Skip to main content
Tulane Home

tracking code

BIRCWH Scholars

The Tulane BIRCWH program has recruited a total of 33 scholars since its inception in 2002. Together, these individuals form a dynamic and diverse group of young researchers from a variety of backgrounds.

Tulane BIRCWH Publications on PubMed

Current BIRCWH IV Scholars:

Dragana Lovre, MD (BIRCWH training October 1, 2017-Present)   
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Tulane University School of Medicine
BIRCWH Project: Improvement in Metabolism in Obese Postmenopausal Women with Novel Estrogen Complexes
Dr. Dragana Lovre joined the Section of Endocrinology after completing her Endocrinology Fellowship at Tulane University School of Medicine in 2016. Dr. Lovre received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Baldwin-Wallace University in Cleveland, Ohio. She then worked at Case Western Reserve University on NIH Developmental Research projects prior to starting medical school. Dr. Lovre is board certified in Internal Medicine and trained at LJ Chabert  Medical Center in Houma, Louisiana. Her clinical and research interests focus on cardiovascular complications of diabetes with special interest women’s health.  Dr. Lovre is currently involved in multiple trials on estrogen effect on glucose homeostasis and cardiovascular complications of diabetes. 

Leia Saltzman, PhDLeia Saltzman, PhD, MSW (BIRCWH training October 1, 2018-Present)
Assistant Professor of Social Work
Tulane University School of Social Work
BIRCWH Project: Sex Differences in the Impact of Traumatic Loss on Cardiovascular Health 

Leia Y. Saltzman joined the Tulane community in 2017 after completing her post-doctoral training as an  Azrieli International Post-Doctoral Fellow at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She earned her MSW and PhD in Social Work at Boston College. Trained in both qualitative and quantitative methods, Dr. Saltzman’s research uses mixed methodology to explore the process of adaptation in the context of trauma, community violence, and mass disaster. Her previous research has focused on positive adaptation trajectories such as resilience and posttraumatic growth. Currently, Dr. Saltzman’s work explores the role of time in the process of adaptation, with the goal of developing time-informed and sustainable mental health interventions. She is interested in community based research that influences mental health policies and clinical practices with trauma-affected populations in order to promote well-being, build stronger families, and more cohesive communities that can withstand the impact of mass disaster, trauma, and violence.

Joshua Bundy, PhD, MPH (BIRCWH Training October 1, 2019-Present)
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
BIRCWH Project: Optimal Cardiovascular Health and its Impact on Cardiovascular Disease in US Adults
Dr. Joshua Bundy returned to Tulane’s Department of Epidemiology as an Assistant Professor in July 2019 after a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular disease epidemiology at Northwestern University. Dr. Bundy previously completed his MPH and PhD degrees in epidemiology at Tulane and was active in epidemiologic research of cardiometabolic diseases. Dr. Bundy’s research seeks to identify men and women at high risk for cardiovascular disease by focusing on primordial prevention, subclinical disease, hypertension, and novel risk factors or therapeutic targets. Dr. Bundy is interested in discovering new risk factors via metabolomics, testing interventions in clinical trials, and employing innovative statistical approaches for evidence-based medicine, including novel risk prediction methods and exploring the intersection of technology and disease prevention.  

BIRCWH Associates

BIRCWH associates are the past scholars that remain connected to the Tulane BIRCWH program even when they are not financially supported by the program. The associates provide valuable feedback to the steering committee and mentors regarding the program effectiveness.  In addition, BIRCWH associates provide much desired ‘peer mentoring’ of new scholars. 

Lydia Bazzano Lydia Bazzano, MD (BIRCWH training 2005-2007)
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Her clinical research focuses on cardiovascular disease and its risk factors among men and women, with an emphasis on the role of cardio-metabolic factors, including diet, obesity, lipids and glucose, in the development of vascular disease among men and women, with an emphasis on the role of cardio-metabolic factors, including diet, obesity, lipids and glucose, in the development of vascular disease and its consequences.  Since 2010 Dr. Bazzano has been working with the Bogalusa Heart Study and currently serves as the chair of the Bogalusa Heart Study Program steering committee and as principal investigator of NIH/NIA R01AG041200 investigating the role of vascular aging and differences in cognitive and physical performance among men and women in the Bogalusa Heart Study cohort. Bazzano currently serves as the Tulane BIRCWH WHRL director.
Awarded R01: The Role of Vascular Aging in Cognitive and Physical Function

Stacey Drury, MD, PhD (BIRCWH Training 2012-2014)
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics
Tulane University School of Medicine
Dr. Drury's translational research projects examine genetic/epigenetic interactions with negative early life experiences to define, at the neural and neural circuitry level, how early adversity shapes the developing brain. She has received research funding from the AACAP, APA, Harvard Center for the Developing Child, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), Louisiana Board of Regents, Hyundai, and the National Institutes of Health. Drury's clinical and translational research seeks to enhance the understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying the lasting impact of early adversity on health outcomes across the life span in girls and boys.
Awarded R01: Setting A Trajectory: Biological Markers of Early Stress and Child Development

Sarah GSarah A. O. Gray, PhDray, PhD (BIRCWH Training 2015-2017)
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Tulane University School of Science and Engineering
Her research focus is on early childhood. Her research examines relational and contextual risk and protective factors that contribute to young children’s psychosocial and educational adjustment.  She is particularly interested in studying the contexts of poverty, violence exposure, early care-giving relationships, and schools, and in elucidating mechanisms of change in interventions for young girls and boys and their caregivers. Her BIRCWH research centers around maternal and child health, with specific interests in moderators and mediators in the biological embedding of early stress and trauma and a focus on parasympathetic cardiovascular and relationship-based pathways in girls and boys.
Awarded NARSAD Award: Parasympathetic and Behavioral Synchrony and Child Emotion Dysregulation Following Trauma

Milton Hamblin, PhD (BIRCWH Training 2012-2014)
Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology
Tulane University School of Medicine
Dr. Hamblin came to Tulane in 2012 after completing his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan. Hamblin's research focuses on sex-related differences in vascular function and vascular remodeling-related pathophysiological diseases, including atherosclerosis, vascular lesion formation, and abdominal aortic aneurysms.
Awarded Board of Regents Grant: Determining the Role of Rapid Estrogen Receptor - Alpha Signaling in Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

Emily Harville, PhD (BIRCWH Training 2008-2010)
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Dr. Harville's research focuses on reproductive epidemiology.  Her research centers on pregnancy epidemiology, stress measurement and epidemiological methods. She is currently the Principal Investigator on 1 R01 grant investigating the Long-Term Burden of Maternal Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Birth Outcomes. Harville is also the PI on 1 U19 subproject, investigating the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on pregnant women and women of reproductive age.
Awarded R01: Long-Term Burden of Maternal Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Birth Outcomes

 Catherine McKinley, PhD, LMSW (BIRCWH training 2017-2019)
​ Associate Professor of Social Work
 Tulane University School of Social Work
 BIRCWH Project: Cardiovascular Disease and American Indian Women

Dr. McKinley (formerly Burnette) began working with Indigenous tribes of the Southeast over 10 years ago related to violence against women and children, mental health, substance abuse and mental health, and physical health, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She has worked in collaboration with tribes to develop the ecological “Framework of Historical Oppression, Resilience, and Transcendence”, which identifies and organizes culturally relevant risk and protective factors for health disparities across community, family, and individual levels. Since coming to Tulane in 2013, she has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and has been involved in federally-funded research to address violence, substance abuse, and associated health disparities using culturally relevant intervention approaches. Awarded R01: Chukka Auchaffi' Natana: The Weaving Healthy Families Program to Promote Wellness and Resilience and Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence

Shengxu Li, MD, PhD (BIRCWH Training 2013-2015)
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Dr. Li completed his medical training at Beijing Medical University, China, and his PhD study at the University of Cambridge, UK. His research focuses on the epidemiology of obesity, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and type-2 diabetes in girls and boys, women and men. As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Li examined sex-specific cardiovascular risk factors measured during childhood for changes in subclinical cardiovascular structure/function in young adults.
Project PI: Tulane COBRE for Clinical and Translational Research in Cardiometabolic Disease - Longitudinal Change in Obesity During Childhood and Adult Cardiometabolic Risk

Lisa Molix

Lisa Molix, PhD (BIRCWH training 2011-2013)
Associate Professor of Psychology 
Tulane School of Science and Engineering
She came to Tulane in 2007, immediately following the completion of her PhD at the University of Missouri. Dr. Molix's research focuses on examining an interdisciplinary model of intergroup stress that investigates the relationships between psychosocial and behavioral factors (e.g. prejudice, empowerment, social identity, intergroup interactions) and cardiovascular health risk factors and outcomes in women and ethnic minorities.
Awarded R01: Pleiotropic Effects of Prorenin Receptor in Collecting Duct and Infrarenal RAS Activation

Minolfa C. Prieto, MD, PhD (BIRCWH training 2008-2011)
Associate Professor of Physiology
Tulane University School of Medicine
She investigates the role of the intrarenal Renin-Angiotensin System in the development and progression of hypertension, as well as sex differences in the regulation of genes involved in the development of hypertension in response to high salt.
Awarded R01: Pleiotropic Effects of Prorenin Recpor in Collecting Duct and Intrarenal RAS Activation

John S. Schieffelin, MD

John S. Schieffelin, MD (BIRCWH training 2015-2017)
Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics
Tulane University School of Medicine

Dr. Schieffelin completed his MD as well as an Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency training at Tulane University. He is also trained in adult and pediatric infectious disease through a combined Louisiana State University-Tulane University fellowship program. His research focuses on the pathophysiology and immunology of viral hemorrhagic fevers. He is particularly interested in studying the clinical course of diseases such as Lassa fever and Ebola virus disease to identify interventional targets to improve supportive care in females and males. His BIRCWH research focused on cardiovascular and gender differences in Lassa fever disease. This work identified markers as well as the severity of cardiovascular disease among patients with acute Lassa fever. His research invesigated the role cardiovascular factors play a role in the increased prevalence and mortality seen among women.   
Jylana Sheats, PhDJylana Sheats, PhD (BIRCWH training October 1, 2016-September 30, 2018)
Assistant Professor of Nutrition
Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
BIRCWH Project: Efficacy of a Culturally-Tailored Mobile Phone-Based Intervention to Improve Eating Behaviors Among Obese African American Men and Women

Jylana teaches in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences. Within the broader fields of nutrition and physical activity, her research focuses on the examination of individual, social, contextual, environmental (built, food), and policy-related determinants of obesity and chronic disease among racial/ethnic and vulnerable populations. Her recent efforts address health disparities through theoretically grounded, evidenced-based interventions. As a BIRCWH Scholar, her research focuses on the efficacy of novel, culturally-informed, communication technologies to improve food related behaviors among African American women and men.

Qi Zhao

Qi Zhao, BMed, PhD (BIRCWH training 2013-2015)
Research Assistant Professor of  Epidemiology
Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Dr. Zhao completed her medical training at Peking University Health Science Center, China, and her PhD in Epidemiology at Peking Union Medical College, China. Her research focuses on genetic and environmental risk factors and their interactions in the development of cardiovascular disease in women and men. As a BIRCWH Scholar, Dr. Zhao investigated sex differences in the association between blood pressure response to the cold pressor test and hypertension incidence. Dr. Zhao has extended her research to effects of a broader range of psychosocial stress factors on human health. Dr. Zhao has also received American Heart Association research funding for investigating the gene-obesity interaction in the regulation of blood pressure in women and men.
Awarded R01: TRPV-1 Dependent Autonomic Control in Diabetes
LaKeisha Williams, PharmD, MSPH

LaKeisha Williams, PharmD, MSPH (BIRCWH training 2015-2017)
Faculty, Clinical Researcher
College of Pharmacy at Xavier University
As a faculty member at Xavier University, Dr. Williams has served as an instructor, preceptor and mentor to introductory and advanced level pharmacy students. She has two clinical practice sites at the Louisiana State University (LSUHSC) Ambulatory Care Clinics, serving as a clinical preceptor for third and fourth year pharmacy students and as a clinical pharmacist providing medication therapy management services to patients, and pharmacotherapeutic recommendations to healthcare professionals of an interprofessional team. As a BIRCWH Scholar, Dr. Williams’s research explores gender and racial/ethnic determinants and intervention to improve medication adherence, with a focus on vulnerable and underserved populations with chronic cardiovascular health conditions.

Andrea Zsombok

Andrea Zsombok, PhD (BIRCWH training 2010-2012)
Associate Professor of Physiology and Medicine, Endocrinology Section
Tulane University School of Medicine
Dr. Zsombok's research focuses on the autonomic control of visceral organs during metabolic and cardiovascular diseases in rodents.  Her investigations employ electrophysiological, anatomical, retrograde tracer approaches in combination with in vivo brain injections in females and males.
Awarded R01: TRPV1-Dependent Autonomic Control in Diabetes