Student Spotlight

Natalie Pratt, OMS II

Class of 2021

  • Hometown: Bountiful, Utah
  • Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Utah.
  • Clubs and Activities: President of SAMOPS, event coordinator for ACOEP, and member of ACOP and SAACOFP.

Why did you choose RVUCOM? I chose RVUCOM because of its excellent reputation of top board scores in the nation. A nice bonus for...
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Faculty Spotlight

Michael R. Wells, PhD

Assistant Dean for the Integrated Curriculum
Professor of Structural Medicine

  • Hometown: Mt. Dora, Florida
  • Undergraduate Studies: Chemistry at the University of Florida
  • Graduate Studies: Medical Neuroscience at the University of Florida

What classes do you teach? I teach Anatomy and Neuroscience. Why did you choose to teach at RVUCOM-SU? I...
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Office of Research

Message from the Director of Research

The mission of the Office of Research is to provide support for the research activities of the university by providing guidance and opportunities for faculty, staff and students to engage in various research activities that promote advancement in the biomedical and clinical sciences.  All areas of research from basic biological research to translational and population-based studies are included. Support for these areas includes statistical consulting, an intramural grant program and a searchable database of extramural grant opportunities.

Student Research

Student research/scholarly activity is a vital part of health provider education.  Research enhances critical thinking skills and increases medical knowledge as well as preparing students for graduate medical education.  Therefore, all students are encouraged to participate in research activities while at RVU.  To get started you need to complete the 2 CITI courses (access and login instructions may be obtained by request to

  • Basic Biosafety/Biohazard Training for Medical Students
  • Introduction to Research

If you are interested in research studies in the humanities, you will need to speak with Dr. Schwartz or Dr. Michels.

Note:  All research dealing with human subjects must be approved by the IRB (Institutional Review Board). RVU complies with all federal regulations as set forth by the HHS OHRP.

If you have a research idea and mentor, you can complete the Student Research Approval Form (link) or schedule a meeting with either the Director of Research or other faculty members interested in research.

Once you have a project and a mentor, the Office of Research will need to approve your project prior to starting the study.  Approval requires your mentor’s signature for approval, proper documentation of IRB approval, if appropriate, and approval by the Office of Research.

Dr. Duane Brandau, DO
Director of Research and Scholarly Activity

Student Research Approval Form (.doc)

Strategic Research Plan

IRB and Human Subjects Research

The Rocky Vista University (RVU) Office of Research Compliance and Quality Assurance (QRC-QA) provides compliance information and assistance to RVU students, faculty, and staff in the areas of research, grants, and Institutional Review Board (IRB) activities.

The Office carries out a number of functions in these areas, including:

  • Maintains institutional compliance with regulatory issues related to research and scholarly activity.
  • Oversees Human Subjects protection through program oversight, education, policy setting, and outreach.
  • Provides training in the ethical conduct of research, biosafety (including OSHA training), use of animals in research and institutional review board requirements.
  • Serves as a clearinghouse and repository for all research proposals and projects involving human subjects, and refers research applications to the RVU IRB for formal review and approval.
  • Provides administrative support to the IRB and assistance to investigators who are preparing IRB applications.
  • Maintains records of IRB reviews and approvals for investigators, and tracks progress reports, renewal requests, and ensures adherence to regulatory requirements.
  • Facilitates innovation, collaboration, and involvement across the RVU community.

Research FAQS

IRB Research Compliance and Quality Assurance (.doc)

IRB Steps Before Conducting Human Subjects Research (doc.)

  • Dr. Joel Dickerman Research Projects and Descriptions (Excel)
  • Dr. Fabienne Gally Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Research National Jewish Health Chronic exposure to cigarette smoke impairs the immune system. This may be problematic during infection. Indeed, inflammation is critical for the host defense against bacterial infection and the recovery process. However, ineffective clearance of microorganisms elicits prolonged inflammation, which may contribute to the pathogenesis of smoking-related diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Immune cells, in particular macrophages, function to defend the lungs against exposure to potentially harmful inhaled substances and microbial pathogens. They also play crucial roles in initiating and augmenting airway host defense mechanisms. Our objective is to understand the mechanisms by which cigarette smoke impairs macrophage function and increases inflammation. We have identified a novel protein that may play a central role in modulating innate immunity. This protein is highly represented in macrophages, and is reduced by cigarette smoke exposure. We are currently examining the potential involvement of this protein in the reduction of lung inflammation resulting from cigarette smoke exposure in cells, mice and human blood samples. We expect to identify genetic alterations of this target that decrease its function and contribute to disease susceptibility when exposed to cigarette smoke. Understanding how cigarette smoke influences airway immune cell function and the consequent mechanisms of increased inflammation within COPD patients, we may be able to identify a novel molecular target to attenuate inflammation commonly involved in chronic lung disease.

Intramural Research Grants

The purpose of the RVUCOM Intramural Research Grant Program is to provide pilot funding to help faculty and students obtain preliminary data to support an extramural research grant application. All current RVU faculty and students are eligible to apply for intramural research funding. Grant support will be for up to one year from the receipt date, with one renewal available upon request; however, intramural research funding is not to be used as a means to fund ongoing research. Please direct all questions to Dr. Duane Brandau, Director of Research.


Travel Support

The Research & Scholarly Activity Committee has a limited funds available to support RVU faculty and students who wish to present their scholarly work at an extramural meeting. RSAC does not guarantee funding to each applicant and will make decisions on a case by case basis. If funds are available, RSAC will provide support in an amount not to exceed $750 per student or faculty member per calendar year. Please read the appropriate policy linked below before submitting your application. Please direct all questions to Dr. Duane Brandau, Director of Research.

  • Dr. Adrienne Kania, in collaboration with Dr. LeAnn Jons-Cox, Dr. Joel Dickerman, and Dr. William Cairney, has received $500 for a study entitled, “RemOTE: Remote Osteopathic Training and Education. A web-based program to mentor Osteopathic residents in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment.”
  • Dr. Heather Ferrill, collaborating with faculty from NSU-COM and Touro-CA, has been awarded $10,000 for a study entitled,  “Pilot lmplementation of an Osteopathic Principles and Practices Survey and Faculty Development Program to lncrease the Use of Osteopathic Principals and Practices in Core Clinical Clerkships.”
  • A team of professors received a grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for their proposal, “Teaching the humanity of evidence-based medicine: Informed by the literature, guided by the physician, framed by the patient.” Their team will become part of the 2015-2017 “Mapping the Landscape, Journeying Together” cohort. The team includes: Nicole Michels, PhD; Kathryn Pate, PhD; Brian Schwartz, MLIS; and Andrew Vosko, PhD.
  • Bryce Harmon, DO’18, along with Michael Wells, PhD, Assistant Dean for Integrated Curriculum, David Park, DO, FAAFP, FACOFP, Vice President and Dean of RVUCOM-SU, and Jing Gao, MD, Associate Professor of Ultrasound, published an article online titled “Ultrasound elastography in neuromuscular and movement disorders” in Clinical Imaging.

Other Participants (one name and email address per field)



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