Welcome Georgia CTSA 2021-2022 KL2 Scholars

five scholars

Congratulations to the new scholars in the Georgia CTSA KL2-Mentored Clinical & Translational Research Scholars Program. The program’s goal is to support and enhance career development for junior faculty committed to a career in clinical and/or translational research. Georgia CTSA assists junior faculty at partner institutions to become independent, established, and ethical clinical and/or translational research investigators.

Georgia CTSA 2021-2022 KL2 Scholars

Ryon J. Cobb, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Georgia and a recent KL2 career development awardee at the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance.  His current program of research centers on the social determinants and consequences of population health and health disparities among older adults.  His KL2 project couples his background in the biodemography of aging with training in translational health disparities to clarify our understanding of how gene-environment interactions contribute to renal aging among White and Black adults above the age of 50 in the United States.  His long-term career goal is to establish a career as an independent and productive translational health disparities scholar devoted to increasing minority representation in genomics research and the global translation of research on genetic associations into public health applications relevant for all older populations.

Adam S. Dickey, MD, PhD, is an Instructor in the Division of Epilepsy, Department of Neurology at Emory School of Medicine. He completed an MD and PhD in Computational Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, where he studied motor cortex encoding and contributed to the textbook "MATLAB for Neuroscientists." His KL2 project is entitled "Using Brain Connectivity to Guide Epilepsy Surgery."  This research will focus on validating prognostic factors for seizure freedom following minimally invasive surgery for medically refractory epilepsy.  Specifically, he will test whether connectivity data (from neuro-imaging or intracranial stimulation) can provide additional prognostic information to standard clinical data.  The long-term goal is to use multi-modal brain connectivity analysis to help determine whether and how large of a surgery to offer, thus maximizing the chance of seizure freedom while minimizing side effects.

Melvin Echols, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Cardiology with the Department of Medicine and the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program Director for Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Echols’ primary area of focus is preventive heart failure cardiology. He graduated from Morehouse School of Medicine in 2002 and completed Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease residency/fellowship training at Duke University in 2010. Dr. Echols provides care to a diverse population of cardiac patients and has focused research efforts on heart failure, quality improvement and health care disparities. He is a member of the Association of Black Cardiologists and serves on the Heart Failure Collaboratory with the Heart Failure Society of America.

Grace Gombolay, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Neurology at Emory University and the Director of the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Clinic at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Dr. Gombolay also receives part-time salary support as a neurology consultant for the CDC in acute flaccid myelitis disease surveillance. Her scientific background and expertise in pediatric neuroimmunological disorders has provided the basis for her KL2 project entitled “Biomarkers in anti-NMDA Receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis (NMDARE).” The goal of this project is to identify biomarkers to understand the biologic underpinnings of this autoimmune encephalitis, to guide therapeutic options and to improve outcomes.

Katie Ross-Driscoll, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery at the Emory University School of Medicine. Her background and expertise in epidemiology, health services research, and solid organ transplantation has driven her research in access to and outcomes from liver transplantation, the only curative treatment option for end-stage liver disease patients, and the preferred treatment option for many hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. In her KL2 project titled “Identifying determinants of liver transplant access among hepatocellular carcinoma patients in Georgia”, Dr. Ross-Driscoll will create a unique linkage of denominator (Georgia Cancer Registry) and outcome (referral and evaluation data from the two transplant centers in Georgia) data that are not available outside of Georgia to study determinants of transplant referral and evaluation among HCC patients. She will also utilize training in quantitative methods received through the KL2 to conduct semi-structured interviews to characterize barriers to transplant referral and evaluation among both HCC patients and providers. The long-term goal of this work is to identify factors that influence the early steps of transplant access among HCC patients in Georgia and to inform future interventions to improve access to care in this population.