Admin Core Leaders

Gregory Hicks, P.T., Ph.D., FAPTA

Professor Hicks is a clinician-scientist and a full professor in the University of Delaware Department of Physical Therapy, which ranks #1 nationally. Recently, he completed a successful five-year term as Department Chair, during which time the DPT program thrived, expanded and became more diverse. Dr. Hicks’ laboratory has had significant funding from the National Institutes of Health since 2008, including major funding for projects focused on the development and testing of interventions to improve physical function for older adults with chronic low back pain. His publication record and ongoing research demonstrates a deep understanding of the relationships between spinal disorders and functional performance in the older population, as well as his ability to conduct studies of adults with painful conditions. In addition to this primary line of work, he has been intimately involved as a collaborator in NIH-funded studies focused on understanding physical function drivers among typically aging adults and older adults post hip fracture. Professor Hicks received two B.A. degrees and a MPT degree from the University of Delaware, a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute on Aging.

My tenure as a clinician-scientist at the University of Delaware and my scientific collaborations with investigators at leading institutions nationally have given me a unique perspective and vision for the future of clinical and translational research across our partner institutions. I have a distinct vision focused on reducing variability in research-related processes across our partner institutions so as to efficiently create large-scale improvements in our clinical and translational research capacities; this will ultimately lead to an improvement in the health outcomes for all Delawareans. To achieve and sustain this vision, we need to establish a layered infrastructure, which includes human resources, policies, procedures and a sustainable fiscal model for this infrastructure. In the coming years, I would like to see our team focused on (1) developing much-needed research resources to support clinical and translational research growth (i.e. centers focused on recruitment, project management and data coordination); (2) developing partnership networks with established CTSAs and CTRs to advance our mission of improving health in Delaware; (3) enhancing our focus on healthcare disparities (via increased community engagement efforts and strategic efforts to diversify the research workforce); and (4) developing a stewardship model focused on sustenance and continual growth of the infrastructure and foundation that has been laid by NIH resources.

Communication – Website

Erin Crowgey, PhD

Erin Crowgey, PhD is Associate Director of Bioinformatics at Nemours/ Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children whose primary expertise is in molecular biology and bioinformatics. She works on multiple projects with the goal of implementing a learning healthcare system which will enhance precision medicine efforts. From the outset, her doctoral dissertation focused on building clinical and translational tools for rare childhood diseases. She has expertise in developing custom computational pipelines to analyze genomic data, including metagenomics and pan-omics integration. With her clinical collaborators across the country, she is working on establishing comprehensive computational pipelines that will enable the use of ‘omics’ data in clinical research projects, with the ultimate goal of applying these methods in real-time at the bedside. She is the Chair for the Genomics and Translational Bioinformatics working group for the American Medical Informatics Association, and has an affiliated faculty position at the University of Delaware.

Pilot Projects Program Leader

Susanne M Morton, PT, PhD

Susanne M Morton, PT, PhD is an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at the University of Delaware. Dr. Morton’s lab is focused on understanding motor learning in health and disease and motor recovery from stroke. As a clinician-neuroscientist, the ultimate goal of her work is to improve rehabilitation interventions and outcomes for people with neurologic conditions. Dr. Morton has received grant support for her work from the NIH and served on several grant review panels for the NIH and other federal agencies. In 2020, began serving as Director of Pilot Program Core for the Delaware CTR-ACCEL Program.

Professional Development Core Leader

Robert E. Akins, Jr., PhD, FAACPDM, FAHA

Robert E. Akins, Jr., PhD, FAACPDM, FAHA is a Principal Scientist, Director of the Center for Pediatric Clinical Research and Development, and Head of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Research at Nemours. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Delaware. Dr. Akins received both his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He was the first American honored as a fellow of the Japan Foundation on Aging and Health, and he is an inaugural Fellow of the American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia. He is recipient of a Delaware INBRE Summit Award, was named “Neuroscientist of the Year” in 2013 by the DE Society for Neuroscience to honor his efforts to expand neuroscience research and education, and was recently named Researcher of the Year for 2014 at Nemours.

Dr. Akins has served on multiple editorial boards, scientific advisory committees, and NIH and VA review panels. Since 2009, he has worked extensively to integrate basic and translational research into the clinical environment at Nemours and has established cross-campus, multi-disciplinary Mentoring and Advisory programs to support clinical and translational scientists. His research focuses on the development of regenerative therapies for pediatric diseases, especially congenital and acquired diseases of muscularized tissues, and his work has been generously supported by the Swank Foundation, the Nemours Foundation, NASA’s Biotechnology and Cell Science Program, and the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI, NICHD, and NIGMS).

Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design Core Leader

Claudine Jurkovitz, M.D., MPH

Claudine Jurkovitz, M.D., MPH has been the director of operations of the Christiana Care Center for Outcomes Research (CCOR) since it was created in December 2005. As such, she supervises the day-to day management of the center, prepares budgets for grant submissions—including NIH, foundation- and industry-funded grants—leads the data-acquisition and management team and works closely with the CCOR director and CCOR director of biostatistics to establish CCOR’s research priorities. As a nephrologist epidemiologist, Dr. Jurkovitz also actively develops her own research interests. These are mostly in the field of chronic kidney disease, focusing on preventing progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and preventing cardiovascular events in CKD patients, and more recently in the field of health services research, focusing on the interaction between primary care physicians and nephrologists.

As a nephrologist epidemiologist, Dr. Jurkovitz also actively develops her own research interests. These are mostly in the field of chronic kidney disease, focusing on preventing progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and preventing cardiovascular events in CKD patients, and more recently in the field of health services research, focusing on the interaction between primary care physicians and nephrologists.

Prior to working at Christiana Care, Dr. Jurkovitz was assistant professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, with a dual appointment in nephrology and cardiology. While pursuing her research interest in the prevention of progression of kidney disease, she also became an active member of the Institutional Review Board and was later nominated vice chair of the Emory University Institutional Review Board.

Dr. Jurkovitz is deeply committed to public health and to the prevention of the progression of CKD, as evidenced by her 2004 appointment to the Steering Committee for the Kidney Early Evaluation Prevention Program (KEEP)—a nationwide screening program for kidney disease conducted by the National Kidney Foundation. She also served as chair of the Prevention Committee of the National Kidney Foundation Medical Advisory Board of Georgia in 2005.

Community Engagement and Outreach Core Leader

Heather Bittner Fagan, MD, MPH, FAAFP

Heather Bittner Fagan, MD, MPH, FAAFP is a practicing family physician and researcher. Dr. Fagan is an Associate Professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, the Associate Vice Chair for Research in Family & Community Medicine at Christiana Care Health System, and is the lead of the Delaware ACCEL CTR Community Engagement and Outreach component. Dr. Fagan has made regional and national contributions to research on cancer screening and shared decision making in primary care and underserved populations.  She has also made regional and national contributions on methods of community engagement, specifically engaging physicians and their primary care practices and building community-academic teams.

Dr. Fagan received the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Control Career Development Award, which recognizes and develops national leaders in cancer control and prevention, and has received research funding from the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Fagan serves on the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Christiana Care and the University of Delaware. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a member of professional organizations including the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, North American Primary Care Research Group, the Medical Society of Delaware, a board member of the Delaware Academy of Family Physicians and an invited member of the Delaware Health Care Consortium’s Early Detection and Prevention Committee.

Tracking and Evaluation Core Leader

Sue Giancola, Ph.D.

Sue Giancola, Ph.D. is Associate Director of the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) at the University of Delaware. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Policy Research, Evaluation, and Measurement program. Dr. Giancola has over 20 years of experience as an evaluator in both academia and private business. Her career has largely been focused on research and evaluation of programs to improve human services, as well as developing evaluation methods that can be embedded within programs. Dr. Giancola’s current work focuses on developing methodological processes to embed evaluation into programs, such that program development can be driven by reliable and valid information and impact findings can be properly interpreted. In July 2018, she was appointed as lead evaluator of the DE-CTR ACCEL Program.

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