CANDLE Investigators

Frances Tylavsky, DrPH, Principal Investigator

Dr. Tylavsky, a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine, is the Principal Investigator of CANDLE. Dr. Tylavsky obtained her BS from Penn State University, MS from Boston University and DrPH from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She has been involved in the planning and acquisition of data of the CANDLE study. Her primary interest is the role lifestyles and genetics play in the cognitive development of children. She has published over 130 articles that focus on assessment of diet, nutritional biomarkers, body composition, cognition and genetics in aging cohorts (The Health Aging and Body Composition study, Women’s Health Initiative) and weight loss interventions in children ages 4-7 and young adults.

Owen Phillips, MD

Pam Connor, PhD

Dr. Connor is a professor at UTHSC within the Department of Preventive Medicine and leads the department’s Community Translational Research section.  As a researcher, Dr. Connor is an acknowledged expert in project and program planning, implementation, evaluation, conduct of research, data analysis, and translational research.  She is the author of multiple scientific articles in peer-reviewed professional journals which focus on social and psychological behaviors and the family.  As an educator, she teaches physicians and UTHSC students all aspects of research and is in planning and is the director of the masters in Epidemiology program.  She has been the PI on numerous grants, including a K-30 initiative to expand clinical investigator training within the master’s in Epidemiology program.  Having extensive experience in community and women’s healthcare issues, she became the lead for the CANDLE psychosocial section in 2006.

Frederick Palmer, MD

Dr. Palmer is the Shainberg Professor of Developmental Pediatrics and Director of the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.  The Boling Center is one of 67 national University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service (UCEDD).  The Boling Center works with and for persons with disabilities and their families to enhance their independence, productivity, inclusion and full participation in our communities.

Dr. Palmer received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and his medical degree from the University of Rochester.  After training in pediatrics at the University of Utah he received Fellowship training in Developmental Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University/Kennedy Krieger Institute Program.  He served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins and Kennedy Krieger for 17 years before joining the University of Tennessee faculty in 1994.  Dr. Palmer is certified in Pediatrics and the subspecialty of Neurodevelopmental Disabilities by the American Board of Pediatrics.

Dr. Palmer’s special interests are in autism, childhood language disorders, cerebral palsy, and meeting the needs of children with disabilities in the setting of our changing health care delivery system.  He has additional research interests in the wide range of environmental, genetic and community factors influencing early neurocognitive and socioemotional development in children.

Risa Ramsey, PhD, MBA, RN, CCRC

Dr. Risa Ramsey, PhD, MBA, RN, CCRC, Associate Professor in the College of Nursing, currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Regulatory Compliance and Research Ethics Unit, and as the Administrative Director of the CTSI Clinical Research Unit.  She has 23 years of extensive clinical trial experience. Dr. Ramsey worked with the NICHD Neonatal Network for four and one half years and the NICHD Maternal Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network Site 13 for nine years. Dr. Ramsey’s research interests are in the area of high risk pregnancies with a concentration on preterm labor, preterm birth, preeclampsia, and other hypertensive disorders in pregnancy.  She is currently the principal investigator of an industry sponsored study to investigate the ability of newly developed assays to aid in the diagnosis of preeclampsia.

Phyllis Richey, Ph.D., M.S., B.S.Ed

Dr. Richey is a Professor in the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC). As an exercise physiologist specializing in cardiovascular physiology and the prevention and treatment of obesity, Dr. Richey has specific expertise in the application of community health interventions. Her primary research activities since joining the Department have been physical activity interventions focusing on community health and the prevention and treatment of obesity in minority populations. During this time, Dr. Richey’s work with community agencies and school systems in the Memphis area has been instrumental in the institutionalization of nationally recognized, health-related, physical activity programs throughout Shelby County. Additionally, Dr. Richey has developed a clinical and community research informatics system (CCRIS) for the Department which is now being utilized by researchers throughout UTHSC and collaborating investigators at Universities and agencies throughout the country. She has designed this system to utilize innovative technologies, including traditional, optical, mobile and electronic connectivity, to interface with relational digital structures that provide investigators with advanced data modeling support for a wide variety of research and community health interventions.

Charles R. Handorf, MD, PhD

Anand L. Kulkarni, MD

Anand Kulkarni is an Assistant Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director of Tissue Services Core at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.  He is especially interested in comprehensive management of the institutional repository and digital pathology.  He is a co-investigator on the CANDLE study and consults and advises regarding repository issues.

Marion Hare, MD

Marion Hare is an associate professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She has a master’s degree in epidemiology and has committed her career to community pediatrics and community research. She is a co-investigator on the CANDLE study and consults and advises regarding general pediatric issues. Marion is especially interested in the areas of infant and child growth and sleep behaviors.

Karen Johnson, M.D., M.P.H.

Karen C. Johnson, MD, MPH became the interim Chair of Preventive Medicine as of May 2010. Dr. Johnson is a tenured Professor in the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Medicine at the University of Tennessee.  Dr Johnson is board certified in Preventive Medicine and Internal Medicine.  She received her MD degree from the UTHSC where she completed her residency in Internal Medicine and her MPH degree from Johns Hopkins University where she completed a residency in Clinical Preventive Medicine.  Dr. Johnson has extensive experience in working in the areas of clinical trials and observational studies.  She is the principal investigator for the NIH funded Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, and under her leadership the study was able to successfully recruit over 4200 women in the Memphis area.  Dr. Johnson is also currently the PI of three other NIH-funded studies TARGIT, Look AHEAD, and SPRINT. The Look AHEAD clinical trial is a project undertaken by Preventive Medicine in collaboration with the Division of Endocrinology. During her work at the UTHSC, Dr. Johnson has successfully obtained over $40,000,000 in NIH grant funds. Dr. Johnson has served as a University of Tennessee Board of Trustee member and as president of the Faculty Senate. Recently, Dr. Johnson in collaboration with the Division of General Internal Medicine has developed a smoking cessation App for the iPhone called “Quit Forever” that is available through the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) on iTunes. Further, Dr. Johnson published 21 peer-reviewed articles in 2010-2011 in high quality journals such as JAMA and N Eng J Med.

Carolyn Harraway-Smith, MD

Dr. Harraway-Smith is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Board of Family Medicine. As a faculty member in the department of Family Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center she directs the gynecology and obstetrical rotations for the Family Medicine residents and fellows in the Advanced Women’s HealthCare Fellowship. As the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Francis hospital, I supervise the Family Medicine Residents to assist in recruiting participants and collecting the biological samples at labor and delivery at for the CANDLE study. Family Practice at St. Francis Park serves primarily socially disadvantaged minorities has bed a source for recruiting CANLDE participants.

Kecia Carroll, MD, MPH

Kecia N. Carroll, MD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of General Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN.  Dr. Carroll completed her undergraduate medical training at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Pediatric Residency training at the University of California, San Francisco, and a General Academic Pediatrics Research Fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.   In hopes of preventing illness and improving the health of children, Dr. Carroll’s research emphasis includes investigating modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for respiratory disease in young children, including factors such as familial asthma and atopy, maternal exposures during pregnancy, and viral exposures during infancy.  Dr. Carroll is a recipient of the Parker B. Francis Fellowship Program in Pulmonary Medicine and her current work is funded by the NIH.  Dr. Carroll’s research with the CANDLE team includes investigating maternal dietary exposures during pregnancy and the development of early childhood respiratory and atopic disease.

Carolyn Graff, PhD

Carolyn Graff received her undergraduate degree in nursing from the Medical College of Georgia and graduate degrees from the University of Kansas. She is Chief of Nursing in the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities and a faculty member in the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing. In the CANDLE study, Dr. Graff’s focus is on parent child interaction and the family environment. She certifies cognitive examiners to assess parent child interaction and teaches research assistants to assess the home and family environment and its influence on child development. She teaches courses on concept and theory analysis and theory development and lectures on topics related to intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her research focuses on children with or at risk for intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Laura Murphy, EdD

Laura Murphy is the Chief of Pyschology as well as the Research Coordinator for the Boling Center. Her expertise includes working with graduate and post graduate students and professionals in the community as well as advising and supervision on several research projects. Dr. Murphy’s expertise resides in competent clinical practice as well as research methodologies.

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