Category Archives: News

Visiting Scholars Hall of Fame

Congratulations to the Newly Awarded Visiting Scholars!


Dr. Jinan Banna is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is a registered dietitian, and completed her dietetic internship at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Her research interest is in childhood obesity prevention and developing tools to assess food behaviors and dietary intake, particularly in Spanish-speaking populations. She also worked as a research scientist at the Instituto de Investigación Nutricional in Lima, Peru, where she conducted a research study focused on assessing the dietary habits of adolescents in a peruvian community. In addition to her research activities, Dr. Banna also teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels such as Community Nutrition, Concepts in Nutrition Education, and Advanced Child and Adolescent Nutrition. Dr. Banna will be funded through the CTR-IN Visiting Scholar mechanism to visit her mentor at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks.


Guogen Shan, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of the Community Health Sciences.  Dr. Shan’s research focuses on developing adaptive clinical trials, efficient parametric and non-parametric statistical inferences, and exact testing procedures. He is the designated CTR biostatistician for UNLV of the recently National Institutes of Health funded 5-year grant. His is also the Principal Investigator of a grant from the UNLV Faculty Opportunity Awards program. He published extensively in journals indexed in the Science Citation Index. Dr. Shan will be traveling to the University of Hawaii at Manoa for Visiting Scholar activities.

LukkahataiNada2 art Dr. Nada Lukkahatai is an assistant professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, School of Nursing since 2014. She earned her PhD in nursing from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was trained as a post doctoral fellow at Symptoms biology Unit, National Institute of Nursing Research, Bethesda, Maryland. Her research interest lyes in cancer-related symptoms such as pain, fatigue and depression, and translation research from bench to bedside. As a postdoctoral fellow at National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH, she carried out the genomic and the proteomic studies to investigate the underlying biological mechanism of symptoms in patients with cancer and fibromyalgia. Dr. Lukkahatai published a number of publications in the genomic and proteomic in symptom biology area. As a Visiting Scholar Awardee she will be traveling to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Dr. Jacques Philip graduated from the “Necker Enfants Malades” medical school in Paris. His early clinical experience at the “Centre Vivre” in France, as an MD, was focused on the vocational rehabilitation of people experiencing health disparities, including the youth with mental illnesses. These children were often of an ethnic background.
He changed from the pursuit of a medical career to one in athletics and made Alaska his home. During that time, his knowledge and skills about data and research were gained through a combination of self-development and formal courses. They formed the foundation for, and have served him well, when he came back to the biomedical field in his current position at the Center for Alaska Native Health Research (CANHR) where he is now a Research Scientist. During the past 6 years, he worked for CANHR where his participation in several projects has given him knowledge about specific aspects of Alaska Native health research, such as, Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), ethics and confidentiality issues, tribal sovereignty, tribal data ownership and tribal review of publications. Thanks to the Mountain West CTR-IN visiting scholar award, he has found Dr. Deborah Goebert from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a mentor who will help him extend his research skills and prepare grant proposals aimed at reducing the socio-behavioral health disparities experienced by Alaska Native populations.

eCT Connect Work – A virtual collaboration


Build a Multi-Site Collaboration with eCT Connect Work! If you have current NIH funding and you’re interested in identifying potential collaborators in the Mountain West, we can assist in your effort!

eCT Connect Work is an exciting new collaboration tool that offers the chance to build interest across the regional network for research projects that have opportunities for multiple investigators and/or disciplines.

Collaborate with PIs across the Mountain West. Through interactive video with shared content (PowerPoint presentations, documents, demonstrations of procedures, viewing of related web material, etc.) you will have the ability to collaborate with your peers who will ultimately contribute by performing clinical trials, sharing data, and offering expertise. To start building a multi-site collaboration, schedule your first interactive meeting NOW!

eCT Connect tools 


 To begin your first eCT Connect Work,  the presenter (PI) will require the following:

A PowerPoint presentation regarding your research project, and a section that outlines your goals for the proposed multi-site collaboration.

A Laptop/PC that has a built-in webcam or a plug-in camera

Access to internet/ browser to access Adobe Connect software (provided by the CTR-IN). If you do not have prior knowledge of Adobe Connect software (a software that powers webinars and conferences through virtual space), the CTR-IN will provide assistance and/or training.

Available dates/times (minimum 3) to schedule eCT Connect webinars (including a mock webinar) through Adobe Connect.

The CTR-IN Meeting Coordinator will promote your eCT Connect Work (webinar) through a series of e-Blasts (e-mail marketing) that will provide participants with registration information to participate in the webinar followed by a link to the Adobe Connect webinar.

In the Spotlight: Round 3 Pilot Grant Awardees – Congratulations, you did it!

brach Brach Poston is an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Dr. Poston received his PhD from the University of Colorado and completed his postdoctoral at Arizona State University and the National Institutes of Health. Mr. Poston was also a project scientist at the Cleveland Clinic – Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health before moving to UNLV. His research involves the use of non-invasive brain stimulation methods to improve motor function in Parkinson’s Disease.
/wp-content/uploads/Doumas_Diana1-210x300 Diana Doumas, from Boise State University, is professor and chair of counselor education and director for the Institute for the Study of Addiction. Dr. Doumas is a licensed psychologist and a licensed professional counselor. Dr. Doumas’ clinical experience includes both individual and couples counseling for clients with substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and interpersonal concerns. Ms. Doumas specializes in empirically based interventions and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Her research interests include substance abuse prevention and intervention, with a focus on harm reduction and online interventions for high-risk college and high school students.
Headshot Ivo Ivo Sah Bandar, from the University of Hawaii, received her MD from the University of Indonesia, and her PhD from Iwate Medical University in Japan- majoring in virology, and subsequently her post-doctorate in HIV molecular pattern and its correlation to disease progression and pathogenesis. Dr. Bandar’s current studies focus on translational research in HIV immune activation and GALT microbiome, and their correlation with HIV co-morbidities. Additionally, she is researching the challenge of HIV persistence in finding a cure for HIV.
Rajal formal portrait UI September 2012 smaller Rajal Cohen, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Idaho, earned her PhD in psychology with a minor in kinesiology, from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Cohen’s graduate work focused on cognitive limitations to optimal movement in healthy young adults. During Ms. Cohen’s postdoctoral fellowship in the Balance Disorders Lab at Oregon Health & Science University, she worked on projects related to posture, gait initiation, and inhibitory control in Parkinson’s disease and aging. Prior to finishing her academic degrees, she trained as a teacher of the Alexander Technique and worked in private practice, helping people uncover and change habits of posture and movement that interfered with performance or ease. This work inspires her scientific exploration of the interconnectedness of thinking and moving. Dr. Cohen currently runs the Mind in Movement Laboratory where she uses motion capture technology and electromyography.
Susan DSC_0029_headshot Susan Tavernier is an assistant professor of nursing and coordinator of the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Idaho State University – Meridian. Dr. Tavernier received her PhD in nursing from the University of Utah, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship through the College of Nursing at the University of Utah working on a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (a funded study on pain outcomes in US hospitals). Ms. Travernier’s research is in the individual context and priorities of the cancer patient.
Physiology and Cell Biology; Chris VonBartheld Christopher (Chris) S. von Bartheld, is a neuroscientist, and a professor in the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology at the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno, Nevada. Dr. von Bartheld’s current focus is on gene expression in human extraocular muscles and the relationship between strabismus and schizophrenia. Mr. von Bartheld received his MD at the University of Göttingen in Germany in 1985, and trained at UCSD (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and the University of Washington in Seattle. Mr. von Bartheld has served on numerous NIH study sections, has reviewed manuscripts for more than 75 different international journals.
rau-cropped Thomas Rau is an assistant research professor at The University of Montana, Missoula. Dr. Rau received his PhDin neuroscience from The University of Montana in 2007. His primary area of research involves the development of novel methods to diagnose and treat traumatic brain injury (TBI). His research focus also involves developing molecular methods to detect chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head trauma. He is currently working to validate microRNA plasma biomarkers with cognitive impairment, balance dysfunction, and oculomotor deficiencies in TBI subjects.
Sree_Photo_0812_rev Sreejayan Nair is a professor of pharmacology in the School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Nair earned his PhD degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal, Mangalore University, India. Dr. Nair received his post-doctoral trainings at the Department of Medicine II, Ludwig Maximillians University, Klinikum Grosshadern, Munich, Germany and at the Department of Physiology, University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Memphis, TN before joining the University of Wyoming in 2002. His research interests are diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He has published over 70 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented at various national and international conferences. He has co-edited three books related to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 1.59.23 PM Dong Xu, an assistant professor for Idaho State University, received his PhD in Computational Science from San Diego State University. He subsequently completed a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship at the National Biomedical Computation Resource, an NIH-funded research center, at the University of California San Diego, in the areas of computational chemical biology, structure-based drug design, and antiviral research. Dr. Xu is a tenure-track faculty member at the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, he is also an adjunct professor at Boise VA Medical Center and San Diego State University. Dr. Xu’s research group at ISU pursues a broad range of cutting-edge and interdisciplinary computational research projects at the interface of chemistry, biology, pharmacology, informatics and computer science.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 2.22.04 PM Mary-Cloud Ammons is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Montana State University in Bozeman. She received her PhD in Molecular Biology with a focus on transcriptional regulation in phagocytic cells at MSU-Bozeman. Subsequently, Dr. Ammons joined the Center for Biofilm Engineering at MSU-Bozeman to study novel, biofilm-targeted, antimicrobial treatments for chronic wounds, such as pressure ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers. Since joining the faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, she has focused on using a complex systems biology approach to investigate how bacterial biofilms contribute to a deviation from the normal wound healing process and leading to chronicity. In support of the translational aspect of this research, Dr. Ammons looks forward to working with CTR-IN on her project, which aims to use the complex systems biology approach to develop evidence-based clinical protocols for the treatment of chronic wounds
mug Robert H. Coker is an associate professor of biology and wildlife at the University of Alaska Fairbanks – Center for Alaska Native Health Research, Institute for Arctic Biology. Dr. Coker received his PhD in physical education at the University of Mississippi, his postdoctoral fellow in physiology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a visiting fellow in physiology at Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark. His primary research focus is directed at the mitigation of metabolic stress in clinical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, sarcopenia and alcohol abuse.
mug Diane Ogiela, is an assistant professor and speech-language pathologist in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Idaho State University, where she directs the ISU Child Language Lab. She earned an MA in Linguistic Studies at Syracuse University, an MS in Audiology and Speech Sciences at Purdue University and a PhD in Audiology and Speech Sciences at Michigan State University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Developmental Neurolinguistics Lab at The Callier Center for Communication Disorders at the University of Texas at Dallas. Dr. Ogiela is currently using electrophysiological (EEG) and behavioral methods to study differences in grammatical development in children with SLI and children with typical language development
mug Frances Nedjat-Haiem is an Associate Professor at New Mexico State University, School of Social Work. She received her PhD from the University of Southern California, and completed her postdoctoral work at the Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Medical Center. With a special interest to improve the quality of care for vulnerable populations,Dr.Nedjat-Haiem’s research focuses on low income Latinos, military veterans and their families experiencing a health care crisis.
katherine Katherine T. Morris is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Morris received her MD at Oregon Health and Science University, completed her General Surgery residency there, and went on to complete a Fellowship in Surgical Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Surgery. Since joining the faculty at the University of New Mexico she has focused her translational research efforts on determining the role of a widely administered cytokine, granulocyte colony stimulating factor, in outcomes for gastric and colorectal cancer patients. Her long-term goal is to improve outcomes for patients with gastrointestinal cancers by using a combination approach of analysis of human samples and relevant animal models to better understand the links between chronic inflammation and the progression of these lethal cancers.

Forget-me-not site visits to UAF & UAA

Mountain West CTR-IN Principal Investigators traveled to The Great Land for the week of August 24th. Although they’ve visited several times before, they never grow tired of the wildlife and amazing scenery, bringing back a sizable album to prove it! Many thanks to Cindy Knall for her time and attention during the visit to the Univeristy of Alaska Anchorage.


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