BIRCWH Mentors (removed)


Dr. Holli A. DeVon

Associate Professor of Biobehavioral Health Sciences, College of Nursing

Dr. DeVon’s research has focused on biobehavioral sex differences in symptoms of ischemic heart disease. Her studies have resulted in a sex-based conceptual model of symptoms and an ACS symptoms instrument that has been used by investigators in Australia, Brazil, Iran, Lebanon, the Philippines, Taiwan, and the UK. Dr. DeVon has been the PI or co-I on 10 NIH funded studies. She was the PI on a recently completed multi-site study of sex differences in acute coronary syndromes (ACS). Dr. DeVon has published widely in the area of symptoms of heart disease and stroke in women as well as symptom differences in older and younger women. She is particularly interested in women disadvantaged by socioeconomic status and age. Dr. DeVon is currently exploring genetic variants for women with symptoms which may be predictive of ACS and symptom clusters. She has additional expertise in measurement, psychometrics, and instrument development..

Dr. Luisa A. DiPietro

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

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.

Dr. Geri Donenberg

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

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

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. 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

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. Arden Handler

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

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 epidemiological 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

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.

Dr. Linda Kaste

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

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. Mary Jo LaDu

Professor, Anatomy and Cell Biology

Dr. LaDu’s lab has been studying Alzheimer’s disease (AD) since 1993 and she has had continuous NIH funding since then. The focus of her research is understanding the structural and functional properties of, and interactions between, two proteins that are genetically, pathologically, and biochemically linked to AD: amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide and apolipoprotein E (apoE). A naturally occurring genotype of APOE, APOE4, increases lifetime risk for AD 60-foldover the more common APOE3 genotype, while Aβ, particularly the oligomeric form of Aβ (oAβ), is considered the proximal neurotoxin in AD. Her overall hypothesis is that apoE4 and oAβ act synergistically to compromise neuronal viability. Her lab utilizes an integrated approach to address the complexity of apoE/Aβ interactions, including biochemical, molecular biology, and cell biology methods using in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo models. Their current focus is on the EFAD-transgenic mice developed by our lab. Using these EFAD mice, we are screening potential APOE-based therapeutics and various approaches to correct the structure of apoE4 to that of apoE3. The LeDu Lab’s most exciting project is designing experiments to determine why APOE4 females have a significantly greater risk and disease pathology than APOE4 males, a question that can only be addressed in our EFAD mouse model, which mimics the human condition. Our funding is from NIH/NIA and contracts with several pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Pauline M. Maki

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

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. 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

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. Nadine Peacock

Associate Professor, School of Public Health

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. Alan Schwartz

Associate Professor and Director of Research, College of Medicine

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

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.