Faculty and Staff


Joan Haase, PhD, RN
School of Nursing
Family Health
Dr. Joan Haase's research focus is on ways children, adolescents, young adults, and families adjust to the experience of cancer and other chronic illnesses. Her Resilience in Illness Model (RIM) guides descriptive and intervention research to improve symptoms and psychosocial adjustment for young adults with cancer. Dr. Haase is the Holmquist Professor in Pediatric Oncology Nursing, Co-Director of the T32 training grant in behavioral health, and an advisory board member of the R25 training grant in behavioral oncology.
Susan Hickman, PhD
School of Nursing
Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics
IU Center for Aging Research
Dr. Susan Hickman's research focuses on ethical issues in end-of-life care and the conduct of research. She has conducted federally funded research on the effect of ethical concerns on the conduct of end-of-life research, and the use of the POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) Program. Dr. Hickman is a member of the Indiana University Institutional Review Board and a Senior Affiliate Faculty Member at the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics.
Dr. Greg Sachs
School of Medicine
General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics
IU Center for Aging Research
Dr. Greg Sachs' research focuses on ethical issues in geriatrics. He leads the Indiana Palliative Excellence in Alzheimer Care Efforts (IN-PEACE) Program, addressing the feasibility of incorporating an outpatient palliative care program for patients with dementia into primary care settings, where most older adults receive their medical care. Dr. Sachs is Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics and serves on the Board of Directors for The American Geriatric Society (AGS) and the editorial board of JAGS.

Core Faculty

Silvia Bigatti
School of Medicine
Department of Public Health
IU Simon Cancer Center Cancer Prevention and Control Program
Walther Cancer Institute
Behavioral Cooperative Oncology Group
Dr. Silvia Bigatti's research focus is coping with chronic illness and health disparities. She is interested in how individuals (particularly people with cancer and pain conditions) cope with disease, as well as the impact on patients and their families of culture, predisposing factors, individual resources, and environmental factors. Dr. Bigatti is a clinical psychologist and educator, as well as a researcher.
Deb Burns
Purdue School of Engineering and Technology @ IUPUI
Department of Music and Arts Technology
Associate Professor
Coordinator, Music Therapy Programs
Dr. Debra Burns' research program involves the development and exploration of potential benefits of music-based intervention for cancer patients across the disease trajectory and at various stages of life. Her background is music therapy, with two postdoctoral training awards (Walther Cancer Institute and the NIH). Dr. Burns currently is collaborating with a national hospice company to explore the integration and best practices of music therapy within hospice care.
Larry Cripe, M.D.
School of Medicine
IU Hospital Palliative Care Program
Dr. Larry Cripe's current interdisciplinary research focus is on how people with life-limiting illness cope with their illness and the extent to which communication with medical oncologists influences their health care decisions and psychological adjustment. His essays explore issues confronting medical professionals near patients' end of life, and he is involved in several educational projects that address patient-provider communication near end of life. Dr. Cripe is the Director of Palliative Care for University Hospital, IU Heath.
Rich Frankel, PhD
Regenstrief Institute
Center for Health Services Outcomes Research
Dr. Richard M. Frankel's research focus is on physician-patient communication and its effects on processes and outcomes of care. A long-time interest has been end of life, particularly the transition from curative to palliative care. Dr. Frankel is a Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics and a Senior Research Scientist at the Regenstrief Institute, IU School of Medicine, as well as acting Associate Director of the VA Center of Excellence in Implementing Evidence Based Practice at the Roudebush VA in Indianapolis.
Greg Gramelspacher, M.D.
School of Medicine
General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics
Wishard Palliative Care Program
Dr. Greg Gramelspacher's focus is palliative care, including palliative care in Africa and underserved populations. He is involved in a pain study at Moi Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya; IN-PEACE (Dr. Sach's study of palliative care for people with dementia); and a photography project "Portraits of the Living: How Photography Can Enhance the Care of the Dying". Dr. Gramelspacher directs the Palliative Medicine Fellowship at IU School of Medicine and the Palliative Care Program at Wishard Health Services.
Barbara Habermann
School of Nursing
Family Health
IU Center for Aging Research
Dr. Barbara Habermann's research focuses on improving quality of life for individuals and their family members living with chronic, progressive neurologic illnesses. Her current qualitative work focuses on identifying dyad needs in couples where one partner has advanced to end stage Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Habermann is co-director of the T32 Training in Behavioral Nursing.
Paul Helft
School of Medicine
Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics
Dr. Paul Helft's research interests include clinician–patient communication, ethical dimensions of difficult communication surrounding end of life care and planning, and the interdisciplinary aspects of clinician-patient-family communication. He is a clinical oncologist with advanced training in clinical medical ethics and expertise in advanced cancer patients and issues of prognostic and end of life communication. Dr. Helft directs the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics.
Shelley Johns
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Dr. Shelley Johns' research focus is on expanding treatment options for adults with cancer-related fatigue and associated symptoms (e.g., depression, sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment). Her work is also exploring an innovative model of care designed to support patients with advanced-stage cancer, their family members, and their medical oncologists in having timely end-of-life discussions. Dr. Johns is a board certified clinical health psychologist who serves as a Research Scientist with Regenstrief Institute, Inc. and Indiana University Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research. She is also a member of the Palliative Medicine Fellowship Executive Committee at IU School of Medicine.
Susan McLennon
School of Nursing
Assistant Professor
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Susan McLennon is an Assistant Professor in the IU School of Nursing and a post-doctoral fellow at the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics funded by the Walther Cancer Foundation to examine nurse communication about end-of-life in patients with advanced cancer. Dr. McLennon is a co-investigator in two funded research projects: a NINR-R01study to examine nurse interventions for caregivers of stroke survivors, and an IU School of Nursing internally funded study to examine the needs and concerns of family caregivers for persons on daily home dialysis.
Susan Perkins PhD
School of Medicine
Division of Biostatistics
Dr. Susan Perkins has extensive statistical experience with study design, data analysis, and instrument development in both observational and intervention settings. She has worked on many research projects involving cancer and other life-threatening diseases, health services, quality of life, and epilepsy. Dr. Perkins is the Director of the Biostatistics Core for both the IU Simon Cancer Center and the IU Center for Enhancing Quality of Life in Chronic Diseases, and the Associate Director for the Design and Biostatistics Program of the Indiana CTSI.
Sandra Petronio, PhD
School of Liberal Arts
Professor of Communication Studies
School of Infomatics
Dr. Sandra Petronio's areas of expertise are in the management of privacy, disclosure, and confidentiality within content areas of health, family, and interpersonal communication. She is a Professor of Communication Studies in the School of Liberal Arts and the IU School of Medicine. She is also a Senior Affiliate Faculty member of the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center of Medical Ethics, Indiana University Health. Dr. Petronio is the Director of the IUPUI Chancellor's Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) Initiative.
Kevin Rand
School of Science
Dr. Kevin Rand's research interests lie at the intersection of social, personality, and clinical psychology, with a specific interest in the relationships among anxiety, depression, and efforts at coping with life stressors. He is interested in the self-regulating influences of hopeful and optimistic thinking within the context of a life-threatening illness, i.e., cancer, and hopes to incorporate hope and optimism into an overall model of stress and coping.
Sheri Robb
School of Nursing
Music Therapy
Dr. Sheri Robb's research program focuses on the development and testing of music-based interventions to manage distress, improve positive health outcomes, and prevent secondary psychosocial morbidity in children/adolescents with cancer and their parents. Her Contextual Support Model of Music Therapy guided development of two music-based interventions being tested for children/adolescents with cancer. Dr. Robb was recently appointed editor for the Journal of Music Therapy.
Zeynep Salih
School of Medicine
Division of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology
Riley Hospital for Children
Dr. Salih's research focuses on ethical issues and decision making during perinatal conversations for infants at limits of viability, as well as interprofessional (team) ethics education. Based on her background in bioethics and medical simulation, she envisions creating a curriculum where health care teams could learn and practice difficult end-of-life conversations while also reflecting on their own moral/ethical values, both as individuals and within a team. Dr. Salih is the Director for Ethics Curriculum for Neonatology Fellowship Program and Pediatrics Ethics Elective.
Alexia Torke
School of Medicine
General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics
Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics
IU Center for Aging Research
Dr. Alexia Torke is interested in the ethical and communication aspects of medical decision making. She conducts qualitative and quantitative research on how family members and other surrogates make major medical decisions for patients with impaired cognitive function. Dr. Torke is also the Director of the Fairbanks Fellowship in Clinical Ethics.
Brownsyne Tucker-Edmonds
School of Medicine
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dr. Tucker Edmonds' research interests are in social and cultural effects on patient-provider communication and decision-making. Her recent work focuses on patient-provider dynamics in the management of periviable (extremely premature) deliveries. Her long-term goal is to promote patient-centered care and improve the equity and quality of clinical outcomes for underserved women by improving the quality of communication they receive in clinical encounters. Dr. Tucker Edmonds is co-director of the MSIII OB/GYN Ethics Module and serves as the State Legislative Co-chair for the IN Section of ACOG.
Kathleen Unroe
School of Medicine
IU Center for Aging Research
Dr. Kathleen Unroe's focus is health policy relevant research in long term care, including palliative care and hospice use, transitions of care, medical care quality in nursing homes, and staffing models in long term care. Her current research includes analyses of a unique data base (electronic medical records, Medicare and Medicaid claims, OASIS and MDS data) to compare use of acute care services among hospice and non-hospice patients in nursing. Dr. Unroe also has worked with claims data to examine resource utilization in the last six months of life.
Lucia D. Wocial, PhD, RN

Lucia D. Wocial, PhD, RN

Nurse Ethicist
Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics co-chair
Ethics Consultation Service Subcommittee
Dr. Wocial's current research focuses on moral distress of professional caregivers, particularly in in-patient settings. She has expertise in ethics and difficult communication in ICU settings, particularly around surrogate decision making. Her extensive clinical background in neonatal ICU brings relevant expertise to her current research projects that address value-laden issues when considering limiting treatment interventions for PICU patients and decrease provider moral distress in those situations. Her numerous publications address a variety of clinical ethics-related issues. Dr. Wocial has twice received awards for outstanding teaching at the IUSON.


Lori Catalano

Lori Catalano, JD, MSN, CCNS, PCCN

School of Nursing
Lori Catalano is a pre-doctoral student in the IU School of Nursing, working with Dr. Susan Hickman. Lori has worked in cardiac care, nursing education, and as an associate attorney. She is certified as a Critical-Care Clinical Nurse Specialist and Progressive Care Nurse and is an assistant professor of clinical nursing at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing. Lori's research interest is end-of-life planning for patients with heart failure, focusing on early and continuing care planning.

Stacy Crane

Stacey Crane, MSN, RN, CCRP, CPON

School of Nursing
Stacey Crane is a doctoral student at the IU School of Nursing, working with Dr. Joan Haase. For the past six years Stacey has worked as a phase 1 oncology research nurse at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. She has an MSN in nursing informatics, focused on improving palliative care communication within the electronic medical record. Her research focus is the experience of pediatric oncology patients and their families during Phase 1 clinical trials, with an emphasis on palliative care use.

Ester Smith-Howell

Esther Smith-Howell, BSN

Pre-Doctoral Fellow
Esther Smith-Howell, BSN, is a T32 pre-doctoral student in the Indiana University School of Nursing. After graduation from the accelerated BSN program at IUSON, she immediately enrolled in the PhD program. Her research interests are oncology and end-of-life care, with a focus on improving quality of life at the end of life for African Americans with terminal cancer through culturally competent communication. Her faculty mentors are Susan Rawl, PhD, RN, FAAN; Susan Hickman, PhD; and Susan E. Morgan, PhD.

Chia-Chun Tang, RN, MSN, OCN

Chia-Chun Tang, RN, MSN, OCN

School of Nursing
CC Tang is a doctoral student at the IU school of nursing. Her faculty mentors are Dr. Diane Von Ah, Dr. Susan Hickman and Dr. Cleave Shields. She has cared for terminal cancer patients in her previous practice as Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist both in Taiwan and USA. CC is a certified oncology nurse and currently received Pre-doctoral Behavioral Oncology Fellowship from the Walther Cancer Institute. Her interested area is end-of-life care for pancreatic cancer patients and their families.


Laura Holtz

Laura Holtz, BS, CCRP

RESPECT Project Manager
Laura Holtz is a Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP). In addition to being the RESPECT project manager, Laura also is the Research Coordinator for several studies on advanced dementia and caregiver education and support at Regenstrief Institute, and the IU Center for Aging research.
Anna Miller

Anna Miller, PhD, RN

IU School of Nursing
Anna works with content and editing for the RESPECT Web site. Her interests include health policy, public health, and end-of-life and palliative care. Anna is a retired Professor of Nursing and has been involved in cancer research at the IU School of Nursing and the IU Simon Cancer Center.


Back to top