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2018 Summit Speakers

2018 Summit Speakers

Maria Azzarelli, EMHA, CHES

Maria AzzarelliManager, Office of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Southern Nevada Health District

Maria Azzarelli joined the Southern Nevada Health District’s (SNHD) Tobacco Control Program (TCP) in 1999. In 2004, Maria was promoted to Tobacco Control Coordinator, and in 2018 became manager of the Office of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Under Maria’s direction, the TCP provides tobacco prevention and control programming for over 70 percent (1.9 million) of the state’s population. When the program was initiated in 1999, Nevada had some of the highest tobacco use rates in the nation, with adult smoking prevalence at 31% and youth smoking prevalence at 33% (BRFSS and YRBS, 1999). With a focus on population-based education including large-scale media campaigns, community mobilization, and policy, the TCP has been instrumental in declining rates.

Christina Demopoulos, DDS, MPH

Christina DemopoulosAssociate Professor of Clinical Studies, UNLV School of Dental Medicine

Associate Professor Christina A. Demopoulos joined UNLV School of Dental Medicine during fall 2001 and teaches public health, tobacco cessation, health promotion, behavioral sciences, and access-to-care topics within the pre-doctoral dental program. She also provides information about tobacco cessation and access to care within the post-graduate pediatric dental program.

Dr. Demopoulos’ research focuses on improving the health of diverse populations. Her current work focuses on improving the health of newborn to 5-year-olds within Early Head Start and Head Start Centers in Nevada. The project involves other states and aims to identify what factors may contribute to increased oral health risks among this population. The study also seeks to identify which evidence-based health promotion strategies can be implemented in these centers to improve the overall health of these kids and their families. She is actively involved with a variety of other projects that have been implemented in school and community-based settings.

Dr. Demopoulos earned her undergraduate and master of public health degrees from UNLV. She received her dental degree from the University of Southern California and her dental public health training from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

She is a member of the Nevada Public Health Association, Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors, American Association of Public Health Dentistry—for which she serves as co-chair of the association’s council on educational affairs—American Board of Dental Public Health, Dental Specialty Group, and a variety of other associations and committees focused on improving the health of a diverse population. She recently received the Immunize Nevada/Innovation in Immunization award for her community-based efforts promoting oral health screenings at immunization clinics.

Denise Harrison, BS, CTR

Denise HarrisonAssociate Professor, Director of Cancer Information Management Program, Santa Barbara City College

Denise Harrison is an associate professor, director of the Cancer Information Management (CIM) program and served as chair of the Health Information Technology/Cancer Information Management (HIT/CIM) department at Santa Barbara City College from 2011 through 2017.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of West Florida in Pensacola, and did post-graduate studies in microbiology and immunology through a teaching fellowship at Texas A&M  University in Kingsville, Texas. She taught biology, microbiology, and anatomy courses at Midland College and Western Wyoming Community College. In Wyoming, she also directed a federal grant aimed at training economically disadvantaged women for careers in non-traditional fields. At one point, she served as the technical supervisor for the breath-alcohol testing program in Ector County, Texas. She has been a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) since 2005, and has worked as a cancer registry coordinator for Commission on Cancer accredited cancer programs in the Houston Medical Center.

She is active in the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA), where she has served as Education Chair, as a member the Alternative Methods committee, and has been writing the CE quizzes for the Journal of Registry Management for several years. She actively participates in her state association, the Texas Tumor Registrars Association (TxTRA), and has served as Parliamentarian and By Laws Committee Chair, as well as the Program Committee co-chair for TxTRA’s Annual Educational Conference (2013). She is a contributing author for the Cancer Registry CASEbooks, associate with A. Fritz and Associates, and frequently requested speaker.

Dr. Leslie Hunter-Johnson, DNP, MSN, AGPNCP-BC, RN-BC, CCRN, CNRN, CHPN

Leslie Hunter-JohnsonDirector of Hospice and Palliative Care, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center

Leslie Hunter-Johnson received a Bachelor of Nursing from University of Hawaii, a Masters of Nursing from University of Phoenix and a Doctor of Nursing Practice from University of South Alabama. She has more than 25 years nursing experience working in a variety of settings, including Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu HI, Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas, NV as well as Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas, NV. As Director of Hospice and Palliative Care for Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, Leslie Hunter-Johnson is responsible for the coordination of services between the contracted hospice provider and the organization to insure a transition to comfort. She works collaboratively with the organ donor network to facilitate the donation after circulatory death process. As the pain management nurse practitioner, she provides evidenced-based care for pain and symptom management

Leslie Hunter-Johnson is an Advisory Board Member of the Nevada Organ Donor Network and a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute Executive Board member. She is also a trainer-the-trainer in End-of-life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) in both critical care and core modules, Education in Palliative and End-of-life Care EPEC, and for COMFORT Communication.

Philip C. Mack, PhD

Philip Mack PhDUC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Mack conducts molecular biology and molecular pharmacology studies for the UC Davis Cancer Center, the California Cancer Consortium, and the Southwest Oncology Group. For the past twelve years, Dr. Mack has conducted basic and translational research, with an emphasis on lung cancer. His investigations include molecular and cellular effects of novel anticancer agents in lung cancer models. Dr. Mack is Director of the UC Davis Cancer Center Molecular Pharmacology shared resource, Director of Basic Sciences for the California Cancer Consortium and Associate Director of the Southwest Oncology Group Lung Translational Medicine Committee. Read more:

Kimberly McGregor, MD

Medical Director of Medical Affairs, Foundation Medicine

Kim has been a practicing medical oncologist and hematologist since 2005. After completing her fellowship at the University of Utah/Huntsman Cancer Institute, she remained on faculty for 3 years specializing in gastrointestinal cancers.  She then transitioned into the community setting, first in Oregon and then subsequently in Colorado, with the goal of building increasing community access to clinical trials thru collaborations with academic institutes.  She most recently served as the breast cancer program director at St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center in Colorado prior to joining Foundation Medicine in August of 2018 as the Medical Director of Medical Affairs. 

Robert S. Negrin, MD

Robert NegrinProfessor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Stanford University

Robert S. Negrin, MD is a Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation at Stanford University. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and MD from Harvard University. He trained in medicine and hematology at Stanford University and joined the faculty in 1990. His research work has focused on cellular immunology in particular developing a more fundamental understanding of complex biological reactions such as graft versus host and graft vs tumor reactions in animal models and in the clinic. He has authored over 225 original papers, 40 book chapters and a book. He has received a number of awards including the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award and is a member of the Association of American Physicians. He was previously the President of the International Society of Cellular Therapy and the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. He served as an Associate Editor of the journal Blood and is the founding editor of Blood Advances. Read more:

Rupesh Parikh, MD

Rupesh ParikhMedical Oncologist, Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada

Dr. Rupesh Parikh’s philosophy of taking care of the patient first and the disease second, has led him to become highly regarded and respected within the local community and throughout the country. He is the recipient of numerous notable awards including the Patients’ Choice Award 2008-2018 and Most Compassionate Doctor Award 2010-2018 by, Top Doctors by Vegas Inc. and Castle Connolly and America’s Top Oncologist by the Consumer Research Council of America. Dr. Parikh has been recognized as a Medical Marvel by Nevada Business Magazine and Health Care Headliner by Greenspun Media Group. He was also recognized by Health Tap as one of the top oncologists in the United States. .

Since joining Comprehensive in 2005, Dr. Parikh has been proactive in the fight against cancer having served as Principal Investigator for a number of clinical trials. With access to more than 170 clinical trials, Dr. Parikh treats patients who have traveled from out of state as well as many local patients. Besides his work at Comprehensive, Dr. Parikh also strives to give back to the medical community as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for Touro University and Clinical Assistant Professor for UNLV School of Medicine, helping to teach the practitioners of tomorrow. He has authored several publications and currently sits on the Medical Executive Committee and serves as the Chairman of the Pharmacy & Therapeutic Committee at the Dignity Health – St. Rose Hospitals in the Las Vegas/Henderson area. Dr. Parikh also serves as Chief of Staff for Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican’s Siena and Rose de Lima campuses.

Prior to joining the practice, Dr. Parikh was the lead researcher for enrolling patients onto clinical trials at Southern California Permanente Medical Group at Kaiser Fontana. He served on the Regional Cancer Committee and was the Chairman of the Local Cancer Committee as well. Read more:

Christine Pool

Program Manager, Nevada Central Cancer Registry

R. Nathan Slotnick, MD, PhD

Nathan SlotnickDirector of Medical Genetics, Renown Institute for Cancer

Dr. Slotnick is a perinatologist and medical geneticist. He has a master’s degree in Molecular Genetics from the University of Washington and a doctorate degree from the State University of New York, Buffalo. He earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh and completed his residency and Fellowship training at University of California San Francisco and has served as Assistant Professor at the University of California, Davis (Maternal-Fetal Medicine) and Associate Professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School (Maternal-Fetal Medicine).

As a medical geneticist, Dr. Slotnick oversees a team of genetic counselors to provide genetic counseling and testing to people at increased risk for hereditary cancer, which can assist them to make informed medical decisions based on their own personal risk assessment.

Anu Thummala, MD

Anu ThummalaHematology and Oncology, Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada

Dr. Thummala joined Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada in January 2006. Previously, she was practicing in a single specialty group in Texas. While practicing in Texas, she acted as the physician liaison appointed by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and served on the Cancer Committee. She also worked as a Medical Director for a Hospice Program.

Dr. Thummala served as Chairman of the Quality Council and member of the Medical Executive Committee at Mountain View Hospital. She is also a member of the Cancer Committee at Summerlin Hospital. Dr. Thummala received the prestigious Preceptor of the Year award for 2008-2009 from the University of Nevada School of Medicine where she is currently involved with the resident teaching program. She is currently serving as the Vice Chairman of Medicine at Summerlin Hospital and on hospital peer review committee.

Dr. Thummala focuses on the treatment of all types of cancers with a special interest in breast, colon and lung cancers/research. She is currently involved in research as the Principal Investigator for many of UCLA’s Breast Cancer trials. She also published a study on the treatment of hot flashes in women with breast cancer, a trial using preoperative ceftuzumab in rectal cancer patients and recently a randomized phase 2 study of PD 0332991, a cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4/6 inhibitor, in combination with letrozole vs letrozole alone for first-line treatment of ER+/HER2- advanced breast cancer (BC).

Dr. Thummala has extensive experience in the management of hematological malignancies and all types of blood disorders. She has been recognized as a Medical Marvel by Nevada Business Magazine in 2013 and 2014 and received the Athena Leadership Award by the Woman’s Chamber of Commerce in 2014. Read more:

Darla Zarley, PharmD

Darla Zarley is a 1997 graduate of North Dakota State University. She worked for a local chain pharmacy as a pharmacy manager and market trainer before joining the staff at Roseman University in 2001.  In addition to her responsibilities for coordinating the P3 students Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE), she taught Pharmacy Law and Pharmacy Calculations. In November 2015, Dr. Zarley was appointed by Governor Sandoval to serve on the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy. She resigned for the board in 2018 and subsequently joined the staff at the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy in June 2018 as Grant and Project Analyst. 

Lauren Zion, PharmD, BCOP, BCPS, CCRP

Oncology Pharmacy Clinical Specialist, Renown Health

Lauren Zion is the clinical pharmacy specialist in Oncology at Renown Health. She graduated from Creighton University School of Pharmacy with her PharmD degree and then completed a year of postgraduate education as a pharmacy resident at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, NV. She is a Certified Clinical Research Professional and is board certified in Pharmacotherapy and Oncology. Prior to her current role, Lauren worked as Research Pharmacist to develop and advance the Investigational Drug Service at Renown. This experience has helped her to become a participant and driver of a new collaborative project with the UNR School of Medicine which aims to implement investigator conceived and initiated clinical trials at Renown. As a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, Lauren provides support for clinical staff pharmacists and precepts pharmacy students and pharmacy residents in practice experiences for Oncology, Clinical Research and Drug Information/Drug Policy. Ultimately, she seeks to serve as a resource to healthcare professionals on the multidisciplinary team in both the inpatient and outpatient Oncology settings, striving to continually improve and maximize compassionate, safe, and efficacious care of the cancer patient in her home state of Nevada and beyond.