Meet the REACT Team!
Administration and Executive Committee
Marcas Bamman, PhD
- P2C Principal Investigator
- Administrative Component Director
- Consultation Component Associate Director
- Education and Training Coinvestigator
- Mobile Technology Laboratory Coinvestigator
Dr. Bamman is a professor in the Departments of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology; Medicine; and Neurology in the UAB School of Medicine and Director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine, which is 1 of 24 university-wide interdisciplinary research centers. Dr. Bamman is internationally recognized for his scientific contributions to the biology of human skeletal muscle and medical rehabilitation. He is PD/PI of the NIH National Rehabilitation Research Resource to Enhance Clinical Trials (REACT, P2CHD086851); PD/PI of the Coordinating Center for the NIH National Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource Network (MR3 Network); and founding Director of the 74-site, CTSA Consortium-affiliated the National Exercise Clinical Trials Network (NExTNet) – all of which are designed to foster and increase the scientific rigor and impact of clinical trials. Additionally, Dr. Bamman is PD/PI of the pre- and post-doctoral training program, Interdisciplinary Training in Pathobiology and Rehabilitation Medicine (NCMRR 5T32 HD071866).
Dr. Bamman has directed several exercise rehabilitation clinical trials including randomized dose-response trials (e.g., NCT02442479), and he is currently the overall PI or site PI of five, multi-site randomized exercise trials focused on: (i) molecular transducers of exercise-induced health benefits (NIH Common Fund MoTrPAC trial, U01AR071133); (ii) total joint arthroplasty rehabilitation (NIH R01HD084124, NCT02628795); (iii) aging with mobility impairment (NIH R01AG046920, NCT02308228); (iv) Parkinson’s disease (Curry Foundation); and (v) epigenetic determinants of exercise responsiveness (DoD ONR MURI N00014-16-1-3159, NCT03380923). All of his human studies are biologically driven with the goal of better understanding mechanisms underpinning exercise-induced improvements in neuromuscular function and muscle mass/quality in acute (e.g., surgery, trauma, disuse, burn) or chronic (e.g., Parkinson’s, arthritis, cancer, spinal cord injury) conditions.
As the overall PD/PI of REACT and Administrative Component Director, Dr. Bamman oversees the operation of each component charged with meeting the needs of medical rehabilitation researchers seeking to conduct clinical trials. He is ultimately responsible for ensuring that REACT provides open access resources and services of the highest quality in (i) supporting clinical trials training and education, (ii) planning, implementing, and managing, and (iii) maximizing trial efficiency and potential impact by facilitating the use of REACT core facilities, databases, and/or existing multicenter networks.
Louis Bridges, MD, PhD
- Executive Committee Member
- Pilot Component Director
Dr. Bridges is the Anna Lois Waters Professor and Director of the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology and the Director of the Comprehensive Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, Bone, and Autoimmunity Center. He is an internationally recognized investigator in arthritis, rheumatology, and immunology who has a strong record of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and private foundations. He also has extensive experience leading large-scale projects across the translational spectrum: as the Principal Investigator and Director of P60AR064172, as a multiple principal investigator and the Director of P50AR060772, and as the Associate Director of P30AR48311. Dr. Bridges is also the Chair of the American College of Rheumatology’s Committee on Research and serves on the Board of Directors of the Rheumatology Research Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation’s Scientific Discovery Advisory Committee. He has long-standing experience with multicenter clinical trials (e.g., the Treatment of Early Aggressive Rheumatoid Arthritis [TEAR] Trial). As the Associate Director of the NIH-funded Rheumatic Diseases Cores Center, he leads the Pilot and Feasibility Program to develop junior investigators and attract senior researchers not previously involved in research on rheumatic diseases. Dr. Bridges serves as a key member of the Executive Committee and as the Pilot Component Director for the REACT project.
Gary Cutter, PhD
- Administrative Associate Director
- Consultation Component Director
- Pilot Studies Component Biostatistician
Dr. Cutter is a professor of biostatistics in the Section on Research Methods and Clinical Trials in the Department of Biostatistics at UAB School of Public Health. He has a major interest in the design, analysis, and interpretation of clinical trials, epidemiological studies, and evaluation research. Dr. Cutter directs a number of national and multinational coordinating centers. For example, he is the Director of the Coordinating Center for the Combination Therapy Trial of Multiple Sclerosis (COMBIRX), the Principal Investigator of a surgical trial (MGTX) on myasthenia gravis (thymectomy + prednisone vs. prednisone alone), and the Director of the data center for the North American Research Consortium on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS), which administers an international registry of 38,000 patients with multiple sclerosis and a similar registry of patients with myasthenia gravis. Dr. Cutter has long-standing collaborations with Drs. S. Louis Bridges, Amie McLain, and Kenneth Saag. His leadership of coordinating centers and multicenter trials — in which diverse disciplines must seamlessly work together — provides invaluable experience in bringing together multiple disciplines to successfully design and conduct rehabilitation clinical trials. Within the Pilot Component of the REACT project, Dr. Cutter reviews grant applications, helps run the pilot studies programs, and mentors and advises pilot study awardees.
Amie McLain, MD
- Administrative Component Associate Director
- Consultation Component Co-Investigator
Dr. McLain is a professor and the Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UAB School of Medicine. She is a well-established leader and clinician-scientist in the field of medical rehabilitation. She is the Founder and Director of the nation’s first Women’s Clinic for the Disabled at the Spain Rehabilitation Center, an integral part of the UAB Health System. Her research program — centered on spinal cord injury — has included studies of respiratory complications, gynecological and obstetrical complications, menopause, osteoporosis, urological dysfunction and management, sexual functioning, weight management, and general determination of appropriate outcome measurements for individuals with spinal cord injury and comorbidities. With her extensive experience and leadership in medical rehabilitation, Dr. McLain brings unique and essential strengths to the Executive Committee. She is ideally suited to serve as 1 of 2 REACT associate directors and as a coinvestigator within the Consultation Component.
Kenneth Saag, MD, MSc
- Executive Committee Member
- Education and Training Component Director
Dr. Saag is the Jane Knight Lowe Endowed Professor in the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, the Vice Chair for Faculty Development in the Department of Medicine, the Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-funded UAB Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERT), and Director of the Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education(COERE) in the Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology in the UAB Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Saag is an international leader in the development, conduct, and dissemination of high-visibility clinical trials in musculoskeletal medicine and in clinical research training. He has devoted most of his nearly 30-year career to outcomes and epidemiological research. Dr. Saag also serves as the Program Director/Principal Investigator of an Institutional Research Training Grant (T32), the Mentored Clinical Scientists Comparative Effectiveness Development Program (K12), and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institutional Mentored Career Development Program (K12) — all of which are funded by AHRQ and focus on clinical research training. As the Education and Training Component Director of the REACT project, Dr. Saag works with his team to assess the current and future needs of individuals interested in the conduct and management of clinical research within the sphere of rehabilitation medicine to develop and disseminate educational materials that will aid in their endeavors.
David Standaert, MD, PhD
- Executive Committee Member
Dr. Standaert is Professor and Chair of the UAB Department of Neurology and the Director of the UAB Center for Neurodegeneration and Experimental Therapeutics. He is an international leader in the field of Parkinson disease and movement disorders and has a long-standing history of research funding from NIH and other organizations. He is the Principal Investigator of the UAB R25 training program for residents in neurology, neurosurgery, and neuropathology (R25NS079188); the Principal Investigator of a new P20 Exploratory Program in Parkinson Disease (P20NS092530), and a project Principal Investigator for a program-project in dystonia (1P01NS0879970). Dr. Standaert regularly reviews basic, translational, and clinical research grant applications for NIH and other organizations. He serves on several advisory boards, including as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the American Parkinson Disease Association and as a member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Standaert codirects a collaborative research program in exercise rehabilitation for Parkinson disease with Dr. Marcas Bamman, and they closely collaborate in research training and mentoring, as Dr. Standaert is a member of the Executive Committee for the NCMRR 5T32HD071866 training program. Dr. Standaert serves as a key member of the REACT Executive Committee and as the Pilot Component Associate Director, assisting with the scientific review and ongoing evaluation of pilot awards and mentoring and advising pilot study awardees.
Internal Advisory Panel
Etty Benveniste, PhD
Dr. Benveniste is the Alma B. Maxwell-UAHSF Endowed Chair in Biomedical Research, a professor in the UAB Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology, and the Senior Associate Dean for Research Administration and Development in the UAB School of Medicine. Dr. Benveniste is also the Associate Director for Basic Science Research in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the current President of the American Society for Neurochemistry. She is the Principal Investigator of two R01 grant awards and a Collaborative Multiple Sclerosis Research Center award and the Program Director/Principal Investigator of the T32 training program in brain tumor biology. Her research centers on the cells of the immune system, focusing particularly on the role of soluble mediators such as interferons, cytokines, and chemokines. These studies have implications for a number of autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson disease. As the Senior Associate Dean for Research Administration and Development, Dr. Benveniste represents the Dean’s office of the UAB School of Medicine on all matters pertaining to research infrastructure to support extramural programs such as REACT.
Mona Fouad, MD, MPH
Dr. Fouad is Professor and Director of the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and the Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the UAB School of Medicine. She is recognized nationally as a leader in health disparities research and has served as a member of the NIH National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities. One of her major accomplishments is the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, which serves as the umbrella for health disparities research, training, and outreach at UAB and across the mid-South region. Dr. Fouad has contributed to the science of health disparities through major studies to identify variability in cancer care and outcomes based on race, sex, and age. She has trained more than 400 junior faculty and fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate minority students, thus creating a pipeline of minority health practitioners and health disparities researchers. By building coalitions and community capacity, Dr. Fouad has created an innovative model for improving minority health and reducing health disparities in underserved communities. She has integrated all sectors of society by creating awareness of health disparities and engaging the community-at-large with a message of social responsibility. She is an exceptional scientist and educator who embodies the principles of diversity, justice, and equity.
George Howard, DrPH
Dr. Howard is a professor of biostatistics in the UAB School of Public Health. He has experience in biostatistics, data management, and directing the centers of multicenter studies. His career has a dual focus: in conducting observational studies in cardiovascular epidemiology to understand and reduce disparities among patients with stroke and other cardiovascular diseases and in directing the coordinating centers for multicenter randomized clinical trials primarily investigating cardiovascular diseases. Currently, Dr. Howard is the overall project Principal Investigator for the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) project, a national study developing a cohort of more than 30,000 people to provide insights regarding the excess stroke mortality among African Americans and Southerners. In the domain of clinical trials, Dr. Howard is the Principal Investigator of the Statistical and Data Management Center for the Carotid Revascularization for Primary Prevention of Stroke Trial (CREST-2), a pair of randomized trials that each have an anticipated sample size of 1,240. Dr. Howard has more than 320 publications, primarily analyses of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular risk factors, and has more than 30 years of experience working directly with clinical investigators.
Robert Kimberly, MD
Dr. Kimberly is the Howard L. Holley Professor of Medicine, the Associate Vice President for Medicine and Biomedical Research, and the Senior Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research at the UAB School of Medicine and the Director of the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science. He formerly was the Howard L. Holley Research Chair of Rheumatology at UAB. Dr. Kimberly serves on the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group of Research Advancement and Development (GRAND) Steering Committee and as the Director of the UAB FOCIS Center of Excellence in Clinical Immunology. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. Dr. Kimberly is a clinical rheumatologist, immunologist, and human geneticist whose research expertise involves the use of molecular immunological methods and immunogenetics to identify susceptibility and severity factors for human autoimmune diseases and new targets for therapeutic approaches. He is currently applying these strategies in several key clinical areas, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and systemic vasculitis.
James Rimmer, PhD
Dr. Rimmer is the Lakeshore Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Sciences and a professor of occupational therapy in the UAB School of Health Professions and the Director of Research at Lakeshore Foundation. He holds a secondary professorship in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and is a senior scientist in the Nutrition Obesity Research Center and the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine. Dr. Rimmer directs two federally funded centers: the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology for People with Disabilities (Rectech), which is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. As a researcher, he has had 20 consecutive years of federal funding. Dr. Rimmer served as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines Committee in 2008 and was appointed to the Scientific Board of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in January 2014.
Robert Motl, PhD
- Mobile Technology Laboratory Director
Dr. Motl is a professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and the Associate Director for Rehabilitation Research at the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine. He is also Associate Director of Research for the UAB/Lakeshore Research Collaborative. Prof. Robert Motl has systematically developed a research agenda that focuses on physical activity and its measurement, predictors, and consequences in persons with neurological diseases, particularly multiple sclerosis (MS). Dr. Motl has generated a body of research on the validity of common physical activity measures in persons with MS. This has resulted in foundational research on quantifying differences in physical activity, particularly rates of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, in persons with MS. These two lines of research have provided the basis for examining the outcomes of physical activity in MS, particularly beneficial adaptations in brain structure, cognition, depression, fatigue, walking disability, and quality of life. He has also undertaken research on social-cognitive predictors of physical activity that has informed the design of behavioral interventions for increasing physical activity in MS. This agenda serves as a test-bed for application and expansion into other conditions such as spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease. As the Director of the Mobile Technology Laboratory for the REACT project, Dr. Motl is heavily involved in protocol development and device testing with Dr. Gerald McGwin and the team.
Gerald McGwin, PhD
- Mobile Technology Laboratory Associate Director
- Consultation Component Coinvestigator
Dr. McGwin is a professor and the Vice Chairman in the Department of Epidemiology in the UAB School of Public Health. He also holds appointments in the Departments of Surgery and Ophthalmology at the UAB School of Medicine. Dr. McGwin is the Director of Advanced Enterprise Analytics for the UAB Health System and serves as the Director of the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design component of the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Dr. McGwin is a distinguished researcher, having authored or coauthored more than 500 peer-reviewed articles primarily on the epidemiology of eye disease, vision impairment, injury, and aging-related chronic diseases. Dr. McGwin is an expert in tools validation, in the design and analysis of epidemiological studies, and in the design, implementation, and evaluation of clinical data registries. As the Mobile Technology Laboratory Associate Director for REACT, Dr. McGwin leads all component activities and initiatives and is responsible for designing the approaches to test device validity and reliability. Additionally, he works with Dr. Gary Cutter to provide consultative services on biostatistics and research design to medical rehabilitation researchers accessing the Consultation Component.
Jeffrey Curtis, MD, MPH, MSc
- Education and Training Component Coinvestigator
- Mobile Technology Laboratory Coinvestigator
Dr. Curtis is the William J. Koopman Endowed Professor in the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology and the Codirector of the UAB Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERT) of Musculoskeletal Disorders. Additionally, he is the Director of the UAB Arthritis Clinical Intervention Program. He is also the Codirector of the UAB Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics Research (PEER) Unit, which uses large national databases (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, commercial health plans) and large prospective cohorts to conduct comparative effectiveness and safety research. Dr. Curtis coleads the Arthritis Patient Partnership with Comparative Effectiveness Researchers (AR-PoWER), a patient-powered research network (PPRN) that is part of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)-sponsored PCORnet. Within the Education and Training Component of the REACT project, Dr. Curtis fosters the use of national databases and PPRNs by medical rehabilitation researchers.
Thomas Buford, PhD
- Mobile Technology Laboratory Coinvestigator
- Admin-C Coinvestigator
Dr. Buford joined the UAB School of Medicine’s Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics & Palliative Care as an associate professor and as associate director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine (UCEM), and also as Coinvestigator in Mobile Technology Laboratory and in Admin-C. Dr. Buford’s research focus is in preserving the health and independence of older adults through interdisciplinary research broadly related to the prevention of age-related physical disability. He serves as Principle Investigator or co-PI for numerous clinical research studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, and is a coinvestigator on the LIFE study, a Phase 3, randomized clinical trial which revealed that long-term, structured physical activity can reduce the incidence of mobility disability among mobility-limited older adults. Buford received his PhD in Exercise, Nutrition, and Preventative Health from Baylor University with a specialization in exercise science and exercise as a therapeutic modality for improving health. He completed post-doctoral research training in translational health science at the University of Florida, and was promoted to assistant professor in 2012.
Cynthia Brown, PT, MD, MSPH
- Education and Training Component Coinvestigator
Dr. Brown is Professor and Director of the UAB Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care and the Director of the UAB Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging. She is the Principal Investigator of the UAB Study of Aging Mobility Among Older African Americans and Whites funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Principal Investigator and Director of the UAB Geriatric Education Center. Dr. Brown’s research focuses on mobility-related issues during and after hospitalization, and she has significant knowledge of hospital-acquired disability and of outcomes research in the hospital setting and among the community-living older adults. As part of the Education and Training Component of the REACT project, Dr. Brown helps to promote and disseminate Center offerings and programs to the national community of geriatricians and aging researchers, particularly those studying chronic conditions that affect mobility disability and medical rehabilitation strategies.
External Collaborators and Coinvestigators
Michael Fordis, MD
- Subaward Principal Investigator
Dr. Fordis is the Senior Associate Dean for Continuing Medical Education and the Director of the Center for Collaborative and Interactive Technologies housed at Baylor College of Medicine. For more than 15 years, he has applied technology to projects for education, health communications, dissemination, and decision support for clinicians and patients. He served for 5 years (2008–2013) and was re-funded by AHRQ (in 2014) to serve as the Director of The John M. Eisenberg Center for Clinical Decisions and Communications Science, the single national center supported by AHRQ for the translation of comparative effectiveness review findings into actionable products for dissemination and use by clinicians, consumers, patients, and policymakers to support decision making. He is funded by PCORI to develop online continuing medical education and continuing education programs to disseminate PCORI’s Methodology Standards. Dr. Fordis leads the REACT Web presence, working closely with the UAB team to effectively disseminate the Center’s medical rehabilitation clinical trial research resources and education and consultation services.
William Kraus, MD, FAHA, FACC, FACSM
- Mobile Technology Laboratory Consultant
Dr. Kraus is a professor in the Division of Cardiology at Duke University, the Director of Translational Research in the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, and the Director of Clinical Research in the Duke Center for Living. His research program at Duke is largely focused on exercise therapy as medicine and rehabilitation, and he has experience leading multicenter trials (e.g., HF-ACTION, STRRIDE, CALERIE) that have affected clinical practice. Dr. Kraus has significant experience validating commercially available wearable biosensors and communication technologies — and in the development of new technologies — for home-based or community-based medical rehabilitation research. He currently has 6 ongoing studies investigating wearable technology and mobile health, 3 of which directly deal with medical rehabilitation. In his role as a consultant for the REACT project, Dr. Kraus regularly consults Drs. Gerald McGwin and Scott Bickel, the Mobile Technology Laboratory team, and other members of the Center (e.g., Consultation Component, Pilot Studies Component) on the development and application of advanced technologies for home-based clinical trials.
Carla Perna, BS, CCRA, CCRP
- Center Administrator
Ms. Perna graduated magna cum laude from Nova Southeastern University where she received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is an active member of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) and the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) where she holds certifications as a Certified Clinical Research Associate (CCRA) and a Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP) respectively. She is member of Mission Model Agreements and Guidelines International (MAGI) where she actively works with peers to streamline processes via standardizing best practices for clinical operations. As an advisory board member for Forte Research Systems, she presents at their national conferences on diverse research topics. Before joining the Center for Exercise Medicine, Ms. Perna worked as a director of adult oncology clinical trials with the Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. Prior to moving to Birmingham, AL, she worked as a research associate in adult and pediatric oncology clinical trials at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Chelsea Crawford, PhD
- Program Manager
Dr. Crawford is originally from the Gulf Coast but was drawn to UAB for its reputation as a national leader in biomedical and neuroscience research. She came to finish her bachelor’s degree, stayed through her postdoctoral fellowship, and decided that Birmingham was truly the place she wanted to call home. Chelsea earned her PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience where she studied visceral pain pharmacology. Specifically, she explored the role of spinal monoamines in pain associated with Interstitial Cystitis, a chronic painful bladder syndrome. Although her focus was on pharmacology, Chelsea appreciated the impact of exercise and physical therapy on helping chronic pain patients avoid risky surgeries and enjoy a better quality of life. She is thrilled to join the force in making the world more aware of how exercise is medicine.
Jeffrey Foster, MPH
- Program Manager
Mr. Foster is an experienced project coordinator within the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology with advanced training in epidemiology and biostatistics. He is a graduate of the UAB Healthcare Leadership Academy and has several years of experience managing and coordinating activities related to clinical research studies, including large center grants and complex, multiyear studies.
Elizabeth Rahn, PhD
- Program Manager
Dr. Rahn is a trained neuroscientist, who earned her PhD from the University of Georgia and completed two postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Kentucky and UAB. Her doctoral and postdoctoral scientific work focused on experimental validation of novel pain therapeutics, investigation of sex differences in models of multiple sclerosis, characterization of epigenetic mechanisms contributing to the induction and maintenance of pain, and study of the pain and neuromuscular anomalies associated with developmental disabilities. She is currently working as a program manager in the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, where she manages clinical trials and oversees multiple program-project grants.