Our Assets: University of Missouri–Kansas City

Technical Expertise

Jenifer Allsworth, PhD

Dr. Jenifer Allsworth joined the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics at the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City as Research Associate Professor in 2013.  Prior to joining UMKC, she was Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. With over 10 years of experience studying the health of women, Dr. Allsworth has been an investigator on multiple longitudinal large-scale population based epidemiologic studies in women’s health. Most recently, she has been an investigator on the Contraceptive CHOICE Project – an innovative study examining the impact of counseling and cost support on women’s selection and continuation of contraception.  She has also contributed to Project PROTECT, an intervention study to improve dual method contraceptive use, and the Study of Women’s Health across the Nation (SWAN), a multi-ethnic, longitudinal study of women’s health during the menopausal transition. Dr. Allsworth was a KL2 Clinical Research Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis and studied genetic epidemiology.

Her current research interests include: the impact of social factors, including race, violence, and poverty on obstetric and gynecologic outcomes; the use of social media for delivery of weight gain interventions among disadvantaged reproductive-aged women at risk for obesity; and the impact of alterations of the vaginal microbiome on health outcomes. Dr. Allsworth has 80 peer reviewed manuscripts published and 19 invited chapters and papers and in 2011 was honored as one of the top reviewers of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Julie Banderas, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS

Dr. Banderas is a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine. She is also a tenured professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics. She was appointed as the first Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies for the School of Medicine in 2009 and also became Assistant Dean for Allied Health in 2012. She has been a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist since 1995. Dr. Banderas devotes a substantial amount of time to teaching clinical pharmacology and therapeutics at UMKC and is the course director for the course, Responsible Conduct of Research which is a required course for many graduate programs. She was a member of the UMKC Adult Health Sciences IRB for over 12 years and chaired the committee for 4 years.  Dr. Banderas’ research has primarily focused on HIV/AIDS.  She has served as a primary and co-investigator for NLM, CDC, and NIMH funded projects, including electronic access to consumer health information for persons affected by HIV, HIV transmission prevention and interventions to enhance adherence to antiretroviral therapies.

Peter Almenoff, MD, FCCP

Dr. Almenoff is the Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair of Patient Safety at UMKC and is a clinical professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics and Internal Medicine.  Dr. Almenoff serves as the Special Advisor in the Office of the Secretary (Healthcare Value), and Senior Fellow in the VA Center for Innovation. Dr. Almenoff was also appointed Director, Operational Analytics and Reporting in 2012. He oversees the Office of Operational Analytics and Reporting (OAR), including the Office of Productivity, Efficiency, and Staffing (OPES); Business Reporting; Operations and Management Support; and Field Analytics. He served as Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Health for Quality and Safety for the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2008-2012 and provided leadership nationally in the area of outcomes research with specific attention to risk adjustment models.  He also served as the National Program Director for Pulmonary and Critical Care. In his role at the School of Medicine, Dr. Almenoff will advise the School in developing medical education programs and research programs that incorporate patient safety. Dr. Almenoff will also serve an advisory role to Saint Luke’s Hospital on the development of a clinical outcomes analytic program.

Donna M. Buchanan, PhD

Dr. Buchanan is a psychologist who works as a researcher and manager with the Cardiovascular and Outcomes Research Group at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and is a Teaching Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. She coordinates the research and publication activities of the national network of cardiovascular researchers comprising the Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Consortium and provides management oversight of the services provided by Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute as an analytic center for the American College of Cardiology’s National Cardiovascular Data Registries. Prior to joining Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in 2005, she had 10 years of hospital-level administrative experience working for Missouri Department of Mental Health, including progressive executive positions of Director of Quality Management, Assistant Superintendent of Treatment, and Chief Operating Officer. She has extensive knowledge of healthcare regulatory standards, performance measures, and guidelines, and has provided consultation and project coordination for the development of national performance measurement reporting systems in both areas of behavioral health and cardiology.  Dr. Buchanan leads and has published research involving the association of depression and other psychosocial and behavioral characteristics with heart disease and outcomes.  Her research also involves using advanced statistical methods to determine the most appropriate ways to measure socioeconomic status to improve the rigor of future research aimed at better understanding and reducing socioeconomic-based disparities in healthcare and outcomes.

Jie Chen, PhD

Dr. Chen is currently a professor of statistics, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and an adjunct Professor of the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Her research interests are in the areas of change point analysis, model selection criteria, applied statistics, statistics in bioinformatics, and genomics data modeling.  She has published over 40 articles in statistical research since 1995 and is the leading author of the book “Parametric Statistical Change Point Analysis” (Birkhaüser, 2000 and 2012) while the 2012 edition of the book includes applications in medicine, genetics, and finance.

Deendayal Dinakarpandian, PhD

Dr. Dinakarpandian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. He has an interdisciplinary background in the biological, medical and computational sciences. His research interests lie in data mining, machine learning and knowledge representation, with particular emphasis on methods with biological and medical applications. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. He serves as the coordinator of the computational track for the School of Medicine graduate program in Bioinformatics, and the coordinator of the undergraduate Computer Science program. He has taught courses on databases, probability, data structures, bioinformatic algorithms and machine learning.

Mary M. Gerkovich, PhD

Dr. Gerkovich is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics. Her research area focuses on issues of management of chronic medical conditions and adherence to complicated medication regimens, and the occurrence of chronic medical conditions and utilization of services in a safety-net patient population. Her research goal is to identify patient-level and system-level changes and opportunities for reducing disparities in patients who are faced with challenges as the result of lack of personal resources and social support. This work includes the extraction of information from electronic health records and information collection directly from patients and providers. Dr. Gerkovich’s most recent research has the object of identifying factors that explain differences in engagement in medical care for treatment of chronic conditions, with an emphasis on factors that explain patients’ transitions between engagement and non-engagement in care. Dr. Gerkovich’s research program involves the collection of new data and the use of secondary data sources, such as national representative data samples, to address research questions. Her research methodology and statistical analysis expertise support this collaborative research and mentoring of students. In addition, she is trained in research methodology, statistical analysis, computer programming, and informatics, and is an author on over 50 peer-reviewed publications and many professional presentations. Dr. Gerkovich is a member of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).

Earl Glynn, MS

Mr. Glynn is Principle Programmer/Analyst of the Center for Health Insights at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC). He received a BS in nuclear engineering and an MS in computer science from Kansas State University. Earl has applied a background in scientific computing and analytic methodology to solving a variety of R&D problems. Before joining UMKC, he was a scientific programmer at Stowers Institute. In addition to a number of large-scale analytics projects involving scientific, medical, engineering and open government data, Earl developed the imaging software in the Cerveillance Scope, which won a 1998 Silicon Prairie “Technology of the Year” award.

Timothy P. Hickman, MD, MEd, MPH

Dr. Hickman is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Biomedical Health and Informatics, UMKC School of Medicine and in the Health Professions Education Program, Division of Counseling and Educational Psychology, UMKC School of Education.   His primary focus is on Culturally Appropriate Care, Social Determinants of Health and Health Disparities. He utilizes a transdisciplinary approach including curriculum development and instructional design for graduate students, medical students and continuing education; assessment of skills, knowledge and attitudes using a multi-modal approach; and exploring clinical decision support tools including evidence based guidelines, shared decision making and health literacy. Dr. Hickman holds a Graduate Certificate in biomedical informatics from the Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiologyat the Oregon Health & Science University.

Mark Hoffman, PhD

Dr. Hoffman is Director of the Center for Health Insights at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC), where he also serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics and the Department of Pediatrics. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and performed post-doctoral research at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames Iowa. Before joining UMKC, he spent 16 years leading genomics, public health and research initiatives at Cerner Corporation, where he was a Vice President. He also was an adjunct professor in the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering for 9 years prior to joining the DBHI faculty.  In addition to his peer-reviewed publications, Mark is an inventor on 16 issued patents.

Praveen Rao, PhD

Dr. Praveen Rao is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science Electrical Engineering at University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is also a collaborating faculty of the Center for Health Insights at UMKC. His research interests are in the areas of data management, big data and analytics, and health informatics. More specifically, his research work aims to solve fundamental data management problems that arise in data-intensive software applications by designing new algorithms, data structures, and software techniques. His research and outreach activities have been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, University of Missouri Research Board, Headquarters Counseling Center (KS), Kansas City Power and Light, Intel, and Amazon Web Services. In 2010, he received the IBM Smarter Planet Faculty Innovation Award. In 2013, he was one of the 14 professors world-wide to receive the IBM Big Data and Analytics Award. During 2001-2002, he worked as a software engineer at Amazon in Seattle.

Steve Simon, PhD

Dr. Simon is an Adjunct Research Professor in Biomedical and Health Informatics at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, and also serves as an independent statistical consultant. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. In addition to his research publications, Dr. Simon is author of a book. Statistical Evidence in Medical Trial, and the website P.Mean (at: http://www.pmean.com/). His research interests include accrual problems in clinical trials, information theory, monitoring adverse events in clinical trials, research ethics and risk adjustment models. Previously, Dr. Simon has worked in the College of Business at Bowling Green State University, at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Kim Smolderen, PhD

Dr. Smolderen is an Assistant Professor at the Biomedical & Health Informatics Department at the School of Medicine at UMKC and is affiliated as an Outcomes Research Scientist at the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. She has led a 2-center observational registry that evaluated the prevalence of mood disorders in peripheral arterial disease (PAD) patients and its association with generic health status and clinical outcomes. Her doctoral work addressed the psychological burden in patients with PAD, focusing, for example, upon the prevalence of depression and how this disproportionately affects younger women. These results were based on an ongoing prospective PAD registry that she initiated in the Southern part of the Netherlands. Currently, she is the PI of two projects supported by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute that are directed towards developing a multicenter US observational PAD registry with a focus on quantifying patient- centered outcomes as a function of their patient characteristics and administered treatments.

Lakshmi Venkitachalam, PhD

Dr. Venkitachalam is Assistant Professor in Epidemiology and Outcomes Research at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. As tenure-track faculty, Dr.Venkitachalam is developing an independent research agenda that supports and builds capacity to systematically address the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based clinical and public health initiatives to prevent and manage chronic conditions in underserved, low-resource settings. Her research and training experience thus far has allowed for multi-dimensional focus on clinical and patient-centered outcomes with emphasis on novel research methodology that includes comparison of standard and novel analytical methods in cardiovascular research. She has extensive experience in the use of large, secondary databases (derived from electronic medical records, multicenter registries), and has co-authored over 15 peer-reviewed publications, >40 abstracts at national conferences and 4 book chapters in premier textbooks in the field of cardiovascular epidemiology and outcomes research. Dr.Venkitachalam is the primary instructor for the graduate course on principles and application of epidemiology and mentors graduate and medical students in areas of health services and outcomes research.  She also serves as the director of the internship program at DBHI and in this capacity, builds collaborations with community organizations to identify training opportunities for students in the MS Bioinformatics program. Full bio is available at:  http://www.med.umkc.edu/dbhi/Faculty/venkitachalam.shtml

Karen B. Williams, PhD

Dr. Williams is Professor and Chair of Biomedical and Health Informatics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.  She is a research methodologist with an emphasis in biostatistics and health outcomes research.  Dr. Williams’ previous service on the UMKC Adult Health Sciences Institutional Research Board, the Rinehart Foundation Research Support Committee and Director of the Clinical Research Center at the UMKC School of Dentistry makes her a valuable resource for pre-clinical and clinical researchers navigating through regulatory, research development and statistical analyses processes. Her research interests include clinical reasoning, health outcomes, oral health and health behavior.  Dr. Williams has assisted numerous research teams in developing and validating novel measurement instruments for use in research.  Additionally, she has served as a principal investigator, co-investigator and/or methodologist/biostatistician for numerous corporate and federally-funded (NCI, NCCAM and NIMH) grants aimed at evaluating behavioral strategies for reducing tobacco use, and improving adherence to medications in an HIV population; testing the effectiveness of Sutherlandia, a South African indigenous phytotherapy treatment for HIV+ patients; and Phase I, II and III clinical trials.

Gerald Wyckoff, PhD

Dr. Wyckoff is an Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, Division of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and holds a joint appointment in the School of Medicine, Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics.   A major effort of Dr. Wyckoff’s research has been to create a relational database of genomic sequences and associated information. This includes expression information, divergence information, protein function information, and positional information. This has bearing on several types of research dealing directly with the techniques and programs built to handle and query the data, but more importantly, observations made using this tool will lead to hypothesis testing experiments performed at the bench. His work is aimed at developing the informatics structure necessary to allow for the incorporation of many other types of research data, including protein structure, pathway information, and disease linkage information.

A bioinformatics approach allows for the analysis of large-scale genomic differences between species and comparison to polymorphism data within species. Dr. Wyckoff is utilizing these analyses to understand the processes affecting genes and genomes during evolution, including analyses of physico-chemical properties of individual amino acid changes in sets of genes. While constraint and random genetic drift are the primary forces acting on the evolution of gene sequences, positive selection does happen at the molecular level and can play a significant role in the development of specific gene sequences. Large-scale approaches help us to quantify the nature of positive and negative selection both within and between species.

Currently, Dr. Wyckoff is working on categorizing and annotating genes from a major macaque brain cDNA sequencing effort involving research groups from both Japan and the United States. This work is in parallel with ongoing database design work and my interest in rapidly evolving genes in primates.