Translational Science Center

Additional Members

Fostering Independence in Aging

Jason Allen – Director, Clinical Exercise and Rehabilitation, College of Sport & Exercise Science, Victoria University, AU. Dr. Allen employs physiological and biochemical techniques in an attempt to better detect markers of vessel disease development. His main focus is on peripheral blood flow, endothelial function and nitric oxide bioavailability. He has pioneered new biochemical measures to examine the change in nitric oxide bioavailability under physical stress. He also investigates the outcomes of different treatment interventions, in particular exercise training, on the vasculature. Dr. Allen’s research mission is supported by the National Institutes of Health, American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association.


Leslie Allison – Physical Therapy, Winston-Salem State University. Dr. Allison joined the WSSU DPT faculty in 2013, with nine years of prior experience as a physical therapy educator at Midwestern University and East Carolina University. She brings 12 years of clinical experience in adult neuro-rehabilitation and geriatrics in acute, inpatient and outpatient settings. Early in her clinical practice she became certified in Adult Neurodevelopmental Treatment and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, later becoming an ABPTS Neurologic Clinical Specialist.  Subsequently she followed her strong interest in balance rehabilitation with seven years of experience as a clinical applications specialist for NeuroCom International, Inc.  She is an invited speaker who has presented numerous courses on balance rehabilitation and fall prevention nationally and internationally.  Her dual research focus includes (1) impaired multi-sensory integration mechanisms in individuals with balance deficits, and (2) fall prevention in older adults. She has published two book chapters and four peer-reviewed articles, and received external funding for research, on these topics.  She has provided national professional service in the Neurology and Geriatric Sections of the APTA, as a peer-reviewer for numerous publications, and as an invited member of the CDC’s Division of Injury Prevention Workgroup on Exercise Interventions for Fall Prevention.


Swati Basu – Research Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Wake Forest University. Dr. Basu is a full-time researcher and member of the Kim-Shapiro lab team. Her research has involved studying the mechanism of nitrite reduction by heme proteins such as hemoglobin, myoglobin, neuroglobin and cytochrome c and bioavailability of nitric oxide. She is currently involved in various projects which include studying the role of iodides in nitrosamine formation from nitrite in the stomach derived from high nitrate diet, determining factors that might influence blood storage and platelet aggregation and studying the role of nitrogen oxides in human adaptation to high altitude.


Glenna Batson – Emeritus Professor, Physical Therapy, Winston-Salem State University. Dr. Batson (ScD, PT)  is a graduate of Hahnemann Medical University in Physical Therapy. She received her doctorate in clinical neuroscience in 2006, and taught in North Carolina State University state system in physical therapy for 22 years.  A Fulbright Senior Specialist, Glenna completed residencies in dance science and Somatics at Trinity-Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London (2009) and the Universities of Tallinn and Tartu in Estonia (2011).  Glenna played a pioneering role in the development of the field of Dance Science and Somatics remains active as a mentor, lecturer and researcher. Her research interests include the effects of complementary (integrative), expressive, and embodied cognitive approaches to improving balance and mobility in persons with neurological disorders (stroke and Parkinson disease) and the elderly, and (2) modifying and validating the Star Excursion Balance Test as a tool for screening dancers’ balance.


Daniel Beavers – Biostatistics, Wake Forest University Health Sciences. Dr. Beavers is an assistant professor of biostatistical science at Wake Forest University Health Sciences with experience in the design, execution, and analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. He currently serves as a biostatistician for two major NIH-funded clinical trials investigating physical function in the elderly and weight loss among diabetic populations. He has served as the primary statistician on a number of applied research projects and publications in such disciplines as obesity, physical activity and exercise, nutrition, aging, inflammation, endothelial function, epidemiology, and nephrology. His methodological research focuses on Bayesian approaches to statistical inference and modeling, including correcting systematic bias in studies containing data with missing and mismeasured random variables. Dr. Beavers earned his MS in biostatistics at UNC Chapel Hill and PhD in statistics at Baylor University.


Kristen Beavers – Health & Exercise Science. Dr. Beavers is a registered dietitian and Assistant Professor in the Dept of Health and Exercise Science. She received her master’s of public health in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and doctoral degree in exercise, nutrition and preventive health from Baylor University. Dr. Beavers’ academic and professional interests lie in the study of nutrition and exercise as interdisciplinary sciences, specifically as they relate to prevention and etiology of chronic disease and disability in older adults.


Michael Berry – Health & Exercise Science. Dr. Berry is Professor in and Chair of the Health and Exercise Science Department. He is an exercise physiologist whose research interest focuses on exercise and the respiratory system. His specific interests are focused on factors which control respiration during exercise and the effects of exercise on individuals with diseases of the respiratory system. Dr. Berry has been funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to examine the role of exercise in maintaining physical function in COPD patients. He is also a co-investigator on other NIH sponsored trials dealing with exercise and disability. He is the author of over 50 publications in the scientific literature and several book chapters.


Terry D. Blumenthal – Psychology. Dr. Blumenthal has measured the startle response in dozens of studies over the past 25 years, in participants ranging in age from less than 1 day to over 80 years old. This startle response has been used to evaluate perception, cognition, emotion, drug and hormonal effects, personality characteristics, clinical conditions, and many other factors. He is currently involved in several collaborations with other researchers in which startle is being used to: 1) investigate the impact of Traumatic Brain Injury on emotional regulation, 2) evaluate exposure based treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder; 3) examine the impact of menstrual cycle in PTSD. Dr. Blumenthal has an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Rejeski investigating the evaluation of restricted eating instructions and food cravings on affective processing. This collaboration has resulted in a paper currently under review at Appetite, as well as an undergraduate student Summer Research Fellowship currently underway.


Tina Brinkley – Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Brinkley is an Instructor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She received her doctoral degree in Exercise Physiology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Brinkley’s current research involves investigating the influence of genetic and behavioral (i.e. diet and exercise) factors on cardiovascular aging and disease, as well as the role of inflammation and oxidative stress in these processes. She is also interested in using non-invasive imaging techniques to evaluate interventions designed to alter the trajectory of age-related changes in vascular structure and function.


Peter Brubaker – Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University. Dr. Brubaker is a professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science where he is Executive Director of the Healthy Exercise & Lifestyle Programs (formerly Cardiac Rehabilitation). His research and clinical activities are in the areas of heart failure pathophysiology as well as chronic disease prevention and rehabilitation. Has been funded on numerous studies assessing exercise and lifestyle interventions on heart disease, obesity, and aging.


Jonathan Burdette, M.D. – Neuroradiology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Burdette is an Associate Professor of Neuroradiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine where he divides his time between clinical neuroradiology and neuroscience research. His current research focuses on using advanced MR imaging techniques to study the brain as a complex network. He is a founding member of the Laboratory for Complex Brain Networks (LCBN), a laboratory that uses diffusion tensor imaging, perfusion imaging, voxel-based morphometry, and functional MRI (fMRI) to study brain networks using network theory approaches. Such approaches analyze the entire brain and view brain processing as a complex system rather than just analyzing small portions of the brain. Currently, he is collaborating with faculty on the Reynolda Campus of Wake Forest University, applying these MR imaging techniques to learn how exercise, nutritional habits, and meditation affect the functioning brain in the elderly. Dr. Burdette’s clinical interests are primarily in advanced MRI brain imaging techniques, and he has written a textbook titled Questions and Answers in Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 2nd Ed. He is currently the director of Clinical Neuro MRI.


Cheryl Bushnell – Neurology, Wake Forest University Health Sciences. Dr. Bushnell completed her neurology residency training, stroke research fellowship, and graduate degree in clinical research at Duke University. After 6 years on faculty in the Duke Division of Neurology, she joined the Neurology faculty at Wake Forest University Health Sciences October 2007. Her clinical practice is focused on inpatient and outpatient stroke treatment. Her research interests include primary and secondary stroke prevention, medication adherence to secondary prevention, and transitions of care for stroke patients. She is co-PI for the AVAIL registry, and is in the process of pilot testing an intervention for improving secondary prevention medication adherence in stroke patients. In addition, she is currently PI of a NIH K02 grant to examine sex differences in subclinical vascular disease in midlife, with a special emphasis on differences occurring with menopause. She has an ongoing study of cerebral and peripheral vasomotor reactivity in women with recent severe preeclampsia to better understand the future cerebrovascular implications of preeclampsia.


Carol Colton – Neurology, Duke University Medical Center. The scientific basis of the research in the Colton lab has centered for over 25 years on the innate immune response in the brain and its role in neurodegeneration. The innate immune system has been viewed as the first line of defense and functions to signal disruption of the brain’s milieu, to rapidly respond to the injury and to kill invaders. Importantly immune cells also control repair and reconstruction, helping to restore homeostasis to the brain. While it is easy to see the potential for collateral cell damage caused by “inflamed” immune cells such as the microglia, the brain’s own macrophage, we and others in the field have come to realize that the repair and reconstruction phase of the immune response are critical components of chronic inflammatory diseases throughout the body including the brain that have been largely overlooked. Our recent studies have shown the existence of substantial phenotype diversity in microglia in Alzheimer’s disease that forces us to re-evaluate the complexity of the response and have challenged many of the fundamental assumptions about inflammation during neurodegeneration. This extends to the redox component of the innate immune response. Again, many of the prior assumptions are too simplistic and redox mechanisms such as the production of nitric oxide by activated immune cells or other cells in the brain need to be substantially re-evaluated. One result of this type of “re-thinking” was the creation in the Colton lab of novel mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease based on “humanizing” the redox balance in mice that also express mutated human APP. Using these concepts, Dr. Colton has generated mouse models that show complete AD-like pathology that has not been found in other mouse models. These innovative concepts on redox immunology are now being applied in the search for the pathogenesis of sporadic AD. Dr. Colton received her Ph.D. from Rutgers, New Brunswick in Physiology where she was trained as an electrophysiologist. After moving to NIH she worked in the Biophysics Laboratory with Dan Gilbert studying the effects of oxyradicals on brain function. Dr. Colton began working on microglia in 1988 and has continued these studies at Georgetown University Medical Center and now at Duke University Medical Center.


Jim Curran – Biology, Wake Forest University.  Dr. Curran’s research explores the ribosomal translation of the genetic code as a fundamental biological process. Cells are composed mostly of protein, and cellular well-being depends on the accurate and efficient production of that biomass. His lab has multiple ongoing projects exploring the molecular mechanisms of programmed frameshifting, the function of the ribosomal exit site, and the evolution of the genetic code. Dr. Curran also serves as a consultant for the National Institutes of Health.


Debra I. Diz – Department of General Surgery and Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Diz’s education and training includes a Ph.D. in Phamacology from the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences in Memphis. Her research has identified the neuroanatomical and transmitter pathways subserving angiotensin II actions in brain areas involved in baroreceptor reflex control of the circulation. Experience with interactions between the renin-angiotensin and the autonomic nervous system as related to cardiometabolic disease is of particular interest in her current work, as are brain-kidney interactions that may lead to renal injury. Recent implementation of the techniques for assessment of spectral and sequence analysis of spontaneous autonomic function, development of magnetic resonance spectroscopy for non-invasive assessment of neurotransmitters and use of sheep as a model of fetal programming illustrate a wide variety of technical and animal expertise that relates to investigation of the neural control of the circulation. Application of the new technologies for spectral analysis and magnetic resonance spectroscopy to human subjects work is being developed through collaborations with clinical research faculty. Finally, she is committed to research training at the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral level and has had a major commitment to increased diversity in research training for >20 years through direction of several diversity-focused training programs.


Devon Dobrosielski – Kinesiology, Towson University.  Dr. Dobrosielski’s research interest include examining the effects of aging and disease on vascular function and examining whether exercise can modify vascular and physical function in older adults and in those with chronic diseases.


Jaquelyn Fetrow – Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Richmond. Dr. Fetrow’s research program, which is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, focuses on understanding the relationship between protein structure, function, and dynamics with a long-range goal of improving the structure-based drug discovery process. Dr. Fetrow currently serves on the Executive Council of the Protein Society, an international professional organization, and on the Board of Directors of QuantumBio, an early stage biotechnology software company. Dr. Fetrow co-invented GeneFormatics’ primary technologies and holds a US patent for those inventions.


 Leanne Groban, M.D. – Cardiothoracic Anethesiology, Hypertension and Vascular research Center, Physiology & Pharmacology, Wake Forest University Health Sciences. Dr. Groban’s clinical specialties
include cardiothoracic anesthesia , adult cardiothoracic anesthesia , major vascular anesthesia , myocardial protection , cardiac aging , and diastolic dysfunction. Research interests include aging, genetics/genome, hypertension, nutrition, transgenics, and women’s health issues. She is currently funded by the TSC to explore ways that single, non-invasive measures of general health status (nutritional status, muscle strength, and mobility) can predict early morbid events in older surgical patients and demonstrate how these measures can be easily incorporated in to a busy preoperative clinic.


Martin Guthold – Professor, Department of Physics, Wake Forest University. Dr. Guthold is using advanced atomic force and fluorescence microscopy techniques to determine the mechanical properties of fibrin and other nanoscopic fibers. Fibrin fibers are the major structural component of a blood clot, and their mechanical properties play a critical role in wound healing and disease states such as heart attack, stroke, embolisms and other thrombotic events. Dr. Guthold is using his data to construct a realistic model of a blood clot which may then be used to design novel devices to mechanically destroy them in the event of an acute heart attack or stroke. Dr. Guthold will also test the properties of fibrin clots coming from patients before and after surgery. His work has been funded by the NIH, NSF, Research Corporation and American Cancer Society.


Amret Hawfield – Department of Internal Medicine Section on Nephrology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Hawfield’s research is focused on clinical management of hypertension. She is a co-investigator with the NIH/NHLBI multi-center randomized controlled trial SPRINT (Systolic blood Pressure Intervention Trial) funded by the NIH/NHLBI/NIDDK. The trial plans to randomize nearly 10,000 participants to standard versus intensive blood pressure control in an attempt to further reduce cardiovascular events with intensive blood pressure control. The trial will focus on elderly patients and those with chronic kidney disease. As an extension of this work she will be collaborating in the future with Dr. Daniel Kim-Shapiro and Dr. Gary Miller on the effects of dietary nitrates and hypertension. Dr. Hawfield also has in interest in preeclampsia and hypertension and during her training worked on several projects including angiogenic factors in superimposed preeclampsia, long term renal outcomes of hypertensive pregnancies, and intensive blood pressure control during pregnancy. She is also the medical director of the Lexington Dialysis Unit and plans to collaborate with Dr. Debra Diz of the Hypertension and Vascular Research Center to characterize autonomic function in hypertensive hemodialysis patients.


Christina Hugenschmidt – Section on Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine. One of Dr. Hugenschmidt’s research interests is the interplay between physical health/function and the brain. Currently, she is investigating this by partnering with Dr. Barbara Nicklas on a study of the effects of exercise and weight loss interventions on the brain and cognition in obese older adults. This study measures cognitive function with a battery of cognitive tests and includes multiple brain imaging techniques including diffusion tensor imaging to assess white matter; analysis of brain volume; cerebral perfusion; and functional MRI. She is also partnering with the Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Laboratory for Complex Brain Networks on this study to investigate the effects of exercise and weight loss on the architecture of complex brain networks.


Janine S. Jennings – Psychology. Dr. Jennings has studied age-related changes in cognition focusing on consciously-controlled memory processes and executive functioning for the last 15 years. Her most recent work has been designed to improve these aspects of cognitive performance in older adults by implementing a process- oriented memory training technique. Through collaborative projects funded by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Institutes of Health, this line of research includes an examination of neural changes associated with cognitive training, as well as the effects of combining cognitive training with physical activity.


erik_johnsonErik C. Johnson – Biology. Dr. Johnson’s research focuses on the genetic and molecular mechanisms that underlie the behavioral responses to stress. Recent studies have focused on identifiying the phenotypes that are associated with the reduced AMPK function within specific anatomical loci and developmental intervals. AMPK is a major signaling molecule involved in control of obesity.


Katula_headshot_a_9-21-07Jeffrey Katula – Health and Exercise Science. Dr. Katula’s research focuses on the prevention and management of chronic disease and disability as it relates to physical and cognitive functioning. He has been involved in a number of randomized controlled trials examining physical and cognitive functioning in older adults. Dr. Katula has collaborated with Dr. Rejeski on numerous projects, including the LIFE Study, CLIP, HELP PD, REACT II, WALK +, and SHARP. He has also collaborated with Dr. Jennings on WALK + and SHARP.


Dalane Kitzman – Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Kitzman is a cardiologist whose research focuses on heart failure, especially in the elderly, Kitzman’s work has been funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the American Heart Association. He was among the first to identify diastolic heart failure as a distinct type of disease. Another research focus is improving echocardiography as a diagnostic tool. Kitzman has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, chaired an NIA study section of clinical aging, and is a past president of the Society for Geriatric Cardiology.


Stephen B. Kritchevsky – Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Kritchevsky is an epidemiologist (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1989) who studies the determinants of functional decline in older population. His research interests are broad and include the role of inflammatory processes as predictors of functional decline and the role of nutrition and body composition in the development of age-related chronic disease and functional decline. Dr. Kritchevsky is the Director of the Sticht Center on Aging at the Wake Forest School of Medicine and the Deputy Director of Wake Forest’s the Translational Science Institute. He is also the Director Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center which is supported by the National Institute on Aging.


marshheadshotAnthony Marsh – Health and Exercise Science. Dr. Marsh is a biomechanist with a strong background in exercise physiology. He has adjunct appointments in the VT-WFU School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences and the Department of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine. Dr. Marsh’s research interests include the role of balance and muscle strength and power in gait, physical function, and disability in older adults, the assessment methods used to quantify these factors, and the use of novel intervention strategies to improve physical function and reduce disability in older adults.


Sara Migliarese – Physical Therapy, Winston-Salem State University. Dr. Migliarese received her MSPT degree from Texas Woman’s University in 1985 and worked at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) in Houston before moving to North Carolina.   Sara practiced physical therapy at Forsyth Memorial Hospital and Gentiva Home Health Services, along with adjunct teaching at WSSU BSPT program from 1993-1995 and full-time teaching and ACCE duties in  the MPT programs from 1996 – 2004. Sara received her certification in neurology from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in 1995, recertification in neurology in 2005 from the APTA, and Herdman certification in vestibular rehabilitation in 2008. She completed her doctorate in Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2009 and is currently an assistant professor in the Doctorate in Physical Therapy program at Winston-Salem State University.  Her research interests include vestibular function in older adults, balance, and complications of Type II diabetes mellitus and impact of dance on movement in adults with Parkinson’s disease.  Her long-term aspiration is to establish a collaborative center with interested partners in Winston-Salem that could grow into a regional center of excellence in assessment, treatment, and research for older adults with vestibular dysfunction and its’ impact on function, falls, and health regardless of the etiology.


Gloria MudayGloria Muday – Biology. The Muday lab has focused on hormonal signaling and mechanisms for synthesis and delivery that control growth and developmental processes. Current projects in the laboratory focus on the mammalian adipokines which are synthesized by adipocytes and control metabolic activity and food consumption, and how altered levels of leptin and adiponectin synthesis and signaling tie to obesity and the related cardiovascular problems. In particular, they are measuring the levels of these adipokines in the blood samples from obese older adults to understand the metabolic and signaling changes associated with obesity. The lab has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as a corporate sponsor.


A. Lynn Millar – Physical Therapy, Winston-Salem State University. Dr. Millar’s research has been diverse, addressing special populations and exercise, as well as physical therapy related topics. She has authored several book chapters and one book related to arthritis. Her current areas of research include arthritis, and response to different exercise therapy routines.


Barbara Nicklas – Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr Nicklas is Professor of Internal Medicine in the Sectionon Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, and Deputy Director of the WFUHS J Paul Sticht Center on Aging, with a cross-appointment in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest University. She is also a member of the WFUHS Primate Center and the Center for Human Genomics. Dr. Nicklas is an experienced clinical investigator with research and scientific expertise in the fields of aging, obesity, and physical activity. She has prior experience in conducting both diet and exercise clinical trials in the elderly and her broad research focus is on studying the metabolic and cellular mechanisms responsible for the adverse health effects of weight gain, inactivity, and accumulation of abdominal adipose tissue. In addition, her laboratory is proficient in the acquisition and processing of several types of human and primate tissue samples, including adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. Dr. Nicklas is currently Leader of the WFU Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Molecular Science and Biomarkers Core.


prattWayne E. Pratt – Psychology. Dr. Pratt is a behavioral pharmacologist and physiologist, and has spent his early career doing basic research on the role of brain reward pathways in driving adaptive behavior and promoting food intake. Using the rat as an experimental model, his current interests include understanding the neuroscience underlying how palatable diets increase feeding (and presumably lead to obesity). In addition to his experience in behavioral paradigms that study food intake and motivation, Dr. Pratt has also published several papers examining the physiology of learning and memory in the rat.


Tennille Presley – Assistant Professor of Physics in the Department of Chemistry, Winston-Salem State University.  Her research focus is to provide a better understanding of contributing factors to vascular dysfunction and blood disorders (such as nitric oxide and heat shock proteins) as they relate to overall functional health in diabetic individuals in the African American population.  Currently, she is studying the influence of heat treatment on hyperglycemia and how this effect contributes to changes in the availability of nitric oxide and the fragility of hyperglycemic red blood cells.  Furthermore, she intends to explore mechanisms to enhance the interaction of heat shock proteins and nitric oxide in diabetic individuals through diet manipulation and exercise.  Dr. Presley is also interested in examining biomarkers of diabetes to augment earlier detection of the disease and investigate how various biomarkers may differ in African Americans in comparison to other populations where diabetes is not as prevalent.Chemistry, Winston Salem State University. Dr. Presley is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Winston Salem State University. She earned both her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Biophysics from The Ohio State University. Dr. Presley’s research interests lie in the study of oxygen metabolism, nitric oxide and free radicals, particularly as they relate to disease and aging.


Steve Rapp – Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Rapp is a clinical psychologist with primary research interests in geriatrics, cognitive aging and cognitive impairments resulting from cancer. His work has included collaborating on and leading many observational and interventional studies and has been funded by several institutes at the NIH. As Co-PI and now PI of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, he and his colleagues have studied the short- and long-term impact of post-menopausal hormone therapy on the incidence of dementia and cognitive functioning in older women over the past 20 years. Dr. Rapp’s expertise in dementia has lead to collaborations on numerous large-scaled, multi-site studies in which cognition and dementia are outcomes. Dr. Rapp has pioneered the development and validation of telephone-based assessment of cognitive function and dementia ascertainment. With funding from the Alzheimer’s Association Dr. Rapp and his colleagues developed and validated an innovative, computer tablet-based assessment of cognitively intensive behavior using simulations of instrumental activities of daily living for use in clinical and research settings. In addition to his work in cognitive aging, Dr. Rapp has conducted randomized clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of drug treatments for cognitive impairment in cancer patients. For example, he and his colleagues have studied the value of donepezil for brain tumor survivors after brain irradiation and they are currently examining its utility with breast cancer survivors following chemotherapy.


Kaycee Sink – Geriatric Medicine , Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Sink is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She is the director of the Kulynych Memory Assessment Clinic at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Dr. Sink has experience working on NIH funded clinical trials and large epidemiologic studies of older adults. Her clinical and research interests are focused on prevention and treatment of cognitive impairment in older adults, particularly with non-drug interventions, such as exercise.


Shay Soker – Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Soker has a particular interest in molecular and cellular biology and applies his skill to integrate principles of vascular biology in regenerative medicine applications, to study the biology of stem and progenitors cells that are needed for tissue damage repair and regeneration, and to understand the biochemical nature of natural materials that can be used for tissue engineering.   Because of his knowledge and interest in angiogenesis Dr. Soker developed programs in neovascularization of bioengineered tissues, including angiogenic gene transfer to enhance tissue function and cell therapy using vascular cells. His stem cell research focuses on the identification and isolation of stem cells from different sources, including adult and fetal stem cells from amniotic fluid and placenta, and their directed differentiation to generate tissues in vitro and in vivo. In parallel, Dr. Soker’s group is exploring tissue-derived extracellular matrices as scaffolds for whole organ bioengineering. He had published several manuscripts describing this technology for the engineering of organs and tissues including liver, kidney, pancreas, intestine, cornea and more. Dr. Soker is among the few researchers who are implementing advanced tissue and cell imaging technologies in regenerative medicine application. Some of his projects are now being discussed with industry collaborators in order to create new regenerative medicine product. An example is a cornea scaffold that is used to deliver corneal endothelial cells to patients with inheritable eye disease or older individuals who are in danger of losing vision.


Christina Soriano – Dance. Dr. Soriano is an assistant professor of dance at Wake Forest University. Her research includes dance composition pedagogy, gender and performance and ways that dance can benefit differently-abled communities. Before relocating to North Carolina, Christina was an adjunct professor at Providence College and Salve Regina University in Rhode Island, among other New England colleges. While living in Rhode Island, she was also a member of Heidi Henderson’s company, Elephant Jane. Christina received her MFA in Dance from Smith College and her BA in Theatre and Dance from Trinity College (CT). In 2008, she presented an evening of recent choreographic work featuring student and professional dancers that toured in North Carolina and New England. Along with theatre director Cindy Gendrich, Christina presented the evening length dance-theatre work “Sonnets for an Old Century” written by acclaimed playwright José Rivera in 2009. In May, 2010, Christina will be conducting a study with WSSU ‘s Glenna Batson, looking at the ways that a modern dance class can help patients with Parkinson Disease improve their balance. Christina is a recipient of the 2010-2011 Kirby Reynolda Faculty Fellowship.


Jasmina Varagic – Hypertension and Vascular Research Center, Wake Forest University School of Medicine.  After finishing her MD degree, Dr. Varagic received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Pathophysiology at the University of Belgrade, Serbia. Her research interests have included mechanisms of target organ injury in hypertension and aging as well as actions of antihypertensive medications. As an assistant professor in the Hypertension and Vascular Research Center her recent studies are directed to understand the role of tissue components of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in salt-related cardiac remodeling and dysfunction.  In addition, she collaborates with Dr. Ferrario in the continuing quest to reveal novel enzymatic pathways, resulting peptides, and their corresponding receptors in the biochemical cascade of the renin-angiotensin system to provide a better understanding of its role in the regulation of cardiovascular and renal function.  More recently, in partnership with Dr. Mark Chappell, she has initiated studies to develop an in vivo experimental model of early diabetic cardiorenal syndrome that reflects the coexistence of cardiac and renal damage in estrogen–depleted, diabetic hypertensive women.  Dr. Varagic is also a Director of the Transgenic Animal Core, overseeing several breeding colonies of rats and mice and providing animals for the research efforts of investigators within and outside of WFU. Dr. Varagic’s research has been funded by NIH, American Heart Association, and industrial partners. She has published more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and contributed to several book chapters.

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