Mentors

All UHAND scholars are paired with a mentoring team that includes faculty and community mentors. Mentors will guide scholars through their research projects and provide research support and service learning opportunities. Our faculty mentors are world-renowned junior and senior faculty members with expertise in cancer risk, social determinants of health, clinical and population cancer research in minority populations, and student mentorship.

 

Mariana Chavez MacGregor, MD, MSC, is a medical oncologist committed to an academic career and to the care of cancer patients, in particular, breast cancer patients. Her research focuses in evaluating toxicities and complications of cancer treatment.

Larkin Strong, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Disparities Research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. A theme throughout her work is the recognition that health and health behaviors are embedded within social, physical, economic, and cultural contexts.

 

Joya Chandra, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics-Research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Translational research in the Chandra laboratory is directed towards leukemia and brain tumor therapeutics with an emphasis on oxidative stress, epigenetics and cell death.

Marcel Alejandro de Dios, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Psychological Health and Learning Sciences department at the University of Houston. He is interested in understanding and developing substance use interventions for populations that experience health disparities.

Paul Michael Cincirpini, PhD, serves as Professor and Chair for the Department of Behavioral Science and the Director of the Tobacco Treatment Program at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center. He has over 30 years of experience conducting basic and clinical research in the area of smoking cessation and the genetic aspects of nicotine psychopharmacology.

 

Erich M. Sturgis, MD, MPH, is a head and neck surgeon with a major research effort in molecular epidemiology of head and neck malignancies. He is the surgical co-chair of the NRG (RTOG) Head and Neck Committee and is the co-chair of the NCI Head and Neck Steering Committee Rare Tumors Task Force.

Jason D. Robinson, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and a member of its Tobacco Research and Treatment Program. He is an expert in the use of ERP, EEG, cardiovascular, skin conductance, and EMG methodology to study affective and attentional processes impacted by nicotine dependence and withdrawal.

Ezemenari Obasi, PhD, is Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the College of Education at the University of Houston. He also serves as Director for the HEALTH Research Institute. 
Dr. Obasi has a current program of research that focuses on cultural predictors of health behaviors as well as the neurobiology of stress, addictions, and health disparities that disproportionately affect the African American community.

 

Karen M. Basen-Engquist, PhD, MPH, is a Professor of Behavioral Science and the Director of the Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her research focuses on cancer survivors and the role of health behavior interventions in decreasing the severity of late effects, improving physical functioning, optimizing quality of life and reducing risk of chronic diseases.

Dr. Rosenda Murillo's research is focused on understanding and reducing physical activity disparities in underserved populations. Much of her research has focused on understanding the pathways through which psychosocial and cultural factors contribute to physical activity, and how physical activity contributes to health and well-being among Latino adults. Her research also includes examining how built and social environment contribute to health behavior among Latino adults. 

Richard Simpson, PhD, is a Research Associate Professor at the University of Houston. He studies the effects of exercise and stress on the immune system. Major cross-cutting themes of his work are aging, cancer and spaceflight. He is also interested in how exercise training can contribute to improved patient survival and quality of life through immune and inflammatory pathways at all phases of the cancer care continuum.

(not accepting new trainees)

Michael Zvolensky, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at University of Houston and Director of the Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory and Substance Use Treatment Clinic.

 

Chiara Acquati, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Houston. Her research focuses on psychosocial oncology, stress and coping, dyadic coping, and couple-based interventions. 

Daphne Hernandez, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Houston. Her research is centered around the association between poverty, stress, and physical and mental health outcomes across the lifespan that contribute to health disparities. A significant portion of her work has specifically focused on food insecurity and obesity. She has a particular interest among Hispanic families.

 

Irene Tami-Maury, DrPH conducts cancer prevention and control research in vulnerable populations (e.g., people living with HIV/AIDS, sexual and gender minorities, adolescents and emerging adults, cancer patients, immigrants, etc.) and also studies eHealth/mHealth applications and e-learning/training for health care providers. Dr. Tami-Maury has a particular interest in developing, implementing, and evaluating cancer prevention and cessation programs with a focus on developing countries and undeserved areas of the US.

Lorna McNeill, PhD, MPH, is Chair in the Department of Health Disparities at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. McNeill's research is on the elimination of cancer-related health disparities in minority populations. Her research has particular emphasis on understanding the influence of social contextual determinants of cancer in minorities, with a special focus of the role of physical activity as a key preventive behavior and obesity as a major cancer determinant. Dr. McNeill is also director of the Center for Community-Engaged Translational Research (CCETR) at MD Anderson.

Lorraine Reitzel, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences at the University of Houston. She also directs the Social Determinants and Health Disparities Lab at the University of Houston. Her research program focuses on better understanding the social determinants of health and health risk behaviors. She is also the co-founder and co-director of the HEALTH Research Institute, a multidisciplinary university-level research institute focused on the conduct of community-informed translational research to reduce health disparities experienced locally and across the nation.

 

Tracey Ledoux, PhD, RD, FAND is an Associate Professor of Nutrition and Obesity Studies in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston. Dr. Ledoux is a registered dietitian, licensed psychologist and a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her research focuses on understanding, preventing, and correcting overeating behaviors in the early family unit.

Carrie Daniel MacDougall, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences and co-Director of the Bionutrition Research Core at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her background is in nutritional epidemiology with considerable experience in the design, collection, and integrative analysis of prospective studies of diet, lifestyle, and cancer.

Virmarie Correa-Fernandez, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences at the University of Houston. Her research focuses on cultural and psychosocial determinants in tobacco and behavioral health disparities among racial/ethnic minorities, specifically in Latino/Hispanic populations and those with depressive/anxiety disorders or hazardous alcohol use.

 

Chakema Carmack, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Health Program Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences College of Education. Dr. Carmack's research focuses on culturally competent programs aimed at reducing HIV and STI incidence in African American and Hispanic communities. She has a particular interest in identifying profiles of cervical cancer risk to examine the extent to which social determinants of health may affect these profiles. 

The UHAND Partnership is funded by the National Cancer Institute (P20CA221696 and P20CA221697).

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