Beth Tigges Bio
Beth Tigges, PhD, PNP, RN will serve as the Interim Director for the Tracking & Evaluation (T&E) Core of the MW CTR-IN Program. She is a tenured associate professor and Regents’ Professor at The University of New Mexico College of Nursing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As the current Tracking & Evaluation Director of the University of New Mexico – Health Sciences Center’s (UNM-HSC) Clinical & Translational Science Center (CTSC), she is a member of leadership groups on interdisciplinary teams that seek to improve research-related infrastructure and processes and, ultimately, research productivity at organizational, regional, and national levels. Dr. Tigges received her Bachelor’s in Nursing from Penn State and went on to earn her Masters in Nursing from Yale University, and a PhD degree from Columbia University in socio-medical sciences that focused on public health and social psychology .
During an academic career that has encompassed teaching and research and spanned 33 years—Yale University (1984-87), Columbia University (1987-89), and The University of New Mexico (1989-present)— Dr. Tigges has accumulated 27 years of clinical practice in which she has served as staff nurse, school nurse, community health nurse, and pediatric nurse practitioner. Dr. Tigges’ has been and is currently funded as an investigator on numerous [U.S.] National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Center grants that include funding for UNM-HSC CTSC, UNM Pediatric Clinical Trial Site, UNM Center for Brain Recovery and Repair, Mountain West CTR-IN Program, and National Children’s Study. As the co-chair of the Program Evaluators’ Group for the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award Centers, her passion is to work collaboratively in research partnerships—on teams with other scientists, clinicians, and community members.
Robert Seville Bio
Robert “Scott” Seville, PhD, will serve as the Associate Director of the MW CTR-IN Pilot Projects (CP3) Core and is the Chair of the Concierge Network. He is currently a Professor of Zoology and Physiology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wyoming. Currently, he serves as the Lead Concierge for MW CTR-IN Concierge Network. Previously, he served as the Associate Dean for the University of Wyoming Outreach School where he had oversight of UW facilities, staff and programs across Wyoming including managing UW Academic Regional Centers located on each Wyoming community college and the Wind River Indian Reservation. He received his Master’s and PhD degrees, and Postdoctoral training in Zoology/Physiology/Parasitology from the University of Wyoming, Laramie, in Wyoming followed by a NSF/NATO Fellowship in Parasitology.
Dr. Seville’s research has focused on the taxonomy, systematics, and parasite-host co-evolution using gastrointestinal protozoan parasites (coccidia) in wild hosts as a model system. Additionally, he brings experience in leading and managing NIH-funded activities as the Program Director/Principal Investigator, Outreach/Education Core Director, and previously Program Coordinator for the IDeA-funded Wyoming INBRE program. In these leadership roles, he has been responsible for working with the INBRE leadership team and the University of Wyoming Office of Research and Economic Development in managing ~$35M in support from NIGMS IDeA Programs with a number of research, education programs and projects focused on addressing health disparities in rural and American Indian communities in Wyoming.
Tony Ward Bio
Tony Ward, PhD, will serve as the Director for the new upcoming Community Engagement and Outreach (CEO) Core in Years 6-10 of the MW CTR-IN Program. In addition to teaching within University of Montana’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences, Dr. Ward’s research focuses on investigating the relationship between air pollution and respiratory health, working with rural and American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) populations throughout our region. Concurrently, he is the Co-PI on two NIEHS-funded R01s investigating the impact of residential wood burning on respiratory health in both children and elderly populations living in rural and tribal areas located in the southwest, northern Rocky Mountains, and rural Alaska Native communities. He is also the Co-PI on a NIH funded Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) project that educates rural and AI/AN students in schools throughout Montana, Idaho, and Alaska about air quality/respiratory health. Moreover, Dr. Ward is the Chair at the University of Montana, School of Public and Community Health Sciences in Missoula, Montana, and the State of Montana Director of the CEO Core for the AI/AN Clinical Translational Research Project (CTRP). Dr. Ward received his Masters degree in Environmental Science and Industrial Hygiene from the University of Houston, Clear Lake in Texas, and his PhD degree in Environmental Chemistry from the University of Montana, Missoula, in Montana along with a Postdoctoral.
Dr. Ward has experience conducting Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) in rural and underserved communities, including AI/AN communities. His experience with the AI/AN CTRP will be a valuable asset for his role as the CEO Core Director for the CTR-IN, providing synergy for both of the IDeA Programs.
Melissa Ann Schiff Bio
Melissa Ann Schiff, MD, MPH is the Associate Director of the MW CTR-IN BERD Core. Dr. Schiff is also a Research Professor for the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Preventative Medicine at the University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and MD Degree from the University of Michigan. She completed her Obstetrics & Gynecology residency at the University of New Mexico and went on to complete her Masters in Public Health with an emphasis in Epidemiology at the University of Washington.
Dr. Schiff has over 30 years of experience as an epidemiologist including extensive experience focusing on the areas of maternal and child health as well as injury epidemiology and prevention. She has been involved in research, teaching and mentoring which also includes experience in the design and analysis of epidemiologic studies both as a principal investigator and as an advisor/mentor for public health students, medical students, residents and faculty. Dr. Schiff has also served as the Director of the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health, A HRSA-funded training program for public health MPH graduate students at the University of Washington. She has also developed and taught a Summer Institute course to train public health professionals in basic epidemiology and is currently teaching medical students the University of New Mexico epidemiology and biostatistics. Her unique background is integral to the BERD Core as she assists its director in developing education and training for the MW CTR-IN network investigators.
Ruben Dagda Bio
Ruben Dagda, PhD, is the Associate Director of the Professional Development (PD) Core for the MW CTR-IN Program. In this role, he coordinates the Advance to Funding (ATF) Program and the Grant Writing Workshops (GWW). He received his PhD degree in Pharmacology from the University of Iowa and received his Postdoctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Dagda is also an Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Nevada Reno
In this role for the ATF Program, he assists research investigators in the review of their grants prior to submission to the NIH to provide constructive feedback from our many expert reviewers to increase their probability of extramural funding. Hence, the ATF Program functions very much like a “study section”. He is also in charge of coordinating the GWWs, which assist research investigators in improving their knowledge and skills in the preparation of grants to make them more competitive for extramural grant funding. He is currently investigating the molecular mechanisms that lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in cell culture, tissue and animal models of Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Dagda has authored multiple research manuscripts and review articles in the areas of toxicology, toxinology, mitochondrial function, and neurobiology. At the University of Nevada Medical School (UNSOM), he is committed to the training and education of undergraduate, graduate students and postdocs in his lab. His main research goals are to elucidate the prosurvival signaling pathways that regulate mitochondrial function, transport and turn-over in neurons and how aging and neurodegenerative diseases negatively impact these processes. The end goal is to develop novel small molecular drugs that can reverse neurodegeneration and elevate mitochondrial function in age-related neurodegenerative diseases.
Merle Kataoka-Yahiro Bio
Merle Kataoka-Yahiro, DrPH, MS, APRN is an Associate Director of the Professional Development (PD) Core of the MW CTR-IN Program since 2013. She coordinates the Education/Training for the PDC. She is a Professor in the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Additionally, she has served as PI for the NIH Extramural Associates Research Development (EARDA) Awards, Office of Research Development in 2013, and served as the Section Leader and Co-Leader for the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Multidisciplinary and Translational Research Infrastructure Expansion Hawaii Grant (RMATRIX) from 2010 – 2014. Dr. Kataoka-Yahiro earned two Master’s degrees in Parent-Child Nursing (Rush University) and Public Health (Northwestern University) and a DrPH in Public Health from the University of Illinois, School of Public Health in Chicago, Illinois.
Dr. Kataoka-Yahiro’s research area has been in health disparities research focused on chronic disease management with vulnerable populations which include women, children, older adults, and minority populations. Currently, she is examining and analyzing population data sets of Asian Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian groups and chronic diseases, specifically in prevention of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and associated cardiovascular risk factors (diabetes, hypertension, and obesity). Dr. Kataoka-Yahiro has mentored a cadre of diverse faculty and students through developing and providing scientific research training opportunities targeting towards health disparities research in clinical translational research.
Sherry Weitzen Bio
Sherry Weitzen, MD, PhD is the Director of the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD) core for the MW-CTR-IN Program. She is also an Assistant Professor for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of New Mexico HSC. She received her MD from Tel Aviv University in 2012, and completed a residency in family medicine at the UNM in 2015. She joined the DFCM faculty in 2012. Prior to entering medical school, Dr. Weitzen completed a MS in Biostatistics from UMass, Amherst and a PhD in Epidemiology at Brown University. After earning her PhD, she was a research assistant professor at the Brown School of Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She previously worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the National Center for Health Statistics.
Dr. Weitzen has conducted numerous research studies in the areas of women’s health, end of life, and epidemiologic methods. She has also taught masters level courses in research methods and statistical analyses. Her current research interests include neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and long-term outcomes of children with intrauterine opiate exposure, as well mentoring students, residents and others on how to answer research questions using publicly available health data. She is involved with a pilot randomized control study to evaluate effectiveness of Morphine versus Methadone in treating babies with NAS. She is the PIC of a study to create an NAS risk stratification tool for babies exposed to intrauterine opiates.
Clinically, Dr. Weitzen sees patients at the UNM North Valley Center for Family and Community Medicine, and is an attending physician on the UNMH Newborn and Intermediate care nurseries. She is committed to integrating biostatistics support into the fabric of MW CTR-IN clinical and translational research culture.
Akshay Sood Bio
Akshay Sood, MD, MPH
Akshay Sood, MD, MPH is the Associate Director of the Professional Development (PD) Core for the Mountain West CTR-IN Program. As the Associate Director for the PD Core’s Mentoring Unit, Dr. Sood’s focus is on the Mentorship Program. Dr. Sood obtained his Master’s in Public Health from Yale University and completed his fellowship training in Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine at Yale University – School of Medicine.
Dr. Sood is currently the Assistant Dean of Mentoring and Faculty Retention for the School of Medicine Office of Faculty Affairs and Career Development at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNM-HSC). In addition, he is a Tenured Professor for UNM-HSC’s Department of Medicine, Divisions of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine and Epidemiology. Dr. Sood’s interest in the epidemiology of chronic lung diseases has helped him build a unique academic career around the clinical translational basis for the association between non-smoking host factors and obstructive lung diseases. He leads the UNM HSC Faculty Mentor Development Program and is the P.I. of a U01 grant on the “Effectiveness of Innovative Research Mentor Interventions among Underrepresented Minority Faculty in the Southwest (NIGMS U01GM132175-01)”. He serves as a member of the Executive Steering Committee of the Diversity Program Consortium at the NIH. Dr. Sood has a natural passion for research education, supporting scholars, and trainees as they learn the steps necessary to assemble an independent research program. His mentoring experience provides a strong basis for his leadership for the MW CTR-IN Program’s PD Core.
Larissa Myaskovsky Bio
Larissa Myaskovsky, PhD, is the Director of the Professional Development (PD) Core for the MW CTR-IN Program and the Director for the Mountain West CTR-IN’s Ambassador Translational Research in Progress (ATRIP) Program. She is a tenured Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Director of the Center Healthcare Equity in Kidney Disease at the University of New Mexico, Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Myaskovsky received her BA in Psychology with Specialization in Women’s Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, her MA in General-Experimental Psychology from California State University, Northridge, and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, and a fellowship in Health Services Research at the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. With more than 20 years of research experience and funding, her NIH and VA-funded research focuses on the social determinants of health and using a multi-method and multi-disciplinary approach to identify and understand disparities in healthcare processes and outcomes, and to develop interventions to reduce health disparities in vulnerable populations. Before joining the UNM faculty in 2017, Dr. Myaskovsky was a tenured Associate Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, and completed a year-long NIH-funded Professional Mentoring Skills Enhancing Diversity leadership training program through the National Research Mentoring Network, and was the 2017 recipient of the Philip Troen, MD Excellence in Medical Student Research Mentoring Award. She has taught medical writing and presentation, research grant design and development, measurement design and development, and healthcare disparities research methods to early career faculty, fellows, graduate and medical students. Dr. Myaskovsky is passionate about research education, and supporting scholars and trainees as they assemble an independent research program. Her mentorship and leadership experience provides a strong basis for leading the MW CTR-IN Professional Development Core.
Curtis Noonan Bio
Curtis Noonan, MA, PhD, is the Director of the MW CTR-IN Pilot Projects Program (CP3) Core. He has served in this role for the past five years and will continue to serve in this role for the next grant cycle. The Pilot Projects Program has successfully administered the single institution, single investigator and the multi-site pilot grants since the inception of the MW CTR-IN Program.
Dr. Noonan received his MA degree in International Health and Development from George Washington University and his PhD in Environmental Health, Epidemiology from Colorado State University. He is currently a Professor of Epidemiology in the College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Montana. He has led NIH funded multi-site randomized trials focused on improving health outcomes and reducing exposures among vulnerable populations exposed to elevated levels of particulate matter from burning of biomass fuels for residential heating. Dr. Noon is a member of the Infectious, Reproductive, Asthma and Pulmonary Conditions (IRAP) Study Section.
Carl Reiber Bio
Carl Reiber, PhD, has served as the MW CTR-IN Program Deputy Director since 2013. He is also the Senior Vice Provost and a Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in the College of Sciences. Additionally, he has been the Program Coordinator of the NV INBRE since 2008, and the Steering Committee Lead since 2017. Previously, he was the cluster leader in two statewide NSF EPSCoR grants ($6M) and functioned as the coordinator for an NIH Bridges grant. He also served as an ad hoc and permanent member of several NSF review panels including mentoring numerous undergraduate and graduate students (MS and PhD). Dr. Reiber received his Masters degree in Cell Biology from George Mason University, Fairfax in Virginia and PhD degree in Zoology-Physiology from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst Massachusetts followed by Postdoctoral training from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
Richard Larson Bio
Richard Larson, MD, PhD, serves as the CTSC Liaison for the MW CTR-IN Program. He is the Executive Vice Chancellor for Research of Health Sciences at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center as well as a tenured Professor at the University of New Mexico. In addition, he is also the PI of the UNM Clinical and Translational Science Center. He also served on the Board of Directors for the National Center for Genome Research. In 2001, he co-founded Cancer Services of New Mexico, a non-profit organization which serves, free of charge, over 2000 New Mexicans suffering from cancer each year. Moreover, he is the President of the Cancer Services of New Mexico Foundation. In addition, Moreover, he also serves as the Chair of the Mountain West Research Consortium, which was critical in laying down the ground work for the eventual development of the MW CTR-IN Program. Dr. Larson received his MD and PhD degrees from Harvard University and performed his residency training at Washington University in St. Louis and fellowship training at Vanderbilt University in Pathology.
Parvesh Kumar Bio
Parvesh Kumar, MD, is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the MW CTR-IN Program. In addition, he also, serves as the Vice Dean of Research for the UNLV School of Medicine. Dr. Kumar received his B.Sc. degree (with honors) in Chemical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1981 and his M.D. degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1986. He completed his residency training in Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in 1990, while also serving as Chief Resident and Fellow of the American Cancer Society during his senior year.
Dr. Kumar is an experienced clinical and translational researcher who has led several multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary national oncology clinical trials sponsored by the NCI [i.e., Cancer & Leukemia Group B (CALGB) Protocols 8935 and 9134 in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and CALGB Protocol 9493 in Prostate Cancer, and Radiation Therapy Oncology Group Protocol Protocol 9615 in Head & Neck Cancer]. In addition, he has also conducted several other federal (i.e., Department of Defense) and pharma (i.e., Aventis Oncology) funded investigator initiated clinical trials. Moreover, his leadership experiences include building and managing research programs as Chair of the Departments of Radiation Oncology at 4 major medical schools and at several NCI-designated Cancer Centers. In his several research leadership roles, he has developed significant experience in health disparity research. For example, as Associate Director of Clinical Research for the University of Kansas Cancer Center, ensuring appropriate enrollment of under represented patient populations to therapeutic clinical trials was a critical requirement for the NCI and an important objective of his leadership role.
Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu
Dr. Xu is a 2015 MW CTR-IN Pilot Grant Awardee recipient. Her project was entitled, “Understanding the Role of Self-Expansion in Physical Activity”. Her research focuses on cardiovascular behavioral health including weight control, smoking and physical activity; close relationships, especially romantic; and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) neuroimaging. Dr. Xu is also interested in these research areas in the context of individual differences such as trait self-control, and development over time, such as aging or as a romantic relationship progresses.
Dr. Xu received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in psychology from New York University, and Master of Arts Degree in psychology from Stony Brook University, and a Ph.D. in social health psychology from Stony Brook University. She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship sponsored by the National Institutes of Health at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and The Miriam Hospital.
Dr. Xu is an Assistant Professor of Experimental Psychology at Idaho State University and was honored as a 2015 Rising Star from the Association for Psychological Science. As a result of her advanced work in the field, the Association for Psychological Science has recognized Dr. Xu as an outstanding psychological scientist. As facilitated by the Individualized Development Plan (IDP) which is a critical component of the CTR-IN PG award, Dr. Xu had a successful mentorship experience with her mentor, Claudio Nigg, PhD, from the University of Hawaii. The pilot grant’s IDP provides mentorship for career development. As a result of the mentoring facilitated by the IDP, Dr. Xu has collaborated with Dr. Nigg on various projects, which have led to a manuscript publication, poster presentations, future collaborations, etc. Moreover, based on her academic productivity which has been significantly facilitated by the MW CTR-IN PG award, she will be applying for tenure at Idaho State University.
Education: BSN from Whitworth University in Spokane in Washington; MSN from Loyola University of Chicago; PhD in Nursing from the University of Utah; Postdoctoral fellowship from the College of Nursing at the University of Utah.
MW CTR-IN helped to provide education in grant management, post-award processes, timeline projections, and meaningful tools for grant tracking.
Dr. Tavernier was a Year 4 MW CTR-IN Pilot Grant Awardee in 2016. Her project was entitled, “The Patient Voice in Healthcare”. The MW CTR-IN pilot grant was also instrumental in helping her with the nuances of grant management including hiring personnel, budgets, quarterly and annual reports. As a nurse scientist, her research area focuses on cancer patients. She has gained expertise with large qualitative data sets and has conducted research in the clinical setting. Dr. Tavernier is currently an Assistant Professor at Idaho State University in the School of Nursing and was a recipient of a Presidential Scholarship for new health service researchers from Academy Health.
Additionally, she has authored a chapter on Symptom Distress in the textbook Cancer Symptom Management 4th Edition, and has served as a review panel member for the Oncology Nursing Foundation for research and awards. She is also an active member of the Oncology Nursing Society.
Education: PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota; RD from the University of Minnesota
MW CTR-IN helped to expand collaborations for a nutrition and physical activity study with a direct impact on the health of community children.
Dr. Blakely Brown was a MW CTR-IN Pilot Grant (PG) Awardee and Visiting Scholar in 2014. Her project was entitled, “Developing and Pilot Testing Parent Education Activities within a Childhood Obesity Prevention After-School Program”. Dr. Brown built upon this PG research funding from the MW CTR-IN Program and secured 3 additional extramural grants also in the areas of childhood obesity totaling $278,167 in extramural grant funding as follows: (1) Partnerships to Prevent Childhood Obesity on the Flathead Indian Reservation; (2) Generations Health Project: An After-School and Home Based Childhood Obesity Prevention Program; (3) and USDA Strengthening Grant: Growing Strong Generations. These research studies have allowed Dr. Brown to successfully expand her research collaborations with rural and Native American communities that have resulted in longitudinal outcomes reporting risk factors for diabetes in native and non-native children, assessments of environmental and behavioral factors associated with risk for childhood obesity and diabetes in youth in rural communities.
Dr. Brown’s research, teaching and service focus on nutrition and chronic disease prevention, maternal-child health, childhood obesity and diabetes prevention, community-based participatory research methods, Native American health and diversity-related activities.