Asthma Research Group


Things You May Not Know About Us!

    Kaitlin Costello, B.A., lived at the Homestead located on a remote area of Dennison University's property during her undergraduate education.  She and her 11 cabin-mates used and maintained well water and solar power systems, kept chickens, grew gardens, built an Earthship style cabin, and chopped firewood to fuel a wood burning stove and provide heat in all the cabins. She is currently accepting applications for her zombie apocalypse. 
   Emma Larkin, Ph.D., was born in the Phillipines and had a chicken on her head that wouldn't get off. 
   Christian Rosas-Salasar, M.D., M.P.H., dives with sharks.
   Cosby Stone's, M.D., M.P.H., uncle built one of the largest tree houses in the world in Crossville, Tennessee.
   Kim Woodward, R.N., B.S.N., C.C.R.P., is a Southern girl born in Nebraska.



HartertTina V. Hartert, M.D., M.P.H

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Translational Science
Professor of Medicine, Lulu H. Owen Endowed Chair in Medicine
Director, Center for Asthma Research

Dr. Tina Hartert is a Professor of Medicine, and the Director of the Center for Asthma Research, as well as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Translational Science.  Asthma and allergic diseases are among the most common chronic diseases of both children and adults.  She firmly believes that the long-term solution to the asthma epidemic is primary and secondary disease prevention.  Thus, the major scientific programs of the Center for Asthma Research are to identify causal rik factors for asthma, understand their mechanism of action, and develop and test primary and secondary prevention strategies for asthma and allergic diseases.  The current areas of focus of the Center are on understanding the role of common and potentially modifiable factors on asthma development and control, including respiratory tract infections, dietary factors, and medication exposures and utilization.  The Center is comprised of a group of highly collaborative and talented investigators, post-doctoral fellows, nurses, research assistants, and students who share a common goal to improve the health of people worldwide.

Dr. Hartert received her BA with honors from Brown University, her MD and MPH from Vanderbilt University Medical School, completed her medicine residency and chief residency at Johns Hopkins, and Pulmonary & Critical Care Training at Vanderbilt.  Dr. Hartert has been elected to   The American Society for Clinical Investigation. She also serves as Associate Editor of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and is on the editorial board of Clinical and Translational Research.  On a personal note, she and her husband derive the greatest joy from spending time together, and with their three children.  
ArnoldDonDonald  H.  Arnold, M.D., M.P.H.  
Associate Professor, Pediatrics
Division of Emergency Medicine
Dr. Don Arnold received his M.D. from Emory University School of Medicine and completed pediatric internship and residency training  at The University of Virginia.  He practiced general pediatrics before returning to fellowship training in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at The University of Alabama Birmingham.  He holds an MPH from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. His research interests include asthma monitoring and outcome and oximeter plethysmograph technology.  His NHLBI K23 Mentored Career Development Award is titled “Development of a pediatric Acute Asthma Prediction Rule for severity and outcome.”  The primary aim of the project is to develop an Asthma Prediction Rule in conformity to established clinical and biostatistical standards for clinical prediction rules. The multiple variables evaluated in developing the prediction rule include airway resistance, metrics of work of breathing and altered cardiopulmonary physiology, inflammatory markers and measures of air flow.  Other investigations he is pursuing include clinical trials to improve management of acute asthma exacerbations. He and his wife Judi have two children. His personal interests include cycling, backpacking, squash, history, and bee keeping.
Brunwasser StevenSteven M. Brunwasser, Ph.D.
Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine
Dr. Steve Brunwasser is a research instructor in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine working under the mentorship of Tina Hartert, M.D., M.P.H. He was trained as a clinical psychologist at the University of Michigan and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Judy Garber, Ph.D., in the Department of Psychology & Human Development at Vanderbilt. The majority of his research has focused on the implementation and evaluation of interventions to prevent depression in youth. After working as a clinician with the Women’s Perinatal Mood/Anxiety Disorder team at the University of Michigan, Steve became interested in the potential role of perinatal stress and psychopathology in conferring risk for poor developmental outcomes in exposed offspring.  His current research is focused on (1) elucidating biological and psychosocial mechanisms of intergenerational risk transmission, (2) developing mental health prevention programs for pregnant women at risk for depression within the framework of Patient Centered Outcomes, and (3) evaluating the potential contributing role of maternal mental health problems in the development of respiratory morbidity in offspring.  He is supported by the Vanderbilt V-POCKET K12 award through the Agency for Health Quality Research under the direction of David Penson, M.D., M.P.H., and Melissa McPheeters, Ph.D., M.P.H.


CarrollKecia N. Carroll, M.D., M.P.H. 

Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Division of General Pediatrics

Dr. Kecia 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 investigates risk factors for atopic and respiratory disease in young children, including factors such as familial asthma and atopy, maternal exposures during pregnancy, and viral infections 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.


William Dupont, Ph.D. DupontW
Professor of Biostatistics & Preventive Medicine
Vice-Chair for Academic Affairs, Department of Biostatistics

Dr. William Dupont´s primary research interest is in the molecular epidemiology of breast cancer. The primary focus of this research is to determine molecular and histologic markers of elevated breast cancer risk in women who have undergone biopsy revealing benign breast disease.  He and his collaborators, Drs. David L. Page, Jeffrey R. Smith, Fritz F. Parl, Melinda Sanders, Carlos Arteaga, and Harold L. Moses, are assembling a cohort of 17,000 women who had benign breast biopsies in Nashville over the past four decades. Paraffin embedded biopsy blocks are available on most of these women, and information on breast cancer outcome and other risk factors is being obtained on the overwhelming majority of these patients who are willing to participate in this research. To date, they have been very successful in identifying histologic risk factors for breast cancer in this cohort. Dr. Dupont´s other research interests include the development of statistical methods for sample size estimation and power calculations, the estimation of animal abundance, and the philosophical foundations of statistical inference.

GebretsadikTebeb Gebretsadik, M.P.H.
Associate in Biostatistics
Tebeb Gebretsadik received her M.P.H. degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of California at Berkeley. She joined the department of Biostatistics at Vanderbilt University in November 2003. Her research interests are in advancing methodologies for analysis of clinical and epidemiological data. She has worked extensively with the Asthma Research and Environmental Health investigators at Vanderbilt providing biostatistical expertise including the development of an analytical tool geared towards advancing asthma research. She lives in Nashville with her husband and their three sons.


MMooreMartin Moore, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Emory University School of Medicine 
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Pathogenesis, Reverse Genetics, and Vaccinology
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of respiratory failure and mechanical ventilation in infants. There is no RSV vaccine in use and no widely available therapies. RSV is not only a scourge of infancy, but also a major cause of asthma exacerbations in children and adults and of pneumonia in the elderly.  The primary focus of Dr. Moore’s laboratory is to define mechanisms of RSV immunopathogenesis and investigate the role of RSV strain differences in differential RSV pathophysiology.  Dr. Moore’s lab is using differentially virulent RSV strains and a RSV reverse genetics system to dissect molecular mechanisms leading to airway mucus expression, bronchiolitis, and pulmonary obstruction in the mouse model. These studies may lead to much-needed effective vaccines and/or therapies for RSV disease.  His laboratory has identified and derived strains of RSV that exhibit differential disease phenotypes in mice. Some RSV strains induce high levels of the cytokine IL-13, airway mucus, severe histopathology, and pulmonary obstruction, whereas other strains induce a more protective TH1-type response. 
In collaboration with Dr. Hartert, Dr. Moore’s lab is currently studying the role of RSV strain variation in immune evasion, using RSV clinical isolates and human sera from a well-defined cohort of RSV-infected children along with Drs. Larry Anderson, Dean Erdman, and Teresa Peret at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The second area of current vaccine research is evaluating RSV vaccine/adjuvant candidates in a preclinical RSV challenge model.
Dr. Moore lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and children. 
PMoorePaul E. Moore, M.D. 
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology
Division Chief of Pediatric Pulmonary and Allergy
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology
Division Chief of Pediatric Pulmonary and Allergy Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine
Monroe Carell Jr. Children´s Hospital at Vanderbilt
Dr. Paul Moore is a Nashville native and a Vanderbilt graduate.  He pursued his medical training at Harvard Medical School and also completed training in Pediatrics and Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at Children´s Hospital, Boston. While in fellowship, he developed an interest in the beta-2-adrenergic receptor and airway smooth muscle in the laboratory of Dr. Stephanie Shore. Since joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2001, his research interests have focused on genetic and environmental factors that influence the development of asthma and the response to asthma medications.  Paul and his wife Catherine are the parents of four active children.  They are loyal fans of Vanderbilt and of the Boston Red Sox.

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PeeblesR. Stokes Peebles, Jr., M.D.
John and Elizabeth Murray Professor of Medicine
Allergy, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine Division
Dr. Stokes Peebles is the John and Elizabeth Murray Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School. He graduated with an M.D. degree from Vanderbilt in 1986, was a Resident in Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt from 1986-89, Chief Resident at the Nashville Veterans Administration Medical Center from 1989-90, and elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He completed a four-year fellowship in Allergy/Clinical Immunology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (1991-1995) and a three-year fellowship in Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine at Vanderbilt University (1995-1998). He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Allergy/Immunology, Pulmonary, and Critical Care.  Dr. Peebles has a very active research program investigating lung inflammation and is currently principal investigator of an NIH (NIAID) U19 Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center Grant “Host and viral determinants of infant and childhood allergy and asthma”, an NIH R01 grant “PGI2 regulation of TSLP-mediated allergic inflammation in the lung”, and a Veterans Administration Merit Award to investigate the role of “PGI2 inhibition of pulmonary innate allergic immune responses.”  He is a past charter member of the NIAID Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation Research Committee study section and the NIH Lung Cellular, Molecular, and Immunobiology study section.  He is also the Past Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.
Rosas-SalazarCChristian Rosas-Salazar, M.D., M.P.H.
Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonary Medicine
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Dr. Rosas-Salazar, originally from Lima, Peru, finished medical school at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico. He then came to the U.S. and did his pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. He later completed a clinical and research fellowship in pediatric pulmonology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. During his fellowship, he also received a Master of Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh.  Soon after his fellowship, he joined the Division of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonary Medicine at Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and, since then, has been participating in several research projects at the Center for Asthma Research and Environmental Health.  His research interests include early-life risk factors for childhood asthma, asthma health disparities, and biomarkers for asthma development. 
WuPingsheng3Pingsheng Wu, Ph.D., M.S. 
Associate Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine
Department of Biostatistics
Dr. Pingsheng Wu received her Ph.D. degree in quantitative genetics and her M.S. degree in statistics at the University of Kentucky.  She joined the Center for Asthma Research and Environmental Health at Vanderbilt University in 2004 as a postdoctoral fellow, has trained in epidemiology, and has been supported by a Building Interdisciplinary Research on Woman’s Health K12 award and RC4 award. She is interested in applying advanced statistical methods to address causal inference from observational longitudinal data to questions related to asthma and allergic disease. Dr. Wu is originally from China and currently lives in Nashville with her husband and their two children.
Suman_Das_Ph.D..pngSuman Das, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
Division of Infectious Diseases
Dr. Das is the Associate Director for Microbial Genetics, Center for Translational Immunology and Infectious Diseases and Associate Director for Viral Genetics, VANTAGE. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Dr. Das was an Associate Professor in the Infectious Diseases Group at J. Craig Venter Institute. Using genomics approaches, his lab is trying to understand the underlying mechanisms that contribute to evolution of RNA viruses (i.e., Influenza, RSV, rotavirus EEEV, WNV, ZIKV and Enteroviruses). His lab is also interested in understanding virus-host and microbiome interactions, to identify if the host microbiota contributes to disease severity and long-term outcomes upon acute viral infections. Dr. Das received PhD in virology and cell biology from the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, India, where he studied molecular pathogenesis of HIV-1 subtype C Indian isolates. After a short postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA, he joined the Laboratory of Viral Diseases, NIAID as a Fogarty International fellow, where his research was focused on understanding the antigenic evolution influenza A virus. He joined Emory Vaccine Center, Atlanta as Research Associate to study human B-cell response to influenza infection and vaccination.
Photo-Anderson.jpgLarry J. Andreson, M.D.
Professor and Marcus Chair of Infectious Diseases
Department of Pediatrics
Emory University School of Medicine
Dr. Anderson joined the Divison of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Emory University School of Medicine as Professor and Marcus Chair of Infectious Diseases in 2010 after 33 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His laboratory is focused on studies of the pathogenesis of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) to guide vaccine development and the asthmatic immune response to RSV and rhinovirus to identify novel approaches to treating asthma exacerbations.
Post-Doctoral Fellows/Trainees
Kedir N.Turi, Ph.D.Turi

Postdoctoral Fellow
Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonary Medicine 

Dr. Turi joined the Center for Asthma Research after earning his Ph.D. in Community Health from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 2015.  He has a Master of Science degree in Applied Economics from the University of Illinois and Wagningen University.  Dr. Turi has very strong methods and quantitative skills and an understanding of a broad swath of scientific topics.  His research interest is to combine multivariate statistics and systems modeling to understand the pathways to disease developments.  Dr. Turi is funded by a T-32 clinical and translational training grant under the mentorship of Tina Hartert, MD, MPH.  His research will utilize a variety of bioinformatics technologies to mine, simulate, statistically analyze, and integrate the existing data in an effort to gain new insights into pathways in which infant viral respiratory infection causes asthma.

StoneCosby Stone, Jr., M.D., M.P.H. 
Allergy and Immunology Fellow
Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Dr. Cosby Stone joined the Center for Asthma Research in 2014 as a postdoctoral fellow.  He is originally from Crossville, Tennessee.  He received his undergratuate degree in mathematics from Vanderbilt University, trained in public health at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, and did his residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at Yale University.  He is serving in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine as an allergy/immunology fellow. His research interests include prevention of asthma and allergic diseases, vaccines and vaccine safety, angiodema, and how host/pathogen interactions lead to disease. Dr. Cosby's other important interests include writing and publishing poetry, keeping a garden, and spending time with his wife and two children.

Andrew Abreo, M.D.
Allergy and Immunology Fellow
Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Dr. Andrew Abreo joined the Center for Asthma Research in 2017 as a postdoctoral fellow. He is originally from Shreveport, Louisiana. He received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Viriginia and completed medical school at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. He came to Vanderbilt from Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he completed a residency and chief residency in pediatrics. He currently serves in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Medicine as an Allergy and Immunology fellow. His research interests include prevention of asthma and allergic diseases in addition to eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders. He lives in Nashville with his wife Colleen, enjoys playing tennis, and is a passionate fan of the Virginia cavaliers and New Orleans Saints.
this could be youPostdoctoral Fellow
We always welcome individuals who are highly motivated, passionate, and committed to science. If you are interested in joining the Hartert Research Group/Center for Asthma Research, click here.
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Research Team

Teresa Chipps, B.S.
Program Manager
Center for Asthma Research
Institute for Medicine and Public Health
Teresa Chipps is the Project Manager for the Center for Asthma Research.  She earned her BS with honors in Business Administration/Organizational Management from Bryan College in Dayton, TN. She came to Vanderbilt in 2008 and joined the Center in 2010. Before coming to Vanderbilt, she had a career in administrative positions in varied industries.  An Indiana native, Teresa moved  to Tennessee with her husband and two children in 1980.
Alexandra  Connolly, B.S.
Program Coordinator
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Alexandra Connolly is a native of  Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a B.S. degree in both Biology and in Spanish Language and Hispanic Studies. After graduating, Alexandra began working in public health for the City of Milwaukee Health Department’s Communicable Disease Unit and Immunization Program. She assisted with  project coordination, policy research, and  implementation of public health initiatives and acquired a special interest in eliminating health disparities in urban populations. In the fall of 2012, Alexandra decided to make a spontaneous move to Nashville and finally enjoy some milder winters. Alexandra is fortunate to be a part of Vanderbilt University’s INSPIRE study; it has encouraged her enthusiasm for clinical research and indulges her desire to interact with children and their families.
Kaitlin Costello, B.A.  Costello

Laboratory Manager

Center for Asthma Research

Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Kaitlin Costello, a Cincinnati native, discovered her love of science and specifically Biology during high school under the very meaningful mentorship of Ms. Maria Rosa Arbona. She attended Denison University where she worked closely with Dr. Caroline Wilson to pursue an interest in researching the nervous system of a small marine arthropod. After completing a successful Senior Research project, she earned her degree in Biology with a concentration in Neuroscience. After graduating in 2010, she joined a lab at Vanderbilt in the Cancer Biology department researching the basic cell science behind cancer cell invasion and metastasis. She worked for 3 years in that lab before she joined the Hartert lab in August of 2013 to work on the INSPIRE study. She finds clinical research exceptionally important and exciting, particularly as it applies to pediatric patients. She and her husband, Dallas, are local agriculture enthusiasts and enjoy the companionship of their energetic Doberman-mix, Bean.
GammellR1Rebecca L. Gammell, B.A.  
Research Analyst II
Director, Communications & Survey Core
Center for Asthma Research
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
An Ohio native and graduate of Cleveland State University, ReGammellR1becca Gammell first became involved in research as a health coach and surveyor for a Vanderbilt diabetes study (Implementation of a Diabetes Self-Management Education Team in a Patient Centered Medical Home). She joined the INSPIRE Study team in 2012 to spearhead the development of the survey core, which contacted the families of enrolled babies by phone or email every two weeks during the 2012 and 2013 winter viral seasons.  Rebecca is also involved in participant relations and data management for the INSPIRE Study. 
Zhouwen Liu, M.S.Liu
Computer Systems Analyst III
Research Database Manager
Center for Asthma ResearchLiuLiu

Zhouwen Liu earned his bachelor’s degree from Shanghai Ocean University iLiun 1990, majoring inLiu Marine biology.  He finished his M.S. degree in Biology in 1996 from State University of New York at Binghamton.  He then moved to Nashville in September 1998 and completed a second M.S. degree in computer science at Middle Tennessee State University in 2002. He joined our research staff in September 2007 as database manager.  Zhouwen and his wife are busy raising their two children and their niece. 

Christian E. Lynch, M.P.H.
Research Program Manager
Center for Asthma Research

Christian Lynch received her MPH in Health Behavior Health Education from the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She has 15 years’ experience in research working with various populations ranging from infants to elderly adults. She has conducted studies related to topics in mental health, public health, obesity and obstetrics/gynecology. Additionally, she has experience working in community-based, home-based and hospital-based settings in human subject research. Her current research interests include evaluating the effects of maternal distress in the intrauterine environment and how this relationship impacts the risk for infant and child onset of chronic conditions. Mrs. Lynch lives in Nashville with her husband and her whippet, Zooey. She recently moved to Nashville for her love of all things equestrian, the great music and the opportunity to further her growth and passion in the field of medical research. 

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Kelsie McMurtry, R.N. McMurtryK150x200
Clinical Trials Associate I

Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Kelsie McMurtry joined the INSPIRE study in November 2012.  She works in the Gallatin Children's Clinics in Gallatin and Lafayette. 

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Patty Russell, R.N., B.S.N.  RussellP
Research Nurse Specialist II
Assistant Director, Staffing & Personnel
Finalist for Tennessean 13th  Annual Salute to Nurses Awards, 2015
Center for Asthma Research Clinical Studies
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Pat is originally from Bay Minette, AL, a small town on the Alabama Gulf Coast.  She completed the LPN program at Reid State Technical College in Alabama and then moved to the Nashville area in 1997. She loves Nashville and considers Middle Tennessee her home. Pat comes to the INSPIRE study from her position as a clinic nurse with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital Outpatient Clinics. In her previous position she was able to see firsthand the impact of research and the difference it makes in our patients’ lives. She knew she wanted to be involved in research and making a difference.  In addition to her active life as a research nurse, wife, and mother, she recently returned to school and obtained her Bachelors in Nursing from Cumberland University. In 2013, Pat was nominated, by her physicians and peers, and received the Vanderbilt LPN of the Year award for her dedication and service to her patients.


Kim Woodward, R.N., B.S.N., C.C.R.P.   Woodward
Research Nurse Specialist III
Director, Regulatory Affairs
Center for Asthma Research
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Kim Woodward graduated from Emory University with a degree in nursing, and she has been a research nurse in pulmonary medicine for nearly 11 years.  Prior to that, she worked in fields as diverse as helping children heal after surgery for congenital heart defects to working for an insurance company.  Her interest is in helping research studies by improving recruitment of volunteer participants and impacting their willingness to stay involved with a study to completion. She will graduate from Vanderbilt's School of Nursing in 2017 with an MSN as a pediatric nurse practitioner.  Kim and her husband, Brian, are parents of three amazing children.  Before coming to Vanderbilt, Kim was blessed to be a stay-at-home mom. 

Center Alumni

Niek Achten, M.D.Achten
Research Fellow for the Asthma Research Group
Dr. Achten served as a research fellow at the Asthma Research Group investigating interference between respiratory syncytial virus and human rhinovirus in infancy, and prediction models for severe bronchiolitis. In 2015, he completed medical school at Utrecht University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands. His primary interests are in pediatric infectious dieseases and global child health. As of February 2017, Dr. Achten works as a pediatric resident and infectious diseases research fellow at the Academic Pediatric Center Suriname, in Paramaribo, Suriname, at the northern coast of South America. He continues to collaborate with the Asthma Research Group. When not working, he enjoys diving, both with and without scuba air tanks. 

Laurie Archbald-Pannone, M.D.
Undergraduate Research Student, 1998 - 1999

Alexis Bashinski, B.A.
Undergraduate Research Student, 2007

Margaret (Peggy) Bender, FNP-BCBenderPeggy

Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Margaret Bender, known as Peggy, has been a nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for 40 years. She received both her Bachelors of Science degree in nursing and her Family Nurse Practitioner degree from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She has had a variety of nursing jobs that mainly involved infants and children. Peggy started her nursing career in the pediatric intensive care unit.  She then spent many years conducting research studies and providing care to families and children with infectious diseases which include: HIV and AIDS, congenital CMV, and Herpes. She was also a nurse practitioner in the Pediatric Pulmonary Clinic, caring for children with cystic fibrosis and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Peggy and her husband, Todd, have six children and five wonderful grandchildren.
Kara Bliley, B.S.
Undergraduate Engineering Research Student, 2001 - 2002
Janice BrooksBrooksJ

Communication Coordinator
Janice is a Middle Tennessean, a mother, and a proud grandmother of four.  She enjoys talking with the mothers and hearing about their delightful children.
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Xinqing Deng, M.D., M.P.H.
Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2007 - 2009
DingJuanJuan Ding, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonary Medicine
Dr.Juan Ding joined the Center for Asthma Research in 2015 as a postdoctoral fellow. She received her Ph.D. degree in statistics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. Her research interests include genetic association analysis, survival analysis and group testing. She is working with Dr. Pingsheng Wu on causal inference using observational data to address questions related to asthma.
Lauren EasleyEasley
Research Analyst I

Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Lauren Easley graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science degree. Since high school, she has conducted research on the use of physical therapy treatments and interventions for prevention of low back pain. While obtaining her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Washington University in St. Louis, she had the opportunity to start a health program for individuals that suffered from preventive diseases. After much contemplation, she decided a nursing degree would help her better develop public health programs to aid individuals facing maternal/child health issues.  Lauren also has a lovely son.

Rachel Hayes Enriquez, Ph.D., R.N.

Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2004 - 2007


Amy S. Feldman, M.D. FeldmanAmy3
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Allergy & Immunology, 2013 - 2014

Amy attended the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia for medical school. She then went on to the University of Florida for her pediatrics residency where she learned the value of not sleeping and not having free time. She is currently completing her fellowship training in Allergy and Immunology at Vanderbilt University and memorizing every CD number in existence. Her primary focus is understanding asthma from beginning to end, especially the contribution of the microbiome to asthma.
Marcia FreudenthalFreudenthal
Research Analyst I, Survey Core
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

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Lakesha Hall-Ezelle, L.P.N.  
Clinical Trials Associate I
Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
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Anca M. Ifrim, R.N., C.C.R.P. Ifrim
Research Nurse Specialist II
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Anca Ifrim joined the INSPIRE study in July 2012, and works in the Goodlettsville Pediatrics and Rivergate Pediatrics clinic sites.
HornerJeffrey R. Horner, B.S.
Computer Systems Analyst III 
Department of Biostatistics
Jeff Horner joined the INSPIRE study in September 2013. 
Kristina James, M.D.James
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Allergy and Immunology, 2011 - 2012
Kristina James, M.D., received her medical degree from Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota and completed a residency and chief residency in Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.  Her primary research interests include the impact of microbiome alterations on asthma development, the relationship between infections and asthma, and asthma prevention strategies.  Kristina enjoys exploring the great outdoors of Tennessee and is learning to appreciate college football, much to the joy of her husband Clint. Dr. James is now in practice in Alaska, where her family and parents have relocated.
Lina M Keene, RN-BSN-CCRN-FCCSLittler 
Research Nurse Specialist II 
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

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Ashudee Kirk, M.S.  Kirk
Research Analyst I
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Ashudee is a native of Genesee County, Michigan. Following her passion for research, she earned a B.S. with honors in Cellular and Molecular Biology and Chemistry from Tennessee State University, completing research on horseshoe crab brain semaphorin protein reverse uptake. After graduation, she worked in Department of Defense data and system research, working closely on a globalization development and expansion project before leaving to further her educational endeavors.  While completing a toxicology M.S. at Austin Peay State University, Ashudee worked on research with Brown Recluse spiders, catching plenty of spiders along the way. Her projects included monitoring and defining prey capture as well as methods for slowing the toxic venom necrosis utilizing an In vitro pathway .  She is a current member of the Society of Toxicology: National and Southeastern conferences, along with the Tennessee Academy of Science. Ashudee has been an American Red Cross volunteer for over ten years in many capacities serving communities in both Michigan and Tennessee. Ashudee looks forward to bringing her compassion for expanding the realm of help for families of children with asthma and allergies to the INSPIRE patient population. Ashudee and her son Tyler love to travel and are currently enjoying time with their new puppy Terra.

Nathan KoestnerKoestner

Undergraduate Research Student, 2009 - 2012
Nathan Koestner, from Franklin TN, obtained his degree in Chemistry from Tennessee Tech University. He planned to attend Medical School and earn the title of Emergency Room physician. He occupies his spare time being a volunteer firefighter in Williamson County.  Nathan states, "I’ve been doing it for close to four years and absolutely love the opportunity to serve my community." 
Emma Larkin, Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor
Since joining the faculty at Vanderbilt University in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care in 2009, Dr. Larkin has focused her research on examining genetic risk factors for the severity Larkinof bronchiolitis in infants with viral infections.  The ultimate goal is to understand which infants with respiratory syncytial viral infections develop childhood asthma. Pathways under consideration include the urea cycle, oxidative stress, inflammation, vitamin D metabolism, and adrenergic system.

Dr. Larkin is studying the dietary and enzymatic factors that predict incident adult onset asthma and allergy in the Shanghai Women’s Asthma and Allergy Study. She also serves as project manager for the Population-Based Effectiveness in Asthma and Lung Diseases (PEAL) Network, representing a collaboration with Kaiser Permanente and Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare to mine large databases for the refinement of asthma sub-phenotypes.

LayApril Lay, L.P.N.                                                                           
Clinical Trials Associate I
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

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Gina Lee, B.S. 
Undergraduate Engineering Research Student, 2001 - 2002
LemkeMMegan Lemke, M.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Allergy and Immunology
Meghan Perkins Lemke was a fellow in Allergy and Immunology. Originally from upstate New York, she has called Nashville ho me since the start of her Pediatrics residency in 2004.  She is a graduate of Allegheny College in Meadville, PA and Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN.  While a Pediatrics resident, Meghan became interested in the impact of secondhand smoke exposure on childhood illnesses.  Meghan and her husband Chris are the proud parents of daughter Camille.

MillerEKE. Kathryn Miller, M.D., M.P.H.

Assistant Professor, Pediatric Pulmonary, Allergy and Immunology
Eva Kathryn Miller, M.D., is an assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. She earned her medical degree from Texas A&M University System Health Science Center in Temple, Texas. She completed a residency and internship in Pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. She also completed a fellowship in Allergy and Immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  Her primary interests are in the relationship viruses to asthma development and exacerbation. Dr. Miller is in private practice in Middle Tennessee.

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Patricia A. Minton, R.N., AE-C, C.C.R.P.Minton
Research Nurse Specialist III, Asthma Studies Coordinator
Research Nurse Specialist IVClinical Director – INSPIRE Study
Asthma Studies CoordinatorAllergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine  
Patricia Minton has been called Cookie since before her birth.  She is a Nashville native and has wanted to be a nurse since she was a little girl, having been raised by an R.N. mother who loved nursing so much that she didn’t retire until the age of 75.  Cookie attended St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Knoxville, TN, and went on to become a charge nurse at the age of 21.  She was one of the first nurses in Nashville to acquire a Critical Care Nursing Certification.  In 1975, she came to Vanderbilt to work with Hakan Sundell, M.D., in lamb research, planting the seeds for what would eventually become standards of care in the modern-day NICU.  In 2002, Cookie began her work with Tina Hartert, M.D., M.P.H., as a study coordinator and fell in love with asthma research.  She is a Certified Asthma Educator, as well as a SoCra Certified Clinical Research Professional. She has been at Vanderbilt for 35 years and is loyal to all things Vanderbilt (Go Dores). Cookie is a devoted and passionate researcher, scientist, leader, and friend.  She can tell interesting stories of road trips to find lost study participants, from encounters with the family pit bull while drawing a baby’s blood to navigating an 800-mile trip into rural Kentucky to find ten participants who would otherwise never have been able to be part of TCRI data.  She and her husband, John, have been married for 40 years and have two grown children and one utterly adored grandson.

Keri Montgomery, R.N. Montgomery

Research Nurse Specialist I
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Keri Montgomery is originally from Evansville, IN and lived in Nashville for about 12 years. She graduated from Belmont University in 2006, with a degree in Music. After working various jobs as a ballroom dancer, singer, and waitress, she began working as an office assistant at Vanderbilt and quickly fell in love with nursing. She worked in pulmonary research at Vanderbilt for 7 years before going back to school for nursing. Keri began working with the INSPIRE study as a Research Nurse Specialist in 2010 after obtaining her RN license. She completed her Master's degree in Nursing at Vanderbilt School of Nursing and has become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Keri and her husband, Stephen, relocated to Virginia. They have a dog named Merle and enjoy playing disc golf in their spare time.  


Adam Morgan, B.S.
Research Coordinator
Center for Asthma Research
Institute for Medicine and Public Health

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Fudzanai Mukarakate 
Undergraduate Research Student, 2005 - 2006

Sabuj Pattanayek, B.S. 
Undergraduate Engineering Research Student, 2002 

Jennifer Patton Ker, M.D., M.S.KerJ
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Allergy and Immunology, 2008 - 2009
Jennifer is originally from northeastern Ohio, now calls Nashville home. She went to Miami University for her undergraduate studies and then to Northwestern University where she received her masters degree in neurobiology and physiology. She completed medical school at the Medical College of Ohio and came to Vanderbilt where she completed her residency in pediatrics in 2007. She was fellow in Allergy and Immunology and it was during her fellowship where she became interested in the epidemiology of asthma, early viral respiratory infections, atopy, and eczema. Jennifer and her husband Jeffrey are the proud parents of their daughter Reagan.
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Allison Powers, B.S. 
Undergraduate Engineering Research Student, 2001 - 2002
SReissSara Reiss, M.L.I.
Senior Research Specialist
Pulmonary Medicine
Sara Reiss graduated from State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh with a degree in In Vitro Cell Biology and Biotechnology.  She was a research technician at Vanderbilt for nine years before joining pulmonary medicine. While working at Vanderbilt, Sara has earned a Master’s Degree in Laboratory Investigation.  Sara and her husband, Andrew, are parents of two children.  Before coming to Vanderbilt, Sara worked for Upstate Biotechnology.
Airron Richardson 
Medical Student Research, 2004
RisleyLora Risley, R.N., O.C.N. 
Research Nurse Specialist III
Director of Research Nursing Education
Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

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Theresa Rogers, R.N.
Research Nurse Specialist III
Director, Clinical Studies
Center for Asthma Research
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Theresa Rogers joined the INSPIRE study in August 2014.  She works in the Columbia
Pediatrics Clinic site.  She has  been a nurse for 18 years, and is a graduate of St. Joseph's College of Nursing in Syracuse, NY.  Prior to coming to the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, she worked within the Division of Neonatology for 14 years, as a bedside NICU nurse, then an ECMO specialist, and eventually as a Research Nurse in that department.  Research is a recent passion of Theresa's, and she looks forward, with great enthusiasm, to taking advantage of the many growth and education opportunities available in this field.  She love our patients and their families, and considers it her privilege to serve this community.  Theresa, her husband, and two children have chosen to make Tennessee their permanent home.
David Benjamin Smallwood, L.P.N. SmallwoodB150x200
Clinical Trials Associate I
Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

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Chantel Sloan, Ph.D.Sloan
Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2010 - 2013
Dr. Chantel Sloan, completed her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Brigham Young University’s Hawaii campus in 2004.  Raised in Connecticut, she then returned to New England to pursue a Ph.D. in genetics at Dartmouth College, where she trained with Jason Moore, Ph.D., and conducted interdisciplinary research combining genetics, epidemiology, and geography to investigate complex interactions in lung and bladder cancer.  After graduating in November 2009, she decided to gain further training in spatial epidemiology methods and spent six months at SUNY Stony Brook training with Dr. Jaymie Meliker in spatiotemporal analysis of cancer clusters.  In July of 2010, Chantel joined the lab of Tina Hartert, M.D., M.P.H., at Vanderbilt University as a postdoctoral fellow and received an NIEHS training grant to conduct a study of air pollution, climate, sociodemographics, and influenza rates in Tennessee and California. Dr. Sloan has started a GIS User´s Group.  Dr. Sloan is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Science at Brigham Young University.
Steen150x200Stephanie Steen, R.N.                                                                                                      
Clinical Trials Associate I
Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Stephanie Steen is a native of Indianola, MS. She attended Tennessee Technology Center at Nashville and Tennessee State University. She earned her Practical Nursing Diploma in 2002. For three years, she was an Infection Control Nurse in Shelby County and also a volunteer at St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis. She is the proud mother of Tyler. Vanderbilt seemed like the right family to become a part of with her son having allergies and asthma. Stephanie is very passionate about helping the community bridge the gap in health care. She believes that having a passion to help people will bring hope and a desire to always become the best in your aspirations. She recently completed her registered nursing degree at Tennessee State University.
Sara Van Dreist, M.D.Van Driest
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Pediatric Resident, 2007 - 2009
Sara Van Driest was born and raised in Winona, Minnesota, a small town on the Mississippi river. She completed her undergraduate degree in physiology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She then pursued her MD and PhD in Pharmacology.  Dr. Van Dreist is currently an Assistant Professor in Clinical Pharmacology at Vanderbilt.
Daniel Venarske, M.D. 
Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2004 - 2005 

valetRobert Valet, M.D.

Assistant Professor
Allergy, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine Division 
Dr.Valet is originally from Rochester, NY but considers himself a naturalized Tennessean. He completed undergraduate at Dartmouth College, then came to Vanderbilt to complete medical school,  an internal medicine residency, and an allergy and immunology clinical fellowship. Rob´s research interests focus on outcomes for atopic diseases among underserved populations. Rob and his wife Amy have three children.  Dr. Valet is in clinical practice in Middle Tennessee. 
Teresa Welch-Burke RN, BSN, CCRP  welch-burke 
Research Nurse Specialist III

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Ursula Whalen, M.D.  
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Pediatric Resident, 2002 - 2003