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Center Personnel

Meet our Leadership Team

The Center for Clinical and Translational Science has a multiple PI leadership team consisting of Robin Mermelstein, Ph.D., Richard Novak, M.D., and Niranjan Karnik, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Robin Mermelstein is a distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences and the director of the Institute for Health Research and Policy at UIC, a multidisciplinary all-campus research institute focused on fostering cross-disciplinary research on complex health issues, with an emphasis on research-to-practice and practice-to-policy translation, population health, and community engagement. Dr. Mermelstein also has a long and successful history of mentoring graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty. She brings leadership and experience in research at the upper end of the clinical-translational spectrum, engagement of diverse multidisciplinary researchers, and involvement of key stakeholders.

Dr. Richard Novak is the Harry F. Dowling Professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine. Dr. Novak has a substantial record of continuous external grant funding with international recognition for his outstanding contributions to HIV prevention and treatment research. He possesses a wealth of experience in leading multi-site clinical trials and collaborative research, especially with community-based practices and clinics and with disadvantaged populations. Dr. Novak also has a history of preclinical research and drug development, as well as mentoring and training medical students and fellows. He brings leadership at the translational and clinical spectrum to the CCTS, as well as critical connections to the UI Health System leadership and community clinics.

Dr. Niranjan Karnik is a professor of psychiatry and the director of the UIC Institute for Juvenile Research. As a child psychiatrist and sociologist, he has had a deep commitment to advancing health equity, promoting the career development of dozens of junior investigators, and serving as a leading example of integrating clinical translational research into community settings and trials. His research has focused on the assessment, prevention, and treatment of substance misuse and mental health disorders, as well as developing community-based and technology-mediated interventions. In recent years, Dr. Karnik’s work has increasingly moved into data science and machine learning, along with clinical trials. Currently, he serves as PI and director of the Great Lakes Node of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network. He also serves as interim director of AI:Health4All: Center for Health Equity Using ML/AI within the UIC College of Medicine. His experience will help promote greater integration of informatics and AI tools into all aspects of CCTS and foster integration with other campus elements.

Together, the three co-directors bring substantial experience and depth across the full clinical translational spectrum, a solid history of leading multidisciplinary scientific research and administrative teams, and a dedication to CCTS’s mission of improving the health, well-being, and vitality of individuals and their communities.

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