WCUCOM faculty are actively involved in a wide variety of research activities. Faculty with current research projects are highlighted below.
Italo Subbarao, DO, MBA
Dr. Subbarao, our Dean, is a leader in domestic and international disaster response including terrorism. He has provided field and technical support to the Haiti Earthquake, the Mumbai Shootings, Hurricanes Gustave and Ike, Hurricane Katrina, the Pakistan Earthquake, and other large scale events. He has published and edited over 60 books and articles and has been an invited speaker to many domestic and international sponsored conferences which include US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations. Dr. Subbarao’s research at WCU focused initially on social media (Twitter) as part of an early warning system for imminent threats. Currently his research team is developing prototype telemedicine-equipped ambulance drones to serve as first responders in inaccessible disaster situations.
Melissa Stephens, MD, MS, FAAFP, DABFM
Dr. Stephens’ most recent research has been centered around a variety of topics related to primary care and population health. Her work with the Lamar and Forrest County Emergency Management Coalitions has led to participation in simulated mass casualty exercises, during which research has been initiated in the areas of triage accuracy and communication. Future proposed research topics include the impact of community disaster preparedness and public education on individual and community resilience. Dr. Stephens is also actively involved with the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi and the CAST (Child Advocacy Studies Training) Network of Mississippi. She and several colleagues were awarded a grant to pursue the training of osteopathic medical students using the CAST curriculum. In 2019, Dr. Stephens was the recipient of the Society of Osteopathic Medical Educators Marguerite Elliott Award for Innovation in Clinical Medical Education for her implementation of CAST in medical education. Future proposed research topics in this area include the impact of medical education in child advocacy and child maltreatment, as well as physician recognition and response to abuse and neglect. Dr. Stephens’ team also has ongoing research projects related to the practice of infant and maternal care in Mississippi and the evaluation of a curriculum designed to teach health care providers about the unique needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Carol Morreale, PharmD, MPH, MS, BCGP
Dr. Morreale’s current research interests are in geriatrics, interprofessional education, and child advocacy. Working along with Dr. Melissa Stephens, she is actively involved with the CAST (Child Advocacy Studies Training) Network of Mississippi., for which they awarded a grant for the training of osteopathic medical students using the CAST curriculum. As member of both the Lamar and Forrest County Emergency Management Coalitions, Dr. Morreale participated in mass casualty simulation exercises, working with the team on research surrounding communication and triage. A future research topic in this area includes looking at the ability of older adults to adequately prepare for disasters. Additional research interests in geriatrics include the impact of medical education in the area of elder abuse on physician recognition and response to abuse and neglect and the effects of social isolation on older adults. Other proposed research topics include student attitudes toward the development of interprofessional education and experiential learning in the osteopathic curriculum.
Kenneth “Cal” Hisley, PhD
The aim of Dr. Hisley’s current research is to understand the flow and representation of anatomical information through the integrated medical school curriculum and how it might be optimized for more effective teaching and rigorous assessment, especially in support of clinical education. There are four main projects for this effort: 1) developing and testing methods for representing complex sequences of lecture/laboratory topics displayed in visual curricular maps, 2) the application of advanced visual technologies to optimize understanding of complex spatial relationships in each anatomical topic presented in the map, 3) designing more effective methods in teaching cadaver-based anatomy in the dissection laboratory, and 4) the development and verification of innovative knowledge assessment techniques.
Kamal Abouzaid, MD, PhD
Dr. Abouzaid’s research interests fall into three main areas: 1)investigation of the effectiveness of the addition of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Methods to first-year medical anatomical education learning in both lecture hall and dissection laboratory, 2) revisiting the Incisura Dextra of Gans to categorize the related intrahepatic bile ducts: implications for living-donor-liver-transplantation, and 3) application of laparoscopic techniques to improve the understanding of the organization of the peritoneal cavity.
Danielle Fastring, PhD, MS, MPH
Dr. Fastring’s research interests include addressing health disparities in the Gulf South region. She utilizes a community-based participatory approach to build academic-community partnerships to address upstream inequities related to the social determinants of health. Currently, her projects include (1) increasing screening, vaccination, and care linkage for Hepatitis B in the Vietnamese communities living in coastal MS, (2) serving as the evaluator for the MSDH Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs program, and (3) providing biostatistical and study design support for a clinical trial in the Delta to determine the effectiveness of Community Health Workers in improving cardiovascular disease outcomes. She serves on the Executive Board of the MS Public Health Association as the Southern Regional Representative, as an Executive Board member on the Gulf Coast Youth Health Coalition, and as a founding member and Chair of the Gulf Coast Healthy Communities Collaborative.
David R. Dolbow, PT, DPT, PhD, RKT
Dr. David Dolbow has over 33 years of experience working in rehabilitation medicine with the United States Veterans Affairs Medical System as a Clinical Kinesiologist, Exercise Physiologist, Physical Therapist, and Physical Therapist Research Specialist. Dr. Dolbow has treated individuals with a wide variety of physical conditions and has a Certification in Neurologic Clinic Practice. Over the past decade, Dr. Dolbow has been investigating the effects of spinal cord injuries on functional mobility, body composition, and the risk of secondary comorbidities. Dr. Dolbow’s research interests include improving the quality of life in those with spinal cord injuries and other paralytic conditions by improving functional mobility and decreasing secondary morbidities such as obesity and cardiometabolic diseases. Primary investigative modes of treatment include various activities induced by electrical stimulation, arm ergometry, and intermittent pneumatic compression. Dr. Dolbow has published over 70 research articles in peer-reviewed journals and is a featured speaker nationally and internationally at rehabilitation and research conferences each year. He has a joint appointment with the WCU Department of Physical Therapy.
Publications in Pubmed