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DHRHealth Institute for Research and Development

About Us

Overview

Clinical Research is as yet another name for Advanced Clinical Care. When everything else fails, we rely on clinical research to find new cures and to develop innovative strategies to treat a refractory disease. That is precisely the goal of the DHR Health Institute for Research & Development, which also has as one of its goals the necessity to increase participation of patients with Hispanic heritage whose involvement nationally in clinical trials is <1%.
DHR Health Institute for Research & Development was established as a nonprofit 501(c)3 entity organized under the Texas Nonprofit Corporation Act. The primary objective of DHR Health Institute for Research & Development is to serve as an independent research institute with a focus on enhancing translational and clinical research in critical areas of need through collaboration with investigators at DHR Health and other affiliated academic and non-academic partners.

As part of its mission, DHR Health Institute for Research & Development is also committed to providing access to innovative and advanced clinical care models for physicians for the treatment of patients and to facilitate development of “personalized” clinical care models for Hispanic population in the Valley. It is envisioned that this will also minimize the disruption in personal lives of our patients who have to travel to another center to gain access to a clinical trial, which could be offered here in the Valley.

Board of Directors

David J Whellan, MD, MHS, FACC, FAHA​

David J Whellan, MD, MHS, FACC, FAHA​

Professor Cardiology
Associate Provost, Clinical Research
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA
Manish Singh, MD, FACS​

Manish Singh, MD, FACS​

Chief Executive Officer, DHR Health System
(Chairman)
Edinburg, TX
Laura Beretta, PhD​

Laura Beretta, PhD​

Professor of Molecular & Cellular Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Care Center
Houston, TX
Anjum Khurshid, MD, PhD​

Anjum Khurshid, MD, PhD​

Co-Chief, Data Integration
Department of Population Health
Dell Medical School
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX
Dipen J. Parekh, M.D.​

Dipen J. Parekh, MD

Chief Clinical Officer, University of Miami Health System
Professor & Chairman, Urology Miller School of Medicine
Director of Robotic Surgery, University of Miami
Miami, FL
Gail Hinkson

Gail Hinkson

Chief Executive Officer, Pinnacle Clinical Research
San Antonio, TX
Thomas Carton, PhD​

Thomas Carton, PhD​

Chief Data Officer
Louisiana Public Health Institute
Principal Investigator, REACHnet
New Orleans, LA
Ian Thompson, II., MD​

Ian Thompson, II., MD​

President, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital Medical Center
San Antonio, TX
Norman M. Ramirez, MD, FACC

Norman M. Ramirez, MD, FACC​

Interventional Cardiologist
Renaissance Medical Foundation
Edinburg, TX

Susan Turley

President, DHR Health System
Edinburg, TX

Administrative Staff

Sohail Rao, MD, MA, D.PHIL

Executive Vice President, DHR Health System
President & Chief Executive Officer, DHR Health Institute for Research & Development
Tel: (956) 362-2387
Bio

Sohail Rao, MD, MA, D.PHIL

Dr. Rao currently serves as Executive Vice President, DHR Health System and President and Chief Executive Officer, DHR Health Institute for Research & Development.

Until recently, he served as the Senior Adviser to the President, McNeese State University. In this role, he advised the President and his senior leadership team in areas of strategy, innovation, global outreach and transforming the delivery of education and training in disciplines related to health sciences. He also served as the Chief Executive Officer, Louisiana Healthcare Education Alliance (LHCA), a not-for-profit state entity, which was established to enhance collaboration in the areas of clinical, undergraduate and graduate education in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and allied health sciences, research and community outreach.

Dr. Rao obtained his MD from Dow Medical College; his MA in Physiology from Boston University, School of Medicine and Doctorate in Philosophy (DPhil) from the Wolfson College, University of Oxford, UK.

Prior to joining University of Louisiana System, Dr. Rao served as the System Vice President for Research and Academics and Chief Academic Officer, CHRISTUS Health. He also served as Executive Director, CHRISTUS Institute for Innovation & Advanced Clinical Care, CHRISTUS Health and the Designated Institutional Official for Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Additionally, he also served as the Academic Physician Leader, CHRISTUS Physician Group and the CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic.

At CHRISTUS Health, Dr. Rao and his team have successfully created a system-wide, functional infrastructure for research, which includes (but not limited to) establishment of CHRISTUS Institute for Innovation & Advanced Clinical Care, Office of Sponsored Programs, Office of Human Subject Research Protection, Office of Research Compliance and Office Investigator Support. Given the geographical expanse of CHRISTUS Health, five domestic and international regional research offices were also created along with integration of investigators in various CHRISTUS physicians groups. To facilitate translational and clinical research, master research agreements were established with major industry partners and clinical trial organizations along with an exclusive partnership with TriNetX. In the area of graduate medical education, Dr. Rao and his team were successful in obtaining ACGME institutional accreditation; transition of sponsorships of all residency programs; recruitment of new program directors and faculty; establishment of graduate medical education committee; updated existing and created new policies that meet ACGME, specialty boards and individual State Medical Board requirements; created new academic affiliations with medical, nursing, pharmacy and schools of allied health sciences for clinical rotations for undergraduate students, residents and fellows; created new residency and fellowship programs; realignment of all interdisciplinary clinical simulation centers; integration and financial and operational oversight all of residency clinics, etc.

Prior to serving CHRISTUS Health, Dr. Rao served as System Vice President for Research, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans, Louisiana. He also served as the Professor and Deputy Head of Schools Research, Ochsner Clinical School, University of Queensland. In this capacity, he was responsible for providing leadership of a basic, translational and clinical research enterprise across the system, which included (but not limited to) the Office of Research with over 140 employees, Center for Clinical Research (with over 50 clinical coordinators), Center for Basic and Translational Research, Core Facilities, Ochsner Cancer Research Center, Ochsner Neurosciences Research Center, Ochsner Cardiovascular Research Center, Ochsner Transplantation Research Center, Ochsner Center for Women’s Health Research, Ochsner Center for Pediatric Research, Center for Applied Health Sciences, Center for Medical Informatics, Center for Investigator Education and Training, Center for Investigator Support, Phase I-IV Clinical Trial Units, and facilities for BioBanking, animal care and use facilities (both small and large animals), etc. Under his leadership, Ochsner conducted over 1000 clinical trials/year and successfully obtained AAHRPP accreditation of its Human Subject Research Protection Program as well as implement a state-of-the-art clinical trials management system which was instrumental in improving compliance.

During his tenure at Ochsner, Dr. Rao also served as the Vice President, Ochsner International. In this capacity, Dr. Rao was responsible for all international outreach in the MENA (Middle East and North America) region related to clinical, research, undergraduate and graduate education in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and allied health sciences. On behalf of Ochsner, he also served as the consultant to facilitate the establishment of two universities, a medical city and two university hospitals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Prior to coming to Ochsner, Dr. Rao served University of South Florida Health (USF Health) as Professor of Surgery and Molecular Medicine. He was also the Senior Associate Vice President at USF Health and served as the Chief Research Officer for this academic entity. His areas of oversight included the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He was also the Vice Dean for Research, Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs in the College of Medicine, Founding Director of the School of Biomedical Sciences, and Medical Director for Research at the Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, Florida. During his tenure at USF, he also served as the Chief Operating Officer, Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute. His principal task at USF Health was to raise the NIH profile of funding for the health sciences, which culminated in the recruitment of outstanding faculty, departmental mergers and a complete redesign of the faculty appointment and tenure process. In 2017, he also served as the Vice Chair of the LCME self-study team, which was successful in obtaining continued accreditation of the medical school.

After completing his doctoral education at Oxford, Dr. Rao joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1993 where he served as an Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh and the Director and Chief of the Section of Cellular Transplantation and the Section of Medical Informatics, Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. During his tenure in Pittsburgh, he also served as the Associate Director, Thomas E. Starzl Transplant Institute where he was tasked with establishing and subsequently providing strategic and operational oversight of the world’s largest transplant program.

In 2000, he joined Drexel University, College of Medicine (previously named as MCP Hahnemann University School of Medicine) as the Senior Associate Dean for Research and Biomedical Graduate Studies and Professor in the Departments of Surgery, and Microbiology and Immunology. He subsequently became the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at Drexel University College of Medicine and in 2003, was promoted to the position of the Senior Associate Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies at Drexel University. He and his team were tasked with the responsibility of turning around a bankrupt medical school, which was successfully accomplished.

In 2004, he joined the Middle Tennessee State University; the largest comprehensive institution of higher education in the Tennessee Board of Regents System (the Nation’s sixth largest higher education system) where he served as Vice Provost for Research and Dean, College of Graduate Studies. During his tenure in Tennessee, he also served as the Chair, System-wide Research & Graduate Education Committee and was instrumental in initiating (among others) doctoral programs in English Literature, Molecular Sciences; Literacy Studies; Computational Sciences; Economics and Human Performance and MBA (with concentration in Healthcare Management) and Masters of Fine Arts in Recording Arts & Technology.

His area of research interest largely focused on bench to bedside (and reverse) translation of novel therapeutic strategies aimed at alleviating a clinical problem. In the area of clinical research, he and his group have worked on the protocol for induction of donor-specific tolerance in organ allograft recipients (funded by NIH); cellular therapeutic treatment of refractory post transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (funded by CTRF); islet cell transplantation to reverse type I insulin-dependent diabetes (funded by NIH and the JDFI); transmission of infection following animals to humans (funded by an extramural grant) organ and cell transplantation. Additionally, his group has also been actively involved in basic cellular and molecular biology research in the following areas: induction of tolerance, islet cell transplantation, NK cell immunobiology, post transplant vasculopathy (chronic rejection); liver derived growth factors; generation of transgenic pigs and xenotransplantation. His recent research interests involve prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and other communicable diseases.

To his credit are over 140 publications in peer-reviewed journals and numerous book chapters. He has a Research Gate (RG) Score of 42.88. He has presented or has been invited to present >400 lectures on various issues related to his area of expertise. He has served on the editorial board of the journal Transplantation and Graft. He has served as the reviewer for Immunology, Life Sciences, Nature Medicine, Liver Transplantation Surgery, and Surgery. He has served as a mentor for >50 junior faculty and post-doctoral fellows, and >20 pre-doctoral candidates. For his team's innovative discoveries, he has been interviewed by the CNN, Discovery Channel, and many local, national, and international television, radio, and print media.

For his contributions to science, teaching, public service and for his scholarly distinction, in 2005, Dr. Rao was also selected as a Senior Scholar by Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest, largest, and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines.

Business Card

Business Card

Lisa R. Treviño, PhD

Lisa R. Treviño, MS, PhD

Vice President for Research & Development, DHR Health System
Vice President, DHR Health Institute for Research & Development
Tel: (956) 362-2377
Cell: (956) 342-8122
Bio

Lisa R. Treviño, MS, PhD

Dr. Lisa R. Trevino, PhD., received her doctorate in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her subsequent scientific training and career was conducted at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Trevino’s research focus has been the genetics and genomics of both adult and pediatric malignancies. Dr. Trevino joined DHR Health in 2014 and serves as the Vice President for the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development.

Monica M. Betancourt-Garcia​

Monica M. Betancourt-Garcia​, MD​

Scientific Director​
Center of Excellence for Trauma Research in the Border Region​
Tel: (956) 362-3223
Bio

Monica M. Betancourt-Garcia​, MD​

Monica is clinical research fellow and spearheads the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development Biobank initiatives. Monica is a Rio Grande Valley native and obtained her Bachelors of Science from University of Texas Pan-American and her MD from the Universidad Valle de Bravo.

Lisa Marie Reyna, JD, MPA

Clinical Research Contract Manager
Tel: (956) 362-2369
Bio

Lisa Marie Reyna, JD, MPA

Lisa Marie Reyna, currently serves as a Clinical Research Contract Manager at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. She has received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Texas Pan American, a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Texas Southern University, and a Juris Doctor’s degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Prior to joining our team, Lisa was the Project Coordinator at the Health Sciences Institute at Renaissance (HSIR), recognized by the Texas Workforce Commission’s Career Schools and Colleges sector, as an approved, registered representative and Designated Liaison for HSIR. She has an extensive background in the legal field, working for Plaintiff and Defense law firms, since she was 17 years old. Her hobbies include doing Zumba, dog grooming, and reading.

Claire Orta, BAT

Executive Administrative Assistant
Tel: (956) 362-2387
Cell: (956) 249-6907
Bio

Claire Orta, BAT

Claire Orta currently serves as Dr. Rao’s Executive Administrative Assistant. She has recently graduated with a bachelors in applied technology in Medical Health Services Management. With her previous experience in business management she hopes to broaden her work experience in the health care industry. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and cooking.

Adrienne Casciato DNP, APRN, NP-C

Advanced Practice Nurse
Bio

Adrienne Casciato DNP, APRN, NP-C

Dr. Adrienne Casciato serves as an advanced practice nurse at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. Dr. Casciato earned a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas- Pan American (now The University of Texas- Rio Grande Valley). She also earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. Before joining our team, Dr. Casciato gained integral experience in med/surg, family practice, and urgent care and in the emergency room. In her free time, Dr. Casciato enjoys crafting and she is able to communicate with patients in English and Spanish.

David D. Weaver

Trauma Research Analyst
Tel: (956) 362-7904
Bio

David D. Weaver

David Weaver is a Trauma Research Analyst at DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. He has been with DHR Health for over 17 years, starting in the Emergency Room. David has been on both the clinical and administrative side of the healthcare industry for over 30 years. Born and reared in San Diego, California, and served ten years in the United States Navy as a Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman. He has a very supportive wife, one adult son, and two extraordinarily energetic and brilliant daughters. He is currently pursuing his BS in Cyber Security and Forensics at American Military University.

Greg Pequeño, MS

Trauma Data Analyst
Tel: (956) 362-2368
Bio

Greg Pequeño, MS

Greg Pequeño serves as a Trauma Data Analyst at the DHR Health Institute
for Research and Development. He holds a Master of Science degree in
Business Analytics from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Greg has
experience as an Intelligence Analyst for the United States Army and has
completed the Data Science Immersive program at the Divergence Academy in
Dallas, TX. His hobbies include playing guitar, woodworking, and reading
books.

John Rodriguez, CRC​

John Rodriguez, CRC​

Clinical Research Coordinator
Tel: (956) 362-2378
Cell: (956) 662-9574
Bio

John Rodriguez, CRC​

John Rodriguez received his Medical Doctor degree from the University of Monterrey in 1983. In addition to post-graduate clinical trials, John has been involved various medical specialties performing industry sponsored Phase 1 - 4 clinical trials since 1989. At present, John continues to be involved in clinical research since joining DHR Health Institute of Research and Development in October 2014.

Guillermo Duran

Guillermo Duran Jr., MD

Lead Clinical Research Coordinator
Center of Excellence for Research in liver Diseases.
Tel: (956) 362-2390
Bio

Guillermo Duran Jr., MD

Guillermo Duran, Jr., M.D. currently serves as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. Dr. Duran received his undergraduate degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry from the University of Houston. During his undergrad, he participated in academia research at the Center of Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling at the University of Houston. He also completed clinical research at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. His passion for human health led him to obtain his MD at Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Mexico. Dr. Duran is a well-rounded health professional exhibiting medical knowledge and clinical research. Aside from work, his hobbies include spending time with his wife and daughter, traveling, and learning ways blockchain can enhance our daily lives.

Frank Cimino III​

Clinical Research Coordinator​
Tel: (956) 362-2356
Bio

Frank Cimino III​

Frank A Cimino III is a Clinical Research Study Coordinator at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. He completed both his Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees in Exercise Physiology at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton TX. He is also an Army Veteran having served one tour to Afghanistan. He enjoys spending time with family, exercising, and cooking.

Victoria Mancillas, BS

Clinical Research Coordinator
Tel: (956) 362-8046
Bio

Victoria Mancillas, BS

Victoria Mancillas currently serves as a Clinical Research Study Coordinator at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. Victoria received her Bachelors of Science in Biology with a minor in Sociology from Baylor University in 2018. She continued her education at the University of Texas at Dallas where she received a Certificate in Biomedical Sciences. She is currently a second year Masters of Public Health student at Texas A&M University focusing in Health Promotions and Community Health Sciences. She prides herself in serving her community and is excited to be a part of a team that aims to find new cures and develop innovative strategies to fight disease. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the gym and spending time with loved ones.

Odalys Salinas, BA

Clinical Research Coordinator
Tel: (956) 362-2387
Bio

Odalys Salinas, BA

Odalys Salinas currently serves as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Biobank Initiative at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. She received her bachelor degree in Earth Sciences from Trinity University and participated as a Murchison Research Scholarship Fellow in environmental health during her undergraduate studies. She aims to pursue a Master of Public Health in Environmental Health. Odalys previously served as a medical assistant and surgical coordinator in various specialties including Otolaryngology, Oncology and Orthopedic Surgery. On her spare time, she is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys spending time with her loved ones and her pets.

Alejandra Chapa, BS

Health Intern
Tel: (956) 362-2395
Bio

Alejandra Chapa, BS

Alejandra Chapa, B.S., currently serves as a Healthcare Intern Research Fellow at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. Alejandra received her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. During her undergrad, she participated in academia research with the Partnership for Research and Education in Materials Science at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She also completed a research fellowship with the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at The University of Minnesota. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Health Science with a concentration in Nutrition. In her spare time she enjoys reading, running, and spending time with her family and friends.

Luis Cantu Jr., MS

Clinical Research Coordinator
Tel: (956) 362-2396
Bio

Luis Cantu Jr., MS

Luis Cantu Jr. serves as the Clinical Research Coordinator for studies involving Infectious Diseases at DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. He has obtained a B.S. in Biology from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and a M.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. His previous experience involves being a Graduate Research Assistant and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Luis is bilingual and enjoys reading and volunteering at the UTRGV Research labs in his free time.

Kayllie Lomeli, BS

Clinical Research Coordinator
Tel: (956) 362-2393
Bio

Kayllie Lomeli, BS

Kayllie Lomeli currently serves as a Clinical Research Study Coordinator at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Texas A&M University. Before joining DHR, she gained research experience with the Grunlan Research Group and has a background in bio-instrumentation and coding. In her free time, she enjoys crafting, cooking, and spending time with loved ones.

Hiram L. Garcia Jr., MS

Healthcare Intern
Bio

Hiram L. Garcia Jr., MS

Hiram L. Garcia is a Healthcare Intern at the Doctors Hospital At Renaissance Institute for Research and Development. In his previous experience he has worked as a Research Coordinator, a Scribe, and a Medical Assistant. Hiram obtained his Bachelors of Science in Geophysics at Texas A&M and his Masters of Science in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience at the University of Dallas. Hiram enjoys cycling and reading in his spare time.

Carlos Arroyo, BS

Healthcare Intern
Tel: (956) 362-2357
Bio

Carlos Arroyo, BS

Carlos D. Arroyo is a healthcare intern here at Doctors Hospital At Renaissance Institute for Research and Development. He received his Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Sciences with his minor in Biology at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Carlos has experience as a tutor in health science, as a leader of CSHR, and as a medical scribe in the emergency department. Carlos if fluent in both English and Spanish, and his hobbies include running, drawing sketches, reading, and hiking.

Khushboo Hemnani, MS

Healthcare Intern
Tel: (956) 362-2390
Bio

Khushboo Hemnani, MS

Khushboo Hemnani currently serves as a HealthCare Intern. She has received both her Bachelor degree in Microbiology and Master of Science degree in Immunobiology from Iowa State University. She has worked as Biology and Microbiology Lab coordinator and Instructor at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Arizona State University and Missouri State University and has extensive research experience. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking and exercising.

Alberto Leal

Research Phlebotomist
Tel: (956) 362-2381
Bio

Alberto Leal

Albert is a Rio Grande Valley native graduating high school in Weslaco, TX and receiving his certification at the Health Cross Academy for Phlebotomy. Albert has joined the DHR Health Institute for Research & Development only in the past year but he has been a valued employee of DHR Health since May 2009. Albert is not only a professional but in his off time he likes to enjoy time with his family and learning new things by reading one of his favorite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt which says: “I wonder if one of the penalties of growing older is that you become more and more conscious that nothing is very permanent.”

Cassandra N. Treviño, BS

Medical Assistant
Tel: (956) 362-2380
Bio

Cassandra N. Treviño, BS

Cassandra N. Trevino is a bilingual Medical Assistant at the Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Research and Development Institute. She obtained her Bachelors of Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. It was while working at Health and Wellness Specialists Family Medicine where she became certified as a Medical Assistant. She has also worked as a Medical Scribe at Orfanos Pediatrics day & night clinic, and Psychotherapy with Alivio Counseling Services. Cassandra enjoys painting, making jewelry, traveling, improving her suture techniques and playing sports.

Melissa Eddy, MS

Program Manager
Tel: (956) 362-2366
Bio

Melissa Eddy, MS

Melissa Eddy is the program manager for research education at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. She earned a Bachelor and Master of Science degree in Biology from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Melissa earned her master’s degree in Biology in 2000, with her thesis research focusing on the phenology of drought-adapted plant species, which led to publications in “Texas Journal of Science” and “The Southwestern Naturalist.”

Melissa taught Advanced Placement (AP) Biology for 30 years at McAllen Memorial High School, spending 15 of those years as an adjunct faculty member in the biology department at South Texas College. While at McAllen Memorial, Melissa managed AP instruction and curriculum as the AP Coordinator and served on numerous committees, often in a leadership capacity. Her peers awarded her the “Campus Teacher of the Year” and “District Secondary Teacher of the Year” awards in May 2017. Melissa was also employed as an independent consultant in AP Biology for several years, presenting to teachers in Abu Dhabi, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kazakhstan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas and South Carolina. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys exercising, gardening, reading, and volunteer work.

Juan Carlos Bernini, M.D.​

Juan Carlos Bernini, MD

Chair, Institutional Review Board
Tel: (956) 362-2379
Dr. Eduardo Estevis

Eduardo Estevis, PhD

Vice Chair, Institutional Review Board
Tel: (956) 362-2379

Xochitl Lopez

Bio

Xochitl Lopez

Xochitl Lopez, BBA in Marketing, currently serves as the program coordinator for research education at the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from The University of Texas Pan American. Before joining DHR, she spent 5 years in elementary education. With her previous experience in business and education she hopes to expand her work experience through research education. In her spare time she likes to keep active with her family, read, and crochet.

Edna Cantu

Medical Assistant
Tel: (956) 362-2380
Bio

Edna Cantu

Edna Cantu is a Healthcare Medical Assistant here at Doctors Hospital At Renaissance Institute for Research and Development. Working in the Cardio Metabolic Research Study. She has transferred from the DHR Gastroenterology and Covid Vaccine Clinic. She has been an experience Medical Assistant for over 16 years of experience in multiple specialties. Edna is fluent in both English and Spanish. Her hobbies include fishing, running, and working out.

Edgar Lopez, BS, MS

Lead Clinical Research Coordinator (Oncology)
Tel: (956) 362-7890
Bio

Edgar Lopez, BS, MS

Edgar has worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator and Clinical Research Associate since 2016. His responsibility on clinical trials has always been to keep the quality standard at the highest. He has participated in audits and inspections carried out by regulatory agencies such as the FDA (United States), COFEPRIS (Mexico) and ANVISA (Brazil). His expertise includes medical device clinical trials, oncology trials, bioequivalence and bioavailability studies. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and spending time with his family.

Angela Maria Varela-Espinosa JD, MHA

Clinical Research Coordinator
Tel: (956) 362-2367
Bio

Angela Maria Varela-Espinosa JD, MHA

Angela Maria Varela-Espinosa is native of Colombia, she holds a JD degree from The University of San Buenaventura obtained in April 28, 2001. In addition, she holds a master's in Healthcare Administration from the Universidad del Valle, Colombia earned on April 17, 2020. Mrs. Varela has more than twenty years of experience as an attorney focusing in the Healthcare System. Her main hobbies include outdoors activities and traveling with family and friends; mindfulness practices and reading personal growth books. She loves watching sport like soccer and basketball and activities with multicultural exchange.

Research Pharmacy Team

Gabriel Vasquez

Gabriel Vasquez

Pharmacy Supervisor
Certified Pharmacy Technician
Bio

Gabriel Vasquez

Graduated from Weslaco High School class of 2000 Extensive back ground in training, customer service and information technology. With 5 years at CompUSA and 8 years with Interactive Corp (Ticketmaster) and 5 years at CompUSA along with 11 years in pharmacy with Doctors Hospital At Renaissance.

Omar Cavazos II, RPh, PharmD, BCPS

Clinical Pharmacist for Women’s Hospital at Renaissance
Bio

Omar Cavazos II, RPh, PharmD, BCPS

Dr. Omar Cavazos, received his doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Texas at Austin. As a RGV native, he returned home to work for Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance as a clinical pharmacist for the Women’s Hospital at Renaissance. In addition to his certification as Registered Pharmacist, Dr. Cavazos received his certification as a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist in 2013. Since 2009 Dr. Cavazos’ primary focus consists of pharmacotherapy analysis and optimization for patients seen in the NICU, Women’s Hospital, and Advanced Care Center Oncology. Since then Dr. Cavazos has been lead pharmacist in two clinical trials involving DHR’s Level 1 NICU. Omegaven use in neonatal TPN for cholestatic liver disease and a Phase 2b Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of long acting RSV vaccination.

Diana Pena-Perez, RPh

Clinical Pharmacist
Bio

Diana Pena-Perez, RPh

Diana Pena-Perez born and raised in Mission, Texas.Taught by my parents at an early age that integrity, education and hard work were the keys to the future. Honors graduate University of Texas Austin, College of Pharmacy and have been a registered Pharmacist since the age of 22. Fluent in English and Spanish.

Active participant in DHR Clinical trials since 2014 and member of the DHR Institutional Review Board since 2016. I wear many hats: daughter/sister/wife/mother/ pharmacist/ mentor/ friend/and instrument of the Lord.

Outside of the office I am committed to my family and my church. I consider myself to be fortunate and blessed.

Do not challenge me on any project – because in the words of Euripides – “Leave no stone unturned.” Believe and strive to make a difference every day, because tomorrow is not promised.

“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Veronica Hernandez

Veronica Hernandez RPhT

Pharmacy Supervisor
Tel: (956)362-5187
Bio

Veronica Hernandez RPhT

Veronica Hernandez nationally certified pharmacy technician with 15 years of hospital experience. Detail-oriented and committed to quality, accuracy and efficiency. Dedicated to process improvements and high customer service standards.

Became part of the DHR family in 2008 and DHR Research team in 2014.I’m always willing to expand my education, skills, and knowledge for personal growth and to strengthen my job performance.

Ron Ozuna

Dr. Ron Ozuna, Pharm.D., BCPS

Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator
DHR Health Assistant Dean and Clinical Assistant Professor
University of Houston College of Pharmacy – Rio Grande Valley
Bio

Dr. Ron Ozuna, Pharm.D., BCPS

Professional Certifications:

  • Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS)
  • Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery - American Pharmacists Association
  • Medication Therapy Management – American Pharmacists Association
  • Basic Life Support (BLS)

Dr. Ozuna currently serves as the Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator for DHR Health. He also serves as the Assistant Dean for the University of Houston College of Pharmacy-RGV program and Clinical Assistant Professor within the department of Pharmacy Practice and Translational Research.

He graduated with his BA in Biology from Texas A&M University–College Station in 1994 and with his Pharm.D. from The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy in 2000.

Dr. Ozuna received his Board Certification in Pharmacotherapy (BCPS) in 2009. He has also received certifications in Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery as well as Medication Therapy Management via APHA. Dr. Ozuna’s academic and research interests include Infectious Disease, Critical Care, Diabetes and Ambulatory Care.

He has been a preceptor-faculty for multiple schools since 2002 and remains active in mentoring / precepting students for UHCOP and other schools of pharmacy as well as residents for the DHR PGY1 residency program. He has received Preceptor of the Year several times with multiple schools of pharmacy.

He is a member of Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP). As Assistant Dean and Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator for the UHCOP-RGV program at DHR, he is focused on embracing the UHCOP-DHR Health collaboration to address health disparities and improving patient outcomes.

In addition, the program will focus on providing advanced practice training for our UHCOP students at DHR Health in various areas of practice and mobilize UHCOP faculty and student researchers to work on health outcomes research projects and studies in our area.

Gavino Garza

Gavino A. Garza, RPh

Pharmacy Supervisor
Bio

Gavino A. Garza, RPh

Gavino Garza is currently employed as the Director of Pharmacy for Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR) in Edinburg.

Mr. Garza joined Doctors Hospital at Renaissance 2007 and has directed the pharmacy through changes in pharmacy clinical services, pharmacy residency programs and pharmacy automation.

Mr. Garza received a BS degree in Pharmacy from University of Houston. Before joining Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, Mr. Garza served Director of Pharmacy at HCA-Rio Grande Regional Hospital from 1987 to 2007.

Mr. Garza is an active member American Society of Health-System Pharmacist and past president of the Rio Grande Valley Society of Hospital Pharmacist

Mr. Garza and his wife Judy have four children, Karina, Gabriel, Brianna and Jacob. Mr. Garza enjoys mentoring, coaching little league baseball, hunting and golfing.

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