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Clinical Research Institute

Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute

The Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI) is a multi-disciplinary entity that facilitates research throughout Methodist Health System, its hospitals, and its affiliates. The MHSCRI was established to facilitate a culture of clinical innovation that benefits our patients and their families. The MHSCRI strives to ensure that researchers conduct their work in such a way that it meets or exceeds international, federal, and state regulations.

Our Mission

The mission of the MHSCRI is to provide professional, ethical, and relevant clinical research support to clinical investigators and research staff at Methodist Health System.

MHSCRI areas of expertise include:

  • Cardiology
  • Cardiovascular Surgery
  • Endoscopy
  • Endovsacular
  • Endocrinology
  • Family Practice
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology
  • Hepatology
  • Hepatopancreaticobiliary
  • Infectious Disease
  • Internal Medicine
  • Interventional Radiology
  • Neurology
  • Nursing
  • Obstetrics
  • Oncology
  • Orthopedics
  • Pain Management
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Surgical Transplantation
  • Trauma
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Wound Care

Visit for a database of clinical trials.

To learn more about our Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute, call (214) 947-1280.


Crystee Cooper, DHEd, MPH, CLSSBB, CRA®, Vice President of Research & Simulation

Dr. Crystee Cooper is the Vice President of the Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI) and the Center for Simulation and Wellness (C-SAW). As Vice President, Dr. Cooper leads a team of investigators, research administrative and clinical support staff, fellows, and volunteers in the conduct of high-quality, safe, and compliant clinical trials in collaboration with industry, academia, and government sponsors. Prior to joining Methodist Health System, Dr. Cooper served in several leadership roles with high-profile organizations and held an adjunct faculty appointment with the University of North Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health in the Department of Health Behaviors and Health Systems.

Dr. Cooper is responsible for general oversight of the institute, including resourcing, business development, and client services. She establishes and maintains collaborative relationships with industry sponsors, academia, and other research and education organizations in an effort to support the provision, collection, and dissemination of high-quality services, data, and information. Under Dr. Cooper's leadership, and in collaboration with an esteemed group of medical providers and study teams, the MHSCRI continuously strives to improve communities one life at a time by doing its part to help increase access to new treatments, bridge research-practice gaps, and support nationally recognized programs across Methodist Health System and its affiliates.

Dr. Cooper holds a Doctorate of Health Education and Master of Public Health from A.T. Still University, formerly Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCOM), located in Kirksville, Missouri. She is a former National Institutes of Health (NIH) scholar at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine where she helped to design the Graphics Assisted Learning Environment (GALE) for computer-assisted instruction and clinical observation of rheumatic diseases. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the areas of research, healthcare administration, quality-assurance, compliance, grants administration, and public health. Dr. Cooper is certified in several disciplines, including health education, research administration, and Lean Six Sigma.

Colette Ngo Ndjom, MS, Director of the Clinical Research Institute

Colette is a research and regulatory professional with several years of experience in the areas of compliance and regulatory affairs. Prior to joining the Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI), Colette served as a research manager with an interest in immunotherapies. She holds a M.S, in Biotechnology with a concentration in enterprise and entrepreneurship / regulatory affairs from Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. in Biology from Oklahoma Baptist University.

At the MHSCRI, Colette has direct experience in regulatory oversight for all clinical trials issues in drug products and medical devices. Colette is involved with study startup and aptly interacts with stakeholders and sponsors to assist researchers in maintaining regulatory compliance during their studies. In 2019, she completed the Emerging Leadership Program offered at Methodist Health System, which identifies and recruits aspiring leaders and prepares them for possible leadership roles at Methodist Health System.

Administrative Staff

Lauren Brady, Executive Assistant

Lauren Brady is an executive assistant with over 18 years of administrative experience in the healthcare industry. Her first role at Methodist Health System (MHS) provided support to project managers planning the expansion and renovations of MHS. These expansions included the ground breaking of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, the addition of Pavilion III and Pavilion III parking garage at Methodist Dallas Medical Center (MDMC), the addition of the professional office building (POB) II and POB II parking garage at MDMC, and other internal renovations of MDMC and Methodist Charlton Medical Center. She also has a history of clinical administration experience at MHS working on inpatient nursing units alongside physicians, nurses, and other medical staff vital to providing quality patient care. Office management in Emergency Medical Services Education provided Lauren with experience in Emergency Medical Technicians-Basic/Paramedic program enrollment, licensing renewal, clinical affiliation agreements, utilizing the GI Bill for Veteran Affairs benefits, American Heart Association card classes, and ensuring Department of State Health Services compliance.

As an executive assistant to those in senior leadership positions, she has gained experience and proficiency in problem solving, project management, office management, customer service, and creating a positive environment for a cohesive team. At the MHS Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI), Lauren performs diverse administrative activities to assist the MHSCRI Vice President, director, and managers as they strive to provide professional, ethical, and relevant support to principal investigators, research coordinators, clinical trial subjects, and other staff members within MHS.

Bethany Brauer, MPH, LPN, Regulatory and Compliance Manager

Bethany Brauer is a graduate from Missouri State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology and a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. During her time in the MPH program, Bethany worked in home health care as a pediatric private duty nurse, graduate assistant, and research assistant. She completed her field experience at a local public health agency at the Stone County Health Department where she gathered data and completed the county’s community health needs assessment. Prior to pursuing her education at Missouri State University, Bethany attended Ozarks Technical Community College where she received her Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) credentials.

Bethany worked on multiple research projects in relation to public health before joining the Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI) as a Nurse Research Coordinator. These included conducting a tick surveillance research project in Southwest Missouri to determine if the invasive tick species Haemaphysalis longicornis was present in Missouri and a rapid qualitative research project to assess COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Northwest Springfield, Missouri. Her research experience resulted in a published article and her work assessing vaccine hesitancy developed into a project to break down barriers for access to the vaccine and address hesitancies. Bethany transitioned to the role of Regulatory Specialist in which her knowledge in research and medicine from an interdisciplinary approach as well as her concern for patients makes her an essential asset to the MHSCRI regulatory team. As Regulatory and Compliance, Bethany uses her experience in the realms of both nurse research coordination and regulatory compliance to lead the regulatory specialist team at the MHSCRI.

Karen Castro, BS, CCRC, Clinical Trials Manager

Karen Castro obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Science (Biology) from the University of Texas at Dallas. She has over six years of experience in the clinical research industry. Prior to joining the Methodist Health System (MHS) Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI), she performed various roles in clinical research at a contract research organization and a local hospital. Karen’s professional experience includes navigating phase I to IV trials for pharmaceutical companies as well as interventional and natural history investigator-initiated studies for various medical specialties. Karen joined the MHSCRI in 2022 as the clinical research trials manager. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day clinical research operations of sponsored trials for multiple specialties within MHS. Karen has a passion for innovation through clinical research. She leads her team in providing quality clinical research services to advance standard of care treatment and expand access to medical care for our patients at MHS.

Mingyang Cui, MSc, Data Science and Biostatistician Manager

Mingyang graduated from University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in statistics before earning a Master of Science degree in statistics from George Washington University. Mingyang worked on many statistical analysis projects in school and attended data science competitions after graduation. An internship in the Bank of China helped him develop skills in coding, data cleaning, and data analysis. As the Data Science and Biostatistician Manager at Methodist Health System’s Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI), Mingyang has the opportunity to contribute his statistical analysis skills to several facets of clinical research, including sample size calculations, statistical consulting, data cleaning, and data analysis. He also helps review and edit the statistical methods sections in investigator-initiated trial protocols, manuscripts, and conference abstracts. He has a strong passion to learn new methodologies that will help him provide excellent statistical support at the MHSCRI.

Heather Grossman Verner, MS, ACRP-CP, Clinical Trials Manager (Trauma Research)

Heather is a scientist with over 10 years’ experience in multidisciplinary translational research. She earned a master of science in biological sciences focusing on pathogenesis modeling systems of emerging infectious disease. Heather has a passion for collaborative science and effective science communication. Her areas of expertise include in vivo and in vitro modeling as well as battlefield trauma standard of care. Heather served as a third-party manuscript editor, promoting the publication of scientific findings from non-native English speaking scientists.

At Methodist Health System, Heather manages an interdisciplinary research program fostering collaboration between system physicians and the trauma research team. Her program research aims currently target geriatric trauma (G60), mass casualty preparedness, penetrating trauma and antibiotic stewardship. Heather works to facilitate multi-center research trial in alignment with institutional investigator interests, provides research mentorship to surgical residents, and manages a Trauma Research Fellowship for aspiring surgeons. With her diverse background, she provides a unique lens to collaborate, drive, and report on projects aimed at developing and improving the standards of trauma care.

Traqueva Langrum, BAAS, Senior Staff Accountant

Traqueva is an accounting professional with fifteen years of accounting experience. She earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science degree from the University of North Texas. In her previous position, Traqueva was responsible for multiple aspects of the accounting cycle, including month-end close and reconciliation while leading a team of various levels of accounting professionals. At the Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI), Traqueva helps perform several accounting activities, including assisting with the development, execution, and monitoring of program budgets, accounts receivables activities for clinical trials, grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements.

Anne Murray, PhD, MWC®, Lead Medical Writer

Dr. Anne Murray holds a PhD in Cell Biology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and has over nine years of scientific writing experience in basic science research in the areas of cell and molecular biology, endocrinology, genetics, retina biology, and immunology. She is an active member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). Through AMWA, she earned a Composition and Publication Certificate, attends education sessions to expand her medical writing knowledge, co-leads educational sessions at local and international medical writing conferences, and earned a Medical Writer Certified (MWC®) credential.

At the Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI), Dr. Murray performs comprehensive literature searches as well as writes, edits, and reviews manuscripts, abstracts, posters, and study material for Methodist Health System researchers. She ensures quality control review of all final documents, verifying that all documents comply with regulatory, journal, and other guidelines. Dr. Murray assists Methodist Health System researchers in developing comprehensive document strategies and detailed timelines for research dissemination. She also developed curriculum for an annual manuscript development seminar for residents, clinicians, and staff in several service lines at Methodist Health System. Dr. Murray also creates and disseminates informative documents to Methodist Health System researchers and employees associated with MHSCRI. In 2021, she completed the Emerging Leadership Program offered at Methodist Health System, which identifies and recruits aspiring leaders and prepares them for possible leadership roles at Methodist Health System.

Clinical Staff

Cynthia Villalta, DO, Trauma Research Coordinator

Dr. Cynthia Villalta graduated from the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM) in 2022. Before joining the Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI), Dr. Villalta served as Vice President of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons Medical Student Section at AZCOM. Her past research includes investigating etiology of spontaneous coronary artery dissection and its impact on pregnant women and maternal death.

At the MHSCI, Dr. Villalta is the clinical research coordinator for the department of Trauma and Acute Care surgery. Her responsibilities include patient screening and consenting for study eligibility, manuscript writing and editing, literature reviews, data collection, and analysis of large databases such as the National Trauma Databank and Trauma Quality Improvement Project. With professional interests in surgical innovation and community outreach, Dr. Villalta plans to make an impact in the medical field by combining her experience in research with a future career in surgery.