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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 us today at (214) 947-1280.


Crystee Cooper, DHEd, MPH, LSSGB, CHES, CRA, Director

Dr. Crystee Cooper is the Director of the Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI). As Director, 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 from 2013-2019.

As director of the MHSCI, 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 health education, research administration, and Lean Six Sigma.

Administrative Staff

Priyanka Acharya, MPH, MSc, Biostatistician and Data Manager

Priyanka is a results-driven research professional with experience in both public health and clinical research.  Priyanka received her master's in public health from the University of Texas at Houston.  At the Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute (MHSCRI), she provides analytical support for clinical studies including statistical methodologies, data analysis, and interpretation, research dissemination, and development of research protocols. She performs statistical analyses of clinical data, including descriptive analyses, trend analyses, linear and logistic regressions, survival analyses, and Classification & Regression Trees (CART) analyses.  Priyanka has expertise with several statistical tools, including Stata, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), and Statistical Analysis System (SAS).  She is a key contributor to many peer-reviewed manuscripts for multiple disciplines, including hepatology, gastroenterology, internal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology.

Richa Aggarwal, PhD, Regulatory Specialist, Sponsored Clinical Trials

Dr. Richa Aggarwal is a clinical research professional with prior experience in regulatory affairs and clinical data Mmanagement. She holds a PhD in molecular pharmacology & toxicology and master of regulatory sciences from the University of Southern California (USC). Dr. Aggarwal attained the certified clinical research professional (CCRP) designation through the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA).

Angie Aleman, Administrative Assistant

Angie specializes in front office management enhanced by many years of experience in healthcare and information technology. She serves the institute and its affiliates in the areas of project management, event planning, and process improvement.

Jordania Lilly, MEd, Regulatory Specialist, Investigator Initiated Trials

Jordania holds a Master of Education from Georgia Southern University. Her expertise includes public communication, fostering holistic learning environments, and facilitating professional and personal development. Jordania serves as a valuable resource for regulatory compliance related to investigator initiated trials.

Anne Murray, PhD, Medical Writer

Dr. Anne Murray holds a PhD in cell biology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and has over seven years of scientific writing experience in the areas of cell and molecular biology, endocrinology, genetics, retina biology, and immunology. Dr. Murray writes and reviews manuscripts, abstracts, posters, and study material as well as ensures quality control review of all final documents. 

Colette Ngo Ndjom, MS, Regulatory Specialist, Sponsored Clinical Trials

Colette is a research and regulatory professional with several years of experience in the areas of compliance and regulatory affairs. Colette holds a master of science in biotechnology with a concentration in enterprise and entrepreneurship/regulatory affairs from the Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining the institute, Colette served as a research manager with interest in immunotherapies.

Nitasha Phatak, MD, PhD, Regulatory Specialist, Investigator Initiated Trials

Dr. Nitasha Phatak received her medical degree in ophthalmology from University of Mumbai, India, and a PhD in biomedical sciences from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth. She has eight years’ experience in ophthalmic surgery. Dr. Phatak has also worked as global regulatory affairs labeling reviewer in the international pharmaceutical industry. At the institute, she is responsible for coordination and compliance of a variety of clinical research studies. In addition, Dr. Phatak assists residents and fellows with the development & review of research protocols, IRB submissions and other regulatory documents.

Will Ren, BS, MS, Staff Accountant

Will, CPA candidate, previously worked with a World Fortune 500 Company. He holds a master's in accounting and bachelor’s in both finance and accounting. Will has a solid knowledge of GAAP financial reporting and innovative problem solving skills. He is technologically advanced in Allegro, Epic, SAP and ERP systems. Will is dedicated to maintaining accounting systems for accurate and timely reporting. Will assists with the development, execution, and monitoring of program budgets. He also analyzes budget variances and assists with internal and external auditing.

LaToya Thomas, DHEd, MHA, LSSGB, CHPE, Clinical Trials Manager

Dr. LaToya Thomas has been active in the fields of healthcare administration and public health for over seventeen years, focusing on health education, quality assurance, compliance, and research. She attended A.T. Still University, where she earned her doctorate degree in health education. Prior to joining Methodist Health System, Dr. Thomas served as a consultant among organizational cultures to identify new strategies and recommend appropriate revisions to program design.

Heather Grossman Verner, MS, Clinical Research Scientist

Heather is a scientist with over 10 years’ multidisciplinary translational research experience. 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. She provides a unique lens to collaborate, drive, and report on projects essential to the Methodist Dallas Medical Center Level I Trauma Center.

Xinrui Zhang, BS, MS, CPA, Staff Accountant

Xinrui is a certified public accountant and holds a master's degree in accounting and finance. She is experienced in financial reporting and accounting analysis with a strong understanding of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). She maintains accounting systems, databases, and oversees the development and implementation of financial standard operating procedures. Xinrui directs accounts receivables activities for clinical trials, grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements.

Clinical Staff

Seena Arol, NRC-EKG, MBBS, Clinical Research Coordinator

Dr. Seena Arol, a native Texan, is a medical graduate from Dr. D.Y. Patil Medical College and Research Hospital, India. She holds a national certification in EKG interpretation. Dr. Arol has more than fifteen years’ experience in various disciplines including medical research.

Esmeralda Colmenero, NRCMA, Clinical Research Coordinator

Esmeralda has more than fifteen years of health care experience as a Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA). After working as a medical assistant for fifteen years, six of those dedicated to The Liver Institute at Methodist Health System, she moved to the Clinical Research Institute as a research coordinator. Esmeralda’s skills, experience, perspective and dedication to patient health make her a valued team member at the Clinical Research Institute.

Esmeralda Martinez, NRCMA, Clinical Research Coordinator

Esmeralda has more than nine years’ experience in health care, and has worked in the Liver Institute at Methodist Health System as well as the Clinical Research Institute. She currently coordinates clinical trials in multiple medical disciplines. Esmeralda earned certification from the National Association of Health Professionals as a Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA).

Brittany Reinhart, BA, Clinical Research Coordinator

Brittany has been involved in human services for over ten years, with experience in the healthcare field including childhood psychiatric inpatient treatment, service coordination for people with developmental disabilities, and management of a regional practice of nurse practitioners. Brittany currently works with the Clinical Research Scientist on coordination of all trauma-related research studies at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.

Jeny Rendon, BS, Clinical Research Coordinator

Jeny holds a bachelor degree from the University of Houston. She has six years of experience in healthcare. Jeny has experience coordinating trials in a variety of therapeutic areas and has worked extensively as a patient care technician in intensive care and post-operative units. Currently she coordinates oncology-related research studies at Methodist Richardson Medical Center.

Asiya Siddiqui, MS, Quality Improvement Coordinator

Asiya holds a master degree in biomedical science from Louisiana State University and has over six years’ experience in the healthcare industry. She has served as a subject matter expert across various disciplines of medicine. Asiya ensures investigators, delegates, and institute personnel comply with published guidelines and key performance indicators.

Shandra Silas, LVN, Clinical Research Coordinator

Shandra is a Licensed Vocational Nurse with nine years’ experience in healthcare. She has worked in Skilled Nursing Facilities, Long Term Care Facilities and private nursing – for both pediatric and geriatric patients. As a medication review nurse she developed a proficient knowledge of the impact of concurrent use of multiple medications by a patient. She is well versed on the adverse effects of medication related to the patient’s age, gender and multiple diagnoses.

Melba Townsend, CMA, CQA, Clinical Research Coordinator

Melba holds certifications in medical assisting and quality and has over twenty years of experience in the healthcare industry. She currently serves as a clinical research coordinator at the Clinical Research Institute where she provides clinical support in a variety of medical disciplines.

Priyanka Varma, MD, Clinical Research Coordinator

Dr. Priyanka Varma received her medical degree in OB-GYN from Aligarh Muslim University, India. She received her masters’ in prenatal genetics and fetal medicine from the University College of London. Dr. Varma has been a research assistant at the University of Cincinnati and a trauma research fellow at the Methodist Dallas Medical Center. She has presented her research findings at national and international conferences. She brings this wealth of research experience to her work as a Clinical Research Coordinator.

Keaton White, LVN, Clinical Research Coordinator

Keaton obtained his Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) credential from Texarkana Community College. Keaton has over 12 years of experience in healthcare, six of which have been as an LVN. He has experience working in skilled nursing facilities, long-term assisted care facilities, and a CMS-certified Chronic Care Management  Services program.  Under the supervision of various principal investigators, Keaton carries out a variety of administrative tasks that involve analytical skills, a good decision-making ability, and a sound knowledge of study-related practices.  As a nurse research coordinator at the MHSCRI, Keaton is responsible for performing physical examinations, transient elastography, electrocardiograms, phlebotomy, and medication administration.  Keaton uses his experience as a nurse to provide quality and patient-centered care throughout Methodist Health System.