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 affiliates. The MHSCRI was established to facilitate a culture of clinical innovation that benefits our patients and their families. The Methodist CRI strives to ensure that research is carried out in such a way that meets or exceeds international, federal, and state regulations.

Our Mission

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

Methodist Clinical Research Institute areas of expertise include:

  • Cardiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Family Practice
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology
  • Hepatology
  • Infectious Disease
  • Internal Medicine
  • Interventional Radiology
  • Neurology
  • 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, CGM, Director

Dr. Crystee Cooper is the Director of the Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute. As Director, Dr. Cooper leads a team of researchers, staff, fellows, and volunteers in the conduct of high quality, safe and compliant clinical trials for industry, academia, and government sponsors. Prior to joining Methodist Health System, Dr. Cooper served several high profile organizations in the areas of health services research, grants administration, and compliance. Dr. Cooper holds adjunct 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 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 certified in Lean Six Sigma operations, health education, grants management and 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. Dr. Cooper has more than 20 years’ experience in the areas of research, healthcare administration, quality, compliance, grants administration, and public health.

Administrative Staff

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.

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 Management. She holds a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology & Toxicology and Master of Regulatory Sciences from the University of Southern California (USC).

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 concertation in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship/Regulatory Affairs from the Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining the Clinical Research 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, Fort Worth. She has eight years’ experience in ophthalmic surgery. Dr. Phatak has also worked as global regulatory affairs labeling reviewer for an international pharmaceutical industry. At the Clinical Research Institute, she is responsible for coordination and compliance of a variety of clinical research studies. In addition, Dr. Phatak assists residence and fellows with the development & review of research protocols, IRB submissions and other regulatory documents.

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.

Priyanka Acharya, MPH, MSc, Biostatistician and Data Manager

Priyanka provides analytical support for clinical studies including statistical methodologies, analysis, interpretation, dissemination and development of research protocols. She is a key contributor to many peer-reviewed manuscripts for multiple disciplines, including Hepatology, Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology. Priyanka is a result-driven research professional with experience in both public health and clinical research. She is an expert with many statistical tools including STATA, SPSS and SAS. Priyanka received her Masters’ in Public Health from the University of Texas at Houston.

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.

Danette Tidwell, Administrative Assistant

Danette is a dynamic administrator experienced in budgeting, event planning, program management, proposal assistance, fundraising, inventory, purchasing, scheduling, account analysis and billing. She is an effective trainer in office and computer skills. Danette helps the team with skills to communicate, collaborate and coordinate.

Xinrui Zhang, BS, MS, CPA, Staff Accountant

Xinrui is a certified public accountant and holds a Master 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.

Saphara Zavala, BS, Administrative Assistant

Saphara holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Texas Tech and is pursuing a MBA at Texas Woman’s University (TWU). Her experience as a certified nursing assistant as well as an operations representative allows her to be a dynamic and personable administrative assistant. Saphara plays an integral supportive role in the conduct of ethical, compliant, high-quality research.

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. 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.

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.

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 with 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 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.

Minaxi Vora, MBBS, MD, ECFMG, CCRP, Clinical Research Coordinator

Dr. Minaxi Vora received her MBBS degree from the M.P. Shah Medical College in Gujarat, India. She is a certified through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA). Dr. Vora has several years of experience in various disciplines including medical research.

Keaton White, LVN, Clinical Research Coordinator

Keaton obtained his Licensed Vocational Nurse credential from Texarkana, TX Community College. Keaton has over twelve years of experience in Healthcare, six of which have been as an LVN. He has experience working in skilled nursing facilities (SNF), long-term assisted care facilities (LTAC) and a CMS certified Chronic Care Management (CCM) program. Keaton uses his experience as a nurse and seasoned healthcare provider to provide quality and patient-centered care.

Jeny Rendon, BS, Clinical Research Coordinator

Jeny holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University Of Houston. She has six years of experience in health care. 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 serves as a CRC for oncology-related research studies as the Methodist Richardson Medical Center.