Arizona Biomedical Research Commission

Commissioner Biographies

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Click on a Commissioner's name below to see their biography.

Victor Waddell, Ph.D

Victor Waddell, Ph.D., is currently the Executive Director of the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission and Director of the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory, he earned his doctorate in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Queen’s University Belfast, N. Ireland. Dr. Waddell’s other degrees include a Master of Science in Environmental Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences also from Queen’s University Belfast. Dr. Waddell has published many articles relating to both Public Health and Molecular Biology.

Dr. Waddell has worked for the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory since 2001. Dr. Waddell was appointed as Laboratory Director in May 2004. As Laboratory Director he is responsible for overseeing the entire laboratory including the Analytical Chemistry, Microbiology, Newborn Screening, BioEmergency Response, and Chemical Emergency Response Sections at the State Laboratory. Dr. Waddell was part of the design build team who led the development and planning of the New Arizona State Public Health Laboratory. The project design through construction was completed in only 22 months and the New Arizona State Public Health Laboratory was officially opened by the Governor in June 2004. Dr. Waddell served a 3 year term as a Member-At-Large on the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) Board of Directors 2006 through 2009 and served as APHL President from 2011 – 2012. Dr. Waddell serves on several APHL Committees and is currently the Co-Chair for the Joint Leadership Committee of the Laboratory Response Network formed by CDC, APHL and FBI in 1999. Dr. Waddell currently serves in the role of Secretary on the Board of Directors for the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute. Dr. Waddell has published many articles in Molecular Biology and Public Health.

Kasey L. Benson, Ph.D.

Commissioner Kasey Benson earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO), and a B.S. in Biology from Rocky Mountain College (Billings, MT). She is a Good Laboratory Practices (GLP)-trained biochemist with research experience for Covance, Amgen and the Mayo Clinic, among others.

As part of Commissioner Benson's most recent work with the Mayo Clinic, she focused upon identifying ways to improve treatment of myeloproliferative neoplasms via the screening of drugs in leukemic cell lines and primary patient samples. Earlier, with Covance, Commissioner Benson was the scientific lead for the immunogenicity program, which included design and conduct of immuno- and bio-assays.

Iman A. Hakim, MBBCh, Ph.D., MPH

Commissioner Iman Hakim is the Dean of the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health (MEZCOPH). She is the Mel and Enid Zuckerman Endowed Chair in Public Health and the founding director of the Global Health Institute at MEZCOPH. She is internationally known for her translational research and work on the role of phytochemicals such as green tea and limonene in modulation of oxidative damage and prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Her research focuses on health promotion, dietary interventions, and the role of gene-environment and gene-nutrition interactions in chronic disease prevention. She has been the Principal Investigator of several large-scale, behavior change interventions and clinical trials focused on nutrition and cancer prevention, tea consumption and coronary heart disease, nutrition and tobacco, chemoprevention of lung carcinogenesis using green tea; dietary interventions to study the effects of tea consumption on smoking-related oxidative stress and role of citrus-cancer association in Mediterranean diet.

Commissioner Hakim earned her medical degree from Cairo University in Egypt where she completed her Pediatric residency. She received her PhD in Childhood studies from Ain Shams University in Cairo and her MPH from the University of Arizona. Commissioner Hakim worked as a researcher and as an assistant and associate professor at the National Research Center in Egypt. She is a tenured Professor at the University of Arizona. Her current other academic appointments at the University of Arizona include the Arizona Cancer Center, the Sarver Heart Center, the College of Medicine and the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Peter C. Kelly, M.D.

Commissioner Peter Kelly is an infectious disease physician. Dr. Kelly was educated at Providence College and Boston University School of Medicine. He completed an Internal Medicine residency and an Infectious Diseases fellowship at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases.

Commissioner Kelly maintains professional affiliations with the American College of Physicians, the American Society for Microbiology, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Arizona Medical Association. Commissioner Kelly is a past president of the Arizona Infectious Diseases Society.

Early in his career, Commissioner Kelly joined the medical staff at Maricopa Medical Center as Chief of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine and later served as President of the Medical Staff. He was active in the Internal Medicine Residency Program and was Program Director for a portion of his time there. He was also Chairman of the Infection Control Committee for many years. He has a career long interest in Coccidioidomycosis and has published in this field.

Currently, Commissioner Kelly is an infectious disease consultant to the Arizona Department of Health Services in the Bureau of Public Health Emergency Preparedness.

Jeanette K. Shea, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.

Commissioner Jeanette Shea is the owner and Chief Executive Officer for Jeanette Shea & Associates, L.L.C., a full service consultation and training firm. As the former Assistant Director for the Arizona Department of Health Services, Public Health Prevention Services, Commissioner Shea was responsible for providing leadership in public health prevention services, overseeing the bureaus of Women's and Children's Health, Nutrition and Physical Activity, Health Systems Development and Tobacco and Chronic Disease. Trained as a Social Worker, specializing in planning, administration, and community development, she has worked in healthcare for over 30 years. Commissioner Shea has also served as a liaison with federal, state, and local health agencies.

Mitchell Dennis Shub, M.D.

Commissioner Mitchell Shub is a Pediatric Gastroenterologist and received his M.D. from the University of Vermont. He completed a residency in Pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center and a fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. After serving on the faculty at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, he joined the full time faculty at Phoenix Children's Hospital (PCH). He previously served as Co-director of the Pediatric Residency Program and as Division Chief of Gastroenterology. Commissioner Shub was elected President of the Medical Staff and served a 2 year term and was appointed as the first Medical Director of Research at PCH.

Commissioner Shub is Vice-chair and Professor, Department of Child Health for the University Of Arizona College Of Medicine, Phoenix Campus. He has been actively engaged in research throughout his career and recently was part of a team that identified the gene mutation for a rare digestive disorder, microvillous inclusion disease. On a national level, Commissioner Shub has been appointed to various leadership positions in the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. He also served as the Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee for the Southwest Chapter of the Crohn and Colitis Foundation of America and was honored with the Chapter's "Physician of the Year Award".

Brandy Wells

Commissioner Brandy Wells is the Director of Public Affairs and Education at the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, Arizona. In this role, she interacts with the science, business and lay communities to interpret the scientific research of the Institute, increase public knowledge of translational medicine and its relevance to healthcare delivery and economic competitiveness. She also directs TGen's science education initiatives including training programs and scientific conferences.

A native Floridian, Commissioner Wells moved to Phoenix from Washington, D.C. in 2009. She earned a BS in Biology and Secondary Education from American University in Washington, DC and MS in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. She previously taught secondary-level science at public schools in Washington, D.C. and Phoenix.

Commissioner Wells is a fellow of the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy in the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, sits on the Board of Directors as Treasurer for the Women's Metropolitan Arts Council and volunteers with Hospice of the Valley at the St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center Palliative Care Unit.

Hugo Vargas

Commissioner Hugo E. Vargas is a Transplantation Hepatologist at the Mayo Clinic Arizona. He is a graduate of UC Davis and the Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University College of Medicine). He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Utah Medical Center and a fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He served in the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh as the director of Hepatology and Medical Director of Liver Transplantation. In 2000 he joined the staff of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona as part of the multidisciplinary team in adult liver transplantation. He has served as chair of the Division of Hepatology and currently is the Vice Chair of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Commissioner Vargas’ research interests include Hepatitis C viral infection, particularly in the setting of cirrhosis and liver transplantation. Currently he is the Director of the Office of Clinical Research in Mayo Clinic Arizona and the site representative for the Mayo Clinic CTSA. He has kept a leadership profile in national and international societies including the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Gastroenterological Association, American College of Gastroenterology and the American College of Physicians.