KL2 Awardees

The CTSI KL2 Mentored Career Development Award provides two years of support for early-career faculty from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Atrium Health involved in translational research to expand their skills and competencies under the guidance of an experienced, multi-disciplinary mentoring team, within the context of a learning healthcare system and rapidly evolving academic research environment.   

Learn More About Our KL2 Scholars:




Mohsen Bahrami, MS, PhD

Assistant Professor, Radiology


Dr. Bahrami is an Assistant Professor of Radiology whose main research focus is on developing novel fusions of statistical and machine learning tools with network science to study the complex impacts of brain disorders.


"Cerebral Small Vessel Disease and Brain Networks: Defining Resilience and Global Disruption"

The vascular contributions to cognitive dysfunction and decline are seen as key modifiable risk factors; however, the extent to which vascular lesions in the brain impact global integrity of brain networks are still unclear. This KL2 Award aims to address this important gap.

Thomas W. Lycan JR., DO, MHS   

Thomas Lycan, Jr., DO, MHS

Assistant Professor, Hematology and Oncology

Dr. Lycan is a thoracic medical oncologist who conducts translational and clinical research on immune checkpoint inhibitors.

"Mixed-Methods Implementation of a COPD Care Pathway Among Patients with Cancer

Our study team will design a novel care pathway to improve COPD control among cancer patients during routine immunotherapy infusions in the oncology clinic.
Morgan Walls   

Morgan Walls, MD, MS

Assistant Professor, Pediatrics

Dr. Walls is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics whose main research focus is on reducing health disparities for children with developmental and behavioral disabilities and disorders such as autism spectrum disorder.

"Developing a Primary Care Intervention to Improve Family-Centered, Culturally Sensitive Care for Black Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder"

This KL2 project will examine the unmet needs, barriers, and facilitators related to care consistent with a patient-centered medical home for Black children with autism spectrum disorder.



Halley Alexander, MD

Assistant Professor, Neurology

Dr. Alexander is an Assistant Professor of Neurology with subspecialty in epilepsy whose main research focus is to improve treatment options for people with epilepsy, with special attention to epilepsy-associated comorbidities.

"A Feasibility Study of a Step-Goal Based Physical Activity Intervention in People with Epilepsy"

This KL2 project aims to test the feasibility of a telehealth-delivered, step-goal based physical activity intervention in people with epilepsy utilizing wearable devices, with an emphasis on sustainable behavior change.

Sarah Cilvik, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Pediatrics - Neonatology

Dr. Cilvik is a board-certified Neonatologist and physician scientist with a passion for research in maternal-fetal physiology and how adverse perinatal exposures affect chronic disease development in offspring (i.e. developmental origins of health and disease).

"Investigation of Placental Dysfunction in Nonhuman Primate Pregnancies at Advanced Maternal Age: A Pilot Study

This research project will investigate how advanced maternal age affects placental blood flow and pregnancy outcomes in nonhuman primates.  

Bailey Fearing, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute

Bailey Fearing, PhD is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Atrium Health’s Musculoskeletal Institute, where she conducts research in basic and translational science of musculoskeletal pathologies.

"Efficacy of Coating Strategies to Reduce Orthopaedic Implant-Related Infections"

Despite improved surgical techniques and prophylactic procedures, orthopaedic implant-associated infections remain high with complications that can lead to devastating patient outcomes. This project will be the first to study human host cell interaction with physician-directed coatings and establish a time course for use of implant coatings.



Samuel P. Carmichael II, MD


Samuel P. Carmichael II, MD, MS

Assistant Professor, Division of Acute Care Surgery, Department of General Surgery

Following completion of a general surgery residency at the University of Kentucky and an Acute Care Surgery fellowship at Wake Forest, Dr. Carmichael currently serves an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Acute Care Surgery.

"Anti-Fibrotic Therapies for Prevention of Abdominal Adhesions"


Project seeks to develop a preventative strategy for the development of scar (i.e adhesions) within the abdominal cavity following operation.

Michael Farris, MD 

Michael K. Farris, MD

Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology

Dr. Farris is the lead of thoracic radiation oncology and co-director of the lung cancer disease oriented team at Wake Forest, with a research focus on improving radiation quality assurance and minimizing normal tissue toxicities. 

"Investigating Radiation Induced Bone Loss Following High Dose Thoracic Irradiation with Stereotactic Body Preventative Radiotherapy (SBRT) and Potential Preventative Strategies" 

This project is investigating a novel way of visualizing radiation induced bone loss after high dose lung irradiation to peripheral tumors, and potential strategies to prevent bone fractures with prophylactic bisphosphonates.
Giya Harry, MD, MPH, MSc 

Onengiya Harry, MD, MPH, MSc, FAAP

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Rheumatology, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention

Dr. Harry is Assistant Professor in Pediatric Rheumatology with clinical and research expertise in treatment adherence, transition, and self-management in systemic autoimmune disorders, primarily, pediatric-onset lupus.

"Enhancing Self-Management in Adolescents with Lupus"

Project targets caregiver and individual factors to improve self-management, and ultimately health outcomes, in adolescents with lupus.


Shivani Ghoshal, MD 

Shivani Ghoshal, MD

Assistant Professor, Neurology

Dr. Shivani Ghoshal is a neuro-intensivist and board-certified neurosonologist. Her research evaluates intradialytic changes in cerebral hemodynamics and their impact on cognitive decline in end-stage renal disease.

"Relationships Between Cerebral Hemodynamics as Measured by Transcranial Doppler (TCD) During Dialysis on MRI-measured Anatomy and Cognitive Function"


In this KL2 project I propose the use of Transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasonography to identify potentially useful predictors of cognitive impairment in dialysis patients.

Ashish Kumar Khanna, MD, FCCP, FCCM 

Ashish Khanna, FCCM, FCCP, MD

Associate Professor, Anesthesiology

Dr. Ashish Khanna is an intensivist and anesthesiologist, associate professor and section head for research within the Department of Anesthesia, Section on Critical Care Medicine with a keen interest in perioperative clinical outcomes research both within and outside the critical care environment. His research will examine the need for continuous portable hemodynamic and respiratory monitoring on hospital wards with an emphasis on detection of events, accessing alarm fatigue and decreasing myocardial injury from undetected hypotension.

"A Pilot Trial of Continuous Portable Postoperative Hemodynamic and Saturation Monitoring on Hospital Wards"


This project’s primary objective is to show that continuous portable hemodynamic and respiratory monitoring on hospital wards allows clinicians to intervene early and effectively, thus reducing patient exposure to hypotension, tachycardia, and hypoxemia.

 Jason Stopyra

Jason Stopyra, MD, MS

Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine

Dr. Jason Stopyra is double board certified Emergency Physician and EMS medical director that found a passion in EMS research. Jason has nearly 20 years of experience treating patients that live in rural areas of North Carolina.

RURAL STEMI "RUral dispaRities in prehospitAL STEMI"


The goal of his KL2 research is to improve outcomes for patients with heart attacks living in rural areas that receive their initial care by EMS.


Heidi Marie Munger Clary, MD, MPH 

Heidi Munger Clary, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Neurology

Dr. Heidi Munger Clary is making significant impact in the world of neurological medicine as the chair of the Psychosocial Comorbidities committee within the American Epilepsy Society (AES) and chair of the American Academy of Neurology Epilepsy Quality Measure Workgroup. Through the AES, she was able to provide some input into the new development of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) epilepsy research benchmarks.

"Anxiety and Depression in Epilepsy: Assessing Outcomes via the Electronic Health Record"

Chandylen L. Nightingale, PhD 

Chandylen L. Nightingale, PhD

Assistant Professor, Social Sciences and Health Policy

Dr. Chandylen Nightingale’s graduate school research in head and neck cancers took her into a cancer center daily, she says she saw a troubling pattern: patients were “coming with their family caregivers who were completely overwhelmed, really struggling and not being tended to in the way that patients were—nobody was really taking the time to ask the caregiver how they were doing, to think about what resources they might need.

"CONNECTing Caregivers to Supportive Services (CONNECT): A Technology-Based Intervention to Connect Cancer Caregivers with Supportive Care Resources"


The long-term goal of this research is to improve supportive care delivery for cancer caregivers of newly diagnosed patients and improving both caregiver and patient well-being by providing education about the benefits of supportive care resources, systematically identifying their unmet needs, and connecting them with tailored supportive care resources


 Erin Barnes, MD

Erin Barnes, MD

Assistant Professor, Infectious Disease 

"Development of an E.H.R. Case Identification Tool for Intravenous Drug Use Infective Endocarditis (IDU-IE)"

Amber Brooks, Anesthesiology 

Amber Brooks, MD

Assistant Professor, Anesthesiology 

Dr. Amber Brooks is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and Comprehensive Pain Management Physician who specializes in treating a variety of different pain conditions using a multimodal approach that includes treatments such as medication, injection therapies, and movement therapies. Dr. Brooks work closely with her patients to develop a treatment plan that focuses on improving physical function and quality of life.  

"Development of Behavioral eHealth Treatment for Obese, Older Adults with Chronic Low Back Pain"


We propose to develop Health-Pad to build patient knowledge of the utility of behavioral pain treatments and to facility delivery of eHealth behavioral treatment tools to a vulnerable patient population: obese, older adults with chronic low back pain.

Deepak Palakshappa, MD, MSHP 

Deepak Palakshappa, MD


Associate Professor, General Internal Medicine 

"Impact of Food Insecurity on Obesity Care for Obese Children and Adults"


This project seeks to determine if children and adults with obesity who are food insecure are more likely to have medical co-morbidities and develop a web-based tool to enhance obesity care among patients in food insecure households.

Jaime Lynn Speiser, PhD, MSc 

Jaime Speiser, PhD

Assistant Professor, Biostatistics and Data Science

Dr. Jaime Speiser's main research interest is developing machine-learning methodology for prediction modeling. Specifically, her recent work focuses on extending decision tree and random forest algorithms for clustered and longitudinal data.

"Random Forest Methodology for Longitudinal Outcomes in Aging"


Ken T. Kishida, PhD 

Ken Kishida, PhD

Associate Professor, Physiology and Pharmacology 

"Neurobiology of Dopamine and Serotonin Signaling During Social Exchange in Humans"


 Zach McIver

Zach McIver, DO, PhD, FACP

Associate Professor, Hematology and Oncology 

"Photodepletion Techniques to Prevent Graft-Versus-Host-Disease (GVHD) in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation"


The primary objective of this project is to develop the ex-vivo SD technique with 2-Se-Cl using familial haploidentical human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) by comparing reactivity after photodepletion against the original cells.

Roy E. Strowd III, MD, MEd, MS


Roy Strowd III, MD, MEd, MS


Assistant Professor, Neurology

Dr. Roy Strowd III is a neurologist, neuro-oncologist, clinical trialist, and educator who specializes in brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerve tumors.  He is an expert in brain tumor treatment and lead several national, multi-institution clinical trials through large cooperative groups including the Adult Brain Tumor Consortium (ABTC) and Alliance for Clinical Trials in Neuro-Oncology.  

"Determining the Competence of the Immune System Over the First Year of Therapy in Patients with Malignant Glioma: A Battery of Quantitative, Qualitative and Functional Measures of Immune Readiness"


In this KL2, we propose a clinical trial of patients with newly diagnosed malignant gliomas to determine the changes in blood leukocytes and lymphocyte subpopulations to measure and compare the readiness of the immune system to respond to immunotherapy using an influenza vaccine model of the memory response and a hepatitis vaccine model of the naïve response prior to and following chemoradiation.

 Jillian Urban Hobson  

Jillian Urban, MPH, PhD


Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Jillian Urban's primary research focuses on combining injury biomechanics and public health to inform evidence-based recommendations to reduce head impact exposure and improve sport safety in youth populations. She has conducted observational, quantitative analyses of head impact data and have a strong background in collecting, analyzing and interpreting on-field data from head-impact sensors in youth sports.  She has also specialized training in injury biomechanics and public health with a publication record using contextualized biomechanical data to understand factors influencing head impact exposure in sports.  

"Cumulative Exposure to Subconcussive Head Impacts in Youth Football Athletes"


This project aims to better understand the biomechanical basis of concussion in on-field head impact exposure in youth and high school football athletes using helmet-mounted sensors to collect and analyze on-field head impact data. The data gathered and methods developed as part of this effort will be used to support research on epidemiological modeling of head impact exposure for the development of prevention strategies and behavioral interventions in youth sports.

For questions about the KL2 Mentored Career Development Award, please contact us at CTSIEducation@wakehealth.edu


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 KL2 Mentored Career Development