Meet Our Team

Please feel free to contact any of the North Carolina MD STARnet team members via the Contact Us page.

Senior Management Team

Nedra Whitehead, PhD, CGC

Dr. Whitehead is the principal investigator for the North Carolina MD STARnet project. She is an epidemiologist and a board-certified genetic counselor with extensive experience with public health surveillance and with public health issues associated with rare and genetic disorders. She has led projects on the feasibility of linking registries and surveillance projects to expand muscular dystrophy surveillance beyond Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy and on public health issues related to muscular dystrophy. Dr. Whitehead hopes that the North Carolina MD STARnet project will broaden knowledge of the prevalence and impact of muscular dystrophy among minority populations.

James F. Howard, Jr. MD

Dr. Howard is the principal site investigator for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill MD STARnet project. He is a board-certified neurologist and Chief of the Neuromuscular Division at UNC Hospitals with clinical and research expertise in neuromuscular disorders. He has extensive experience in clinical trials pertaining to these disorders including the muscular dystrophies. Dr. Howard believes that the North Carolina MD STARnet project will further our knowledge of muscular dystrophy in our communities and identify potential barriers to health care.

Holly Peay, PhD, CGC

Dr. Peay is a co-investigator and project director. She has a long history of patient/caregiver engaged research and specific experience working with the Duchenne and Becker MD community. Dr. Peay hopes for MD STARnet include research that leads to improved clinical management and speeds up the development of new treatments.

Other Team Members

Jennifer Alexander, MSW, MPH

Ms. Alexander is a member of the Communications Committee. She is a health communication scientist and looks forward to bringing MD STARnet research findings to patients, caregivers, and clinicians.

Manisha Chopra, MBBS

Dr. Chopra is a local reviewer and abstractor and works closely with Dr. Howard at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a clinical research associate at UNC Hospitals at Chapel Hill. She has research expertise and multiple years of experience in clinical and investigator initiated trials in neuromuscular disorders, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Dr. Chopra believes that North Carolina MD STARnet project has great potential to expand current knowledge of muscular dystrophy and other dystrophies in our community that will further enable clinicians to expand healthcare across different sections of the society. She hopes that this project will assist researchers in targeting the potential cause and exploring future treatments of this disease.

Barbara Do, MSPH

Ms. Do is a research statistician for the North Carolina MD STARnet project. She received her Master's of Science in Public Health with a concentration in Biostatistics and has extensive experience studying chronic diseases. She believes the MD STARnet project will help identify trends within the community and hopes it will aid in the development of more effective treatment options.

Steve Erickson, PhD

Dr. Erickson is a research statistician with RTI International. MD STARnet is his first project involving muscular dystrophy, and he is excited about helping development of new treatment strategies. In past research, he has advanced understanding of the causes of birth defects, blood cancers, and autoimmune disease, and has collaborated with a broad range of biomedical investigators.

Christine Hill, MPA

Ms. Hill is an abstractor for MD STARnet. She has several years of experience conducting medical record abstraction and record review for maternal/child health surveillance studies. She hopes to be able to make a valuable contribution by collecting relevant data on the prevalence of muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular disorders within the Piedmont region of North Carolina.

Sara Jacobs, PhD

Dr. Jacobs is a co-investigator specifically focused on the evaluation component of MD STARnet. She specializes in examining the impacts of different programs on patients, providers, and the health care system as a whole. Her hopes for MD STARnet include connecting the various stakeholders in order to improve the dissemination of MD research.

David Leblond, BS

Mr. Leblond is a data manager and a programmer. He has worked on clinical trials for the past 5 years. He hopes to be able to help MD STARnet collect data in an efficient manner so that it can help make a difference in the lives of people living with MD.

Anne-Lyne McCalla, MPH

Ms. McCalla is an abstractor for MD STARnet. She has experience in genetic disorders research and public health surveillance systems. She hopes the MD STARnet project will further our knowledge of muscular dystrophy, improved clinical management, and lead to the development of new treatments.