenesis and chemoprevention, and she has a strong track record of training many graduate students and post-graduate trainees, in areas of high relevance to the cancer field. Her laboratory is credited with making several new discoveries and generating paradigm-shifting concepts, for which she has received 4 patents so far for treatment and diagnosis of cancer. Four additional patents have been filed for diagnosis and treatment of epithelial cancers. One of her technologies was licensed in 2012 for cancer treatment and diagnosis. In recognition of her contributions to science, Dr Singh was named the ‘Endowed Edna Seisheimer Levin Professor of Cancer Studies’ in 2002, and served in that position till 2006.

Dr Singh has served as a charter member and an ad hoc member of many NIH study sections since 1985, and is continuing to serve as a reviewer of grant applications submitted to many funding agencies including NCI, DOD and VA. She has also served as a reviewer for intramural grants at UTMB for many years.
Dr Singh is also currently serving as the Program Director of the Cell biology Graduate Program, and is the course director of several courses which were developed by her and are being taught as mandatory courses to the students of the Cell biology Graduate program. As recognition of her service to the graduate school and to the teaching mission of the school, Dr Singh received the ‘Endowed Mary and J Palmer Professorship for excellence in teaching’, from the Graduate School at UTMB, from 2011-2013, and was awarded the ‘Distinguished Teaching Award’ in 2011 by the Graduate Student Organization at UTMB. She was also named the ‘The best teacher in Cell biology’ by the graduate program at UTMB. She has also received the ‘Distinguished Faculty Service Award’ from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UTMB in 2011.

Besides mentoring many graduate and post graduate trainees in her laboratory, she also mentors medical students, High School students, college interns and Residents and Fellows in clinical Departments. She has also mentored several junior faculty members at UTMB in many departments and helped a few of them to obtain their first RO1/KO1 grants, for projects they developed in her laboratory

Lynn Soong, Ph.D. - Microbiology & Immunology
Lynn Soong, Ph.D.Dr. Soong is Professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, and Pathology at UTMB, with an adjunct appointment in the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Soong earned her M.D. (1983) and M.S. in virology (1986) at the Shanghai Medical University. She received her Ph.D. in parasitology at the University Georgia (1992) and postdoctoral training in immunology and parasitology from the Yale University School of Medicine. Since she joined UTMB in 1998, she has been continuously funded by research grants from the National Institutes of Health to examine the pathogenic mechanisms associated insect-transmitted infections caused by parasites, bacteria and viruses. She has directly mentored 8 PhDs, 17 postdoctoral fellows, and 2 M.S. students during her 16-year research career at UTMB, and her group has published over 80 research papers. Dr. Soong has been the PI and Training Program Director for an NIAID-funded Infectious Diseases and Inflammatory Disorders Training Program (2008 -2019), which provides salary supports and hands-on training for up to 9 medical students each year for laboratory research. Up to now, 9 of these medical students have contributed to publications. Dr. Soong was appointed as a founding member of the UTMB Academy of Research Mentors in 2012. Currently, she is the Director of the Microbiology and Immunology Graduate Program and the Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
Giulio Taglialatela, Ph.D. - Neurology
Giulio Taglialatela, Ph.D.Dr. Taglialatela earned his MS in biological sciences in 1984 and his PhD in pharmacology in 1988, both at the University of Rome La Sapienza in Italy. In 1998 he was appointed a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BMB), where he completed training in 1990. After directing for 3 years the Molecular and Cell Biology division of the Institute for Research on Senescence in Pomezia (Rome, Italy), he came back to UTMB in 1993 as a Research Assistant Professor in BMB and rose through the ranks to his appointment as a tenured Full Professor in the Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology in 2011. In 2014, Dr. Taglialatela became the Vice Chair of the Department of Neurology and the director of the UTMB Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and was endowed as the Sealy Chair in Parkinson’s Disease Research. Actively involved in teaching to the medical and graduate school where he served for several years as the co-director of the MCT course, associated director and later director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program, and co-director of the UTMB Summer Undergraduate Research Program, for the past 17 years Dr. Taglialatela has maintained a continuously funded research group mentoring several graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and medical students. His research focuses on molecular neurobiology of Alzheimer’s Disease and related neurodegenerative disorders, attracting support, among others, from NIH, the Texas ARP, the Alzheimer Association and the Alzheimer Art Quilt Initiative. He has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers and is reviewer for several scientific journals and serves as section editor for the journal Aging Cell (impact factor: 7). Over the years he has been called as ad hoc member on several grant review panels, both nationally (NIH, Alzheimer’s Association) and internationally (Review Board of Ireland, Italian Ministry of Research, Italian Ministry of Research). For 3 years he has served as Chair of one of the review panels of the Emerging Technology and Training in Neuroscience (ETTN) IIRG at CSR/NIH and currently serves as an appointed permanent member of the Clinical Neuroscience & Neurodegeneration (CNN) study section at NIH/CSR. In recognition for his continued services as scientist, educator and administrator at UTMB, Dr. Taglialatela has been bestowed with several awards, including the Neuroscience Excellence Teaching Award (2010, 2014, 1015), Mace Bearer for the 2012 GSBS Commencement, the Neurology Professionality Award (2015), the Graduate School Teaching Excellent Award (2013) and the Graduate School Service Award (2013), these latter two being the highest awards given each year to one Graduate Faculty at UTMB.
Ronald Tilton, Ph.D., Co-Chair - Internal Medicine

Ronald Tilton, Ph.DDr. Ronald Tilton is a Professor with tenure in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at UTMB.  Dr. Tilton earned B.S degrees in Chemistry and Zoology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, in 1971 and a Ph.D. degree in Pathology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1977.  He is a member of the Institute for Translational Science, a member of the Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine, and a founding member of the UTMB Academy of Research Mentors.  Dr. Tilton’s research has explored the pathogenesis of diabetic complications, and he has developed techniques that measure vascular permeability and blood flow, and utilized light, transmission and scanning electron microscopy to explore vascular functional and structural changes induced by diabetes in kidneys and eyes.  Currently, Dr. Tilton’s research is focused on inflammatory changes in diabetic kidneys, and he uses biochemistry, tissue culture, molecular biology, and animal model approaches to explore the role of renal tubular epithelium in diabetes-induced renal inflammation.  Dr. Tilton has published 110 peer-reviewed papers, 24 book chapters/invited reviews, and more than 150 abstracts presented at national and international meetings.  He holds 9 patents.  Dr. Tilton has served on numerous grant review panels for national foundations, including the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, as well as NIH, and currently serves on the Editorial Boards of four diabetes-related journals.  He has served on Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees since 1993, and currently serves as Chair of the UTMB IACUC.  He has taught courses in the graduate programs of BMB and the medical school, and has mentored many undergraduate students, 11 Ph.D. students, 8 postdoctoral fellows, and many UTMB faculty.

Alfredo Torres, Ph.D. -  Microbiology & Immunology
Alfredo Torres, Ph.D.Alfredo Torres, PhD is a Professor at UTMB. He received a MS from the Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla, Mexico, a PhD from University of Texas at Austin and complete postdoctoral training at the University of Maryland Medical School. He joined UTMB in 2003. He has extensive experience in the study of category B bacterial pathogens, such as pathogenic Escherichia coli, Shigella, Salmonella, Burkholderia mallei and B. pseudomallei. He has published more than 80 peer-review publications, 12 book chapters and 2 books in topics related to microbial pathogenesis, food safety, therapeutics, and vaccine development. His major interest includes the elucidation of the mechanisms used by pathogenic E. coli to adhere and colonize the intestinal epithelia and to characterize regulatory networks controlling their expression. His laboratory is also characterizing the pathogenic mechanisms of B. mallei and B. pseudomallei with the goal of developing suitable vaccines and therapeutics. He has developed a solid reputation in the Latin American community as a leader and has been involved in teaching and training the next generation of American and Latin American scientist. He founded and currently coordinate the Latin American Coalition for Escherichia coli Research that organize courses, symposia, free of cost to trainees in the region. He also teach bacteriology related courses to graduate students and undergraduate students in the USA and Mexico and has an active laboratory training the next generation of scientist in bacterial pathogenesis and vaccinology. In the educational side, he serves in the Graduate Educational and Postdoctoral committee at the American society for Microbiology and he is a member of the Steering Committee organizing the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.
M. Terese Verklan, Ph.D. -  Professor / Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist

M. Terese Verklan, Ph.D.Dr. M. Terese Verklan received her MSN in perinatology and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Her program of research involves maturation of the autonomic nervous system in the healthy and high-risk preterm and full-term neonate using linear and non-linear analytic techniques. She has also investigated changes in physiologic variability as the neonate transitions to extrauterine life and used magnetocardiography to study the autonomic nervous system of the developing human fetus. During her tenure as Associate Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, she was Co-Director of Clinical Research at Memorial Hermann/Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital (2002-2005). While at UT-Houston, she received the Dean’s award for excellence—Researcher of the Year and the Dean’s award for Outstanding Achievements in Research.  Dr. Verklan is currently at Professor at the School of Nursing and Graduate School of Biological Sciences where she mentors doctoral students and junior faculty in their beginning research careers, and been the mentor for a doctoral student funded by NIH.  She is an internationally known expert in the care of high-risk babies, and regularly presents at national and international conferences. Dr. Verklan is the co-editor of Core Curriculum for Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing, a textbook used widely around the world for the care of high-risk neonates. She has received a number of international and national awards for teaching and research, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She is a grant reviewer for National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR), Welsh Assembly Government, and has been a reviewer for the American Medical Association Medical Student Section and Resident and Fellow Section, and National Institute of Health Medical Student (MS1) Selection Committee. Dr. Verklan is a member of several editorial boards, and is a contributing editor for the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, a journal focused on advanced practice nursing issues related to research and clinical practice.

Elena Volpi, M.D., Ph.D. - Internal Medicine (Geriatrics), Assoc. Dir. ITS
Elena Volpi, M.D., Ph.D.Dr. Elena Volpi, MD, PhD, received her MD degree and PhD in Applied Pathophysiology from the University of Perugia, Italy, where she also completed her residency and fellowship in Endocrinology and Diabetes. Her graduate work focused on the regulation of whole body protein metabolism in humans measured with tracer methodologies. During her postdoctoral training in Metabolism and Gerontology, at the Shriners Hospital and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), she performed pioneering studies on the metabolic and nutritional mechanisms of muscle loss in older adults. As an assistant professor at the University of Southern California she established herself as a successful and independent investigator in the area of muscle metabolism and function in older adults. After becoming a tenured associate professor, she moved back to UTMB, becoming a professor and progressively assuming a leadership role within the academic community. Dr. Volpi is currently the Daisy Emery Allen Distinguished Chair in Geriatric Medicine, the director ad interim of the Sealy Center on Aging (http://www.utmb.edu/scoa/), the Associate Director of the Institute for Translational Sciences, and a Professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine, and Nutrition and Metabolism at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Her research has evolved over the years to translate the molecular and pathophysiological mechanisms of muscle loss and growth with aging into in clinical trials of interventions to promote functional recovery in the elderly. Her current research focuses on improving physical function in older adults with targeted lifestyle, nutritional and pharmacological interventions. She has received a number of national and international awards and honors, and is a Brookdale National Fellow, a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, and a Faculty of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. Starting in the year 2001 Dr. Volpi has participated in numerous review panels of the National Institutes of Health and expert committees on aging and nutrition. She has mentored 9 students, 11 fellows, and 7 junior faculty. All junior faculty have become independently funded, six of whom by the NIH. She is the principal investigator of the UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (http://www.utmb.edu/scoa/pepper/), the UTMB clinical site PI of the STRIDE Study (http://stridestudy.org/) and ASPREE (http://www.aspree.org/), and several other grants from the NIH and other sponsors. Dr. Volpi also practices geriatric endocrinology.
David H. Walker M.D. - Pathology

David H. Walker M.D.Dr. Walker is the Executive Director of the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases where he and his faculty are investigating arboviral infections, emerging viral hemorrhagic fevers, and rickettsioses in state-of-the-art BSL-3 and BSL-4 facilities.

His research has elucidated mechanisms of immunity to Rickettsia and Ehrlichia, developed animal models for investigating rickettsioses, ehrlichioses, and scrub typhus, and contributed to elucidating the pathology and pathophysiology of Lassa fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Mediterranean spotted fever, and human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis.  Among emerging infections, he contributed to the discovery, characterization, and/or epidemiology of Anaplasma phagocytophilum (human granulocytotropic anaplasmosis), Rickettsia japonica (Japanese spotted fever), R. felis (flea-borne spotted fever), and E. chaffeensis (human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis), and the novel Chinese bunyavirus, severe fever and thrombocytopenia syndrome virus.  His efforts have enhanced the science of rickettsiology in China, Sicily, Mexico, Brazil, Peru and Cameroon.  His research has led to 309 primary peer-reviewed research articles, 46 chapters in published proceedings, 51 state-of-the-art review articles and 18 patents.  His scholarly works include 161 book chapters and nine books.  His commitment to high quality dissemination of up-to-date knowledge of tropical medicine is exemplified in third edition of Tropical Infectious Diseases:  Principles, Pathogens, and Practice. He has served on the Armed Forces Epidemiology Board, the Defense Health Board, and the National Research Council Standing Committee on Biodefense and is Associate Editor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Nature Vaccines.  He was President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 2012-2013.

Scott Weaver, Ph.D. - Pathology

Scott Weaver, Ph.D.Dr. Scott Weaver is a virologist and vector biologist who studies arthropod-borne diseases with an emphasis on their emergence mechanisms, ecology, evolution, and vaccine development. He received his B.S. degree in Biology from the College of William and Mary in 1979, his M.S. in Medical Entomology in 1982 from Cornell, and his PhD in Virology from UC San Diego in 2003. Following a year of postdoctoral work at Yale University in Epidemiology, Dr. Weaver accepted a faculty position at the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1994 in the Department of Pathology and Center for Tropical Diseases where he has remained. His research on tropical arboviral diseases has included major field studies in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Senegal and Kenya. Dr. Weaver’s work has led to over 235 peer-reviewed publications, and has been continuously funded by the NIH, DoD and DHS for nearly 20 years. He has trained 18 PhD students in his UTMB laboratory as well as 23 postdoctoral fellows, most of who have gone on into independent scientific positions in government, academia and industry. Dr. Weaver also is PI of the NIH T32-funded predoctoral Biodefense Training Program, now in its 11th year of continuous funding. Dr. Weaver also teaches a biosafety and biosecurity module on in the UTMB ““Ethics of Scientific Research” course, as well as in a variety of graduate school classes.


During the past 10 years Dr. Weaver has assumed a wide variety of leadership positions, both at UTMB and in national and international scientific societies. At UTMB, he serves as Director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity (IHII). The IHII oversees UTMB infectious disease research as the umbrella organization for the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL, one of two NIH-funded national biocontainment facilities), the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Center for Tropical Diseases. As Scientific Director of the GNL, Dr. Weaver develops strategies for translational programs to develop diagnostics, treatment and vaccines against biothreat and emerging pathogens.