Our Contributors

Dr. Dan Beckles
Dr. Dan Beckles

 Daniel L. Beckles, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, FACC, FCCP
Assistant Professor of Surgery, Director of Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery and Co-Director of Lung Transplant Surgery

Dr. Beckles received his M.D degree in 1997 from the State University of New York (SUNY), Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York and stayed on to complete his general surgery residency at the same institution. In 2004, Dr. Beckles received his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from SUNY, Downstate. He then completed a cardiothoracic residency at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center/Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He completed an additional year of fellowship training in minimally invasive thoracic surgery at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts and stayed on as an Associate Surgeon.

He is Board Certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. His clinical specialties include off-pump coronary revascularization, MID-CAB, valve disease, VATS lobectomy, minimally invasive esophagectomy, heart and lung transplant, mesothelioma, hyperhidrosis, pectus repair, tracheal resection, mediastinal tumors, endobronchial stenting and palliative procedures for malignant pleural effusions.

Dr. Niki Carayannopoulos

Nikoletta L. Carayannopoulos, DO
Assistant Professor & Chief of  Orthopaedic Trauma

Dr. Carayannopoulos completed her Orthopaedic Surgery residency at UTMB, an Orthopaedic Trauma Fellowship at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and an AO International Trauma Fellowship in Hanover, Germany. Her areas of clinical interest include acute orthopaedic trauma, post-traumatic reconstructive surgery, and upper extremity surgery. She serves patients at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, the UTMB Orthopedic Clinic at South Shore Harbour, the UTMB Specialty Care Center in League City, and other major hospitals in the region.

Dr. Catherine Hansen

Dr. Catherine Hansen

Catherine Hansen MD, FACOG, MPH
Pelvic Health and Continence Center

Dr. Hansen completed a clinical fellowship in Sexual Medicine after conclusion of residency in obstetrics and gynecology. Sexual Medicine includes all aspects of sexual health, including low sexual desire, orgasmic disorders, pelvic pain, marital issues, family planning and menopausal assessment and treatment.  After completing a Master’s of Public Health at Johns Hopkins she put her training to work in a rural community in Canada as a solo practitioner from 2002-2009.  Dr. Hansen has always been enthusiastic about promoting up-to-date care, quality assurance and patient safety for the community she serves.  Joining UTMB in November 2010, Dr. Hansen became an integral part of a multi-disciplinary team at the Pelvic Health and Continence Center housed in the Specialty Care Center at Victory Lakes.  The Pelvic Health Center brings together urogynecology, urology, colon and rectal surgery, gastroenterology, physical therapy and psychology along with Dr. Hansen’s comprehensive gynecologic services and sexual health expertise.  (See full profile)

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Norbert K. Herzog, PhD and David W. Niesel, PhD
Medical Discovery News (pictured left to right)

The voices and energy behind Medical Discovery News are two scientists who met at the University of Texas at Austin in 1980, where they were pursuing research on infectious microbes and how they cause disease. Professors David W. Niesel, in 1983, and Norbert K. Herzog, in 1989, joined the faculty of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, world renowned for research in infectious and emerging tropical diseases, among other biomedical specialties. After accepting a Professorship in 2012 at the Department of Medical Sciences at the Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, Dr. Herzog is now a founding member of the faculty at this new medical school. He continues as a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Their outgoing personalities and passion for promoting the understanding of science among the public evolved into Medical Discovery News five years ago. The show’s two-minute conversations have unraveled breaking scientific news, such as whether airport full-body scanners pose radiation risks, as well as ancient history, such as King Tut’s paternity. They’ve also explained puzzling biomedical questions such as why people yawn and the health benefits of beer. Another episode on the link between too little sleep and early death really woke up their listeners! This is done in an entertaining and informative way. Watch out – you might learn something!

Dr. Herzog

•Professor in the Department of Medical Sciences at the Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT

•Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Pathology and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX

•Scientist in the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Center for Tropical Diseases

•The Leon Bromberg Distinguished Professor for Excellence in Teaching and Paul Brindley Distinguished Scholar

•Research interests include drug design, cellular signal transduction associated with the pathogenesis of infectious agents, virology and biodefense

•Personal interests include photography, cooking, music and travel

Dr. Niesel

•Professor and Chairman of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX

•Scientist in the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Sealy Center for Structural Biology, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development and the Center for Tropical Diseases

•Vice Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

•J.P. Saunders Professor in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

•Research interests focus on the regulation of bacteria gene expression during infection in the host, mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis, biodefense, and the adaptation of bacteria to the space environment

•Personal interests include family, cooking, reading and travel

Dr. Tristi Muir

Dr. Tristi Muir

Dr. Tristi Muir, MD, FACOG
Pelvic Health and Continence Center

Dr. Tristi Muir is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Director of Urogynecology at UTMB Health. She received her medical degree from Mayo Medical School in 1993. Dr. Muir completed residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Texas A&M Health Sciences Center, Scott and White Hospital. She then completed a 3-year fellowship in urogynecology and reconstructive surgery at The Cleveland Clinic. Concurrently, Dr. Muir received fellowship training in advanced laparoscopy. Dr. Muir is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She was elected to the AOA Medical Honor Society in 1997. (see full profile)

Dr. Michelle Sierpina

Dr. Michelle Sierpina

Michelle Sierpina, Ph.D. (2007)
Director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Dr. Michelle Sierpina, Founding Director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UTMB Health in Galveston, Texas, began her work in eldercare in the 1960’s. Her Ph.D. with concentration in Humanistic Gerontology investigated the lived experience of lifestory writing and sharing groups. Her M. S. in Human Services Administration focused on management of non-profit organizations, especially adult daycare. At UTMB she developed The Pentimento Project—Lifestory Writing and Sharing Groups, a part of the Creativity Continuum: storytelling modalities across a continuum of capability including those with dementia.

A certified facilitator trainer for TimeSlips©, creative storytelling for those with dementia, she also serves on the national Scientific Advisory Council, Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, Tucson, Arizona. Co-producer of Bringing Stories to Life and Making Lives Visible facilitator training videos, Sierpina is on the editorial Board, Osher Lifelong Learning Review— The Annual Journal of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes.

Under her direction, OLLI at UTMB has received three consecutive $100,000 annual grants from the Bernard Osher Foundation culminating in a $1 million endowment (with $50,000 bridge funding) in 2008. She has taught at UT Houston Center on Aging, University of Nevada, Reno, St. George’s Medical University in Grenada, and at conferences around the nation, as well as in UTMB’s Institute for the Medical Humanities and School of Nursing Graduate Program. Her lifestory protocols are practiced as far away as Tauranga, New Zealand. Sierpina has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on topics in gerontology, spirituality, and creativity in aging. Continuing her research on lifestory writing and sharing groups, she studies and nurtures creativity and lifelong learning among aging individuals across the entire continuum of functional capability.

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Victor S. Sierpina, MD
UTMB Distinguished Teaching Professor
W.D. and Laura Nell Nicholson Family Professor in Integrative Medicine; Director, Medical Student Education

Dr. Sierpina joined UTMB’s Department of Family Medicine in 1996. He attended medical school at the Abraham Lincoln School of Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He completed his internship and residency in Family Practice at the MacNeal Memorial Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois. After completing his residency he did advanced study in Medical Acupuncture for Physicians at the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Sierpina is board certified by both the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. Dr. Sierpina’s interests are in medical student education in Family Medicine, Integrative Medicine and Integrative Oncology. His practice includes acupuncture, nutrition, botanical medicine and mind-body therapies.

Dr. Joseph Sonstein

Dr. Joseph Sonstein

Joseph Sonstein
Minimally Invasive and Robotic Urology

Dr. Sonstein is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Urology. He graduated Cum Laude from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Psychology. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch, and stayed on at UTMB for residency training in Urology. His current areas of research include prostate cancer screening and testosterone replacement therapy. His areas of clinical interest include robotic surgery, reconstructive urology, as well as general urology.

Dr. Eric Walser

Dr. Eric Walser

Eric Walser, MD
Interventional Radiology

Dr. Walser is an energetic leader with an outstanding track record as a clinical and translational investigator. He will play a vital role in ensuring that our imaging services continue to flourish. As an internationally renowned interventional radiologist, his clinical interests are wide-ranging and include the use of ablation therapy to treat small tumors of the liver and kidney as an alternative to traditional open surgery. For example, he developed a new program of laser ablation of tumors using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guidance. His investigational efforts focus on developing interventional procedures using MRI to treat and diagnose patients without the use of harmful ionizing radiation. Using MRI, ultrasound, and CT technology, Dr. Walser has developed advanced protocols and techniques to image cardiovascular disease non-invasively. Dr. Walser has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals including the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Annals of Surgery, and Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology, as well as book chapters, abstracts and letters. He is a reviewer for many prestigious journals and has lectured throughout the world regarding cancer treatment and minimally invasive surgical management. He is a member of several important professional organizations including the American Board of Radiology (examiner), American College of Radiology, American Roentgen Ray Society, and Radiological Society of North America. As an educator, Dr. Walser has been very active in teaching and has mentored numerous residents and fellows. Dr. Walser earned his medical degree from UTMB in 1988. He completed both his diagnostic radiology residency training (1992) and interventional radiology and body imaging fellowship training (1993) at the Indiana University Medical Center. He began his professional career as an Assistant Professor and Chief of Diagnosis in the Department of Radiology at UTMB. After leadership service at other institutions including the St. Paul Medical Center in Dallas and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Dr. Walser returned to UTMB in 2011.

Dr. Andrew Zhang

Dr. Andrew Zhang

Andrew Y. Zhang, MD
Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Dr. Zhang joined UTMB in 2011 after completing his hand surgery fellowship at Stanford Hospital and Clinics in Palo Alto CA, where he studied under the tutelage of Dr. Vincent R. Hentz, a world renowned hand surgeon. He earned his M.D. degree from Stanford University School of Medicine and subsequently completed a six year residency in Plastic Surgery at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. Dr. Zhang’s clinical interests include all aspects of hand surgery, including nerve compression syndromes -such as carpal tunnel syndrome; peripheral nerve injuries- including the brachial plexus; arthritis – including thumb basal joint arthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; pediatric hand deformities; and Dupuytren’s disease- including treatment with Xiaflex®. He also performs surgeries for hand and wrist fractures, hand and wrist pain, stiff fingers, ligamentous injuries, and hand tumors.

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