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Our Team


Meet the Teen-LABS Primary Investigators and Research Team.

Primary Investigators

Thomas Inge, MD, PhD
Surgeon-in-Chief; Chair, Department of Surgery;
Lydia J. Fredrickson Board Designated Professorship in Pediatric Surgery, 
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Professor of Surgery (Pediatric Surgery), Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Michael Helmrath, MD, MS
Director of Surgical Research
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Stavra Xanthakos, MD, MS
Director, Steatohepatitis Center
Medical Director, Surgical Weight Loss Program for Teens
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Heidi Kalkwarf, PhD
Scientific Director, Bionutrition & Body Composition Core Laboratory, CCTST
Associate Director, Digestive Health Center
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Todd Jenkins, PhD
Co-director, Data Coordinating Center
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Changchun Xie, PhD
Co-director, Data Coordinating Center
University of Cincinnati

Stephanie Sisley, MD
Medical Director of the Center for Genetic Disorders of Obesity and Medical Director of the Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Program, Texas Children's Hospital
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine

Mike Chen, MD
Director, Division of Pediatric Surgery
Children's of Alabama

Marc Michalsky, MD
Surgical director, Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition
Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Anita Courcoulas, MD
Chief, Section of Minimally Invasive Bariatric and General Surgery
University of Pittsburgh Physicians

Mary Brandt, MD
Pediatric Surgeon,
Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Mac Harmon, MD, PhD
Chief, Division of Pediatric Surgery
Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo

John Gunstad, PhD
Director of the Applied Psychology Center
Kent State University

James Mitchell, MD
Research Scientist
Sanford Research

John Dixon, MBBS, PhD
Monash University
Swinburne University

Research Team

Jenn Black, MSSA is the Central Study Coordinator for the Teen-LABS Study based at the University of Colorado, Denver. She works with Drs. Inge, Jenkins, Xie, and Ms. Miller on all aspects of the Teen-LABS Study and oversees the six sites conducting the study. She also works with the Teen-LABS Publications and Presentations Committee, the Ancillary Studies Subcommittee, and the Adjudication Committee.

Rosie Miller, RN is the Deputy Central Study Coordinator for Teen-LABS Study based at the University of Colorado, Denver. She works with Dr. Todd Jenkins and Dr. Changchun Xie and the DCC as well as Dr. Inge on all aspects of the Teen-LABS Study. She also assists with the Adjudication process and the Ancillary and Publication proposals.

Kerri York, BS is the Research and Finance Specialist for the Center for Children’s Surgery (CCS) at the University of Colorado Denver supporting research efforts and collaborating with the Grants Management Team.

Jennifer Knox, BA is a research coordinator for Teen-LABS at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center who works with Dr. Michael Helmrath and the bariatric surgery team. She is also responsible for cohort maintenance and retention of Teen-LABS participants at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and works with Dr. Mike Chen.

Naila Merchant is a research coordinator for Teen-LABS at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She works with Dr. Michael Helmrath and Jennifer Knox and the bariatric surgery team.

Lynda Krol, CMA and Giovanna Febbraro, MSEd are the site coordinators for Teen-LABS at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. They work with Anita Courcoulas, MD, Chief of Minimally Invasive Bariatric and General Surgery.

Citrine Elatrash, MBBCh, CCRP is the site coordinator for the Teen-LABS study at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. She works with Dr. Stephanie Sisley to facilitate research and collect necessary data to advance knowledge and improve quality of care.

Lauren Volz and Casey Halle, BS, CRC are the site coordinators for the Teen-LABS study at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Lauren and Casey work with Marc Michalsky, MD, on the Teen-LABS study.

Kathy Lancaster, BA is the manager of research operations and research coordinator at Sanford Research in Fargo, North Dakota.