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Our Team

Faculty  |  Fellows  |  Research Coordinators  |  Administration


Sarah Armstrong, MD 
Associate Director
Sarah Armstrong, MD, is the associate director of DCCOR and an associate professor in the Duke Department of Pediatrics. Her research seeks to understand mechanisms of the development of severe obesity in youth and identify innovative treatment options such as digital health and community partnerships in order to identify new, effective treatments for children and adolescents with obesity. The first 13 years of her career in pediatric medicine was clinical, focusing on the treatment of children and adolescents with obesity both in primary and tertiary care settings. She developed and subsequently directed Duke’s comprehensive pediatric weight management clinic, Healthy Lifestyles, from 2006 through 2016. Mid-career, recognizing the many unanswered questions in the field, she pursued a three-year clinical research training fellowship (APA) to develop the skills necessary to conduct clinical and translational research. She completed her research training in 2016, and has independently completed two clinical trials and is a co-investigator on an NIH-funded trial (NIDDK) and a principal investigator on a three-year multisite clinical trial (Duke Endowment). She has served on several committees related to pediatric obesity research, including the obesity section of the AAP and is involved with the Pediatric Obesity Weight Evaluation Registry as the co-director for research. Most recently, she and a team of three other researchers were awarded funding through the American Heart Association’s Strategically Focused Research Network for a large four-year, multi-study project (more information can be found on the Current Research page).

Charles T. Wood, MD, MPH
Charles T. Wood, MD, MPH, is a research faculty member at DCCOR and an assistant professor in the Duke Department of Pediatrics.  He trained in pediatrics at Duke University, where he was also a chief resident and gained research expertise through the NRSA Primary Care Research Fellowship at the Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. Wood’s main research interest is identifying risk factors and clinical preventive interventions for obesity in the first years of life, with particular interest in eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in obesity. His work in feeding behaviors and characteristics among formula fed infants has resulted in multiple publications and national press, and he is a recipient of the Academic Pediatric Association Young Investigator Award for Nutrition in Underserved Populations.


Michelle J. White, MD, MPH
Michelle J. White, MD, MPH is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke University with appointments in the Division of Hospital Medicine and the Duke Center for Childhood Obesity Research. She is a graduate of Yale University, Duke University School of Medicine and the Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The focus of Dr. White’s research is place and child health equity, with particular emphasis on child obesity. Her work integrates geography with qualitative methodologies to describe the effect of built, social and perceived environmental factors on health behaviors and outcomes with the goal of translating this work into place-based interventions. Dr. White received a 2018 Young Investigator Award from the Academic Pediatric Association to assess the effects of changes in the Durham recreational environment on child BMI over time.


Naomi Duke, MD, PhD, MPH
Naomi N. Duke, MD, PhD, MPH, is an associate professor, board certified in internal medicine, pediatrics, and adolescent medicine. During her two decades of experience in clinical practice in academic and community settings, she has witnessed the persistence of health inequities across generations via intersectionality of race and ethnic identity, gender, class, and nativity. Her research interests place her at the intersection of medicine, sociology, and population health toward understanding biosocial aspects of the intergenerational transmission of health.



Asheley C. Skinner, PhD
Asheley Cockrell Skinner, PhD, is a health services researcher focused on addressing a variety of population health issues, particularly those affecting children. She is a research faculty member at DCCOR and an associate professor in the Duke Department of Medicine and a member of the Duke Clinical Research Institute. She received her PhD in 2007 in Health Policy and Administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is a nationally-known expert in childhood obesity, focusing on the measurement of obesity, the health consequences of obesity, and preventing stigma in obesity interventions and policy. She also has significant experience in the areas of child maltreatment, substance use and abuse among adolescents, and prescription drug misuse. In addition to her many roles in research, she is also a dedicated teacher, mentoring doctoral students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty.

Charlene Wong, MD, MSPH
Charlene Wong, MD, MSPH, is an adolescent medicine pediatrician and health services researcher. She is a research faculty member at DCCOR and an assistant professor in the Duke Department of Pediatrics.  She also has faculty appointments in the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and the Duke Clinical Research Institute . She trained in pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Hospital/University of Washington. Her fellowships were in epidemiology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health services research in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania and adolescent medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her research focuses on improving adolescent and young adult health and well-being. Her work explores innovative interventions that leverage behavioral economics, technology and youth-empowered methodologies to motivate youth to adopt healthier behaviors, such as increased physical activity. She is also interested in improving the consumer experience with accessing health and health care as well as studying the impact of health policy on young people. Clinically, she serves as a primary care pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist to youth 12-26 years old. 


Melissa Kay, PhD, MS, MPH, RD
Melissa Kay is a postdoctoral associate at DCCOR and also at the Duke Global Digital Health Science Center. She is interested in the connection between maternal and infant diet and the realities of healthy eating during the postpartum period. Her research focuses on the implementation and dissemination of innovative digital health interventions to improve diet quality within the first 1,000 days. Melissa is originally from Massachusetts where she completed her BA at the College of the Holy Cross and MS in food policy and applied nutrition and MPH at Tufts University. She is also a registered dietitian. Melissa came to North Carolina seven years ago as a fellow from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and stayed to complete her PhD in nutrition at UNC Chapel Hill. She has presented her work at national conferences such as the Experimental Biology annual meeting.

Colin J. Orr, MD
Colin J. Orr, MD, is a DCCOR-affiliated research fellow based at UNC Chapel Hill, where he is a clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics. He is also an NRSA Primary Care Research Fellow at the Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC Chapel Hill. He completed his pediatric residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.  Dr. Orr’s main research interest is understanding how food insecurity leads to obesity as well as reducing ethnical and racial disparities. He has presented his work at national conferences such as Pediatrics Academic Society annual meeting. 



Research Coordinators

Janna B. Howard, MPH (Research Program Leader)
Janna B. Howard, MPH, coordinates the ongoing research activities and projects at DCCOR and assists with the strategic planning of the center. She received her MPH in health behavior in 2016 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. She has been working with Dr. Perrin for nearly four years. Prior to beginning her role with DCCOR, she served as the study coordinator for a project at UNC Chapel Hill investigating children’s movies and obesogenic messages and stigma, contributing to her experience in study development, project organization, and data analysis. She also has research experience in eating behaviors, eating disorders, and weight loss and weight management in adults.


Alex Zizzi, MSPH
Alex Zizzi, MSPH, is the lead clinical research coordinator of Dr. Sarah Armstrong’s AHA-funded childhood obesity RCT, Hearts and Parks, which provides structured education and exercise for at-risk Durham County children. She received her MSPH in health policy and management in 2017 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. Prior to joining DCCOR, she worked as a research assistant in oral health policy and cancer-related implementation science. She is interested in translating clinical trials findings into policy solutions for North Carolina.


Cameron Catherine, BA
Cameron Catherine, BA, is the lead clinical research coordinator of Dr. Sarah Armstrong's NIH-funded Pediatric Obesity Observational Prospective Trial, which focuses on metabolomics and microbiome analysis of adolescents at the Duke Healthy Lifestyles clinic. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in global studies, specializing in public health within Latin America, and a minor in medical anthropology. Prior to beginning her role at DCCOR, she worked as a breast oncology clinical research coordinator at UC San Diego. She has research experience in several fields including breast oncology clinical trials, developmental disabilities, and early childcare obesity prevention programs. She has extensive volunteer and leadership experience in community clinic spaces including UNC SHAC clinic and UC San Diego Free clinic. She is particularly interested in expanding clinical research opportunities to rural, Spanish speaking people across North Carolina. 

Callan Loflin, BA
Callan Loflin, BA, is a clinical research coordinator for Dr. Sarah Armstrong’s AHA-funded childhood obesity RCT, Hearts and Parks, and Dr. Charlene Wong’s pilot study, Incentivizing ARCHES. She received her bachelor's in psychology with a focus in abnormal/health psychology and a minor in chemistry from Duke University in 2018. Prior to joining DCCOR, she worked as a research assistant in Dan Ariely’s lab--the Center for Advanced Hindsight--during her undergraduate career. There, she contributed to studies related to physical activity behavior and using behavioral-economic principles to understand how people make decisions about exercise. She presented her work from the Center for Advanced Hindsight at the Southeast Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting in 2018.


Carla A. Mena, BS
Carla A. Mena, BS, is the lead bilingual clinical research coordinator of Dr. Eliana Perrin's PCORI-funded project, Greenlight Plus. Greenlight Plus is an early-childhood obesity study that is comparing whether added technology can provide support outside the clinic to promote behavior change and obesity prevention. Prior to joining DCCOR, she worked at the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research as a bilingual research coordinator working with studies that were both local and global. Carla has extensive research experience in several fields including hepatitis C, HIV, immigration, LGBTQ+, neonatal vaccinations, and sexual and reproductive health. In addition, she has experience training people and partnerships on how to work with underrepresented and underserved populations in the US. Some of those trainings included exploring social determinants of health, cultural humility, and health equity. Her passion is volunteering as a leader in her local community including practices such as Advanced Community Health, El Centro Hispano and El Pueblo Inc. She graduated from Meredith College with a BS in biology.


Josi Gabaldon, MS
Josi Gabaldon, MS, is a clinical research coordinator of Dr. Sarah Armstrong’s AHA-funded childhood obesity RCT, Hearts and Parks. She graduated with her MS in Kinesiology with a concentration in exercise physiology from UNC Greensboro in 2019. Prior to joining Hearts and Parks, she was a research intern in the laboratory of Dr. William Kraus exploring the effects of exercise interventions on cardiovascular and cardiometabolic risk outcomes. I am interested in how physical activity and sleep duration impacts changes of cardiovascular and cardiometabolic biomarkers over time from early childhood into young adulthood.


Karen Lin, BS
Karen Lin, BS, is a current third year medical student at Duke’s School of Medicine who is passionate about pursuing a career in pediatrics. She obtained a BS in Human Biology Health and Society and a minor in Global Health from Cornell University. She is spending her research year at Duke under the mentorship of Dr. Perrin and Dr. White, working on a number of projects that address things such as parental health literacy and numeracy, parental self-efficacy, and resiliency among children who live in obesogenic environments. This is just the start of her clinical research career, but she is interested in delving further into the field of health disparities research. She is excited to continue her learning as a participant in the Health Disparities Research Curriculum at the REACH Equity Center. In her spare time, Karen loves backpacking, running, and taking her cat, Mobitz, on long walks.  


Lily Suarez, BS
Lily Suarez, BS, is currently a third year medical student at Duke University and is earning an MPH at UNC Gillings School of Public Health. She is spending her research year as a coordinator for Dr. Sarah Armstrong’s AHA-funded childhood obesity RCT, Hearts and Parks, which provides structured education and exercise for at-risk Durham County children. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a BS in Biomedical Science and a minor in Public Health. She is passionate about child and adolescent health, and volunteers teaching health class for high school students in Durham City Schools. She is interested in the prevention of childhood obesity and in developing interventions for youth with obesity in minority populations.


Kiah Gaskin, MSW, MPH
Kiah Gaskin, MSW, MPH, is passionate about the intersection of research, community, and population health. She comes to DCCOR with experience in managing activities between academic and community agencies in North Carolina, wearing both program and research coordinator hats with organizations like the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, Duke’s Office of Durham & Regional Affairs, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, and most recently, the Duke Children’s Healthy Lifestyles program. Kiah’s role at Healthy Lifestyles managing “Bull City Fit”, a community-healthcare treatment model developed by Dr. Armstrong that partners Duke patients with Durham Parks & Recreation to treat the problem of childhood obesity, has led her to her current role at DCCOR, which is to coordinate the dissemination and evaluation of the “Bull City Fit” model in rural North Carolina communities. Kiah also serves as a community liaison for the center, serving on external and internal working groups such as the NC Health Department’s Partnership for a Healthy Durham and Obesity & Chronic Illness committees, the Durham Public Schools School Health Advisory Council, and Duke’s Food & Nutrition Working Group. Kiah earned her MPH in maternal & child health and her MSW in community, management, and policy practice in 2014 from UNC. She can [pridefully] say that “all roads lead back to Duke,” where she earned her BA in 2011.


Shauntil Gray
Shauntil Gray is an administrative assistant for DCCOR and for the Division of Primary Care Pediatrics. She has worked with Duke University since 2014. Shauntil worked with the Division of Gastroenterology for three years before joining the DCCOR team. In this role, Shauntil provides essential support and manages the daily functioning of DCCOR.