Skip Navigation

Southeastern Vitamin D Research Study Group

We are clinical and basic researchers at Emory University, Morehouse University, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Georgia interested in Vitamin D

Membership is open

We meet monthly from September to June (typically the second Wednesday of the month) from 8:30-9:30pm.  After seeing one or two presentations on research conducted by our members or visiting guests, we brainstorm on further directions or provide feedback to help strengthen grant applications.

Current Member’s Areas of interest include investigating the role of Vitamin D in:

  • Cancer (colorectal cancer and adenoma)
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Endocrine functions (salt-sensitivity, Immuno-regulation)
  • Infectious Disease (HIV, nosocomial infections, sepsis, TB)
  • Iron-limiting innate immune defenses in macrophages
  • Pain ( Chronic pain and HbgSS-associated pain)
  • Parkinson’s
  • Public Health (Pregnancy, Fortification)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

If you would like to receive email notification of meeting topics, please email: Vin Tangpricha ( with your contact information

Southeastern Vitamin D Research Study Group Bios

Allison Ross Eckard
Dr. Eckard’s major research interests include clinical and translational aspects of HIV infection.  She focuses on the metabolic, cardiovascular, and nutritional complications of chronic HIV and antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected children and young adults.  Her current research involves the use of vitamin D supplementation as a means of minimizing HIV-related complications. 

Marian L. Evatt, MD MS
My clinical research focuses on observational and clinical movement disorders trials, including Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, and tremor.  In particular, I am interested in the epidemiology of nutritional deficits in movement disorders and the potential role of nutritional compounds (vitamin B12, vitamin D) as neuroprotective or symptomatic therapies in movement disorders.

Jenny Han
Doing research with Tom Ziegler, Greg Martin and Vin Tangpricha on randomized double blinded NIH trial looking at high dose vitamin D in critically ill patients on mechanical ventilation. We are looking to see if in serum and BAL fluid, vitamin D, LL-37, hBD-2 are increased with high dose vitamin D (50,000IU vs 100,000 IU x 5 days). OUr clinical aim is to see if it reduces noscomial infections.

Jordan A. Kempker, MD
I am Fellow in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and am also working on my Masters of Science and Clinical Research at Emory Rollins School of Public Health.  My primary work is in vitamin D as a potential modifiable risk factor for the development of infection and sepsis.

Mark S. Nanes, MD PhD
Research Interests: Vitamin D transcriptional regulation and target genes.

Gale Newman, Ph.D.
My research interests are vit D in HIV infections and HIV-associated nephropathy

Ifeyinwa (Ify) Osunkwo, Md, MPH
Dr. Ify Osunkwo is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Emory University and a Pediatric Hematologist with expertise in sickle cell disease (SCD). Her research interest is in understanding the clinical correlated of vitamin D deficiency in SCD and how supplementation can improve pain and other relevant clinical outcomes. She recently published the first randomized pilot study demonstrating a reduction in the number of pain days following high dose vitamin D. Her current investigations are looking into the mechanisms responsible for vitamin D related bone disease and immune dysfunction in sickle cell patients.   

Helena Pachón
Dr. Pachon works at the Flour Fortification Initiative (  We are interested in the public health impact that vitamin D fortification (mainly of wheat flour, maize flour and rice) can have in populations from developed and developing countries. 

David Rimland, M.D.
We have investigated vitamin D deficiency in a cohort of HIV positive veterans and have recently completed a study of the association of vitamin D deficiency and MRSA infections. We are currently collecting data on vitamin D deficiency and results of DEXA studies in HIV positive patients.

Donald G. Stein, Ph.D.
Our team of research professors and post-doctoral and graduate student investigators studies the actions of progesterone and its metabolites in a variety of central nervous system disorders.
In collaboration with physicians and scientists here at Emory and around the world, we conduct basic and translational research on the use of progesterone  to treat traumatic injury and stroke across the spectrum of development.
Part of this effort examines combination therapies such as the use of progesterone with vitamin D hormone in stroke and traumatic brain injury. We are finding that this combination works better than providing either VDH or progesterone alone.

Vin Tangpricha, MD, PhD
Dr. Tangpricha is interested in examining the impact of vitamin D in patients with cystic fibrosis and chronic kidney disease. He is particularly interested in testing the hypothesis that vitamin D may improve clinical outcomes in these chronic diseases. His laboratory is involved in many collaborative studies investigating vitamin D as a nutritional intervention in several chronic diseases.  His laboratory runs the 25-hydroxyvitamin D assay and participates in the vitamin D external quality assessment scheme and the NIST/NIH Vitamin D Metabolites Quality Assurance Program.

Myrtle Thierry-Palmer, PhD
Research interests:  salt-sensitivity and vitamin D status; urinary loss of vitamin D metabolites; immuno-regulation and the vitamin D endocrine system

Melissa Wei, MD, MPH,
Emory University Department of Medicine
Dr. Wei is interested in vitamin D and chronic disease, in particular colorectal cancer and adenoma. Methodological approaches include prospective cohort and meta-analysis.

Thomas R. Ziegler, MD
Professor of Medicine
Dr. Ziegler is interested in the impact of high-dose vitamin D administration as a strategy to enhance clearance of infections such as tuberculosis and to upregulate endogenous immune function via antimicrobial peptide production. His lab is involved in several multidisciplinary, collaborative studies in patients with catabolic illness at risk of infection and double-blind RCTs on high-dose vitamin D treatment in patients with pulmonary TB in Tbilisi, Georgia and in intensive care unit patients in Atlanta.

Susu Zughaier, PhD
My name is Susu Zughaier, PhD at the Department of Pediatrics, Emory University.  I investigate the role of vitamin D in regulating iron-limiting innate immune defenses in macrophages. In particular, how vitamin D regulates hepcidin, the master iron regulating hormone and other iron metabolism regulating genes including NRAMP1, BDH2 and NGAL, in macrophages during bacterial infections.