Karen Derefinko, PhD

Site Principal Investigator

Dr. Derefinko has designed, executed, and managed several research protocols that explore the contributions of personality and other proximal mechanisms to substance use and other externalizing outcomes in adults and children. In addition, Dr. Derefinko has written two treatment manuals and completed several treatment outcome studies. She received her pre-doctoral training through the University of Kentucky where she also served as a project manager for a longitudinal study conducted through the Center for Drug Abuse Research Translation (CDART), a center funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She received additional training in treatment outcome research through her experience at the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University. She is now utilizing these experiences to begin developing tailored interventions based upon her work with the correlates of externalizing behavior.

Robert Kleges, PhD

Co-Principal Investigator

Robert Klesges is a Professor of Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Dr. Klesges is a former faculty member at UTHSC. His focus is on cancer prevention and control in adults, particularly the underserved. In recent years, Dr. Klesges has focused on dissemination of cancer prevention programs, primarily in the area of smoking cessation. His current research includes a smoking cessation dissemination trial in the U.S. military, evaluating the efficacy of a step-care approach for smoking cessation, and evaluating the efficacy of weight gain prevention program for hypertensives who quit smoking. He also serves as a collaborator of several projects that require behavioral science intervention expertise.

Zoran Bursac, PhD, MPH


Dr. Bursac's ongoing projects include analyses of longitudinal surveillance data of tobacco and emerging tobacco product use, as well as tobacco cessation interventions in US Airmen, cluster randomized study of alcohol incident prevention in US Airmen, comparative effectiveness disparity trial for diabetes control among Pacific Islander population  in NW Arkansas, and translation and analyses of clustered community-based public health interventions focused on weight maintenance.

Catherine Womack, M.D.


Dr Catherine Womack is an Internist who serves as the M.D. for the PACE Study. She works in the Department of Preventive Medicine on several NIH funded clinical trials and understands the complexity of balancing teaching/research and clinical care. She is also involved in Graduate Medical Education as an Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine training program at UTHSC as well as the Site Director for the Medicine Training Program at Baptist Memorial Hospital Memphis.

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