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Research Team


James Krause, PhD
Professor and Associate Dean for Research
Director, Center for Rehabilitation Research in Neurological Conditions
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Serves as Scientific Director of the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund which provides funding for basic, applied, and interdisciplinary studies of spinal cord injury (SCI).
  • Serves as Director on two federally funded centers including the Center on Health Outcomes Research and Capacity Building for Underserved Populations with SCI and TBI and the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Secondary Conditions in Individuals with SCI.
  • Served as principal investigator on 12 additional federal research grants of long-term outcomes and SCI. These include a 35-year longitudinal study of SCI, two longitudinal studies of vocational interests, two studies of secondary conditions, and four studies of mortality.
  • Was principal investigator of two projects within the SCI Model Systems and currently serves as a consultant on the Southeastern Regional SCI Model System. Dr. Krause has served as first author on over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has made over 150 presentations at national and international professional conferences. He has published extensively on SCI including the areas of employment, vocational interests, quality of life, health and secondary conditions, and risk for early mortality. A substantial portion of his research work has also focused on disparities in health behaviors, employment, and health outcomes among Caucasian, African-American, Latino, and Native American participants with SCI.


Lee Saunders, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Trained as an epidemiologist
  • Serves as Co-Director of an RRTC on Secondary Conditions in Individuals with SCI
  • Serves as Co-Investigator on the Center on Health Outcomes Research and Capacity Building for Underserved Populations with SCI and TBI.
  • Research experience has focused in the areas of traumatic spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, including participation in a collaborative study which interfaced data from the Model Systems with data from a population-based study of traumatic injury. This study not only compared the Model Systems data with the population-based data to assess for differences in the study population characteristics, but also assessed employment outcomes one year after injury using the integrated data.
  • Participated in research including a longitudinal study of outcomes after traumatic brain injury, as well as surveillance research on both traumatic spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. The interest in traumatic spinal cord injury surveillance also extended into a study of trends of acute spinal cord injury mortality.
  • Recently awarded the Developing Scholar of the Year Award through the College of Health Professions.
  • Authored or co-authored 25 publications and 24 presentations.


Yue Cao, PhD, MSPH
Assistant Professor
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Earned a joint degree in medical sociology and epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
  • Worked at the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center Center for three years
  • Led four research projects before moving to Charleston.
  • Authored or co-authored 10 publications and 12 presentations in the past 4 years.
  • Interests focus on health disparities, psychosocial perspectives of rehabilitation among people with traumatic spinal cord injury, migration and health study, and life course study.


Libby Dismuke, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
MUSC College of Medicine

  • Received degree in Economics.
  • Currently a research health scientist in The Center For Disease Prevention and Health Interventions For Diverse Populations, Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Currently a research assistant professor in The Center For Health Disparities Research, Medical University of South Carolina.
  • Published articles in racial/ethnic disparities in TBI and SCI health and labor market outcomes for veteran and civilian populations.
  • Published articles in economics of novel mental health interventions and delivery.
  • Developed novel approaches to minimizing federal government cost (VA and Medicare) to achieve optimal health outcomes for dual beneficiary veterans.
  • Developed novel approaches to estimate potential cost savings associated with achieving equity in optimal health outcomes for veterans.


Anbesaw Selassie, MPH, DrPH
Associate Professor
MUSC Department of Biostatistics Biometry and Epidemiology

  • Conducted a significant amount of research on outcomes of TBI, SCI, epilepsy, and surveillance methods. 
  • His prior work includes research on health inequities, epidemiology of injuries, evaluations of clinical preventive services, health disparities, and infectious disease.
  • Has been the PI for three federally awarded studies.
  • Is the designated consulting epidemiologist for the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs overseeing the South Carolina TBI and SCI Surveillance and Registry.

Joseph Terza, PhD
Professor of Economics
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

  • Received degree in Economics from University of Pittsburgh.
  • His primary area of research is the development and application of econometric methods for health policy analysis, health economics and health services research in nonlinear regression contexts involving endogeneity.
  • Currently serves on the editorial boards of Foundations and Trends in Econometrics and Health Services Research.
  • A member of the Academy Health Methods Council and the Academy Health Services Research Consortium.
Josh Acuna

Joshua Acuna, MPH
Program Coordinator II
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Holds a Master’s of Public Health in Epidemiology from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
  • Has a Bachelor’s of Art in Biology from Wake Forest University
  • Worked at Wake Forest School of Medicine for two years and was involved in twelve projects at the time 
  • In the past four years, he has focused on psychosocial factors associated with chronic diseases, occupational health, infectious diseases, environmental health, aging, and cognitive disorder 
  • Skilled in data management, survey design, data analysis, web design, and film editing
  • Interests are underserved populations and minority health
  • Moved to Charleston, SC to focus on psychosocial outcomes following spinal cord injury
Richard Aust

Richard Aust
Program Coordinator II
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from York University (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Has worked with Dr. Krause for over 5 years as a Project Coordinator for three federally funded grants
  • Has more than 20 years of experience in management, advocacy and the provision of community based services to people with disabilities
  • Previous work includes eight years of developing and implementing a community re-integration program for people with brain and/or spinal cord injuries. The program incorporates life skills training sessions, social/recreational opportunities, and employment services.
  • Extensively experienced in all aspects of program management including program planning, policies/procedures, independent living training sessions, facilitation of peer and community support group meetings, crisis intervention, dissemination of program information, development of volunteer network and resource building programs.
  • Responsible for maintaining the master database, data collection, preparation of presentations for consumer focus groups, and dissemination of publications through creation of web sites and blogs.

Jennifer Coker, MPH
Program Coordinator II
MUSC College of Health Professions


  • Obtained a Master of Public Health (MPH) from the Rollins Scholl of Public Health at Emory University in May 2001
  • Has worked with Dr. Krause for over a decade and is highly experienced in management of research projects
  • While working at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA, Ms. Coker was the Project Coordinator for several federally funded studies with Dr. Krause as the PI, incluing the GA Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System
  • Later, Ms. Coker was Project Coordinator for the Georgia Area Model Brain Injury System
  • Since arriving at the Medical University of South Carolina, Ms. Coker has been Project Coordinator for seven federally funded grants, assisted in writing five funded grant applications, and as the team liasion with the Institutional Review Board, maintains all regulatory documentation.
  • In addition to her extensive experience in project management, protection of human subjects, and grant writing, Ms. Coker has presented research at national conferences of the American Spinal Injury Association, American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Psychologists and Social Workers, the American Public Health Association, and the American Psychological Association.
  • Won several awards for research presentations and her work with persons with disabilities. These include best paper and best poster at Shepherd Center Research Day (2000), and the James W. Alley Award for Outstanding Service to Disadvantaged Populations (2001).

Alex Jackson, BA
Multimedia Specialist
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies Communication from the College of Charleston
  • Currently working toward obtaining a Master of Arts degree in Corporate and Organizational Communication from the College of Charleston
  • Writer of Tuesday Talk With Alex, a disability blog sharing my personal experiences of living with a spinal cord injury
  • Skilled in broadcast writing, photography and videography
  • Participant in South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association Trident Breezes Peer Support Group
  • A member of the Board of Directors for the disAbility Resource Center since 2009

Melinda Jarnecke, BA
Project Assistant
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Purdue University
  • Previous work includes several years of experience in clinical settings working with adults and adolescents who have special needs, mental health issues, and substance abuse problems
  • Served as a volunteer at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, where she worked with individuals recovering from strokes, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries, before moving to Charleston
Corey King

Corey King
Project Assistant
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Has more than eight years of experience working in the healthcare industry
  • Has worked with Dr. Krause for 3 years providing personal assistance support, data entry, and other office related duties for three federally funded grants
Sarah Lottes

Sarah Lottes
Data Coordinator
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Has worked for the Research Department at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA for almost 16 years. During this time, she has collected and organized data for a parenting study in collaboration with Kessler Institute in New Jersey, has done follow-up data collection for a collaborative study on aging with Craig Hospital in Colorado and the Model Systems, and has worked on numerous federally funded grant projects with Dr. Krause.
  • Served as a co-author on several articles published in professional journals.
  • Currently she works as liasion between Shepherd Center and the Medical University of South Carolina for an NIH funded 10 year project studying risk of adverse outcomes after SCI.
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Kristian Manley 
Project Assistant
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Western Carolina University. 
  • Has over ten years prior working experience with at risk populations. 
  • Has been working for Dr. Krause since 2009 as a Direct Care and Research Assistant.  
  • Assists in participant searches, phone call interviews, survey mail outs, videography, photography, and data entry and verification.
Karla Reed, MA

Karla Reed, MA
Program Coordinator II
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Holds a Master of Arts in Pyschology from the Citadel.
  • Since 2006, she has worked with Dr. Krause on several federally funded grants.
  • Previous work included data collection and organization of a randomized clinical trial for smoking cessation and a randomized clinical trial for cocaine dependence.
  • Assists in preparation of presentations for professional conferences, dissemination of publications, has served as a co-author on numerous published articles in refereed journals, and has presented at multiple national conferences.
  • Along with Dr. Krause, she was the recipient of the 2009 American Rehabilitation Counseling Association Research Award.
D'Andra Roper

D'Andra Roper
Administrative Specialist
MUSC College of Health Professions

  • Duties consists of data entry, survey phone calls, and designated administrative needs. 
  • Has 4 years of experience working in the healthcare industry (Roper Hospital) and as an administrative assistant for the United States Core of Engineers. 
  • Currently majoring in biology, where she is enrolled in the "Two for Two" program between Trident Techincal College and the College of Charleston.
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