Meet our TCOM Faculty
Riyaz Basha, PhD
Associate Professor, Pediatrics
Research interests: Cancer, Experimental therapeutics, Molecular markers
Dr. Basha is an Associate Professors of Pediatrics with research Expertise in the field of experimental therapeutics and cancer. His research focuses on examining the aberrant expression of molecular markers associated with aggressive disease and poor prognosis for a variety of human malignancies. Ongoing research focusses on testing the combination of novel investigation agents with other standards therapeutic options (chemotherapy and/or radiation) and understanding the potential molecular pathways associated with proposed combinations. Novel therapeutics strategies involving small molecules, herbal products, and their analogs are under testing through rigorous pre-clinical screening using models for leukemia, pancreatic, ovarian, and prostate and central nervous system cancers.
Martha Felini, PhD
Associate Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Research interests: Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers
Dr. Felini is an epidemiologist whose research broadly focuses on gene and environmental influences on cancer risk and disparities. Her strong methods background is evident through her development of robust statistical modeling systems using data from high-risk populations such as meat-factory workers and victims of trafficking and the sex trade. She has nearly a decade of experience working with interdisciplinary teams in the community to analyze outreach programs. Her work in this area resulted in the passing of Texas Senate Bill 484 and major funding from Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Teas to integrate prevention cancer screening for vulnerable, underserved women in substance abuse centers.
Shane Fernando, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
Research interests: Mobile care units, Type 2 diabetes, Pediatrics, Health literacy
Dr. Fernando is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics with training in epidemiology. His community-based research is largely focused on the impact of health disparities in children and teens across various cultural, gender, and socioeconomic parameters. Dr. Fernando has extensively studied body types and other risk factors for children and teens with early-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus. Most recently, Dr. Fernando initiated studies examining new ways to improve health literacy by delivering relevant and sound nutrition, asthma and obesity prevention education to low-income disparate populations in Fort Worth through the use of the new Pediatric Mobile Clinic.
Susan Franks, PhD
Associate Professor, Family Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine
Research interests: Obesity, Appetite regulation, Stress, Eating behaviors, Health disparities
Dr. Franks’ research interests are biological and psychological mediators of appetite regulation, obesity, and their interface. Working across various age, cultural, and gender groups, she has successfully developed and implemented brain-based interventions for the treatment of obesity. Of particular interest are Dr. Franks’ studies examining the role of the appetite-regulating hormone ghrelin and the stress hormone cortisol on the regulation of eating behavior. She also investigated neurobehavioral aspects of appetite regulation as it overlaps with environmental stressors and the addictive process.
Kimberly Fulda, PhD
Associate Professor, Family Medicine, Executive Director of the Osteopathic Research Center
Research Interests: Maternal and Child Health, Children with special care needs, Health disparities, Access to care, Epidemiology.
Dr. Fulda is an Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Executive Director of NorTex and the Associate Director of Primary Care Research Center. Her areas of expertise include determining the impact of health disparities on health outcomes of special needs populations. Dr. Fulda’s research examines health disparities, maternal and child health, and risk factors of children. Internationally, Dr. Fulda is a collaboration with researchers at UAEM in Toluca, Mexico, in a study that addresses cultural parameters that are associated with risk factors for type 2 diabetes in Mexican and Mexican-American adolescents.
Kendi Hensel, DO
Associate Professor, Family Medicine & Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine
Research Interest: Osteopathic manipulative medicine, mechanistic and clinical effectiveness studies of OMM.
Dr. Kendi Hensel received her DO from Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. After completing a traditional rotating internship in Oklahoma City, she moved to the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, and was one of the first graduates from a combined Family Practice and Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine residencies. After achieving board certification in both specialties, she returned to her native Texas in 2004 to join the faculty of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. She has worked as an investigator and treatment provider on several clinical research studies on OMM. In 2006 she became the first DO to receive a K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award from the NIH-NCCAM. This project studied the effects of OMM on pregnant women. Dr. Hensel received her PhD in OMM Clinical Research and Education in 2009 from UNTHSC-Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She is currently involved in clinical, educational and research activities at TCOM, and in national efforts to improve the evidence base and utilization of OMT in patient care. Her research interests center around mechanistic and clinical effectiveness studies of OMM.
Janice Knebl, DO
Professor, Internal Medicine, Chief of DSWOP Endowed Chair, Geriatric Medicine
Research Interests: Geriatrics, Palliative care, Geriatric education training, Education and training Alzheimer’s disease, Health aging.
Dr. Knebl is a Professor of Internal Medicine. As Chief of DSWOP Endowed Chair of Geriatric Medicine, Dr. Knebl brings her clinical expertise to a number of research teams studying again. Alzheimer’s disease and health care needs of geriatric populations. Dr. Knebl is an active member of the Texas Alzheimer Research and Care Consortium that is working to improve early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. She has expertise in the study of subject recruitment of Alzheimer’s patients. She has also played an active role in a research team studying again and balance-related issues.
Yein Lee, DO, MMS, FAAPMR
Assistant Professor Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine
Research Interest: Performing Arts Medicine, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, Biomechanics, Gait, Mobility, Function, and Wearable Technologies
Dr. Lee is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine specialist, with a special interest in performing arts medicine, osteopathic medicine, musculoskeletal medicine, gait, mobility, function, and biomechanics. She brings clinical focus into gait and movement analysis and is extremely interested in biomechanics and human function especially in special population such as musicians, dancers, singers, and other performing artists. Dr. Lee recently secured funding through a UNTHSC seed grant to validate wearable sensors against the gold standard motion capture systems. This is the first step in confirming the ability to use wearable sensors in clinic settings.
John Licciardone, DO
Professor, Medical Education, Executive Director of the Osteopathic Research Center
Research Interests: Low back pain, Osteopathic manipulative treatment and related research.
Dr. Licciardone is a physician and clinical epidemiologist with research experience in the prevention and treatment of chronic pain. He established and directs the PRECISION Pain Research Registry. The registry collects data from participants throughout the State of Texas to study precision medicine for chronic pain including pharmacogenetics to prevent opioid prescribing hazards. He has been an investigator in multiple clinical trials funded by the National Institute of Health, including the OSTEOPATHIC Trial and consultant to the World Health Organization.
Rita M. Patterson, PhD
Associate Dean for Research, Professor, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine
Research interests: Orthopaedic, Wrist, Kinematics, Biomechanics.
Dr. Rita Patterson’s research focuses on musculoskeletal function and its role in human performance. Her biomedical engineering perspective affords critical insight to a collaborative team of physicians, basic scientists, physical therapist and engineers evaluating rehabilitation treatments associated with abnormal motion. Unique to her research is the V-gait Caren system proving state-of-the-art computer-assisted rehabilitation environments through video motion capture, virtual reality, and computational modeling.
Amy Raines-Milenkov, DrPH
Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Research interests: Pregnancy outcomes, preconception health, Vulnerable populations, Refugees, Community outreach.
Dr. Raines-Milenkov is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology with expertise in maternal and child health. Her community-based research is focused on pregnancy and birth outcomes of vulnerable populations including refugee women, prostituting women, and women with previous adverse birth outcomes. Current funded projects include the development of interconception care intervention for women with previous adverse outcomes, and cancer prevention outreach, education and screening in refugee women. She was recently appointed to the Texas Maternal and Morbidity Review Task Force and is currently the Chair of the Tarrant County Infant Health Network. Her current work builds upon years of front-line public health practice, strong professional and community partnerships and great passion to identify and addresses gaps in knowledge and implement interventions for vulnerable populations of women, children and their families.
Sarah Ross, DO
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine & Geriatrics
Research Interest: patient safety, transitions of care, Alzheimer’s dementia and related disorders, health literacy
Dr. Ross is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. She is interested in efforts to improve safety in the care for older adults across various clinical settings. She was principle investigator for a project that implemented the Team STEPPS patient safety curriculum at two area skilled nursing facilities. Dr. Ross has collaborated as a geriatric clinical expert with basic science researchers on multiple studies in older adults. She has participated in research efforts with the Texas Alzheimer Research and Care Consortium, focused on improving early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Future research plans include studying the benefits of goal setting and health coaching on cognitive health, using 7 focus areas of diet, exercise, social engagement, cognitive activity, sleep, mindfulness and general health.
Umesh T. Sankpal, Ph.D
Pediatrics and Women’s Health
Research Interests: Cancer, Health disparity, Biomarkers, Cancer therapy and diagnosis
Dr. Sankpal’s research interests are in developing innovative approaches for cancer treatment and diagnosis. The strategy involves identifying novel anti-cancer compounds that target cancer specific genes and work synergistically with the standard treatment options. Another area of research being pursued is health disparity in breast cancer, which manifests in the form of significantly higher mortality rates for black women compared to white women. Among the many factors associated with this disparity, Dr. Sankpal is studying the inherent differences in biology of the tumors between the two racial groups. Using RNAseq data and breast tumor tissues from patients, he is currently investigating differentially expressed markers for their potential use in diagnosis and as a target for therapy.
Sajid Surve, DO
Research interest: Ostepathic manipulation, musculoskeletal injury prevention and management, osteopathic principles, practice and education.
Dr. Surve is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine/Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. He serves as the Co-Director of the UNT Texas Center for Performing Arts Health. Areas of expertise include osteopathic manipulation, medical acupuncture, complementary and alternative therapies, responsible opioid prescribing, and performing arts medicine. His research interests include the medical problems of performing artists with a specific focus on musculoskeletal injury prevention and management. He also has a research interest in osteopathic principles, practice, and education.
Albert Yurvati, DO, PhD
Professor and Chair of Surgery
Research interests: Clinical trials, Cardiothoracic surgery, Cardiopulmonary bypass, Animal models, Technology and applications.
Dr. Yurvati is Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery and serves as Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Integrative Physiology. He and his research partner, Robert Mallet, Ph.D., Professor of Integrative Physiology are actively involved in several research projects, including a study designed to examine the role of pyruvate and erythropoietin as a potential therapeutic agent for preventing brain damage during CPR using a pig model. Dr. Yurvati also conducts research internationally in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde Department of Biomedical Engineering in Glasgow.