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NAD-RCMAR Faculty, Staff, and Pilot Investigators

Celestina Barbosa-Leiker

Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, PhD

Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, PhD, is the Associate Dean for Research and an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing at Washington State University (WSU). She is also the Director for the Program of Excellence in Addictions Research and a member of the Committee on Cannabis Research and Outreach at WSU. Dr. Barbosa-Leiker has methodological expertise in psychometrics and longitudinal latent variable modeling. Her pilot project studies the sex differences in Alzheimer’s disease and the role that depression has in the development of dementia.
Ronny Bell

Ronnie Bell, PhD

Ronny Bell, PhD, (Lumbee), Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health at East Carolina University, completed a post-doctoral fellowship in gerontology at Wake Forest University. He serves on the American Diabetes Association Health Disparities Committee and he chairs the NC American Indian Health Board and the NC Diabetes Advisory Council. His research examines diabetes-related cognitive impairment among underrepresented minorities.
Cara Carty

Cara L. Carty, PhD

Cara L. Carty, PhD, is an Assistant Research Professor in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at WSU. She is an epidemiologist with over ten years of experience in cardiometabolic and genetic epidemiology, and research methods. Her current research interests include the evaluation of interventions targeting disease prevention in diverse populations, and the use of biomarkers as early indicators of disease and disease progression. Her pilot project investigates the prevalence of and risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in American Indians and Native Alaskans. She will also investigate if these estimates vary by demographic factors.
Amber Fyfe-Johnson

Amber Fyfe-Johnson, ND, PhD

Amber Fyfe-Johnson, ND, PhD, is an Assistant Research Professor at the Initiative for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH) at Washington State University. Her research focuses on obesity prevention in childhood and adolescence, pediatric health disparities, and quantitative methods. As a member of the NAD-RCMAR Methods Core, she uses her clinical and research experience to contextualize research designs and generate robust quantitative approaches to scientific questions.
James Galvin

James Galvin, MD

James E. Galvin, MD, is a Professor of Integrated Medical Science at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University. He is Founding Director of the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health. He is also Professor of Nursing and Medical Director of the Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University. A board-certified neurologist, Dr. Galvin has authored over 200 scientific publications, 25 book chapters, and three textbooks on healthy brain aging, cognitive health, memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and related disorders. Dr. Galvin created and leads the Clinical Translational Research Unit, a state-of-the-art research space specifically designed to conduct clinical trials, longitudinal studies, and patient-oriented research projects.
Andrea Hermosura

Andrea H. Hermosura, PhD

Andrea H. Hermosura, PhD, is a Native Hawaiian Assistant Professor at the Department of Native Hawaiian Health, and licensed clinical psychologist at the Queen’s Medical Center and the Physician Center Mililani. The majority of her research focuses on ways to better understand and address the patterns of health disparities among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Ultimately, she would like to use these findings to develop culturally relevant interventions to improve the healthcare quality and safety for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Hawaiʻi. Her pilot project will compare cross-sectional trends in ADRD hospitalization, mortality risk, length of stay, and total charges between Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Whites inpatients in Hawaiʻi. Dr. Hermosura will also examine the associations between individual/hospital level characteristics and patient comorbidities, for inpatients with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias and adverse events.
Joseph Keawe'aimoku Kaholokula

Keawe Kaholokula, PhD

Dr. Keawe Kaholokula, is Professor and Chair of Native Hawaiian Health in the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is also a licensed clinical psychologist. As a Native Hawaiian, Dr. Kaholokula is passionate about improving the social and cultural determinants of health among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and has made a lifelong commitment to this goal. He has developed, implemented, and evaluated culturally relevant, community-based behavioral interventions for the primary and secondary prevention of hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. He is also the Principal Investigator of a study funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities to translate the Diabetes Prevention Program for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and of a study to manage hypertension among Native Hawaiians.
Bouapanh Lor

Bouapanh Lor, MPH

Bouapanh Lor, MPH, is a Research Coordinator for the Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH) at Washington State University. Her primary research interests are in minority health and health disparities and community-based participatory research. In addition to providing day-to-day operational and logistical support to NAD-RCMAR’s three Cores and its Principal Investigators, Ms. Lor monitors the progress of all study activities.
Richard MacLehose

Richard MacLehose, PhD

Richard MacLehose, PhD, Associate Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota, is an expert on research design and methods, quantitative bias analysis, Bayesian statistics, and causal inference. He has investigated environmental exposures, cardiovascular disease risk, cognition, and ADRD while working in the field of race- and sex-based health disparities for 15 years. He has also advised many PhD students in statistical modeling of cognitive decline.
Spero Manson

Spero Manson, PhD

Spero M. Manson, PhD (Pembina Chippewa), is a Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Psychiatry and the Director of the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health at the Colorado School of Public Health. His research activities involve program development and training in collaboration with 250 Native communities that span rural, urban, reservation, and village settings across the U.S. As the Co-Principal Investigator of NAD-RCMAR, he co-leads the Administrative Core, which supports a diverse set of approaches, ranging from social to behavioral sciences, for pilot studies on health disparities related to ADRD. He also co-chairs the program’s Research Education Core, which trains the pilot investigators.
Clemma Muller

Clemma Muller, PhD

Clemma Muller, PhD, MS, is an Assistant Research Professor in the College of Nursing at Washington State University. She has more than 15 years’ experience as an epidemiologist and biostatistician engaged in study design, quantitative methods, and causal inference in health disparities research involving American Indian and Alaska Native populations. Her expertise includes the design and execution of analytic methods for community- and clinic-based behavioral interventions. As the co-lead of the NAD-RCMAR Analysis Core, she will optimize the quality of the pilot studies and grant proposals produced by RCMAR scientists.
Lonnie Nelson

Lonnie Nelson, PhD

Lonnie Nelson, PhD (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), Assistant Professor at the Washington State University College of Nursing, has extensive clinical and research experience in neurocognitive assessment and in rehabilitation interventions for people with brain injury. His research uses a community-based approach to ensure that all activities result in long-term improvements in the lives of participating community members. His past efforts include extensive assessment and rehabilitation of soldiers returning from military deployment with blast-related brain injury. He is a Co-Investigator with a randomized controlled trial funded by the National Institute on Aging, for which he adapted a cognitive rehabilitation intervention for elderly American Indians with mild cognitive impairment.
Carolyn Noonan

Carolyn Noonan, MS

Carolyn Noonan, MS, has a master’s degree in biostatistics and has worked for 15 years as a statistical mentor with the Native Elder Research Center. She has served as a data analyst on many studies with NAD-RCMAR faculty and mentors, and she is well-versed in the methodological considerations involved in successful research on health disparities with underrepresented minority populations.
Maureen Schmitter

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, PhD

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, PhD, is the Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Washington State University (WSU). She directs WSU’s well-funded Aging and Dementia Neuropsychology Laboratory, which develops cognitive interventions to help older adults with progressive ADRD delay disability and improve quality of life. She has directed several large clinical studies and is well known for her research on the relationship between cognition and everyday functioning. She has also been recognized for her research mentorship of PhD students. Her research interests include everyday functioning, memory and executive abilities, and smart technologies.
Anna Zamora-Kapoor

Anna Zamora-Kapoor, PhD

Dr. Anna Zamora-Kapoor’s pilot project will improve our knowledge about sex differences in the associations between obesity, vascular brain injury, and cognitive performance in American Indians. She will leverage data from the Cerebrovascular Disease and its Consequences in American Indians (CDCAI), to explore the potential role of two different measures of obesity, body mass index and waist circumference, in vascular brain injury and cognitive performance outcomes, as well as their variability by sex. This is the first study to examine sex differences in the complex associations between obesity and cognitive performance in American Indian elders.
Luciana Mascarenhas Fonseca

Luciana Mascarenhas Fonseca, PhD

Dr. Luciana Mascarenhas Fonseca’s pilot project aims to characterize the cross-sectional relationship between intraindividual cognitive variability and cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) correlates of neurodegeneration in American Indians. She will use data collected in the Cerebrovascular Disease and its Consequences in American Indians (CDCAI) Study. The study is particularly novel as it is the first to investigate intraindividual cognitive variability and neuroimaging in American Indians and may help to identify cognitive noninvasive markers of neurodegeneration in this population.
Jaedon Avey

Jaedon Avey, PhD

Dr. Jaedon Avey’s pilot project aims to identify clinical factors associated with differences in health service utilization following diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias or mild cognitive impairment. The project will use data collected at Alaska Native Medical Center and Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage Alaska. The project’s results may inform the management of ADRD within the Alaska Native Tribal Healthcare system and in other Tribal healthcare organizations.
Heehyul Moon

Heehyul Moon, PhD, MSW

Dr. Heehyul Moon’s pilot project seeks (1) to better understand the disparities in dementia prevalence and modifiable risk factors as well as their effects on trends in cognitive impairment among American Indian older adults, and (2) to increase our understanding of trends in prevalence and their associations with changes in functional disabilities (activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)) compared to other racial/ethnic groups (Non-Hispanic Whites; Non-Hispanic Blacks; Hispanics). Data for the proposed study will come from a nationally representative study, the National Health, and Aging Trend Study (NHATS), for the years 2011-2018. This is the first study to investigate the prevalence, risk factors, and trajectories of cognitive impairment among American Indian older adults using nationally representative databases.
Patrik Johansson

Patrik Johansson, MD

Dr. Patrik Johansson’s pilot project seeks to better understand cognitive function of and barriers and facilitators for American Indians participating in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) research in the eastern United States. His study is poised not only to fill striking gaps in our knowledge about cognitive impairment among older Native Americans but will also inform approaches to enrolling and retaining American Indians in ADRD-related research.
Amit Kumar

Amit Kumar, PhD

Dr. Amit Kumar’s pilot project focused on post-acute transitions among minority older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) following hospitalization. This proposal aims to: 1) examine racial differences in transitions of care from acute to post-acute settings in patients with ADRD after acute hospitalization and 2) compare hospital readmission between patients receiving post-acute care in skilled nursing facilities versus inpatient rehabilitation facilities versus home healthcare after acute hospitalization. This pilot study will use a retrospective cohort design in older adults with ADRD and aged ≥66 years who were admitted to the hospital in 2016-2019. This study will utilize 100% Medicare hospital claims data and patient-level assessment data from post-acute and hospice settings.
Kim Steffi

Steffi Kim, PhD

The overall goal of the pilot project led by Dr. Steffi M. Kim in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Research of Alaska is to better understand sources of systemic stigma and its impact on the ADRD caregiver’s quality of life in the context of Alaska Native communities and culture. This study’s use of qualitative and quantitative methods aims to: 1) identify sources and levels of ADRD-related stigma by discussing caregiver stigma, layperson stigma, and structural stigma; and 2) determine the impact of ADRD-related stigma on Alaska Native caregivers’ quality of life. Identifying sources of stigma will lay the groundwork for developing evidence-based, culturally congruent stigma-reduction efforts, improve attitudes toward dementia within the three stigma domains, and enhance caregiver well-being.
Danielle Eakins

Danielle Eakins, PhD

Dr. Danielle Eakins’ pilot project seeks to characterize resiliency and vulnerability factors for ADRD in American Samoa using data collected by the American Samoa Community Cancer Coalition and the Indigenous Samoan Partnership to Initiate Research Excellence. This study will be the first to explore a culturally specific constellation of indicators to inform tailored prevention/intervention approaches for Samoan individuals and their caregivers.
Scott LaBrie

Scott LaBrie, PhD

This pilot project is focused on assessing chronic infection as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia (ADRD) in Alaska Native and American Indian (AN/AI) elders. There are a growing number of risk factors for ADRD, and recently, inflammation due to chronic invasive pathogen infections has been proposed as another risk factor for ADRD. This study seeks to lay the groundwork for understanding the extent to which infectious disease(s) may contribute a risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia in Alaska Native and American Indian elders.
Lexie Jackson

Lexie Jackson, PhD

Dr. Alexandra Jackson’s pilot project aims to describe the health and quality of life of caregivers of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) adults with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD). She will survey and interview caregivers of NHPI adults with ADRD across the United States about cultural dimensions of caregiving, caregiving responsibilities, costs related to caregiving, caregiver mental and physical health, quality of life, and health behaviors. This study will inform future research that aims to culturally tailor interventions to promote the health and quality of life of caregivers of NHPI adults with ADRD.