BIRCWH Mentors

 

Ramin Alemzadeh, MD

Professor of Pediatrics, Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology

Bio: Dr. Alemzadeh specializes in Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. As a clinical endocrinologist and research scientist, he has participated in designing and implementing a number of research projects examining insulin pump technology, glucose sensor technology and behavior health-related issues affecting children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D). In addition, he has had longstanding research interests and activities in both clinical and experimental models of obesity, cardiometabolic syndrome, vitamin D deficiency, metabolic spectrum of polycystic ovary syndrome and T1D and T2D. He has authored and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed scientific clinical and experimental articles and book chapters including the Diabetes Chapter for “Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics” and Obesity Chapter for “Lifshitz Textbook of Pediatric Endocrinology”.

 

Dr. Jeffrey R. Bishop

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacy Practice

Bio: Dr. Bishop’s research on the psychopharmacology and pharmacogenomics of treatments for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder aims to understand sex differences in treatment outcomes and side effect characteristics. Dr. Bishop is also funded by the Women’s Interagency HIV Study to investigate the relationship between genetic polymorphisms, cognition and mood in women with and without HIV.

 

Dr. Karen Colley

Professor, College of Medicine
Associate Dean for Graduate Research and Education, College of Medicine

Bio: Dr. Karen Colley is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate Research and Education in the College of Medicine. Her research involves elucidating the signals and mechanisms of protein subcellular localization and modification. She has published extensively on protein Golgi localization and is currently working to understand the process of protein polysialylation. Polysialic acid is an anti-adhesive sugar polymer that is required for brain development, learning and memory, and promotes the growth and invasiveness of cancer cells. Dr. Colley is currently funded by the NIH to evaluate the sequence requirements for substrate recognition by the polysialyltransferases with the ultimate goal of developing approaches to block polysialylation of proteins expressed by cancer cells.

 

Dr. Luisa A. DiPietro

Professor, College of Dentistry
Director and Founder, Center for Wound Repair & Regeneration

Bio: Dr. DiPietro’s research goal is to understand the tissue repair process, with a particular emphasis on how inflammation and blood vessel growth influence healing outcomes. A large portion of her research program is directed at understanding the mechanisms that regulate and modify scar formation in wounds and other fibrotic conditions. She is currently the PI of one of just four NIH sponsored national Centers for Innovative Wound Healing Research.

 

Geri Donenberg, Ph.D.

Associate Dean of Research, School of Public Health
Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry
Director, Community Outreach Intervention Projects
Director, Healthy Youths Program

Bio: Dr. Donenberg has been involved in adolescent HIV-related research for 15 years, with continuous NIH funding since 1999. Her research focuses on the individual, peer, partner, and family mechanisms associated with risky sexual behavior and substance use among high-risk youth, and adapting and designing specially targeted interventions to prevent HIV transmission. She has been the Principal Investigator and Co-investigator on over 20 NIH-funded basic research and prevention trials for families, young men who have sex with men, injection drug users, youth with mental health problems, juvenile offenders, and African American women and their daughters. Dr. Donenberg also conducts federally-funded research in South Africa and Indonesia. In addition to her research activities, Dr. Donenberg completed a Fulbright Scholarship in South Africa to build research capacity, mentors psychology interns, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty, and has been a member of several national initiatives to mentor traditionally underrepresented minority scholars.

 

Dr. Carol Ferrans

Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Center Co-Director

Bio: Dr. Ferrans’ research addresses the effects of illness and treatment on quality of life in cancer, cardiac disease, and other chronic illnesses. She is co-creator of The Ferrans & Powers Quality of Life Index (1985) which is available in 21 languages and has been used in over 200 published studies. Her current projects include an R01 study examining breast cancer survivorship issues for African American women and a study of factors contributing to delay in seeking medical care for breast cancer for women in lower socioeconomic groups.

 

Dr. James H. Fischer

Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head, College of Pharmacy
Director, Office for the Protection of Research Subjects

Bio: Dr. Fischer’s research focuses on clinical studies of the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs in patients with epilepsy and during pregnancy. The aim of these studies is to better understand factors influencing drug disposition and response in these populations and their relevance to drug administration in these individuals.

Dr. Marian Fitzgibbon

Professor, College of Medicine & School of Public Health
Adjunct Professor, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine
Associate Director, Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center

Bio: Dr. Fitzgibbon’s work has focused predominantly on health risk reduction interventions in minority populations. She has received grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to conduct randomized clinical trails in obesity prevention in children and obesity treatment in adults. Through her NHLBI funding, she developed Hip Hop to Health, Jr., an obesity prevention intervention with minority preschool children. Published results from this efficacy trial indicated significant differences between treatment and control children measured by body mass index at two-years post intervention. She is now expanding on the success of the trial through an NHLBI-funded effectiveness trial that will investigate whether classroom teachers can be trained to deliver the intervention and achieve similar results. Dr. Fitzgibbon has also conducted combined interventions that address nutrition, weight loss and breast health with Latino and African-American women and is currently conducting an NCI-funded randomized trial with African-American women that will test the efficacy of adding a one-year maintenance intervention to a successful culturally competent weight loss intervention. Dr. Fitzgibbon has also served as a co-investigator and behaviorist on the Diabetes Prevention Program funded through NIDDK and the Nutrition Academic Award funded through NHLBI.

 

Dr. Geula Gibori

Distinguished University Professor, College of Medicine

Bio: Dr. Gibori’s laboratory research is aimed at defining the action and interaction of cytokines and estradiol on key ovarian and decidual genes whose expressions are essential for the normal progress of pregnancy. Members of her laboratory have cloned several genes that play an essential role in the production of progesterone and estradiol. They are investigating their transcriptional regulation and have generated mice null in these genes. Deletion of one gene has revealed its importance in fetal brain development. They have recently generated mice expressing only one subtype of the prolactin receptor and have discovered that prolactin signaling through the short form of its cognate receptor (PRLRS) has a severe impact on ovarian follicular development and leads to premature ovarian failure and infertility. The cause of this pathology and the signaling mechanism of prolactin through PRLRS are under investigation. Another aspect of Dr. Gibori research activity is focused in defining the interaction and function of decidua-derived proteins in the normal development of the decidual tissue and the survival of fetuses.

 

Dr. Arden Handler

Professor, School of Public Health
Co-Director, Maternal and Child Health Program
Director, Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Program

Bio: Dr. Handler’s research has traditionally focused on factors associated with adverse pregnancy and perinatal outcomes, with a particular emphasis on access to, satisfaction with, and utilization of prenatal care. She has a solid background in the use of epidemiologic methods for the evaluation of public health programs and has been a leader in developing a conceptual framework for the study of the public health care delivery system. She has recently completed several evaluation research projects focused on improving the health of women and infants on the West and South Sides of Chicago, including “Closing the Gap” (study of the quality of prenatal care in four Chicago communities) and “Healthy Births for Healthy Communities” (an infant mortality reduction project with outreach and interconceptional care foci in two Chicago communities). She is currently involved in an MCHB funded study of “Centering Pregnancy” (a group model of prenatal care) and is the UIC PI for the Greater Chicago Study Center National Children’s Study site, a longitudinal cohort study of the effects of environmental influences on 100,000 children nationwide; their mothers will be recruited prior to pregnancy and they will be followed from birth through early adulthood. UIC is partnering with Northwestern University (Lead PI) and the University of Chicago in this study.

 

Dr. Ronald C. Hershow

Associate Professor, School of Public Health
Clinical Associate Professor, College of Medicine

Bio: Dr. Hershow has engaged in epidemiologic research that mainly deals with human immunodeficiency virus in women, hepatitis C virus infection, and nosocomial infections. Specific areas of focus include investigation of viral coinfections and other cofactors that may influence HIV disease progression, the early natural history of hepatitis C virus infection, prevention of infectious disease morbidity in substance users, and the epidemiology of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms in hospitals. Since 1989 he has maintained continuous NIH and CDC funding. Recently, Dr. Hershow received funding from NIH to investigate the best ways to promote successful antiretroviral therapy use among HIV-infected injection drug users in Indonesia. He plans to develop interventions designed to advance more effective use of anti-retroviral therapy among hard-to-reach populations in resource-poor areas.

 

Judith U. Hibbard

Professor, College of Medicine

Bio: Judith U. Hibbard, M.D., does clinical research on medical conditions in pregnancy such as cardiac and hypertensive disease, as well as prenatal diagnosis and ultrasound. She is currently a co-PI for the NICHD Consortium on Safe Labor, a twelve-site collaboration to construct and utilize an electronic data base of over 220,000 deliveries to assess the normal and abnormal progress of labor. Additional work currently in progress using this database has focused on late preterm birth, and hypertensive diseases in pregnancy. Dr. Hibbard participated in an investigation of Soluble fms-like tyrosine-1 (sFlt-1) and Placental Growth Factor (PIGF) levels as predictors of Preeclampsia with Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Inc., a prospective longitudinal trial of pregnant women who are at high risk of developing preeclampsia. She is also a co-investigator for NIH-NICHD National Children’s Study: Greater Chicago Study Center since the inception of this Chicago collaboration among Northwestern University, University of Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago; enrollment will include Cook, DuPage and Will counties, with work to date being preparatory for enrollment beginning in late 2010.

 

Dr. Linda Kaste

Associate Professor, College of Dentistry
Affiliate Associate Professor, School of Public Health

Bio: Linda M. Kaste, DDS, MS, PhD attended dental school at the University of Maryland, and holds graduate degrees in Epidemiology from Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She completed a dental public health residency at Harvard University and is an American Board of Dental Public Health Diplomat. Dr. Kaste was previously a Senior Staff Fellow at the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research where her research activities included participation in the publication of the dental data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and has held academic appointments at Harvard University and the University of South Carolina. She has produced over 25 peer reviewed publications and 80 meeting abstracts and presentations on topics including early childhood caries, dental workforce issues and health disparities. Her current research activities include state-level dental workforce assessment; the roles of the dental workforce in access to care, delay in detection for oral cancer, and oral health for populations with limited access to dental care; and women’s health related to dentistry particularly concerning the composition and education of the dental workforce. Dr. Kaste has provided dental clinical care in community health centers in Boston and in volunteer projects in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. She is on the IFLOSS (Coalition of Communities Working Together to Improve Oral Health in Illinois) Board of Directors and the NIH Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health.

 

Dr. Pauline M. Maki

Associate Professor, College of Medicine and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Bio: Dr. Maki serves as Director of the Women’s Mental Health Research Program at UIC. Her research focuses on the effects of sex hormones on cognition, mood, and brain function. Her research program comprises a series of observational studies and clinical trials focusing on neuropsychological and neuroimaging outcomes. Her brain imaging research led to novel insights into the neural targets of hormone therapy in postmenopausal women. Dr. Maki received her Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1994. She received post-graduate training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the dementias of aging and at the National Institute on Aging in neuroimaging. In 1999, she joined the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging, where she became a co-developer and Co-Principal Investigator in the Women’s Health Initiative Study of Cognitive Aging (WHISCA) and Cognition in the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (Co-STAR). In 2002, she joined the UIC faculty in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, where she carries out randomized clinical trials comparing hormone therapy to alternative botanical therapies. Dr. Maki is also the Director of the Neurocognitive Working Group of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. She has numerous publications on hormones and cognitive function, has won a number of NIH awards for her research and service, serves on executive committees for several women’s health advisory boards, and is a frequent international and national speaker on women’s mental health.

 

Dr. Eileen Martin

Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology

Bio: Dr. Martin has extensively federally funded research efforts related to neurocognitive aspects of HIV and drug abuse, with a recent focus specifically on sex differences in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and in addictive disorders

 

Dr. Phillip Marucha

Professor and Associate Dean for Research

Bio: Dr. Marucha studies how stress, gender, aging, and other psychosocial factors affect wound healing to help develop appropriate therapies for patients undergoing surgery. Dr. Marucha and his colleagues are working on a number of projects including a study to determine the mechanisms by which stress impairs microbial clearance (a process in wound healing).

 

Dr. Alicia Matthews

Associate Professor, Health Sciences System

Bio: Alicia Matthews, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and a Principal Investigator at the Howard Brown Health Center. Dr. Matthews is a licensed clinical psychologist with nationally recognized expertise in the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches to understanding socio-cultural determinants of health disparities in underserved populations. She has conducted NIH funded research to examine a range of factors associated with health disparities among racial/ethnic minorities and members of the LGBT communities. Current funded research includes a grant from the National Institutes of Drug Abuse to evaluate a culturally targeted smoking cessation treatment program for LGBT smokers. Dr. Matthews earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in Clinical Psychology at Binghamton University and a Bachelors of Science in Psychology at Muskingum College in Ohio.

 

Dr. Robin Mermelstein

Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Director, Center for Health Behavior Research & Deputy Director, Institute for Health Research and Policy

Bio: Dr. Mermelstein has been active in cancer prevention and control and tobacco-related research for over 20 years, with continuous NIH funding as a Principal Investigator since 1986. Her smoking cessation research has included developing and evaluating interventions for both adults and adolescents, ranging from intensive clinic-based approaches to more self-help, media based programs, and programs with telephone and internet adjuncts. Dr. Mermelstein is currently the PI on a NCI-funded program project grant, “Social and Emotional Contexts of Adolescent Smoking Patterns,” which will provide an in-depth, multi-level study of the patterns and predictors of adolescent smoking and the development of dependence in a cohort of over 1200 adolescents at high risk for the development of smoking dependence. In addition to her NIH funding, Dr. Mermelstein was the Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Program Office, “Partners with Tobacco Use Research Centers: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Advancing Science and Policy Studies.” As part of this program, the RWJF has collaborated with NIH in funding the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers, and in helping to promote policy-related research within the funded centers. Dr. Mermelstein has chaired several national working groups addressing methodological issues in adolescent tobacco use, and has served on several national-level work groups addressing youth smoking. In 2006, Dr. Mermelstein received the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Clinical Mentor Award.

Dr. Kathleen F. Norr

Professor of Women, Child, and Family Health Science

Bio: Dr. Norr is a health sociologist whose research focuses on health care innovations based on the World Health Organization’s primary health care model both in the USA and internationally. Her research projects include HIV prevention for low-income African-American and Latina women in Chicago, a peer group intervention for HIV prevention for women in Botswana, Lithuania and Malawi, and the integration of preconception health and HIV prevention for rural young women in Malawi.

 

Dr. Nadine Peacock

Associate Professor, School of Public Health

Bio: Dr. Peacock has a PhD in anthropology as well as postdoctoral training in public health and reproductive endocrinology. She has broad research interests in social and cultural components of and influences on women’s reproductive health and health disparities. She is currently conducting a mixed-methods investigation of unintended pregnancy among young African American women in Chicago. Other recent research activities have included qualitative studies of transactional sex and HIV risk in Kenya, stress and pregnancy in African American women in Los Angeles, and prenatal care utilization among low-income women in Chicago. Dr. Peacock teaches graduate courses in qualitative research methods and in reproductive and perinatal health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has particular expertise in computer-assisted analysis of qualitative data, community participatory research, and the bridging of qualitative and quantitative research techniques.

 

Dr. Mariann Piano

Associate Professor, College of Nursing

Bio: Dr. Piano’s research program is directed at understanding the mechanisms that underlie the adverse effects of long-term heavy and binge/bender alcohol consumption on the myocardium. In both men and women, long-term heavy ethanol use is a prevalent toxic cause of a dilated cardiomyopathy, also referred to as alcoholic cardiomyopathy (ACM). A major aim of Dr. Piano’s research program has been to examine pathophysiologic mechanisms that are involved in the initiation and progression of ACM. Her current program of research funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), is designed to examine the cardiovascular effects of binge drinking and cigarette smoke exposure. Pathophysiologic mechanisms investigated by her laboratory include activation mitogen-activated protein kinases, mitochondrial injury and oxidative stress. Similar to other types of cardiovascular diseases, sex disparities exist in the occurrence, manifestations, and outcomes of alcohol-related diseases. In terms of alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy, some research suggests women are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of alcohol. Therefore another major aim of Dr. Piano’s research has been to examine how the presence of ovarian hormones or female sex might modulate the effects of alcohol.

 

Dr. Alan Schwartz

Associate Professor and Director of Research, College of Medicine

Bio: Alan Schwartz, PhD is an Associate Professor and Director of Research in the Department of Medical Education. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Pediatrics. His education includes a BA in Cognitive Science and Women’s Studies, an MS in organizational behavior, and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology. Dr. Schwartz’s research focuses on medical decision making by patients and physicians; he teaches decision making, leadership, and quantitative data analysis to health professions faculty. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Medical Decision Making,and has served on the executive boards of the Society for Medical Decision Making and the Society for Judgment and Decision Making.

 

Dr. Gregory R.J. Thatcher

Professor of Medicinal Chemistry

Bio: Dr. Thatcher’s work on breast and colon cancer and Alzheimer’s examine estrogen receptor signaling, anti-inflammatory pathways, NO and ROS signaling and protein and DNA modification. His current research is supported by multiple NIH-funded R01 and U01 grants. Dr. Thatcher has supervised over 40 post-docs and students; over half of them have been women.

 

Dr. Debra A. Tonetti

Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy

Bio: Dr. Tonetti’s research is focused on several aspects of the treatment and development of breast cancer; 1) the mechanism of hormone resistant breast cancer, 2) identification of prognostic markers and new drug targets for treatment, 3) the role of post-lactational involution in the development of pregnancy associated breast cancer, 4) racial disparity in breast cancer.

 

Dr. Rosemary White-Traut

Professor and Head of Women, Child, and Family Health Science

Bio: Dr. White-Traut is known for her research on developmental intervention for infants. Her research includes the evaluation of autonomic, neuro-hormonal, and behavioral responses of premature and full term infants to the ATVV intervention. She has documented improved patterns of maternal-fetal interaction, reduced cortisol levels, improved feeding progression, enhanced behavioral states, and reduced hospital stay after infants received the ATVV intervention.

Dr. JoEllen Wilbur

Professor & Independence Foundation Chair in Nursing, Rush University

Bio: Dr. Wilbur’s work has focused on midlife women’s symptoms, cardiovascular health, and physical activity. Her research examines physical measures originally developed for men and extended to women’s activity and exercise as a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy in managing menopausal symptoms. She has a program of research that has been funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active Living Research to examine determinants of physical activity and test interventions to increase adherence to physical activity in African American women.