Month: July 2014

CICATS welcomes the incoming class of YIIP Scholars

The Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at the University of Connecticut congratulates the incoming class of Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP) Scholars. These highly-qualified Scholars were selected from a talented group of applicants based upon their academic achievements and strong potential for success both in and out of the classroom.

The aim of the YIIP program is to provide academic training and mentorship to individuals from underrepresented groups who are dedicated to pursuing careers as innovative scientists and scholars in biological and biomedical science. Through UConn Graduate School coursework and lab research, YIIP Scholars will obtain a Graduate Certificate of Research Experience in Biomedical Science and then continue their studies towards a Masters Degree in Biomedical Science.

CICATS at UConn is confident that the YIIP scholars will continue the legacy of leaders, innovators and educators who have made and continue to make profound impacts on research and science around the globe.

CICATS welcomes 2014 Pre-K Scholars

CICATS is excited to announce the six members of the Pre-K Award Program.  The Pre-K program is a new and exciting nine-month program in our Education, Training and Career Development core that provides junior faculty 30% protective time to receive mentorship in their area of research interest, as well as interactive learning and preparation to submit an NIH K Award. Each awarded scholar participated in a competitive proposal process inclusive of an interview by our Pre-K Program Directors, Drs. Lisa Barry, Anne Kenny, and Julie Robison.



Alicia Dugan PhD
Alicia G. Dugan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Medicine
UConn Health, Department of Occupational Medicine

Surviving at Work: Cancer Survivors’ Work Experiences and Workplace-based Supports
Statistically, cancer is more likely to affect older people, and given that the work force is aging, increasingly more employees will face cancer diagnosis and treatment during their working years. Survivors are at increased risk of job loss, unemployment, early retirement, and a variety of unfavorable work-related, psychosocial, and financial outcomes due to their cancer. My research will focus on workplace interventions and improving quality of life for cancer survivors.


Damion Grasso PhD
Damion J. Grasso, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
UConn Health, Department of Psychiatry

Autonomic and Genetic Risk of Trauma-Related Psychopathology in Young Children
My research focuses on early childhood development, stress-related genetic risk, and autonomic nervous system functioning in the context of stress. I will study potential pre-trauma predictors of trauma-related psychopathology in young children with a focus on psychophysiological measures of autonomic nervous system functioning and composite genetic risk comprised of genes associated with the stress response system.


William Baker Jr. Pharm.D.
William L. Baker Jr, Pharm.D., FCCP, BCPS
Assistant Clinical Professor
University of Connecticut, School of Pharmacy

Magnesium and Arrhythmias
My research will focus on the safe and effective use of magnesium supplementation in patients with arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). I aim to identify the specific population that will most benefit from magnesium supplementation as well as the dose & regimen that is the easiest and safest to use.


Miranda Lynch PhD
Miranda Lynch, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Community Medicine and Health Care Biostatistics Center
UConn Health, Department of Community Medicine and Health Care

Methods for Using Publically Available Gene Expression Patient Data to Examine Role of Iron Metabolism in Ovarian Cancer Survival
My research provides a link between high-dimensional molecular information and patient prognosis and survival by providing methods and models that can uncover the important genes and pathways associated with disease progression. In particular, my focus is on ovarian cancer and providing ways to locate prognostic genes using information about the role of iron metabolism found in experimental and genetic studies.


Melissa Santos PhD
Melissa Santos, Ph.D.
Clinical Director, Obesity Center
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Pediatric Obesity Center for Treatment, Research and Education

Pain and Weight (PAW) Treatment for Those Inflicted with Chronic Pain and Obesity
The overarching focus of my research is to improve treatment outcomes for children and adolescents with obesity. Specifically, I am focused on youth with obesity who present to treatment with comorbid chronic pain. Chronic pain is highly prevalent in obese youth but it is often not assessed nor treated and those with both pain and obesity do not appear to benefit from weight management treatment. I am presently piloting an intervention, incorporating key components from weight management and pain treatments, to target this population.


Angela Bermúdez-Millán, Ph.D., MPH
Angela Bermúdez-Millán, Ph.D., MPH
Instructor, Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences
UConn Health, Division of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health

Social Determinants of Health: Food Insecurity in Low Income Populations
My research interests include the issues of Food insecurity, mental distress, sleep duration and cardio-metabolic risk markers. I have focused my work in the area of community nutrition with a strong interest on maternal and child health among low-income minority groups. My current research interests are on stress due to food insecurity and its impact on mental distress, sleep duration and cardio-metabolic risk markers among Latinas of child bearing age. I am currently working as Research Instructor at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, Division of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health.


For more information about the Pre-K program, contact Trisha Pitter at