Current K12 Scholars

Sarah Beattie, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Infectious Disease

Sarah Beattie is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Infectious Disease. Her research focuses on the pathogenesis of the mold Aspergillus fumigatus and the discovery and development of novel, mold active antifungals. The goals of her work are to better understand the pathogenesis of invasive aspergillosis and how this organism establishes disease in extrapulmonary organs and to develop more efficacious therapies to treat these life-threatening infections.





Headshot of Dr. Jacob SimmeringJacob Simmering, PhD

Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine-Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine

Jacob Simmering’s research focus is on improving the quality-of-life and care for people living with Parkinson’s and other progressive neurodegenerative diseases. He is interested in using computer vision and wearable devices to monitor activity, motor performance, sleep, and other measures of symptom burden by the patient at their home. By making more frequent and representative measurements home, we may be able to reduce the need for in-person, off-medication clinic visits while also improving the timeliness and responsiveness of disease detection and treatment modification. His long-term goal is to use home-based monitoring to improve care for people with neurodegenerative conditions like we have seen possible with home-monitoring of blood pressure for hypertension or blood sugar for diabetes.




Raul Villacreses, MD

Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine-Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine

Dr. Villacreses’ research is focused on small airway biology and its implication in pulmonary diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, COPD, small airway disease as sequelae of SARS-COV-2 infection, and bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome after lung transplant. As a pulmonologist, he is interested in using supervised machine learning techniques for early recognition of small airway disease. He will also use an organotypic model of small airways to perform different experiments to better understand the pathophysiology of pulmonary diseases that affect the small airways.





Michelle Howard, PhD

Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology

Michelle Howard is a clinician scientist studying novel therapeutic agents in combination with radiation to improve outcomes of pediatric brain tumor patients while fulfilling clinical duties as a physicist. Radiotherapy plays a prominent role in many pediatric cancers. However certain tumor types, such as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), respond poorly to all therapies including radiation and are nearly 100% fatal. Michelle currently leads a research team investigating therapeutic effects of redox modulating drugs with radiation for the treatment of DIPG. Her lab also focuses on identifying drugs that are able to mitigate side effects related to cranial radiation treatment to improve quality of life for cancer survivors.




Melissa Swee, MD, MME

Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine-Nephrology

Melissa Swee's research is centered on addressing the disparities in chronic kidney disease care, particularly among rural populations in the United States, including Veterans who disproportionately suffer from kidney disease. Her work aims to understand whether living in rural areas independently contributes to adverse kidney outcomes. Her focus is on evaluating the role of rural residence in influencing progression of kidney disease and evaluating challenges in accessing vital treatments and specialized care. Ultimately, she would like to identify the systemic barriers within the healthcare system that impede efficient kidney disease management in rural communities and find strategies to overcome these obstacles





Past Scholars since 2018

Martha Cavour, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine-Infectious Diseases

Martha Carvour is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and Epidemiology in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and College of Public Health.  Dr. Carvour is an equity-focused epidemiologist and a practicing infectious diseases physician.  Her research focuses on the advancement of health equity for patients affected by diabetes-related foot conditions and, more recently, COVID-19, by combining rigorous epidemiological methods with community-engaged and patient-centered research. She is also the project lead for the University of Iowa Public-Private Partnership (P3)-funded Equity in Health Science and Practice initiative.





Chooza Moon, PhD, RN

Assistant Professor of Nursing

Chooza Moon is investigating the consequences of sleep and circadian rhythms in individuals with ischemic heart disease and heart failure, as well as sleep/circadian rhythm and brain health in general aging. Her earlier research focused on how sleep and multimorbidities are associated with cognition and brain health in heart failure. She currently leads a team focusing on aging, sleep, and circadian rhythm in patients with coronary heart disease in collaboration with interdisciplinary scholars. Internal funding supported these projects, and she was recently awarded a 3-year research grant from the Alzheimer’s Association to study the associations between circadian rhythm and neuroimaging data in older adults. Her long-term goal is to develop interventions to impede and alleviate cognitive impairment in people who are at risk for Alzheimer's disease and related dementia.




Headshot of Dr. Xiaoyang HuaXiaoyang Hua, MD

Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology

As an otolaryngologist/rhinologist, Dr. Hua is interested in how the nose and upper airway regulates the immune response in the lungs. His lab has recently shown that activation of the nasal mucosal immune system can remotely enhance both innate and adaptive immunity in the lungs. The long-term goal is to further define the immune mechanisms that connect the nose and lungs, and to develop new preventive and therapeutic strategies to treat lung diseases, including nasal vaccine development





Bradley RosenBradley H. Rosen, DO

Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine-Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine

Rosen focuses on the interactions between mucus and inflammation to better understand the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis (CF) and other mucoinflammatory lung diseases. As a pulmonologist, he will use bronchoscopy, lung imaging, and pulmonary function tests to investigate lung disease in novel transgenic ferret models to test the hypothesis that inflammatory CF lung disease develops due to altered mucus properties. This in vivo work is combined with a flexible Cas9-gene editing approach in primary airway cell cultures to dissect the molecular pathways involved in mucus-initiated inflammation. These findings will inform how mucoinflammatory lung diseases such as CF, asthma, and chronic bronchitis are understood and treated.




Jordan SchultzJordan Schultz, PharmD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Schultz aims to better understand the biological mechanisms underlying Huntington’s Disease (HD) with a long-term goal of identifying potential new therapeutic targets. He will conduct a neuroimaging study of patients with pre-manifest Huntington Disease (HD) and controls to test whether patients with HD have centrally-mediated dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system that may affect the cerebrovascular system. Specifically, he will investigate potential signaling abnormalities, decreased arterial diameters, and changes in brain oxygen levels in patients with HD with the aim of identifying therapeutic drugs to prevent or delay HD symptoms





Ryan SmithRyan Smith, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics

Smith focuses on translating genetic risk factors into therapeutic hypotheses for addiction disorders, with a long-term goal to identify biomarkers that can inform treatment choices and the development of new therapeutics for substance abuse. He will use post-mortem human tissue and immortalized cell lines to look at genetic variants in the serotonin 2A receptor that confer risk for addiction.





Cristina VidalCristina Vidal, DDS, MS, PhD

Assistant Professor of Operative Dentistry

Vidal is interested in the tooth breakdown mediated by the interaction of the microbiome with host mechanisms in caries lesion progression. Her long-term goal is to develop reparative and preventive dental therapies that promote dentin and pulp healing orchestrated by tissue’s components. This in vitro work will characterize the modulation of the expression and activity of host endogenous proteases by the complex oral microbiome in dentin caries lesions that could change completely the traditional concept of caries etiology and open new possibilities for dental research and patient care. Using extracted carious teeth, odontoblast-like cells, and cariogenic bacteria, she will conduct studies to: 1) clarify the unique contributions of matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) to the different stages of caries progression, 2) reveal the specific role of MMPs in dentin degradation or in reparative processes, and 3) characterize interactions between the dentin organic matrix components and odontoblasts with bacterial metabolites that modulate MMPs expression and activation.




Aaron Seaman, PhDAaron Seaman, PhD

Associate of Internal Medicine - General Internal Medicine

Seaman is a medical anthropologist and health services researcher who seeks to develop, implement, and evaluate research-driven interventions aimed at improving care delivery for older, rural adults living with a cancer history. He will conduct a mixed-methods study in order to 1) identify factors associated with head and neck cancer survivors’ service utilization, especially emergency and hospital services; quality of life; and health outcomes; and 2) determine survivorship care priorities and preferences for patient, caregiver, and clinical stakeholders involved in head and neck survivorship care. Along with the study’s data, he will develop a stakeholder advisory group which will be instrumental in the subsequent development of an intervention to facilitate head and neck cancer survivorship care delivery and coordination for rural patients.




Aislinn WilliamsAislinn Williams, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Aislinn Williams is interested in understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which genetic risk factors contribute to psychiatric disease. She will investigate the role of a specific psychiatric risk gene, CACNA1C, in the development and function of the cerebellum, a brain region involved in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. She will use transgenic mice and human stem cells derived from patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia to understand how genetic variation in CACNA1C affects cerebellar neuron function, gene expression, and behavior.





Help the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Iowa continue making new strides in medical research by citing the NIH CTSA program grant UM1TR004403.