Schools with an Exceptional Clinical Research Faculty


Clinical research is an ever-expanding field. Professionals in this discipline develop medical products such as drugs and devices to improve healthcare, paying thought to important ethical and regulatory standards. Students wishing to pursue a career in this field can enroll in programs such as a master’s clinical research administration, or one of the various certificate programs available.

The curriculum for clinical research generally focuses on regulatory requirements and product development processes, as well as the business side of clinical research. Some of the courses in these programs include the principles of clinical research, pharmacokinetics, and new product development. Students learn how to conduct clinical trials safely and graduates can pursue high-level positions in medical institutes, biotech and pharmaceutical firms, government agencies, academic institutes, and hospitals.

The following guide profiles exceptional faculty members in clinical research. These professors have conducted extensive research and have been cited widely in well-respected journals. A number of them have gone on to become heads of their departments or taken on other leadership roles.

There were four schools in particular with an outstanding faculty in this discipline: Arizona State University, George Washington University, the University of California at San Diego, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University’s first graduating class was made up of two women and one man in 1895. Since that time, the university has grown to over 44,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The 100 percent engagement initiative connects students with mentors that guide them on a path of personal and professional discovery. ASU’s many cultural identity centers further foster self-exploration, honor and celebrate differences, and provide resources and support services for students of diverse backgrounds and nationalities, abilities, learning and language needs, gender identification, and sexual orientation. An extensive athletics and recreation department supports 500 UA student athletes and an array of health and wellness activities for students, faculty and staff members. Adaptive athletic programs for students with disabilities are available such as women’s and men’s wheelchair basketball, tennis, quad rugby, and track and road racing. These programs have produced numerous national champions and Paralympians over the years.

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    Heather Ross, PhD, DNP – Arizona State University

    Dr. Heather Ross teaches clinical residency and management at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University. Before joining ASU, she worked at Brandman University and Gateway Community College. Her research focuses on biomedical technology, interdisciplinary teamwork in healthcare, cardiac electrophysiology, person-centered care, and implanted medical devices.

    Dr. Ross is a member of the Heart Rhythm Society, the Honor Society of Nursing, and the Society for the Social Studies of Science. Her research has been published in the Heart Rhythm Journal, the Journal of Science Policy and Governance, and the American Journal of Geriatric Cardiology. Her efforts have been recognized through accolades such as the Young Investigator Award and Teacher of the Year Award. Dr. Ross completed her doctor of philosophy in human and social dimensions of science and technology and doctor of nursing practice from Arizona State University. She also has bachelor’s in religious studies from Yale University.

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    Cris Wells, EdD – Arizona State University

    Dr. Cris Wells serves as the senior director of health-related programs at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University. She teaches classes on risk management, the healthcare industry, an introduction to clinical research, monitoring and auditing, and healthcare licensure. Her research covers clinical trials and curriculum design.

    Dr. Wells is a member of respected professional organizations such as the Association of Clinical Research Professionals and the Society of Clinical Research Associates. She has published her research in peer-reviewed journals such as the Online Journal for Workforce Education and Development. Notably, her work has won several laurels such as the Best Poster Presentation of the Year and Best Paper of the Year.

    She earned her doctor of education in educational leadership and her bachelor’s in engineering from Northern Arizona University; her master’s in educational technology from the Keller Graduate School of Management; her MBA and master’s in health services administration from Arizona State University; and her bachelor’s in radiologic technology from Creighton University.

George Washington University

George Washington University knows that its students—no matter their chosen major—share a common goal: they’ve come to change the course of history. And their students do so at the alma mater of J. William Fulbright, with the nation’s capital as their classroom and all the unique experiences and opportunities that affords. Fulbright’s legacy at GW extends to the present day with 79 current and former Fulbright scholars presently engaged in service to the university. George Washington University is also one of the top providers of Peace Corps and Teach for America Volunteers. With more than 12,000 internship opportunities, students have the unique opportunity to apply their learning to real-world experiences at entities such as the National Institutes of Health, the World Bank, and the White House.

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    Joseph Bocchino, EdD – George Washington University

    Dr. Joseph Bocchino is an associate professor at George Washington University, where he teaches classes on case studies in clinical management and leadership, clinical trials management, the clinical research industry, critical analysis in regulatory affairs, and monitoring clinical research. His research examines leadership, interprofessional teams, and education reforms.

    Dr. Bocchino is a member of several professional organizations, including the Society for Clinical and Translational Science, the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society, and the Association of Clinical Research Professionals. His research has been published in influential journals such as Nursing Economics and the Journal of Allied Health. Dr. Bocchino earned his doctor of education (EdD) from George Washington University, his MBA from Xavier University, and his bachelor’s from Florida International University.

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    Joan Butler, EdD – George Washington University

    Dr. Joan Butler directs the clinical research administration program at George Washington University. She teaches courses on clinical research and leadership, including critical analysis in clinical research, clinical trials management, the clinical research industry, leadership and change in regulatory affairs, and medical writing for clinical research.

    Dr. Butler’s research focuses on the alignment of the clinical research competencies and curriculum development in GW academic clinical research administration programs; the professional identity of a clinical research professional; and scholarship of teaching and learning. Her work has been published in journals such as the International Journal of Online Pedagogy and Course Design and the Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education. Dr. Butler completed her EdD at George Washington University, her master’s at Rutgers University, and her bachelor’s at Boston University.

University of California, San Diego

The University of California, San Diego is a public research university and the recipient of over one billion dollars in external funding annually. Home of the world-renown Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD is also the site of former vice president Al Gore’s landmark lecture, An Inconvenient Truth. The master’s degree in clinical research was created from a training program initially offered to UC San Diego physicians and scientists to address the need for professionals able to perform patient-based research in a wide variety of settings. The UCSD Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center were both established in 1999, reflective of the school’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, in addition to the more recent Strategic Plan for Inclusion Excellence, which solicits ideas from the UCSD community and beyond to further this work. Notably, the University’s library is named for Theodor Geisel (“Dr. Seuss”) and contains over 10,000 pieces of his work and memorabilia. The beloved author delivered the 1978 commencement speech, completely in verse.

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    Christina Chambers, PhD – University of California, San Diego

    Dr. Christina Chambers is a pediatrics professor in the Department of Medicine and director of clinical research for the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego. Her research centers on environmental exposures, pregnancy, and child health outcomes.

    Dr. Chambers has published her work in prominent journals such as the Journal of Perinatology, Pediatrics, and the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. She has received numerous honors including the F. Clarke Fraser New Investigator Award and the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Exchange Abstract and Presentation Award. Dr. Chambers earned her master’s in public health (MPH) in epidemiology from San Diego State University and her doctorate in public health epidemiology jointly from UC San Diego and San Diego State University.

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    Colin Depp, PhD – University of California, San Diego

    Dr. Colin Depp serves as the director for the Clinical and Translational Research Institute at UC San Diego’s School of Medicine. He is also the coordinator for the master’s in clinical research program and instructs and mentors graduate students on the theories of aging. His research foci include technology-based assessment and real-time interventions in mental health, especially mobile technology applications in serious mental illnesses.

    Dr. Depp is a member of professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association, the Gerontological Society of America, and the International College of Geriatric Psychoneuropharmacology. He has been widely published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Anxiety Disorders and is an assistant editor of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Notably, Dr. Depp was awarded the Guy Stevenson Award for Outstanding Graduate Student and the New Investigator Award. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from University of Louisville and his bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Michigan.

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    Gary S. Firestein, MD – University of California, San Diego

    Dr. Gary S. Firestein serves as dean and associate vice chancellor of translational medicine at UC San Diego. He is also the director of the Clinical and Translational Research Institute. His research efforts are focused on the pathogenesis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

    Dr. Firestein is a member of professional organizations such as the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. His research has been published in top journals such as JCI Insight, the Journal of Immunology, and Genome Medicine. Currently, he also serves as the editor-in-chief of the Kelley and Firestein’s Textbook of Rheumatology. He has won numerous awards such as a Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Jane Wyman Humanitarian Award, and a Distinguished Investigator Award. He earned his doctor of medicine from Johns Hopkins University and his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College.

University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Known as the state’s coastal university, the University of North Carolina, Wilmington integrates teaching, mentoring, research and service to offer an affordable academic experience steeped in creative inquiry and critical thinking. The university has created its own interdisciplinary learning model: ETEAL (Experiencing Transformative Education through Applied Learning). This offers experiential learning opportunities facilitated by faculty and staff members. These include internships, studying abroad, and community-based projects, among others. UNCW’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is reflected in the establishment of the Upperman African American Cultural Center in 1995 and the Centro Hispano in 2005. The university has also been ranked as a top school for military-affiliated students.

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    Jared G. Kerr, JD – University of North Carolina, Wilmington

    Dr. Jared Kerr is an assistant professor in the clinical research program at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. He teaches regulatory affairs, managing and monitoring clinical trials, bioanalytics, project management in clinical research, and regulatory affairs and quality management. His research focuses on data visualization, regulatory affairs, project management, clinical research, and biopharmaceutical development.

    Dr. Kerr is a part of organizations such as Association of Clinical Research Professionals and Emory University Alumni Association. His work has been published widely in prominent journals such as the International Journal of Clinical Trials, the Journal of General Practice, and the Journal of Community Medicine and Health Education. He earned his Juris Doctor from Samford University, his MPH in international health and epidemiology research from Emory University, and his bachelor’s in microbiology from Auburn University. He also has a certificate in life science entrepreneurship from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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    Jim Lyon, Pharm.D – University of North Carolina, Wilmington

    Dr. Jim Lyon is an online instructor for undergraduate and graduate courses in clinical research and nursing at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. His research efforts focus on bioequivalence, pharmacokinetics, and infectious diseases. He is a member of professional organizations such as the Association of Clinical Research Professionals and the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.

    Dr. Lyon has published his work in top journals such as Journal of Infectious Diseases, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and Arthritis and Rheumatism. He has also been elected as a fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Pittsburgh. He completed his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and his doctor of pharmacy from the University of Michigan.

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    Susan Sinclair, PhD – University of North Carolina, Wilmington

    Dr. Susan Sinclair is the coordinator for the graduate clinical research program at UNC Wilmington. She has been a part of numerous clinical trials, registries, and other post-marketing studies as the principal investigator or lead epidemiologist. She currently researches pharmacoepidemiology and medication safety during pregnancy and birth defects.

    Dr. Sinclair is a member of several professional organizations, including the North Carolina Nurses Association and the American Nurses’ Association. Her research has appeared in prominent journals such as the Journal of General Practice and the Journal of Community Medicine and Health Education. She won the Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award and an Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Sinclair completed her doctorate in epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, her MPH in environmental sciences at Columbia University, and her BSN at East Carolina University.

Other Notable Professors of Clinical Research

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    Lillian S. Kao, MD – University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston

    Dr. Lillian S. Kao serves as the director of the clinical epidemiology program at the UT Health Science Center in the Houston McGovern Medical School. In addition, she co-directs the clinical trials course and facilitates the literature appraisal course in the clinical research curriculum.

    Dr. Kao’s research goals are to improve the disparities of care. Her work has appeared in prominent journals such as the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, the Journal of Perinatology, and the American Journal of Surgery. She is also the deputy editor and social media editor of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Kao won the Dean’s Teaching Excellence Award and the Robert Wood Johnson Physician Faculty Scholar Award. She earned her doctor of medicine and bachelor’s in biomedical sciences from the University of Michigan, as well as her master’s in clinical research from the University of Texas.

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    Janice Weinberg, ScD – Boston University

    Dr. Janice Weinberg is the director of the master of science in clinical research program at Boston University’s School of Medicine, where she has taught several biostatistics courses on the design and conduct of clinical trials, the analysis of correlated data, and intermediate statistical computing and applied regression analysis. Her research explores the use of social media, patients with bowel diseases, and the use of cocaine, among other topics.

    Dr. Weinberg’s work has been published in the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, and the Journal of Clinical and Translational Endocrinology. She also serves as editor for the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA). She earned her doctor of science in biostatistics from the Harvard School of Public Health, her master’s from the University of North Carolina, and her bachelor’s from the State University of New York.

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    John Wiley Williams, MD – Duke University

    Dr. John Wiley Williams is a professor of medicine at Duke University, where he teaches classes on principles of clinical research and meta-analysis. His research centers on topics such as implementing best practices, mental illness in primary care (especially depression and dementia), quality indicators, systematic reviews, and effectiveness trials.

    Dr. Williams has published his findings in prominent journals such as the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, and the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Notably, he received the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Faculty Scholar Award. He completed his doctor of medicine from the University of North Carolina and his master’s of health science from the University of Iowa.


To select faculty for inclusion in this list of clinical research professors, MHAOnline examined the following criteria:

  • University Affiliation – The professor must be associated with and actively teaching at a clinical research program at an accredited university in the U.S.
  • Publication – They have published extensively in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Institutional & Peer Recognitions – They have earned teaching awards, special recognitions, and prestigious grants for their work.
  • Professional Commitment – They have made additional leadership and professional contributions such as becoming faculty deans, program directors, or leaders of professional organizations.

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