Team Members


  • C. Buddy Creech, MD, MPH

    Director, Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program
    Edie Carell Johnson Chair and Professor, Department of Pediatrics
    Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases

    C. Buddy Creech, MD, MPH, FPIDS is the Edie Carell Johnson Chair and Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. He serves as Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, Principal Investigator of the NIH-funded Vanderbilt Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, and Co-Principal Investigator of the CDC-sponsored Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Network. Dr. Creech’s research interests focus on the development and evaluation of new vaccines and therapeutics, particularly vaccines targeting influenza, pertussis, and S. aureus. His work combines innovative clinical trial design and next-generation immunologic assays to characterize the human response to infection and disease. He is currently leading COVID-related clinical trials at VUMC, including the evaluation of novel treatment options for hospitalized patients with COVID and clinical trials of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

    Dr. Creech received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, cum laude, from Vanderbilt University prior to graduating with high honors from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis, TN. He completed pediatric training at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, serving as Chief Resident in 2002. During fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at Vanderbilt, he trained with Dr. Kathryn Edwards and received a master’s degree in public health. He is active in the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), where he serves as President.



  • Shannon Walker, MD

    Assistant Professor
    Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology; Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
  • Stephanie Rolsma, MD, PhD

    Assistant Professor
    Pediatric Infectious Disease

    Dr. Stephanie Rolsma is an assistant professor in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

    Dr. Rolsma has experience in microbiology, vaccine development, and clinical research and her current research focuses on therapeutics and interventions in critically ill patients and clinical trials. Her primary research focuses on evaluating the utility of therapeutic drug monitoring of beta-lactam antibiotics in pediatric and adult patients, including cystic fibrosis patients and patients receiving intensive critical care. She also serves as a co-investigator in studies conducted through the NIH-funded Vanderbilt Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU), including Moderna and Janssen Phase 3 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trials in adults, a Moderna Phase 2/3 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trial in children, a Moderna Phase 1 SARS-CoV-2 variant vaccine trial in adults, a study of infant immune responses to RSV, and an intranasal influenza vaccine in pediatric patients. As a co-investigator for the CDC-funded Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Network she works to address safety issues and clinical adverse events following vaccinations.

    Dr. Rolsma received her B.S. in Microbiology from Michigan State University. She was awarded a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she was a part of the Medical Scientist Training Program. She completed a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

  • Natalia Jimenez, PhD, MSCI

    Research Assistant Professor
    Pediatric Infectious Diseases
    VTEU Program Coordinator

    A native of Costa Rica and with a background in Microbiology, Dr. Jimenez completed a master's degree in clinical investigation (MSCI) followed by a PhD in Epidemiology at Vanderbilt University. Her work has focused on observational studies of S. aureus and pertussis, laboratory studies of the clinical and molecular epidemiology of S. aureus colonization in children and young adults, and clinical trials of vaccines. She currently serves as a Quality Assurance Officer for the VVRP and serves in one of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) committees at VUMC.


  • Natalya Beneschott, MD

    Residential Fellow- NIH
    Pediatric Infectious Disease

    Natalya is a pediatric infectious disease fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Buddy Creech. Her fellowship research project focuses on immunometabolism profiling of critically ill children with congenital heart disease.

Affiliated Faculty

  • Leigh M. Howard, MD, MPH

    Assistant Professor
    Pediatric Infectious Diseases

    Dr. Howard's research focuses on vaccine-preventable diseases that have global impact. She has extensive experience in the developing world, serving as a physician in the Baylor International Pediatrics AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) prior to completing a pediatric infectious diseases fellowship at Vanderbilt. During fellowship, she completed a master's degree in public health, devoting a portion of her time to defining health literacy and medication dosing errors in Mozambique. She now serves as a Fogarty Global Health Fellow at Vanderbilt and is working with colleagues at the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Lusaka, Zambia (CIDRZ). She continues to work on pathogens such as influenza and other respiratory pathogens, and continues to work in the developing world. Her current research focuses on the impact of respiratory pathogens on pneumococcal carriage in an Andean cohort (Peru).

  • Andrew Sokolow

    Director, Pediatric Pulmonology Fellowship Program, Co-Director, Pediatric Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Center, Associate Director , Cystic Fibrosis Center and Associate Professor, Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonary Medicine

    Dr. Sokolow is board-certified in Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine and have a strong clinical interest in pediatric chronic pulmonary disease, including cystic fibrosis, pulmonary manifestations of Duchenne muscular dystrophy and childhood asthma. His research includes collaborative efforts between the Divisions of Pediatric Infectious Disease and Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonary Medicine in clinical/translational work investigating immune response to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the pediatric cystic fibrosis and the respiratory interactions surrounding vaccines and vaccine preventable diseases. He presently serves as the associate pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Center director and co-director for the Duchenne Muscular dystrophy clinic.

Administrative Team

Clinical Team

  • Kate Sokolow, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC

    Research Nurse Coordinator, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
    Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program

    Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Kate attended Case Western Reserve University and completed her undergraduate degree in nursing in 2007.  After working for a decade as a bedside nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Kate completed her master’s degree at Vanderbilt University in 2015, where she specialized in Pediatric Primary Care.  Kate joined the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program in 2017, where she currently serves as a study nurse coordinator and pediatric nurse practitioner.  

  • Emily Cleveland, RN

    Research Nurse
    Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program

    Emily is a graduate from Auburn University where she got her degree in nursing in 2007. She spent the next decade at the bedside in critical care medicine. During this time she also served as the medical director for an organization in Haiti and spent time in New Zealand opening an ICU at a smaller hospital. She started working in research in 2015 in pharmacogenetics and oncology.  Emily joined the VVRP in 2021 to assist with the large scale COVID vaccine trails and currently serves as a study coordinator and registered nurse.

  • Wendy Winn

    Clinical Data Trials Specialist Sr.
    Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program
    (615) 322-4742

    Wendy is a Belmont Graduate who began her work with the VVRP in 2020 to assist in large scale COVID vaccine trials during the height of the pandemic. She now manages the clinical schedule, most communications with participants and potential volunteers, the volunteer database, and spear heads recruitment efforts. She continues to support the clinical team in many ways to ensure studies run smoothly and participants volunteering in our studies have a positive experience. 

  • Fiona Oaks

    Clinical Trials Specialist

    Fiona joined the VVRP in the summer of 2021 after graduating from Lipscomb University with a degree in biology. She supports the clinical team by assisting with participant visits, helping with recruitment efforts, and preforming phlebotomy along with other tasks. 

  • Caroline Chapman

    Clinical Trials Associate
    Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program

    Caroline recently graduated from The University of Tennessee Knoxville with a degree in biochemistry. She joined the VVRP as a clinical trials associate, serving to support the clinical team and each of the VVRP’s studies. She has interests in genetics and immunology and will begin medical school in the fall of 2024.

Laboratory Team

  • Nicole Soper, MT

    Laboratory Manager, Thomsen Laboratory
    Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program
    Lab Phone

    Ms. Soper is a licensed medical technician with extensive experience in microbiology and immunology. She is the laboratory manager for the VVRP Laboratory, overseeing projects focused on S. aureus, respiratory infections, and C. difficile infections.

  • Eric Brady

    Sr. Clinical Trials Specialist
    (615) 322 – 3156

    Eric is a University of Michigan graduate and joined the VVRP in 2017 by way of Duke University. He is heavily involved in VTEU (Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit) and other clinical trials where he utilizes his experience in immunology, virology, and microbiology.

  • Vivian Patrick

    Student Researcher
    Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program

    Vivian is a Nashville native and undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology. She joined the VVRP in 2022 as a summer intern with the clinical team. During the fall of 2022 she began a research project focused on S. aureus colonization in children receiving CFTR modulator therapy. Her project seeks to determine whether genetic differences in the bacterial isolates affect risk of disease progression, understand overall genetic similarities and differences among infecting strains, and define the seroprevalence of staphylococcal antibodies. She is currently applying to medical schools, with the hope of matriculating in the fall of 2024.

Regulatory Team

Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA)