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GPC Leadership


Principal Investigator (PI):Russ Waitman, PhD
Institution: University of Kansas Medical Center

Since arriving at the University of Kansas Medical Center in 2010, Russ Waitman has worked with colleagues across the schools and campuses to establish a strategy for clinical and translational research informatics for Frontiers, the Kansas and Kansas City NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award. A key component was working with the University of Kansas Physicians and the University of Kansas Hospital to establish a master data sharing agreement and oversight process so they could jointly create an integrated data repository, HERON, based on the NIH funded i2b2 platform. This led to KUMC serving as the leading institution for the PCORnet Greater Plains Collaborative Clinical Data Research Network where Dr. Waitman serves as Principal Investigator. His research interests are clinical decision support, knowledge discovery, and creating information environments to support personal health, research and patient safety.


Lead Patient Advisor: Cheryl Jernigan, CPA, FACHE
InstitutionUniversity of Kansas Medical Center

Cheryl Jernigan, CPA, FACHE is a 19-year breast cancer "thriver" and a "co-survivor" with her husband, who is a survivor of metastatic prostate cancer and HPV tonsil cancer. She is the Lead Advocate for the Greater Plains Collaborative's grant to develop a Clinical Data Research Network (CDRN) as part of The National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet). In her research advocacy work, Cheryl is a member of Susan G. Komen's (national) Scientific Advisory Board, which oversees Komen's breast cancer research program; and a member of the steering committee for Komen's Advocates in Science program. She also serves as a member of the National Cancer Institute's Central Institutional Review Board for Adult Late Phase Clinical Trials; The V Foundation's Scientific Grant Panel; the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative's Steering Committee; and the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center's Working Group on Returning Clinical Trial Results to Participants.


Site PI: James McClay, MD
Institution: University of Nebraska Medical Center

Dr. McClay is an associate professor for the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE where he established the graduate degree program in Biomedical Informatics and operates the Enterprise Clinical Research Data Warehouse. Dr. McClay attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, earning a Bachelor of Science in Biophysics with Honors. He earned his MD degree at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, and completed his Master of Science in Bioengineering the University of Michigan. He completed his residency program in general surgery at St. John Hospital in Detroit. He was a National Library of Medicine Medical Informatics Fellow at Harvard Medical School from 1990-1993 and worked in industry until joining the UNMC faculty in 2001. Dr. McClay is past chair of the American College of Emergency Physicians Informatics Membership Section and chairs the HL7 Emergency Care Workgroup. His research focuses on the capture, analysis and use of clinical data to improve health.


Site PI: Elizabeth Chrischilles, PhD
Institution: University of Iowa

Dr. Chrischilles, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Director of its Health Effectiveness Research Center, holds the Pomerantz Chair in Public Health in the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Dr. Chrischilles is Associate Director for Population Sciences in the University's Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her research involves using electronic healthcare databases, engaging patients, and collecting patient-reported outcomes to address comparative effectiveness questions, particularly for older adults and patients with multiple chronic conditions. She is Co-Director of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design for the University of Iowa Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences. Dr. Chrischilles is currently leading a breast cancer outcomes research agenda in the Greater Plains Collaborative.


Site PI: Lindsay Cowell, PhD
Institution: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Cowell has built a research program focused on the development of bioinformatics and computational biology methods for studying the immune system and infections diseases. In particular, her work has focused on the somatic diversification of antigen receptor-encoding genes and the development of computable representations of qualitative biological and clinical information. Within each of these areas, she has developed projects that emphasize methodologic developments as well as projects focused on answering specific biological questions.


Site PI: Jeffrey VanWormer, PhD 
Institution: Marshfield Clinic Research Institute

Dr. VanWormer is a behavioral epidemiologist with research interests in the primary prevention of cardiometabolic disease, with a particular focus on community-level risk factor surveillance and lifestyle interventions. He has led and assisted with several evidence-based medicine and health disparities studies focused on weight management, medication use, oral hygiene, and vaccine coverage, among others. Dr. VanWormer is an investigator member in the national Health Care Systems Research Network and the University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, as well as an Associate Editor for the scientific journal Diabetes Spectrum. Dr. VanWormer received a Master's degree in Behavior Analysis from St. Cloud State University and completed a PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota. Prior to his work in Marshfield, Dr. VanWormer was the Director of the Heart of New Ulm Project, a successful initiative led by Allina Health and the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation to prevent cardiovascular disease in rural Minnesota.


Site PI: Bradley Taylor
Institution: Medical College of Wisconsin

Bradley Taylor is the Chief Research Informatics Officer at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he leads Biomedical Informatics for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin. He and his team integrate information technology systems, electronic health records, clinical databases, and tissue repositories throughout CTSI's partner institutions to support clinical and translational research. Brad is actively involved in the collaborative sharing of resources and expertise with multiple CTSAs nationally where close attention is paid to the tools and systems developed by each entity to avoid duplication of efforts. His goal is to positively impact the lives of people in our community and beyond by providing efficient, innovative technology solutions for both patient care and translational research.


Site PI: Amelie Ramirez, Dr.P.H.
Institution: University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, an internationally recognized cancer and chronic disease health disparities researcher, is professor and interim chair of epidemiology and biostatistics at UT Health San Antonio, where she also is director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research and associate director of cancer prevention and health disparities at Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio. Over 30 years, she has led behavioral and communications research that reduced cancer and chronic disease, increased screening rates and clinical trial accrual, and improved healthy eating and physical activity among U.S. Latinos. Dr. Ramirez directs the Salud America! multimedia program to empower healthy changes to promote healthy weight among Latino children ( and @SaludAmerica on social media). She also uses innovative technology—such as text messaging, social media, and apps—to reach Latinos in real-time with behavior-change messages and interventions on smoking cessation and more. She also has trained or mentored more than 250 Latino undergraduates, doctoral students, and early-career investigators, and directs the Exito! training program to equip master’s-level students to seek doctorates and cancer research. She is on the scientific advisory boards of Susan G. Komen, Avon Foundation for Women, and LIVESTRONG. Locally she is a member of the San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council. Recognitions include: 2007 election to the National Academy of Medicine; 2011 White House “Champion of Change”; and 2014 APHA Everett M. Rogers Public Health Communication Award. Dr. Ramirez received MPH and DrPH degrees from the UT Health Science Center at the Houston School of Public Health.


Site PI: Abu Saleh Mohammad Mosa, MS, PhD
Institution: University of Missouri

Abu Saleh Mohammad Mosa, PhD is the Director of Research Informatics at the University of Missouri (MU) School of Medicine (SOM) and Assistant Research Professor of Health Informatics. Dr. Mosa has an affiliate faculty appointment in the MU Informatics Institute and an adjunct appointment in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at MU. Dr. Mosa obtained his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, followed by a Master's degree in Computer Science from the University College Dublin and a Doctoral degree in Health Informatics from the University of Missouri. Dr. Mosa's research area includes informatics infrastructure development for clinical research, and mining massive and unstructured clinical data for patient centered outcome studies. He is the lead informatician for building the research informatics infrastructure at the MU SOM including REDCap, i2b2 (600,000 patients record from the EMR), HealthFacts (a de-identified data set wtih over 60 million patient records), SAS 9.4 data analytic server, and secured high performance computing capabilities. He served as the PI and Co-Investigator for several studies funded by PCORI, AHRQ, NIH, Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, and Roche Molecular Systems. He also served as the editor, reviewer and committee member for several international journals and conferences, and the co-chair of the AAMC Research Technology Working Group.


Site PI: Timothy Imler, MD, MS
Institution: Indiana University

Dr. Timothy Imler is board certified in Internal Medicine, Clinical Informatics and Gastroenterology and works as a clinical gastroenterologist at Indiana University. He is also a Research Scientist in the Center for Biomedical Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute and the Medical Director of the Regenstrief Institute Research Services.


Site PI: Rachel Hess, MD, MS
Institution: University of Utah

Rachel Hess is a Professor of Population Health Sciences and Internal Medicine the founding Chief of the Division of Health System Innovation and Research (HSIR) at the University of Utah. As a clinician and Health Services Researcher, Rachel brings a unique perspective of translating research into clinical and policy practice. Rachel's research aims to improve patient-centered outcomes in clinical care. In service of this mission, she seeks to understand determinants of quality of life, including sexual function, and how health-related quality of life affects health and cost outcomes. She has conducted cohort studies in midlife women to examine the impact of menopause on health-related quality of life, including sexual functioning. She is currently following a cohort of adults over 50 to characterize the roles of intrapersonal resources, interpersonal relationships, and individual lifestyle in shaping quality of life across transitions, and the health and healthcare-cost outcomes of quality of life. Rachel's implementation work uses health information technology to engage patients in their care. She has examined the impact of providing patients with guideline-based feedback regarding their health behaviors and health-related quality of life on patient activation and behavior change. Rachel has oerseen the development and successful implementation of multiple technology-based programs in primary care, including the University of Utah's and UPMC's efforts in the electronic collection of patient-reported information as part of routine clinical care throughout the health system.


Site PI: Vino Raj, MD
Institution: Allina Health

Dr. Raj is Allina Health's Director of Clinical Research Informatics and Analytics, with direct responsibility for the team who supports the PCORnet Common Data Model (CDM) and research infrastructure, and provides researchers across the organization with data extracts and coordination for clinical trials, observational studies, and outcomes research. His medical background includes serving as a physician in East African medical establishments and medical missions program working collaboratively with a variety of organizations such as AMREF, Government of Tanzania, Selilan Medical Center, and UNICEF. Additionally he acquired a broad background in the clinical sciences, with specific training and expertise in ethnographic, data analysis and survey research. Dr. Raj also consulted with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on their Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative and assisted in data aggregation, cost sharing analysis, and training for CME and MOC programs for depression screening, medication adherence and responsible opioid prescribing. His research interests are in infectious diseases, innovative medical informatics, and medical collaborations for patient-centered population health improvements.


Site PI: Kirk Knowlton, MD
Institution: Intermountain Healthcare

Dr. Kirk Knowlton went to Intermountain Heart Institute in January 2016 from the University of California, San Diego, where he served as the Chief of Cardiology and Vice-Chair of Medicine for Laboratory Research. Throughout his career, he has had a strong interest in understanding how and why patients develop heart failure. This includes abnormalities in DNA, infections of the heart like viral myocarditis, and the role of immune function in heart cells that affect cardiac performance. Dr. Knowlton has also made important discoveries related to how heart cells communicate with each other to establish normal conduction. Dr. Knowlton has published his research in journals such as Nature Medicine, Science, Circulation, and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. He has served on numerous research committees with the American Heart Association, the Sarnoff Foundation, and recently fulfilled two years as President of the American Heart Association, Western States Affiliate. Dr. Knowlton also maintains an active clinical practice as a general cardiologist with a focus on heart failure and pulmonary hypertension.


Development mailing list

Technical notes and milestones

Governance Council, by site:

  • KUMC: Russ Waitman
  • Iowa: Betsy Chrischilles
  • MCRI: Jeffrey VanWormer
  • MCW: Brad Taylor
  • UNMC: James McClay
  • UTHSCSA: Amelie Ramirez
  • UT-Southwestern: Lindsay Cowell
  • University of Missouri: Abu Mosa
  • Indiana University: Timothy Imler
  • Utah: Rachel Hess
  • Allina: Vino Raj
  • Intermountain: Kirk Knowlton

Honest Brokers, by site:

  • KUMC: Maren Wennberg
  • Iowa: Nick Smith (primary), Michael Wright (secondary)
  • MCRI: Laurel Verhagen, Joe Finamore
  • MCW: George Kowalski, Kris Oskinski
  • UNMC: Jim McClay
  • UTHSCSA: Laura Manuel
  • UTSW: Shiby Antony, Teresa Bosler
  • MU: Vasanthi Mandhadi
  • IU: Jack VanSchaik, Kyle Linville
  • Utah: Reid Holbrook
  • Allina: Narayana Mazumder
  • Intermountain: Susan Rea

IRB Representatives, by site:

  • KUMC: Kathy Jurius
  • Iowa: Michele Countryman
  • MCRI: Linda Jaros
  • MCW: Elizabeth McDonough
  • UNMC: Gail Paulsen
  • UTHSCSA: Kim Summers
  • UT-Southwestern: Rhonda Oilepo
  • MU: Michele Kennet
  • IU: Ryan Ballard
  • Utah: Sarah Mumford
  • Allina: Gayle Kusch
  • Intermountain: Shelby Moench

Project Managers, by site: 

  • KUMC: Hillary Sandoval
  • Iowa: Brian Gryzlak
  • MCRI: Laurel Verhagen
  • MCW: Kris Osinski
  • UNMC: Carol Geary
  • UTHSCSA: Olivia Ellsmore 
  • UTSW: Shiby Antony
  • MU: Vasanthi Mandhadi
  • IU: Jarrah Hamer
  • Utah: Ainsley Huffman
  • Allina: Cassandra Rodgers
  • Intermountain: Gary Bishop

DROC Members, by site:

  • KUMC: Chris Wittkopp, Karen Blackwell, Maren Wennberg, Russ Waitman, Sravani Chandaka
  • Iowa: Brian Gryzlak, Ashlee Wilson
  • MCRI: Robert Greenlee
  • MCW: Bradley Taylor, Kris Osinski
  • UNMC: Gail Paulsen, Jim McClay
  • UTHSCSA: Alex Bokov, Laura Manuel, Olivia Ellsmore
  • UTSW: Duwayne Willett, Melody Bell. Shiby Antony, Teresa Bosler
  • MU: Vasanthi Mandhadi, Abu Mosa
  • IU: Katie Allen, Dan Hood
  • Utah: Rachel Hess, Ainsley Huffman, Molly Conroy, Reid Holbrook
  • Allina: Narayana Mazumder
  • Intermountain: Susan Rea

To cite/acknowledge the GPC, please use the following citation:

  • Waitman, L.R., Aaronson, L.S., Nadkarni, P.M., Connolly, D.W. & Campbell, J.R. The Greater Plains Collaborative: a PCORnet Clinical Research Data Network. J Am Med Inform Assoc 21, 637-641 (2014).