Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD

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Professor of Health Promotion Sciences, College of Public Health, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Medicine
Director of the Canyon Ranch Center of Prevention & Health Promotion
(520) 626-1565

Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, is a Professor in the College of Public Health and holds joint appointments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences & the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona. Dr. Thomson received her Ph.D. from the Interdisciplinary Program in Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona and completed NCI-sponsored post-doctoral training at the Arizona Cancer Center with a focus on diet and cancer prevention. Her research emphasis includes dietary intervention in breast and ovarian cancer survivors, as well as behavioral interventions for weight control and metabolic regulation. She serves as the Director of the Canyon Ranch Center of Prevention and Health Promotion at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health a center whose mission is to support a healthier Tucson community as well as the Director of The Arizona Smokers’ Helpline (ASHLine), a direct service program for the public to support smoking cessation and chronic disease risk reduction.

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Ruth Taylor-Piliae, PhD, RN

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Associate Professor, UA College of Nursing
(520) 626-4881

Ruth Taylor-Piliae, PhD, RN, is an associate professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Arizona. The goal of her research is to increase physical activity among cardiovascular disease populations through the implementation of innovative physical activity interventions such as Tai Chi, to reduce the negative impact of associated disabilities, improve physical functioning and health-related quality of life. Dr. Taylor-Piliae received her BSN from California State University Fresno, her MN from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and her PhD from the University of California San Francisco.  She also completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in cardiovascular epidemiology and prevention at Stanford University. Dr. Taylor-Piliae has received funding as a principal investigator from the American Heart Association, Hospital Authority of Hong Kong, National Institute of Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She is currently examining the effects of Tai Chi exercise among stroke survivors. She reviews for professional journals and is highly cited for her work in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease (over 885 citations, h-index=17, i10-index=25). She is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association (Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; and Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism Councils), Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.

Research Articles

  • Effects of Tai Chi and Western exercise on physical and cognitive functioning in healthy community-dwelling older adults.
  • Methods to Optimize Recruitment and Retention to an Exercise Study in Chinese Immigrants
  • Call to Action: Cardiovascular Disease in Asian Americans. A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association
  • Clinical Utility of the Stanford Brief Activity Survey in Men and Women with Early-Onset Coronary Artery Disease
  • Tai Chi Exercise and Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Validation of the Stanford Brief Activity Survey: examining psychological factors and physical activity levels in older adults.

In the News Mentions

  • Dr. Ruth Taylor-Piliae's abstract featured in the official American Stroke Association news materials
  • NFS Ruth Taylor-Piliae inducted as a Fellow into the American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Nursing Council.


Douglas L. Taren, PhD

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Professor of Public Health
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Arizona College of Public Health
(520) 321-7777

Richard G. Smith, MSEE, CCE

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Technical Director, Banner University Medical Center - Tucson Mechanical Circulatory Support Program
(520) 694-6455

Alexander M. Simon, PhD

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Associate Professor of Physiology
(520) 621-9778

Alex M. Simon, PhD, is the principal investigator on NIH grant R21HL122443, studying the role of Connexin47 mutations in primary lymphedema, a potentially debilitating disorder of the lymphatic system in which interstitial fluid abnormally accumulates and is estimated to affect as many as 140-250 million people worldwide. Valves in lymphatic vessels normally ensure that lymph moves forward rather than moving in the wrong direction and abnormally collecting in tissues. The goal of this project is to explore the idea that some forms of primary lymphedema are caused by defective valve formation resulting from mutations in Connexin genes.  Connexins are a family of related proteins which assemble into gap junction intercellular channels, structures that allow for the direct transfer of small molecules between adjacent cells.

Dr. Simon’s lab has discovered that three Connexins (Cx37, Cx43, and Cx47) are expressed in the endothelial cells of developing lymphatic vessels and that these proteins become progressively enriched at lymphatic valves. Using mouse genetic models, Cx37 and Cx43 were shown to be critical for lymphatic valve formation. Work in other labs has shown that Cx47 is mutated in some families with primary lymphedema, but nothing is known about the role of Cx47 in lymphatic development or function.  In the current research, the effects of Cx47 mutations on lymphatic valve formation, lymphatic function, and development of lymphedema will be assessed in mice. In addition, the effects of combined mutations of Cx47 and Cx43 will be determined as a test of the idea that both Cx47 and Cx43 must be inhibited for severe lymphatic disease symptoms, including lymphedema.

Varda Shoham, PhD

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Professor of Psychology
(520) 621-1867

Jiaqi Shi, MD, PhD

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Research Assistant Professor of Pathology
(520) 626-1703

Eyal Shahar, MD, MPH

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Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
(520) 626-8025

Ornella Selmin, PhD

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Assistant Professor of Veterinary Science & Microbiology
(520) 626-6087

Timothy W. Secomb, PhD

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Professor of Physiology
(520) 626-4513
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