Student Spotlight

Emilie Mathura, OMS I

Class of 2023

  • Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology
  • Clubs and Activities: Student Government Association, OB/GYN Club, American Medical Women's Association, and Medical Students for Choice.

Why did you choose RVUCOM? The Urban Underserved Track and the sabbatical program which will allow me to complete my Master of Public Health...
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Faculty Spotlight

Cathy Ruff, MS, PA-C

Program Director and Chair of Physician Assistant Studies
Associate Professor of Physician Assistant Studies

  • Hometown: Dearborn, Michigan
  • Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Science degree in Cellular Biology
  • Graduate Studies: Master of Science degree in Cellular/Molecular Biology. Physician Assistant Training at the University of Colorado Health Science Center.

What class/classes do you teach? I teach professionalism topics, Physical Exam, and small group skills. Why did you choose...
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Office of Research

Message from the Assistant Dean of Clinical Education and 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 two CITI courses (access and login instructions may be obtained by request to

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

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. Learn more about IRB and Human Subjects Research here.

If you have a research idea and mentor, you can complete the Student Research Approval Form below or schedule a meeting with either the Assistant Dean of Clinical Education and 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
Assistant Dean of Clinical Education and Research

Student Research Approval Form (.doc)

Strategic Research Plan

  • Dr. Keith Bodrero
    “Current research has been associated with the TART Ultrasound study (Dr. Gao, students, OPP faculty)  and the possible development of a study on professionalism (Dr. Pryor). Future research that I would like to do and have done some study on is comparing different types of stretching exercises.”
  • Dr. Jean Bouquet
    “I am conducting a research project as an extension of a research poster entitled: A novel, 5-petal vaginal speculum for improved screening and early detection and treatment of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. We currently have 3 students participating. Dr. Choudhury is also an advisor to this study. We are doing a comparative study of the existing 2-bladed speculum vs. the new, 5-petaled speculum in terms of 3 parameters: ease of use, visualization of the cervix and patient comfort.”
  • Dr. Duane Brandau
    “Dr. Brandau is involved in public health and outcomes research.”
  • Dr. Susan Carter
    “I am interested in the study of simulation and surgical simulation.”
  • Dr. Terry Dunn
    “We have published 3 research projects on clinical medicine. This year, we looked at the value of routine post-operative labs in Urogynecologic surgery, which raises a question of how relevant and meaningful are preoperative labs, and is routinely performing these labs and a type and screen cost-effective. Would love an interested student or students to take a look at this.”
  • Jenifer A. Fisher, MLIS
    Instructor of Medical Humanities, Reference Librarian, Co-Director of Urban Underserved Track
    “My current research interests focus on humanities, the history of medicine, bioethics and medical paternalism, and social justice and the disparities of health in minority populations. A someone with a history background I am currently invested in writing about medical paternalism within the historical context of medicine. Bioethics definitely played a part in breaking away from medical paternalism throughout historical records, especially when the sick were stripped of the protection afforded to them by the professionals that were supposed to be serving their best interests. The results throughout history often left the sick exposed to the predatory power of medical practitioners and healthcare organizations and much of my research efforts have involved the evaluating primary historical sources. By researching events from a modern and historical viewpoint I have written papers that prose that while medical study has transitioned from a moral dilemma to more of a purely scientific practice a lot of the same taboos and stigmas regarding health that were barriers hundreds of years ago are the same one’s modern day physicians still face. So in order to better understand the serious moral, ethical, and legal concerns that still tie into contemporary medicine one must often look to the past to do so.Another area of interest for me is social justice and its application in medical school curriculum. The use of narratives and print media and how they can be used in building empathy in patient education has become a passion of mine.  I have presented panel talks, guest speaker lectures and poster sessions showing how narratives that reflect unique patient preferences such as sexual orientation, mental health, and income disparities can aid physicians’ understanding of these often marginalized populations.”
  • 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.”
  • Dr. Jing Gao
    “I am actively researching medical ultrasound.”
  • Dr. Lise Johnson
    “I am starting a new research project using long-term recordings from deep brain electrodes in human subjects to understand sleep architecture in Parkinson’s Disease and Epilepsy. In the coming months, I will be looking to recruit one or two students to work on this project. Programming experience is preferred.”
  • Dr. Rebekah Kading
    Project Summary (Word)
    Detection of Entebbe Bat Virus After 54 Years (PDF)
  • Dr. Anthony LaPorta
    “Dr. LaPorta is involved in all aspects of military medicine research.”
  • Dr. Alaric LeBaron
    “I am working on 3 studies: Intrathoracic pressure/volume in cardiac arrest and shock; Exchange transfusion for severe carbon monoxide poisoning; Drug dosing comparisons for shockable (pVT/VF) in-hospital cardiac arrest (IHCA) with early CPR. I have a bunch of students, most are military Track, who are already participating.  I’m trying to get access to and coordinate a joint animal study with Travis AFB in CA.  I’m also going to try to coordinate with the Army Institute of Surgical Research (ISR) burn unit in San Antonio.  If not, I will make these literature reviews and propose ongoing research.”
  • Dr. Jennifer Montemayor
    “My scholarly activity interests span various aspects of medical education, including the following project titles for medical education conferences (AAMC, IAMSE, and AMEE) between 2016 and 2019: Comparison of Medical Students’ Interprofessional Attitudes Before and After Second Year; A Multi-Institutional Study of Facebook as a Teaching Tool in the Undergraduate Medical Curriculum; Flipping or Flopping? Comparison of student performance and perception of the flipped classroom for the two-campus model; Student Assessment of an Observational Experience of an Interprofessional Approach to Managing Medical Care for End-of-Life Cases; Comparison of Year 1 vs. Year 2 Medical Student Perception and Utilization of a Pre-recorded Basic Science Correlation Clinical Application Session; Utilization of Social Media as a Tool to Enhance Class Collaboration for Medical Physiology Concepts; A Prematriculation Experience to Promote Growth Mindset Formation.”
  • Dr. Maria Nagel
    University of Colorado Department of Neurology
    “Dr. Nagel specializes in neurovirology and studies how varicella zoster virus (VZV), which causes chicken pox and shingles, causes stroke. Her clinical studies include defining the frequency of VZV in patients with stroke, giant cell arteritis, and atypical facial pain. Her basic science studies focuses on the role of purinergic signaling and inflammation on VZV-induced pathological vascular remodeling.”
  • Dr. Jan Pryor
    “I am pursuing studies involving: ultrasound correlates of various OMM parameters (e.g. somatic dysfunction, Chapman’s reflexes); baseline data analysis and development of an interventional pilot study targeting fall prevention in a veterans’ home; exploration of medical student professionalism with a view towards the development of appropriate assessments and interventions; interprofessional education processes and outcomes related to interventions targeting vulnerable populations; clinical and translational research related to OMM; educational research regarding improved uptake of OMM by osteopathic medical students and graduates; educational research exploring mechanisms to improve opportunities for student-centered learning at RVUCOM.”
  • Dr. David Ross
    “I am studying clinical medical education, simulation in medical education, public health, and health policy and advocacy.”
  • Dr. Rebecca Ryznar
    “I am interested in Molecular mechanisms of cellular injury and neurodegeneration following traumatic brain injury. Epigenetics and nutrition in early development. Biomarkers of the stress response. Simulated based medical education.”
    – Investigating biomarkers associated with mild traumatic brain injury and the loss of consciousness (Swedish Medical Center)
    – Assessing vital sign and biological indicators of the psychophysiological stress response (RVU)
    – Evaluation of App-Based educational tools in teaching surgical procedures to medical students (RVU)
  • Dr. Brian Schwartz
    “I am interested in both educational research and epistemological research.”
  • Dr. James Small
    “I am interested in research concerning metabolism, diets, and weight loss. Additionally, I am interested in exercise, lifestyle medicine, microbiology, women’s health (especially global preventative), and human trafficking.”
  • Dr. Lon Van Winkle
    1.  Validation and use of the reflective practice questionnaire to compare the reflective ability of different groups of healthcare professional students: We propose to validate and use the RPQ to compare the reflective ability of different groups of healthcare professional students.  We will first survey the RVUCOM class of 2018 this year.  The results of the latter survey will be used to validate the instrument.  Drs. Rogers and Priddis designed the RPQ.  They will analyze the resultant data statistically and write the methods section of any publication(s).  Next year we will survey the RVUCOM class of 2019.  The survey results from these two classes will be compared since the class of 2018 received no training in critical reflection in our Ethics courses while the class of 2019 did receive such training.  We also seek approval to use the survey for other groups of healthcare professional students at RVU and other universities.  Survey responses will be anonymous.  In some cases, we may ask students to mark their survey forms with an ID code of their choosing so that we can compare their responses before and after an intervention in our courses designed to foster reflective practice.
    2.  Can a one-hour improvisation experience increase physician assistant and prospective medical students’ state empathy toward each other? 
    We propose to determine whether a one-hour improvisation experience increases physician assistant and prospective medical students’ state empathy toward each other.  We will survey these students in our EBM course in the session prior to and after a session in which they will perform improvisation in teams composed of both physician assistant and MSBS students.  We also seek approval to use the survey for other groups of healthcare professional students at RVU and other universities.  Survey responses will be anonymous.  In the pre-session survey, students will receive a paper copy of the form marked with a random number.  They will be asked to remember the number for future use.  When they receive the post-session survey form, we will ask them to mark it with the same number.  We will then be able to use paired statistical methods to compare students’ responses before versus after an intervention (e.g., an improvisation session) designed to foster state empathy.
    3. Is the dissonance resulting from selecting and performing service-learning sufficient to foster critical reflection and bias mitigation in prospective medical students?

Click the links below for a list of faculty members at each campus who are available for mentoring students in their areas of research:

Colorado Campus – Faculty Research Interests for Mentoring Students (PDF)

Southern Utah Campus – Faculty Research Interests for Mentoring Students (PDF)

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.