The research team members in this program include the following.
Akshay Sood, M.D., M.P.H.
received his postdoctoral fellowship training in Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care, Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, where he also received his Masters of Public Health degree in Chronic Disease Epidemiology. He is the only occupational pulmonologist in the state and has established the Occupational Lung Disease Clinic at the University of New Mexico. He is a tenured professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Department of Internal Medicine and also holds the Miners Colfax Medical Center Endowed Chair in Mining-related Lung Diseases. Having received funding from the NIH, AHRQ, PCORI, and HRSA, he has authored over 80 publications. He serves in the Environmental Health Policy Committee of the American Thoracic Society. His research focuses on occupational and environmental host factors in obstructive airways diseases.
Dr. Linda S. Cook received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Washington, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Cancer Epidemiology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Cook is recognized for her contributions to cancer epidemiology and has over 100 peer-reviewed publications. Over the last 25 years, Dr. Cook has held a number of nationally funded research grants in the US and Canada. Dr. Cook is a Professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Preventive Medicine the Department of Internal Medicine. She is also the Co-Leader of the Cancer Control Research Program at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center and brings her extensive experience in molecular epidemiology, epidemiologic outcomes, and laboratory-translational efforts to this role.
Charles Wiggins, Ph.D., is Director and Principal Investigator for the New Mexico Tumor Registry, a founding participant in the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. Dr. Wiggins is Professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Preventive Medicine, in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University Of New Mexico School Of Medicine. He has over 35 years of experience in cancer surveillance and epidemiology. Dr. Wiggins currently serves as President of the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.
Orrin B. Myers, Ph.D., is a tenure-track Associate Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Myers has been studying environmental determinants of health in New Mexico since 1994. He received the Los Alamos Achievement Award for his research to enhanced risk-based decision making for ecological risk assessment. He has been at UNM since 2000 had has been the lead biostatistician on NIH-funded research that investigates childhood obesity prevention; gene-environment interactions involving arsenic, UV exposure and melanoma; and research on air quality and child health in Quito, Ecuador and El Paso, Texas. He has been involved with the Miners Colfax Medical Center Black Lung data since 2007.
Tawny W. Boyce, M.S., M.P.H. – As a Biostatistician with the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center Biostatistics Shared Resource I mainly focus on health disparities, population- based research, survey research, and data management. My current role includes work utilizing SEER data to assess differential outcomes in breast cancer for Hispanic vs. Non-Hispanic Women, developing data management strategies for studies addressing health behaviors, and data cleaning and auditing for cohort studies including the mining cohorts, MINERS and RESEP. I bring my experience using clinical, behavioral, and quality of life data to assess health outcomes and promote disease prevention across the lifespan to the research within the UNM Cancer Center.
Elizabeth A. Kocher, M.P.H. is the Program Manager of the New Mexico Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program (RESEP) in the Department of Internal Medicine at the diversity of New Mexico. She has worked for the past 14 years in the rural health arena at the local, state and national level, focusing on community development and the needs of the medically underserved. She directs the New Mexico RESEP and the nationwide monthly Mining Community Grand Rounds. Additionally, she facilitate resident educational activities, assist in the writing and submission process for multiple grants, administer grant funding, coordinate multi-agency projects and serve as the liaison and representative for the UNM Preventive Medicine Residency Program on several community coalitions and committees.
Kandace Evans is the community service manager miners Colfax Medical Center at Raton New Mexico. She has worked with the Miners Colfax Medical Center Black Lung program for over 15 years. She is a strong advocate for miners and their respiratory disease working with the National Coalition of Black Lung and Respiratory Disease Clinics to educate policymakers on Capitol Hill annually on miners’ health and ensuring that miners throughout the United States have the clinical, educational, and research resources that they need.
Bruce R. Wissore has been a partner with the law firm of Culley & Wissore since its inception in 1990, and during that time, has worked primarily in the area of Black Lung. He has argued two of the firm’s three cases at the Illinois Supreme Court, over 200 cases at the Worker’s Compensation Division of the Appellate Court, and up to 500 cases at the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission. Attorney Wissore holds three Master’s Degrees, and a PhD in addition to his J.D., which he earned in 1987 at St. Louis University School of Law. Prior to and during his work with Culley & Wissore, he was employed by Belleville Area College (now Southwestern Illinois College), a Community College of approximately 15,000 students and three campuses covering 2,100 square miles in the St. Louis metro-east area. He served as Vice President from 1973 to 1980, President then Chancellor from 1980 to 1987, Professor from 1987 until his retirement from full-time status in 2001. From 2001 to 1012, he continued to serve the college as Professor Emeritus. As college Chancellor in 1983 and 1984, he bought and built the college’s second and third campuses in Red Bud and Granite City, Illinois. During this two-year period, he raised $10 million in private donations to build the campuses without participation from the State of Illinois. He funded and began the college’s paralegal studies program in the mid-1990’s. In December of 2012, he retired from the college after 40 years of continuous service. In 1970, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and served until 1973 as a Special Agent in Army Intelligence and the Defense Intelligence Agency. During that time, he was trained in the Vietnamese language, history, and culture.
Claire Pestak, MPH is the bilingual OcTOPUS Study Manager. Ms. Pestak is an Associate Scientist with the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center and the New Mexico Tumor Registry (NMTR). Ms. Pestak has over 10 years of experience as a Study Manager of various population-based cancer studies that included medical record reviews, phone interviews, and tissue collection. She has extensive experience with study coordination, patient recruitment, data collection, and working with the NMTR. She has also trained staff to do patient recruitment and data collection.