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Voices in Clinical Translational Science
A Series to Amplify Underrepresented Voices in Health Research


The Voices in Clinical and Translational Science Seminar Series is  designed to lift underrepresented voices in research across the iTHRIV partnership.

The series focuses on promoting dialogue and encouraging team science. The quarterly seminar series is designed to amplify diverse perspectives in clinical and translational research, and in doing so, foster innovation and an inclusive environment.

iTHRIV hopes that attendees will use this series as an opportunity to listen more deeply to one another and to broaden their own research in the quest to improve the health of communities in Virginia and beyond.

Upcoming Seminars & Registration Links

July 30th, 2024 Mechanisms by which culturally informed narratives may promote research enrollment among African American adults - Ishan C. Williams, PhD, FGSA is an Associate Professor at the University of Virginia, School of Nursing. Her background and PhD are in human development and family studies. Dr. Williams research focuses on quality of life among older adults with dementia and their family caregivers, chronic disease management for older adults with Type 2 diabetes, and culturally appropriate community-based interventions among African American/Black adults. Her research further concentrates on using an equity approach to understanding the health care needs of older adults and their family caregivers within social, cultural, and geographical contexts.

August 20th, 2024 Machine Learning: Endless Possibilities -Hoda Eldardiry, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, where she directs the Machine Learning Laboratory. Her research is in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) with a focus on building human-machine collaborative AI systems that can learn context-aware and explainable models from multisource and interconnected data. She is a pioneer inventor with 20+ patents in AI. Before joining Virginia Tech, she led the ML research group at Palo Alto Research Center (aka Xerox PARC), managed key client portfolios, and spearheaded ML for sensor research. She received her BE in Computer and Systems Engineering from Alexandria University, Egypt, and her MS and Ph.D. in Computer Science from Purdue University. Eldardiry participated in the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education TechWomen program. She was awarded the Purdue University College of Science Early Career Scientist Award for the Department of Computer Science. She also delivered the opening keynote at the Women in Data Science Blacksburg Conference.


October 15th, 2024The Digital Divide: Using Human-Centered Design to Create Inclusive Healthcare Technologies - Monifa Vaughn-Cooke, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Systems and Implementation Science at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.  Dr. Vaughn-Cooke’s interdisciplinary research synthesizes cognitive psychology, systems engineering, and risk assessment. Her research aims are to identify the behavioral mechanisms associated with system risk propagation to inform the design of user-centered products and systems in high-risk user populations. This involves: 1) Behavioral and cognitive modeling of human performance; 2) Empirical data collection of human response (neurophysiological and subjective feedback) in extended reality and physical environments; and 3) Computational modeling to identify and mitigate design-related sources of human error. Dr. Vaughn-Cooke’s research has been applied to the design of patient self-management technologies to support chronic disease and addiction treatment, the development of digital health design guidelines for high-risk patients with physical and cognitive limitations, and the design of systems to reduce health care provider cognitive workload.

Speakers and Registration

Recordings of Previous Seminars

2024 Series

Seminars Series Recordings 2024

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March 26th, 2024 Integrating Genomics and Public Health Approaches to Achieve Health Equity - Keith L. Keene, Ph.D. is a Professor of Public Health Sciences and the Director of the Center for Health Equity and Precision Public Health (CHEPPH) at the University of Virginia.  Dr. Keene has nearly 20 years of experience in Precision Health and Genomics research, with a longstanding commitment to research focused on health disparities and health equity. Dr. Keene’s research experience includes using -Omics based approaches (e.g. genetic, epigenetic, metabolomics), statistical, and molecular biology methodologies, to identify heritable risk variants contributing to complex diseases. Dr. Keene is particularly interested in performing integrative -Omics analyses utilizing biospecimens from underserved and marginalized populations, with hopes of alleviating the disparate burden of disease in those populations.  As the inaugural director of CHEPPH, Dr. Keene is working to grow an interdisciplinary center devoted to integrating Precision Medicine, Public Health, and Health Informatics approaches to improve the health and well-being of rural, economically challenged, and racial/ethnic-minority populations. He will lead a team of scientists, administrators, and clinicians to utilize inclusive approaches to reduce disparities, promote health equity, and create a diverse workforce population where every person has the opportunity to “attain his or her full health potential”. He was listed as one of “1000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America” Recent honors by Cell Mentor in 2021. Dr. Keene is an established NIH and NSF-funded researcher, and his research demonstrates a commitment to team science and multi-disciplinary work.

2023 Series Recordings

Seminars Series Recordings 2023

October 3rd, 2023 From the Hills of Southside Virginia to a Career in Infectious Diseases Research-Dr. Margie Lee is a Professor and Head of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and the Interim Director of the Animal Cancer Care and Research Center at the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. Originally from Bedford County, Virginia, where her family has resided for 5 generations, Dr. Lee received her DVM from the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1986 and her PhD in Medical Microbiology from the University of Georgia in 1990. She is formerly the Associate Director of the Biomedical Health Sciences Institute, Coordinator of Combined and College-wide Graduate Programs at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Director of the Diagnostic Laboratory of the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center, all located at the University of Georgia. She has been a member of numerous NIH study sections and USDA research panels. In addition to research and administration, she teaches veterinary students, graduate and undergraduate students, and veterinary residents. Her research focuses on infectious diseases, disease ecology, microbiome and diagnostic microbiology. Her work has resulted in 90 peer-reviewed publications as well as chapters in the Merck Veterinary Manual and the Laboratory Manual for Isolation, Identification, and Characterization of Avian Pathogens.

August 29th, 2023 - Engineering Equity: A Journey Across Disciplines

-Dr. Rupa Valdez is an associate professor at the University of Virginia with joint appointments in the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is also a core faculty member of Global Studies and the Disability Studies Initiative. Dr. Valdez merges the disciplines of human factors engineering, health informatics, and cultural anthropology to understand and support the ways in which people manage health at home and in the community. Her research and teaching focus on underserved populations, including populations that are racial/ethnic minorities, are of low socioeconomic status, or are living with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. Her work draws heavily on community engagement and has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), among others. She recently testified before Congress on the topic of health equity for the disability community and received the Jack A. Kraft Innovator Award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) for her pioneering work in creating and developing the subdiscipline of patient ergonomics.


June 20th, 2023 - The Promise of a Minority Brain Cell in Neurological Pathology - Dr. Ukpong Eyo (pronounced “A”-“Yo”) was born in Nigeria and immigrated to the US in 2003 to pursue undergraduate studies at Northwest Missouri State University. He then went on to graduate school at the University of Iowa where he developed a keen interest in real-time imaging of microglia during development under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Dailey. Following his Ph.D studies, Eyo joined the lab of Dr. Long-Jun Wu, first at Rutgers University in New Jersey, then at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to study microglial-neuronal communications. In August 2018, Dr. Eyo started his independent lab in the Department of Neuroscience and the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG) to continue his research on microglia in (i) neural injury (especially seizure disorders); (ii) neurovascular interactions and function and (iii) sex differences. Thorough his career, Dr. Eyo has published in diverse journals including Nature Communications, Cell Reports, Nature, Neuron, GLIA, Brain Behavior and Immunity, Scientific Reports and others. As a PhD, he has had success in securing grants and his lab is currently funded by 2 R01s from the NIH as well as private funding including a consortium grant to study COVID with HHMI. Dr. Eyo is a passionate advocate for diversity in research and runs a diverse lab. Away from the lab, Dr. Eyo enjoys time with his blessed family including his wife, two sons, and two daughters


March 28th, 2023 - Children and Neuromotor Diagnoses: Using Science to Maximize Development - Dr. Stephanie DeLuca has served as PI on numerous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) all of which have a goal of using science to investigated complex bio-behavioral interventions aimed at helping children with disabilities maximizes their development. Currently, she serves as a lead investigator on a 13-site Phase III clinical trial, directs the Treatment Implementation Core, and serves as a Site-PI for Virginia Tech. She also serves as a lead investigator and leads Didactic Interactions for the National Pediatric Rehabilitation Resource Center, as part of the Medical Rehabilitation Research (MR 3) Network. The center is designed to improve and increase pediatric rehabilitation trials to NIH that have immediate and lasting impacts in pediatric rehabilitation.

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Seminars Series Recordings 2022

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March 22nd, 2022 - Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Heart Failure: The State of the Road Towards Equitable Care - Dr. Sula Mazimba received his medical degree from the University of Zambia School of Medicine and his Masters of Public Health degree from Wright State University, Boonshoft School of Medicine. He completed his medical residency at the Kettering Medical Center/Wright State University; cardiology fellowship at the Kettering Medical Center/Dayton Veteran Affairs Center; and Advanced Heart Failure, heart transplant and pulmonary vascular disease fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Prior to his heart failure fellowship, he had served as clinical faculty in Cardiology at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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May 17th, 2022The Gatekeepers to Heart Transplant: Who Are We Keeping Out? - Dr. Ibrahim served as faculty at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School before coming to Inova Heart and Vascular Institute where she is the Associate Program Director of the cardiology fellowship program. Dr. Ibrahim has published in top-tier journals, is a new book author, and is an associate editor for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure. Her research interests include biomarkers, improving adherence to guideline-directed therapies in heart failure patients, understanding mechanisms of disparities in the care of underserved populations, and improving access to heart transplant in historically excluded and systemically oppressed patient populations. Dr. Ibrahim was recently invited by the White House Office of Public Engagement to participate in a Health Equity Leaders Roundtable Series focused on access to care. 

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June 7, 2022 - Poverty, Justice and Surgery: The Medical neglect of the Global South - Dr. Moustafa Moustafa is currently a chief resident in general surgery at the University of Virginia and a graduate of the Yale School of Medicine in 2015. He was the 2019 fellow in global surgery through the University of Utah Center for Global Surgery. His interests include global surgery and humanitarianism. He is a founder of a US college-based medical supply recycling organization, United to Heal, and the Savannah Water Project, a Ghana-based NGO focused on well building in the northern savannah. 


July 19, 2022 - Milk Made: How Strong Women and a Rural Childhood Shaped My Research - Brittany Howell, Ph.D., blends biological and behavioral analysis to capture a wide range of factors implicated in healthy human brain development. Her laboratory analyzes and compares breast milk composition, feeding habits, stress levels, fecal microbiology, social behavior, and brain imaging data. She studies gut-brain-behavior axis development, and the biological pathways of early experience and maternal influence on infant neurodevelopment. Dr. Howell is also an iTHRIV Scholar.


October 25, 2022 - Sprints and Marathons: The Realities of Clinical Research - Dr. Azziza "Kemi" Bankole is a professor of Psychiatry at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) and is the program director of the VTCSOM Geriatric Psychiatry fellowship program. Her research interests include schizophrenia in later life, dementia related agitation, and the use of sensor technology in older adults. Dr. Bankole is a co-principal investigator on the Behavioral and Environmental Sensing and Intervention for Dementia Caregiver Empowerment study funded by the National Science Foundation in partnership with systems engineers at North Carolina Agriculture and Technology State University and computer engineers at University of Virginia. She is currently working with researchers at Virginia Tech to establish interdisciplinary research collaborative platforms for researchers across departments and colleges within the university. 

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