Research Faculty and Staff
Navkiran K. Shokar, M.D., MPH
Vice Chair for Research
Department of Family and Community Medicine
Director Cancer Prevention and Control
Cancer Center of Emphasis.
Navkiran (Kiran) K. Shokar received her M.A. from Cambridge University Medical School in England in 1989, and her M.D. from Oxford University Medical School in 1992. She completed her MPH at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston in 2003. She is board certified in family medicine and is also a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, U.K. Her research interests include cancer prevention and control, health disparities, shared decision making and health services research. Her current research work focuses on the development of screening interventions to address disparities in screening for colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer. Currently, she is funded as a PI on an R21 from the National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI), and on three large cancer prevention and Research Institute of Texas grant awards. In the past she has been a recipient of multiple grant awards including a K07 career development award form the NCI. She has served as a grant reviewer for the NIH and CDC and also serves as a reviewer for numerous primary care, cancer, and minority health journals. She is currently serving as a deputy editor of the Journal of General Internal Medicine and serves on national and international committees related to primary care research and cancer prevention.
Theresa L. Byrd, R.N., Ph.D.
Dr. Byrd's career has largely been devoted to community-based research with U.S./Mexico border and migrant populations. She has been involved in projects aimed at understanding the health related attitudes and beliefs of Hispanics, and in the development of interventions to change health behaviors (e.g., initiation of prenatal care, breast feeding, environmental risk, and car safety for children). Currently, she is co-PD on three CPRIT projects in El Paso. Dr. Byrd was PI of a CDC funded project to develop a theory based intervention aimed at increasing cervical cancer screening adherence in Hispanic women (AMIGAS) which has recently been tested for efficacy in three cities. She is currently co-investigator on a CDC funded project to understand men's decision making in prostate cancer treatment and to develop a decision aid for prostate cancer treatment decisions. In the past she been co-investigator on two other CDC funded projects. One project developed and evaluated prostate cancer screening decision aids for Hispanic men in El Paso, Texas, and African-American men in South Carolina; the second developed and evaluated a behavioral intervention for blood pressure control for Hispanics, employing promotoras to deliver the educational messages. As co-investigator on Ethnic Variations in Attitudes Toward Hysterectomy, funded by the Women's Health initiative and CDC, Dr. Byrd was actively involved in developing culturally relevant videos for English and Spanish speaking women on shared decision making for surgery that were tested in community clinic based groups led by community health workers.
Eribeth Peñaranda, M.D.
Eribeth Peñaranda received her M.D. at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota, Colombia in 2000. She completed her residency in family medicine at the department of family and community medicine at TTUHSC El Paso in 2007, then joined the department as faculty in 2008. She is also a Masters of Public Health student at The University of Texas at Houston School of Public Health regional campus here in El Paso. She has a strong passion for primary care research, and her main research interest areas include cervical cancer screening, health literacy, and obesity. She has been funded by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Cancer Society to research U.S./Mexico border women’s attitudes towards using self sampling methods to detect infections with the human papillomavirus. This method has been proposed as an alternative to pap smear as primary screening for cervical cancer. Her publications also include the association between cervical cancer cases and the presence of the metabolic syndrome.
Jennifer Molokwu, M.D., MPH
Jennifer Molokwu received her M.D. from College of Medicine, University of Benin in Edo State, Nigeria. She obtained an MPH in maternal and child health with an emphasis in epidemiology at the School of Public Health University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is board certified in family medicine after completing residency training at Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2010. Her areas of interest include women’s health, cancer prevention, and primary care research. She is currently co-investigator on a AAFP grant investigating U.S./Mexico border women attitude's towards using self sampling methods to detect cervix/vagina infections with the human papillomavirus and is currently actively involved in several CIPRIT funded grants.
Rebekah Salaiz, M.S.
Senior Research Associate
Rebekah Salaiz obtained a BS (2004) in health science and MS (2007) in health promotion from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Rebekah has previously worked with UTEP College of Health Sciences for two grant funded programs in substance abuse prevention. In addition, she coordinated BASICS - Screening and Brief Intervention for UTEP college students, and a 3 year grant funded by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). Most recently she was a health educator with the El Paso City Public Health Department - WIC Program.
Silvia Flores, Ph.D.
Silvia Flores obtained her M.D. from the University School of Medicine in Monterrey, Mexico with a specialty in pediatrics. She obtained a Master of Environmental Sciences and a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary health sciences from the University of Texas at El Paso. Silvia worked previously as a research associate for the department of interdisciplinary health sciences at UTEP. She has worked on a bi-national study, examining the air pollution effect in children in both El Paso, TX and Cuidad, Juarez. She has collaborated in publishing articles about asthma research in the border area.
Maria Chaparro, MPH
ACCION Project coordinator
Maria Chaparro has worked on an NIH funded study on brief interventions in the emergency department and directed the ENLACES project, a CDC project funded to build capacity and strengthen effective and meaningful participation of minority populations in the HIV prevention community planning process. She began her career in AIDS prevention in 1993 with Families & Youth, Inc. (FYI) as the Hispanic/Latino Outreach Specialist for South Central New Mexico. Through a Hispanic fellowship offered by the Joseph M. Mailman School of Public Health, Ms. Chaparro earned a Masters of Public Health from Columbia University in New York and worked extensively with Latino communities in Washington Heights promoting HIV testing and peer education among women and adolescents. She received the 2001 John and Kathleen Gorman Public Health Humanitarian Award for her AIDS prevention efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Adam Alomari, MPH
Adam Alomari completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at El Paso with a focus in sociology and health promotion (2011). He earned a MPH and a Certificate in Public Health Informatics (2014) from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Throughout his academic career he has held numerous research positions at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the Paso Del Norte Institute for Healthy Living, all of which have been grant funded projects.
Senior Outreach Worker
Brenda has six years of experience as a community health worker and educator particularly
in the colonias to help improve the health and lives of the people who have limited
resources and access to health care and health issues.
Marisela Cottrell, M.A.
Senior Outreach Worker
Marisela Cottrell obtained a M.A. in counseling through Webster University in El Paso and a Bachelor of Science in Social Psychology. Marisela has worked with HealthTrust, LLC, conducted chronic pain management program sessions for clients, conducted assessment and testing for clients needing services in psychotherapy, and work hardening program.
The Promotoras (Community Health Workers) work at different sites, such as community clinics, churches, health fairs, adult learning centers, and food pantries to provide education and enroll eligible participants into various cancer prevention programs to receive free screenings. Each promotora has received community health worker accreditation through various institutions, including EPCC, UTEP, and the New Mexico Department of Health.
Mark Medrano is responsible for the creation and management of large databases for research personnel and the organization and maintenance of secure datasets in accordance with project and institutional guidelines. He has eight years of working experience in hospital medical records and is currently studying health care administration.
Laura Gutierrez, B.S.
Laura Gutierrez is a University of Texas at El Paso alumni, and obtained her B.S. in business administration with a concentration in accounting. She has worked for CPA firms that gave her the opportunity to expand her career and became able not only to continue enjoying the complexity of Accounting but also sharing the knowledge with others at the college level while she was teaching the subject.