Professional Development Core

Professional Development Core

The MCCTR's Professional Development Core provides extensive training and resources to foster the growth of Mississippi's next generation of obesity investigators and to increase their number, diversity, and success. The Professional Development Core oversees five programs: the Investigator Development Program, Mentor Academy, Community Engaged Research Institute, Community Engaged Research Working Group, and a Seminar Series. These programs aim to create a rich intellectual environment, promote investigator interactions, and provide targeted research investments to increase research collaboration among CCTR investigators from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines, and to foster the development of young, obesity-focused investigators with sustained, independent extramural funding.

  • Investigator Development Program: The Investigator Development Program (IDP) is designed to provide structured mentorship, training, protected research time, and substantial research support to promising obesity-focused early stage research faculty from all CCTR partner institutions. In addition, the IDP works to enhance the research skills of junior faculty members through courses in the UMMC Master of Science in Clinical Investigation degree program as well as to increase the number and diversity of junior faculty members pursuing clinical, translational, and population research in obesity and related disorders. For more information, visit the funding opportunities page or contact
  • Mentor Academy: The Mentor Academy is designed to train junior investigators to become effective research and career mentors. Candidates will be selected by the CCTR Mentor Academy leadership and Steering Committee. Faculty from all in-state CCTR partners will be eligible to apply to the Mentor Academy, which will be held on the UMMC campus. For more information or to submit an application to join the Mentor Academy, contact
  • Community Engaged Research Institute: Beginning summer 2017, an annual two-week residential Community Engaged Research (CEnR) Institute will train selected junior faculty members from all major Mississippi universities in the principles and practice of CEnR, and will offer opportunities for them to compete for funding for obesity-related pilot research projects. Thus in addition to training junior investigators from partner institutions in independent obesity-focused CEnR, the CEnR Institute will be used to identify promising CEnR investigators for support through the CCTR Pilot Projects Program. For more information regarding the CEnR, contact
  • Community Engaged Research Working Group: A multi-institutional CEnR Working Group will hold monthly teleconferences to present ongoing and completed CEnR research, discuss available resources and research options, and seek opportunities for multi-institutional obesity research projects and funding. To become involved with the CEnR Working Group, contact
  • MCCTR Seminar Series: The CCTR Seminar Series offers monthly seminars as a forum for the presentation of high-impact obesity-related research and as an opportunity for junior investigators to present their research and receive feedback. The CCTR works closely with the Mississippi Center for Obesity Research and the Cardiorenal and Metabolic Diseases Research Center to promote the series and to accommodate campus visits by accomplished scientists. Visit our homepage to see the latest seminar information or our news page to view past seminar flyers.

Core leadership

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John E. Hall, PhD, Professional Development Core Co-Leader 

Dr. Hall is the Arthur C. Guyton Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at UMMC and the director of the Mississippi Center for Obesity Research.

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Daniel W. Jones, MD, Professional Development Core Co-Leader

Dr. Jones is the director of Clinical and Population Science, Mississippi Center for Obesity Research; Professor of Medicine and Physiology; Interim Chair, Department of Medicine at UMMC; and Sanderson Chair in Obesity, Metabolic Diseases and Nutrition.

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Kathy Yadrick, PhD, Director of the Community Engaged Research Institute and Working Group, Principal Investigator for USM site

Dr. Yadrick is Associate Dean for Research and Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Systems at the University of Southern Mississippi.


Sandra Hayes, DrPh, Principal Investigator for Tougaloo site

Dr. Hayes is the executive director of the Owens Health and Wellness Center at Tougaloo College.


Jennifer Robinson, PhD, Assistant Director of the Community Engaged Research Institute and Working Group

Dr. Robinson is Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship in the School of Nursing at UMMC.

Core faculty

  • John E. Hall, PhD
    Arthur C. Guyton Professor & Chair of Physiology
    Director, Mississippi Center for Obesity Research
  • Sandra Hayes, DrPh
    Executive Director of the Owens Health and Wellness Center
  • Daniel Jones, MD
    Director of Clinical and Population Science, Mississippi Center for Obesity Research
    Professor Physiology
    Professor and Interim Chair, Medicine
    Sanderson Chair in Obesity, Metabolic Diseases and Nutrition
  • Jennifer Robinson, PhD, RN
    Professor, School of Nursing
    Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, School of Nursing
  • Kathy Yadrick, PhD
    Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Systems
    Associate Dean for Research
    University of Southern Mississippi
  • Michael J. Ryan, PhD
    Professor of Physiology
    Director of Graduate Studies in Physiology
    Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies in Health Sciences