• Future-focused health science.

CNHS research investigates the mechanisms that underlie human disease with a sharp focus on the development of integrated treatment, prevention, and wellness-promotion strategies.

Our researchers work to develop greater understanding of disease and wellness and bring new, more effective treatments to healthcare. CNHS researchers regularly contribute to leading journals in their disciplines - including Nature Communications, Nature Immunology, JAMA Pediatrics, Scientific Reports, and Carcinogenesis.

Research Areas

Autism

Dr. Tiffany Hutchins and Dr. Patricia Prelock perform research and develop interventions to help people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) develop social problem-solving skills. Their work reveals that social challenges among people with ASD may be rooted in deficits of “episodic memory,” the ability to mentally travel back in time to remember personal experiences from a first-person viewpoint. 

Dr. Laura Lewis’s focus is on autistic adults and issues impacting quality of life, social relationships, and identity formation. Studies have shown autistic people experience challenges in sensory, cognitive, and social aspects in the healthcare setting. Dr. Lewis led a study aimed to explore the experience of women with autism during labor and delivery.

Dr. Shelley Velleman's research addresses speech sound development in typically developing (TD) children and in children with disorders. Her studies of TD children have focused on how the language or dialect of exposure affects the process of learning to talk. She specializes in motor speech disorders, including Childhood Apraxia of Speech, and seeks to identify and remediate the motor speech, phonological, and literacy difficulties associated with neurodevelopmental syndromes, such as autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, and 7q11.23 Duplication syndrome.

Dr. Emily Coderre studies the cognitive neuroscience of language using neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the cognitive processes underlying language in both typically developing populations and in special population such as bilinguals and individuals with autism. She is  interested in how language is understood through word, sentence, and narrative comprehension, and how such understanding is impaired in autism. Her work aims to design more effective autism treatment interventions.

 

Brain Health and Cognition

Dr. Shelley Velleman's research focuses on speech sound development in typically developing (TD) children and in children with disorders. Her studies of TD children have focused on how the language or dialect of exposure affects the process of learning to talk. She specializes in motor speech disorders, including Childhood Apraxia of Speech, and seeks to identify and remediate the motor speech, phonological, and literacy difficulties associated with neurodevelopmental syndromes, such as autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, and 7q11.23 Duplication syndrome.

Dr. Sambit Mohapatra designs novel assessment tools for mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) and Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). His assessments utilize behavioral-, cognitive- and neurophysiological-based outcome measures. Dr. Mohapatra also has expertise designing novel rehabilitation paradigms to improve recovery of motor functions post-stroke. He is trained in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and has used the technique to correlate neurophysiology with specific motor outcomes.

Dr. Michael Cannizzaro investigates brain and behavior relationships in typical and brain-injured populations. His research considers the role of the prefrontal cortex during complex communication and tasks that involve executive functions; and involves the study of discourse processing using behavioral and linguistic metrics to study communication in conjunction with neuroimaging to monitor task-related hemodynamics in the brain. Dr. Cannizzaro’s lab uses modulated cortical activity (i.e., fNIRS & EEG) as a means of interfacing with computers for communication and environmental control.

Dr. Jennifer Laurent’s research focuses on brain and behavioral mechanisms that contribute to weight gain and obesity in youth. She is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with more than 20 years of experience and expertise in chronic disease treatment.

Dr. Emily Coderre studies the cognitive neuroscience of language using neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the cognitive processes underlying language in both typically developing populations and in special population such as bilinguals and individuals with autism. She is interested in how language is understood through word, sentence, and narrative comprehension, and how such understanding is impaired in autism. Her work aims to design more effective autism treatment interventions.

Dr. Kimberly Bauerly studies the effects of emotion on speech-motor control in people who stutter. Her lab incorporates physiological and kinematic equipment as measures of autonomic nervous system activity and articulatory control. Her interests include gaining a deeper understanding of the relationship between self-reports of anxiety and autonomic changes when under different emotional states in adults who stutter. She is also interested in investigating the impact of emotional reactivity and regulatory processes on articulatory control, particularly when under conditions of social stress.

Dr. Denise Peters’ expertise concerns neural correlates of motor impairment and recovery, with an emphasis on walking function, after neurologic injury such as stroke and spinal cord injury. Her research focuses on brain-behavior relationships by utilizing MRI (diffusion tensor imaging), quantitative measures of motor function (EMG, kinetics), and clinical measures of impairment and activity.

 

Human Disease Mechanisms

Researchers employ cutting-edge technologies in genetics, genomics, biochemistry and cell biology to better understand human disease. Current areas of focus include the immunology of infectious diseases, autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease, epigenetics, and cancer. Our research labs provide a vibrant scholarly environment for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral associates and staff scientists. In the past three years, our MLS research was supported by more than $6 million in extramural funding.

Dr. Paula Deming’s research focuses on understanding molecular and cellular alterations that occur in cancer. One project investigates the alterations of a gene associated with lung cancer, the leading cause of worldwide cancer-related mortality.

Dr. Seth Frietze investigates the molecular mechanisms of gene expression in the pathological progression of disease. His research projects range from blood cancer genomics to persistent viral infections, including varicella zoster virus (VZV), which causes herpes, chickenpox and shingles.

Dr. Eyal Amiel studies the basic molecular mechanisms regulating cellular immune activation with the long-term goal of discovering new therapeutic approaches to manipulate immune responses to better meet the needs of immune-related clinical challenges. Of particular interest is the notion that manipulation of cellular metabolism can dramatically influence the type and magnitude of pathogen-specific immune responses.

Dr. Dimitry Krementsov’s research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying pathogenesis of immune-mediated diseases. Some projects in the Krementsov Laboratory focus on bacteria in gut microbiomes that trigger immune cells’ inflammatory response, and how this response correlates to inflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS).

 

Rehabilitation and Physical Activity

Research in this area integrates three complementary applied human sciences that focus on promoting optimal health as well as disease and injury prevention through participation in physical activity. Department faculty have strong interdisciplinary research ties with faculty in engineering, nutrition, psychology, and medicine.

Dr. Jeremy Sibold’s research involves the relationship between exercise and mental health and predicting musculoskeletal injury using psychosocial variables. Dr. Sibold seeks to further define the relationship between exercise and psychological constructs including mood, anxiety, self-efficacy and learning. He feels strongly that exercise is an underused treatment adjunct in both healthy and clinical populations.

Dr. Connie Tompkins conducts extensive testing and research on body composition, physiological responses to exercise prior to- and following weight loss, and the metabolic effects of obesity in children and adolescents. She leads school-based, physical activity interventions and REWARD TEENS, a multi-disciplinary, adolescent weight management program.

Dr. Susan Kasser’s research centers around physical activity and exercise in individuals with disabilities and chronic conditions. Her work focuses on identifying the underlying mechanisms of postural dyscontrol in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and evaluating exercise-based interventions aimed at mitigating balance impairment and reducing falls in those with the disease.

Dr. Ted Angelopoulos' research involves the development of lifestyle interventions for the prevention and treatment of metabolic disease; the role of regularly repeated exercise in modifying risk factors for cardio-metabolic disease; and the impact of dietary sugars in the development of adiposity and cardio-metabolic disease. He is the associate editor of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Dr. Nancy Gell’s research focuses on promotion of healthy behaviors to prevent functional loss in people aging with chronic disease and fall risk. Her current agenda includes testing interventions to support physical activity and exercise participation among people aging with cancer and osteoarthritis, and examining factors associated with fall risk in older adults. Her research has the broad aim of supporting healthy aging for people with disability and chronic disease with a particular focus on environmental and technological influences on physical activity, exercise adherence, and fall prevention.

Dr. Denise Peters’ expertise concerns neural correlates of motor impairment and recovery, with an emphasis on walking function, after neurologic injury such as stroke and spinal cord injury. Her research focuses on brain-behavior relationships by utilizing MRI (diffusion tensor imaging), quantitative measures of motor function (EMG, kinetics), and clinical measures of impairment and activity. Dr. Peters has additional interests in neurologic rehabilitation strategies and outcome measure assessment.

Dr. Sambit Mohapatra designs novel assessment tools for mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) and Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). His assessments utilize behavioral-, cognitive- and neurophysiological-based outcome measures. Dr. Mohapatra also has expertise designing novel rehabilitation paradigms to improve recovery of motor functions post-stroke. He is trained in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and has used the technique to correlate neurophysiology with specific motor outcomes.

Dr. Timothy Tourville’s research involves treatment of post-traumatic osteoarthritis and chronic disease with therapeutic exercise, and its relationship with changes in biochemical, biomechanical, MRI, clinical- and patient-oriented outcomes. He holds joint appointments in the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science and the Department of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation of The University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine.

Dr. Mat Failla’s expertise is in improving outcomes after sports and orthopedic-related injuries. His research has evaluated the effects of rehabilitation strategies on athletes after anterior cruciate ligament injury and reconstruction. Dr. Failla has additional interests in prevention of sports injuries, rehabilitation after orthopedic procedures, and sports-related shoulder injuries. He is an experienced, residency-trained clinician and a board-certified specialist in sports physical therapy.

 

 

UVM Core Facilities

CNHS researchers can also access shared University of Vermont facilities and equipment. Learn more >>

Recent Publications and Projects

Biomedical and Health Sciences

Paula Deming, Ph.D., MT (ASCP), associate professor, associate dean for faculty affairs and research, endowed professor of health sciences, published the following:

  • Liam L Donnelly, Tyler C Hogan, Sean M Lenahan, Gopika Nandagopal, Jenna G Eaton, Meagan A Lebeau, Cai L McCann, Hailey M Sarausky, Kenneth J Hampel, Jordan D Armstrong, Margaret P Cameron, Nikoletta Sidiropoulos, Paula Deming, David J Seward. Functional assessment of somatic STK11 variants identified in primary human non-small cell lung cancers. Carcinogenesis, 2021; https://doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgab104

The Krementsov Lab published the following:

  • This paper led by CMB Ph.D. student Theresa Montgomery in Krementsov lab solved a diagnostic mystery where several people in BHSC labs tested positive without any symptoms or known contacts. It turned out to be caused false positives caused by non-infectious DNA that was being used for COVID research in the lab - which we confirmed by serology and molecular testing.
  • This comprehensive literature review paper on probiotics in multiple sclerosis was the result of a capstone project by Master in MLS student Lorrie Blais, with help from the Krementsov lab, and additional mentorship from Paula Deming and Eyal Amiel.
  • This research paper, a collaboration between the Krementsov and Frietze labs, co-led by technician Mahalia McGill and CMB Ph.D. student Alyssa Richman. In this paper, we investigated whether microglia, the mysterious immune cells of the brain, could contribute to differences between women and men in multiple sclerosis.

Nursing

Nursing Professor Lili Martin’s research revealed a national trend: stress, anxiety, and depression are regular accompaniments to the academic rigors of studying nursing. 

With support from the Frymoyer Scholars Program, Rebecca Nagle, D.N.P., PNP, RN, clinical instructor and nurse practitioner at Timberlane Pediatrics, has outlined a culinary medicine curriculum for UVM's graduate nursing program that will enhance students’ ability to incorporate nutrition counseling into patient care.

Two qualitative studies led by nursing professor Marcia Bosek with nurse leaders from UVM Medical Center reveal the lived experiences of Vermont-based nurses working during the pandemic.

Laura Foran Lewis, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor, and colleague Emily Glassman published an article about a digital storytelling project in Nursing Education Perspectives.

Mary Val Palumbo D.N.P., APRN, GNP-BC, professor of nursing and director of interprofessional education, received a grant from the Vermont Department of Aging and Independent Living – “Hub and Spoke for Alzheimer's/Map for Diagnosis and Referral – Educational Plan for Primary Care” and has launched 3 initiatives to improve Alzheimer’s diagnosis and care management in primary care setting throughout Vermont.: A monthly ECHO series on Dementia Diagnosis and Management, an online continuing education offering - Diagnosis, Treatment and Management of Dementia, and the Corner Consult for primary care providers regarding dementia diagnosis.

Rehabilitation and Movement Science

Victoria Priganc, Ph.D., OTR, CHT, CLT, occupational therapy program director, published the following:

  • Ivy CC, Doerrer S, Naughton N, Priganc V. The impact of COVID-19 on hand therapy practice. J Hand Ther. 2021 Feb 1:S0894-1130(21)00026-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jht.2021.01.007. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33820708; PMCID: PMC7849501.
  • Priganc V, Naughton N, Doerrer S, Ivy CC. A follow up survey on the impact of COVID-19 on hand therapy practice. J Hand Ther. 2021 Jul 9:S0894-1130(21)00109-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jht.2021.07.001. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34392999.

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Research Resources for Students 

Student Research Stories

CNHS students engage in original research, on projects that spark their passions and make an impact. Read more >>

Zeigler Research Forum

The annual Zeigler Research Forum offers students an opportunity to showcase and discuss their research.

Learn more