UAHS Career Development Awards to 4 Junior Faculty Foster Clinical, Translational Research

The University of Arizona Health Sciences Career Development Awards program seeks to nurture the development of new clinical trials and biomedical and behavioral interventions to treat disease and the number of health scientists for our state and nation. This year the awards will fund sleep-, cancer- and cardiovascular disease-related research by four promising young investigators.

The University of Arizona Health Sciences Career Development Awards program, established by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences in 2014 to provide research training and funding for junior faculty members to foster academic careers in clinical and translational research, has selected its latest round of recipients.

The UAHS Career Development Awards (CDA) program provides the selected scholars with mentorship, research training and salary support of $75,000 for as long as two years (plus $1,500 for travel and $10,000 for research supplies ($5,000 to the candidate, $5,000 to the mentor), for a total award of about $109,900 each year for two years. The department chair is responsible for funding any salary that exceeds the $75,000 salary cap.

The CDA scholars must complete an independent research project, which is expected to generate sufficient pilot findings to enable the submission of an NIH K-series or R01 grant (or equivalent) by the second year of the program. Each scholar also must choose a lead mentor, or mentors if the project is multi-disciplinary.

The following four junior faculty members were selected for the latest round of awards:

Daniel Combs, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, UA College of Medicine – Tucson

Dr. Combs plans to conduct a pilot research project focused on neurocognitive impairment due to obstructive sleep apnea in children with congenital heart disease.

Dr. Combs’ primary mentor is Sairam Parthasarathy, MD, director of the UA Health Sciences Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences, director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and UA professor of medicine and clinical translational sciences.

Tracy Crane, PhD, RDN, assistant professor, UA College of Nursing; joint appointments, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Nutritional Sciences

Dr. Crane plans to develop precision lifestyle interventions that prevent cancer by studying ovarian cancer and “the relationship between circadian rhythm, lifestyle behaviors (diet and physical activity), metabolic and inflammatory indices in 1,205 ovarian cancer survivors who recently completed treatment.” With the addition of call recordings of coaching sessions and treatment and clinical data, “deep learning techniques can be applied in novel ways to study the impact of healthy lifestyle behaviors and disease progression, and ultimately result in precision lifestyle interventions with the highest likelihood of impact on human health.”

Dr. Crane’s mentors are Sairam Parthasarathy, MD, director of the UA Health Sciences Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences, director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and UA professor of medicine and clinical translational sciences; Nirav Merchant, MS, director of Cyber Innovation and founding director of the UA Data Science Institute; Clayton Morrison, PhD, associate professor, UA School of Information; and Mihai Surdeanu, PhD, associate professor, UA Department of Computer Science.

Belinda Sun, MD, PhD, clinical assistant professor of pathology, UA College of Medicine – Tucson

Dr. Sun seeks to decrease the mortality of prostate cancer, which disproportionately affects African Americans. “To reduce prostate cancer’s morbidity and mortality requires the identification of biomarkers that herald this progression and the development of novel therapeutic approaches to attenuate this progression.” Dr. Sun hypothesizes she has identified such biomarkers and will test that hypothesis.

Dr. Sun’s primary mentors are Anne Cress, PhD, deputy dean, research affairs, UA College of Medicine – Tucson, and UA professor of cellular and molecular medicine, radiation oncology and molecular and cellular biology, and Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, the Dr. Merlin K. DuVal Professor of Medicine and professor of physiology, UA College of Medicine – Tucson, and professor of pharmacology and toxicology, UA College of Pharmacy.

Craig Weinkauf, MD, PhD, assistant professor of surgery, UA College of Medicine – Tucson; member, UA Sarver Heart Center

Dr. Weinkauf proposes to develop improved targeted care for patients with carotid vascular disease through improved imaging strategies and treatment techniques. Stroke is associated with unstable carotid atherosclerosis and is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, yet the majority of patients with carotid atherosclerosis have no symptoms.

Dr. Weinkauf’s primary mentor is Irving L. Kron, MD, interim dean, UA College of Medicine – Tucson, senior associate vice president, UA Health Sciences, and professor, UA Department of Surgery.

Previous UAHS CDA Recipients:

2014

  • Christine E. Berry, MD, “The Impact of Early Life Exposures on Lung Function Trajectory: Childhood Origins of COPD,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Fernando Martinez, MD.
  • Christian Bime, MD, “Genetic and Non-Genetic Contributors to ARDS Outcomes,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Sairam Parthasarathy, MD.
  • Pavani Chalasani, MD, “Optimizing AcidoCEST MRI as a Novel Method for Measuring Tumor pH in Breast Cancer Patients,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Mark D. Pagel, MD.
  • Ankit A. Desai, MD, “Sudden Death and Sickle Cell Disease – An Electrophysiological and Molecular Investigation,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson; Mentor: Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD.
  • Francine C. Gachupin, PhD, “American Indian Youth Wellness Initiative,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Scott B. Going, PhD.
  • May Khanna, PhD, “Designer Drugs for Chronic Pain: Indirect Targeting of Nav 1.7,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Todd Vanderah, PhD.
  • Amol Patwardhan, MD, PhD, “Intraoperative TRPV1 Antagonist for Treatment of Hypothermia and Postoperative Pain,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Frank Porreca, PhD.
  • Katri Typpo, MD, “Intestinal Barrier Function and Post Operative Enteral Nutrition for Children with Congenital Heart Disease,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Fayez K. Ghishan, MD.

2015

  • Archita Desai, MD, “The Hospitalist-based Health-care Delivery Model in Cirrhosis: Closing the Quality Chasm,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson; Mentors: Elizabeth Calhoun, PhD; Thomas Boyer, MD.
  • Michelle Kahn-John, PhD, RN, “Depression in Diné (Navajo) Adults who Participate in the Diné Hochxoiji (Navajo Evil Way) Ceremony,” UA College of Nursing; Mentors: Thaddeus. Pace, PhD; Marylyn McEwen, PhD; Terry Badger, PhD, RN.
  • Wei-Hsuan Jenny Lo-Ciganic, PhD, “Using Machine Learning to Predict Problematic Opioid Use,” UA College of Pharmacy; Mentors: C. Kent Kwoh, MD; Daniel Malone, RPh, PhD.
  • Jarrod Mosier, MD, “Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Rescue Therapies and Oxidative Stress, UA College of Medicine – Tucson; Mentor: Charles Cairns, MD.
  • Eyal Oren PhD, “Assessing the Relationship Between Childhood Stress and Asthma,” UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; Mentor: Lynn Gerald, PhD, MSPH.
  • Olga Rafikova, MD, PhD, “HMGBI and Gender Difference in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson; Mentors: Stephen M. Black, PhD; Ankit Desai, MD.
  • Megan Smithey, PhD, “Defining Immune Control of Human Cytomegalovirus over the Lifespan,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Janko Nikolich-Zugich, MD, PhD.

2016

  • Charles Downs, PhD, “RAGE-Induced Changes in the Proteome of the Alveolar Epithelium,” UA College of Nursing. Mentors: Stephen M. Black, PhD, Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD.
  • David Garcia, PhD, “The Influence of Genetic Variants and Metabolite Profiles on Responses to a Weight Loss Intervention for Hispanic Men,” UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Mentors: Cynthia Thomson, PhD; Kenneth Ramos, MD, PhD.
  • Craig Heise, MD, “Evaluation of an Electronic Medical Record-Based Clinical Decision Support System in a Large Healthcare System to Improve Antibiotic Safety: A Cluster Randomized Intervention Trial,” UA College of Medicine – Phoenix. Mentor: Raymond Woosley, MD, PhD.
  • Jason Karnes, PhD, PharmD, “Warfarin Pharmacogenomics in Latino Populations,” UA College of Pharmacy. Mentors: Rick Kittles, PhD; Kenneth Ramos, MD, PhD.
  • John Purdy, PhD, “Targeting Host Metabolism During Cytomegalovirus Infection,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Felicia Goodrum, PhD.
  • Elsa Reyes-Reyes, PhD, “Defining L1 as a Molecular Target for Clinical Translation in Lung Cancer Research,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Kenneth Ramos, MD, PhD.

2017

  • Nancy Casanova, MD, “Novel molecular-based biomarkers and potential molecular therapeutic targets in sarcoidosis,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Joe G.N. Garcia, MD.
  • Gloria Guzman Perez-Carrillo, MD, MSc, “Diffusion basis spectrum imaging with extended isotropic spectrum (DBIS-ELS) for tumor diagnosis,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentors: Andrew Karellas, PhD; Diego Martin MD, PhD.
  • Michael D.L. Johnson, PhD, “Bacterial interaction with copper: New strategies and therapeutic targets to combat pathogens,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Magdalene So, PhD.
  • Julio C. Rodriguez, PhD, “Using MRI can increase the specificity of 18F-FDG-PET to detect lung tumors,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentors: Julie E. Bauman, MD; Ali Bilgin, PhD.
  • John M. Streicher, PhD, “Monoamine Transporter and Buprenorphine in Reducing Buprenorphine Analgesia,” UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Mentor: Todd W. Vanderah, PhD.

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs approximately 4,000 people, has approximately 800 faculty members and garners more than $140 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram)