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C. Kent Kwoh, MD

Professor of Medicine and Medical Imaging

The Charles A. L. and Suzanne M. Stephens Chair of Rheumatology

Chief, Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology

Director, the University of Arizona Arthritis Center

C. Kent Kwoh, MD, an internationally recognized expert in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other joint diseases, is the newly-appointed director of the University of Arizona Arthritis Center.  He also joins the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson and Department of Medicine as The Charles A.L. and Suzanne M. Stephens Chair of Rheumatology and chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology.

Prior to his appointment, Dr. Kwoh served as director of clinical research for the University of Pittsburgh Arthritis Institute, where he headed three major projects funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS): an $8.9 million Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) contract, a $4.4 million Pivotal OAI MRI Analyses (POMA) contract and the Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center for Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases.

He was professor of medicine in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, with joint appointments in the Graduate School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology and in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He also served as rheumatology section chief at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Prior to that, he was on the faculty of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, where he directed the Institute for Healthcare Research.

Dr. Kwoh’s clinical interests include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and gout. His research interests include outcome assessment and the examination of risk factors for the development and progression of a broad spectrum of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. His current work focuses on the identification of biomarkers – most notably MRI imaging biomarkers – for the development and/or progression of knee osteoarthritis and the characterization of knee pain patterns in osteoarthritis. Another line of research targets the elimination of ethnic/racial disparities in the care of patients with osteoarthritis. A third area of interest is the evaluation of state-of-the-art imaging techniques (for example, 3D imaging and thermography) to quantify inflammation in juvenile idiopathic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

His research has been funded by grants from NIAMS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Arthritis Foundation and other organizations. He is a co-holder of three patents for a method using thermal, laser and other state-of-the-art imaging to assess the extent of arthritis in joints.

Dr. Kwoh is the author or co-author of more than 140 scientific journal articles and book chapters. He has served on the editorial board of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage and Arthritis Care and Research. He also is an ad hoc reviewer for numerous other professional journals, including Arthritis and Rheumatism, Annals of the Rheumatic DiseasesJournal of RheumatologyGenetic EpidemiologyArthritis Care and Research,Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.

Dr. Kwoh received his bachelor’s and medical degrees in 1975 and 1979, respectively, from the University of Illinois in Chicago. He completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Illinois Hospitals in 1982 and a fellowship in rheumatology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, N.H., in 1984. He also was a scholar with the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., from 1984 to 1986. He is board-certified in internal medicine and rheumatology.




Jeffrey R. Lisse, MD

Ethel McChesney Bilby Endowed Chair for Osteoporosis

Professor of Medicine


Named to the Ethel McChesney Bilby Endowed Chair for Osteoporosis in 2000, Dr. Lisse is medical director for the University of Arizona Arthritis Center’s Osteoporosis Program. He also serves as professor of medicine in the University of Arizona College of Medicine.  He served as chief of the Division of Adult Rheumatology in the University of Arizona College of Medicine from August, 2004 to July, 2013 and was interim director of the UAAC from February, 2005 to January, 2008. Dr. Lisse also serves as professor of medicine in the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

Dr. Lisse came to the UAAC in 2000 from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where he served for 17 years. He became chief of the Division of Rheumatology there in 1990. At the University of Texas, he was an investigator on the Lumina project, which conducted epidemiological studies on systemic lupus erythematosus, and the Genosis project, which studied systemic sclerosis. Both studies examined differences in racial groups in these diseases. Dr. Lisse was a staff associate at the National Institutes of Health Southwest Studies Field Section in Phoenix, Arizona from 1981 to 1983, and was an internal medicine consultant for the Phoenix and Sacaton Indian Health Service Hospitals during that time.

Dr. Lisse received his medical degree with honors at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. in 1976. He completed his internal medicine residency at the United States Public Health Services Hospital in San Francisco, California in 1979 and his rheumatology fellowship from the University of California at San Diego in 1983. Dr. Lisse’s research focus is on new therapies for arthritis and osteoporosis. He also has a special interest in these diseases among minority populations. He has published numerous articles on therapies for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and on the epidemiology of rheumatic diseases. Dr. Lisse is currently vice president of the Arizona Osteoporosis Coalition.



Eric P. Gall, MD, MACP, MACR

Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology)


Dr. Gall is a Professor in the Division of Rheumatology and recently retired as interim director of the University of Arizona Arthritis Center, which he and Dr. Robert Volz started in 1985. A co-founder of the Center, Dr. Gall served as Director from 1985-1994 before returning in 2010 to re-join the Center.  He is retired as the Chair of the Medicine Department of the Chicago Medical School where he served from 1994-2009 and is now an Emeritus Professor of Medicine. Dr. Gall is interested in studies of new treatments and the pathogenesis of arthritis, metabolic bone disease, and hemophilic arthritis. He also serves as an expert consultant on hypermobility disorders such as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. He is a national xpert on, has widely written about, and is an advocate of, innovative teaching methods and is active on many committees addressing teaching methods and curricula at the Medical School level and within the specialty of rheumatology.



Rafael Grau, MD

Professor of Medicine


Rafael Grau, MD, is the director of the Fellowship Program at the University of Arizona Arthritis Center. He has a continuing interest in pediatric rheumatology. Prior to coming to the University of Arizona in April of 2012, Dr. Grau was director of the Division of Rheumatology at Indiana University for seven years. Dr. Grau also served as coordinator of the resident rheumatology rotation at Indiana and was the student elective coordinator. In addition, Dr. Grau was director of the Scleroderma Clinic. He previously was an attending rheumatologist at the Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz., for six years.


Sujata Sarkar, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine


Sujata Sarkar, MD, completed her rheumatology training and was on the faculty at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. She joined the University of Arizona Arthritis Center in fall of 2007.The most enjoyable part of her professional life is the relationships that she develops with her patients, most of whom have chronic illnesses. She considers herself fortunate that she is able to make a difference in lives of her patients. On her personal note, she enjoys spending time with her family of five. Her research is focused on understanding the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Sarkar has received numerous awards and recognition from the Arthritis Foundation, University of Michigan, American College of Rheumatology and Central Society for Clinical Research. She has several publications on immunobiology of rheumatoid arthritis.


Research Faculty


Miranda K. Adelman, PhD

Research Assistant Professor


Dr. Miranda Adelman received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Arizona in 2003. She joined the Center as a postdoctoral researcher and was appointed to her current position as a research assistant professor in 2005. The basic research in Dr. Adelman’s laboratory is focused on understanding the causative pathways of autoimmune disease. It is her belief that the development of novel therapies for autoimmune disease lies within understanding the etiological processes and pathways contributing to autoimmunity. Although at the beginning of her career, Dr. Adelman has already authored several papers in respected scientific journals, presented her research at scientific conferences and written a chapter in Infection and Autoimmunity. Due to the multi-disciplinary approach of her research, Dr. Adelman collaborates extensively with faculty in the Microbiology and Immunology Department, the Arizona Cancer Center and the University of Arizona Arthritis Center.


John Szivek, PhD

Director, Robert G. Volz, MD, Orthopaedic Research Laboratory
William and Sylvia Rubin Chair of Orthopaedic Research

Chair, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Interdisciplinary Program


Dr. Szivek’s research interests revolve around Orthopaedics, including bone remodeling, and bone and cartilage tissue engineering.  His projects include measurement of mechanical loads on long bones and joints in the body, studies of how implants interacts with native tissues, such as bone and cartilage, and the mechanical properties of various musculoskeletal structures. Dr. Szivek has been with the University of Arizona as Director of Orthopedic Research since 1990.  In 1998 and 2001, his faculty appointments expanded to include the Biomedical Engineering Program in the GIDP and the Bio5 Institute for Collaborative Bioresearch, respectively.  Dr. Szivek was awarded the William and Sylvia Rubin Chair of Orthopaedic Research in 2003. Dr. Szivek is a dedicated educator who mentors undergraduate and graduate students as well as medical students and Orthopaedic residents.  

B.A.S., Metallurgy and Materials Science (University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
M.A.S., Graduate College, specializing in bone remodeling near fracture fixation devices (University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Ph.D., Graduate College, specializing in the effects of exercise and activity on bone remodeling (University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)



Clinical Research Unit


Julie Johnson

Program Coordinator, Sr.


Julie is a program coordinator, Sr., with the University of Arizona Arthritis Center and has been part of the Center’s clinical research team since 1992. Julie started at the Arthritis Center by assisting the research coordinators with data entry, developing flyers for advertising for patient recruitment, and traveling with the physicians on the Indian Health Services trips four times a year to assist with data collection. Julie currently coordinates and manages regulatory affairs of multiple clinical trials to ensure that administrative and budgetary goals and objectives specified for each program are accomplished in accordance with established priorities, time limitations, funding limitations, or other specifications.


Jessica Sonder, BS, CCRP

Research Specialist


Jessica is a Tucson native. She received a bachelor of science in physiology from the University of Arizona. Jessica has been with the Arizona Arthritis Center since 2004. She holds a CCRP (Certified Clinical Research Professional) certificate from the Society of Clinical Research Associates. She is currently working with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gout studies.


Disability Assessment Research Clinic


David Wayne Smith, DED, DABPS, DACFE

Emeritus/Research Specialist

Director, Disability Assessment Clinic

Clinical Lecturer


Dr. Smith is a specialist in evaluating return to work potential in persons suffering from all debilitating conditions, including musculoskeletal diseases. He obtained his doctoral degree with a major in counseling psychology at Indiana University many years ago. He also completed a two-year post-doctoral training program in rehabilitation, sponsored by the then Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Washington, D.C. Dr. Smith is an expert on Social Security Disability and is Board Certified by the American College of Forensic Examiners.

Dr.Smith has been with the University of Arizona for 50 years, including 32 years in the College of Medicine. He was Assistant Vice President for Health Sciences for six years, working for founding Dean, Monte Duval. Dr. Smith has been a member of the staff of the Arizona Arthritis Center since l995. He is currently conducting clinics throughout Arizona under contract with the Department of Economic Security, evaluating return to work potential in severely disabled welfare recipients. Dr. Smith also accepts referrals from any licensed physician, including our own Section of Rheumatology.



Stanley Levin, MD

Research Specialist, Principal




Barbara Peterson

Office Assistant


Barbara is a retired schoolteacher with experience working in a medical office. She originally is from Colorado and has lived in Tucson since 1999. Barbara’s interests include sewing and archeology. Barbara lives with her husband and has two adult daughters; one in New York and one in Washington state.



Charles J. Rastatter, EdD

Research Specialist, Principal



Adjunct Faculty


Paul H. Caldron, DO

Associate Research Scientist


Dr. Caldron received a bachelor's degree in Zoology from the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma and later a doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Oklahoma State University. He completed a flexible internship with the US Public Health Service at the US PHS Hospital on Staten Island, NY, followed by internal medicine residency and rheumatology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio. Dr. Caldron began practice in 1984 as Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Medical School at the Evanston Hospital with a private office in Winnetka, Ill. In 1987, he moved to Arizona and in 1994 was a cofounder of Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates, PC (AARA).


He is a fellow of both the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology. Dr. Caldron holds a clinical teaching assistant professorship at Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Caldron completed an MBA in Arizona at Thunderbird School for International Management in 2002. He has authored various articles and chapters in rheumatology literature. He has participated with various organizations providing charitable health care in developing countries and collaborates in an organization to promote the performance of clinical drug trials in Russia and the former Soviet States.



Zhao Chen, PhD, MPH

Professor and Division Director

Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Director, Healthy Aging Lab

Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health



Scott Going, PhD

Associate Professor

Nutritional and Physiological Sciences


Scott Going, Ph.D., is Interim Department Head, Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Director of the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at The University of Arizona. His research interests include development of methods for body composition assessment, changes in body composition during growth in children and with aging in older adults and related health and functional outcomes, and the effects of exercise and diet on bone, soft tissue composition, functional capacity, fitness and health. The National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Science Foundation of Arizona fund his research. He is currently investigating the effects of exercise, diet and obesity on bone macroarchitecture and strength in girls, the effects of exercise on strength, body composition and functional capacity in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and muscle loss with aging, hip geometry and fracture risk in postmenopausal women.  He also leads projects aimed at promoting physical activity and healthy diet for obesity prevention in children and weight loss in adults. Dr. Going has led the development of assessment protocols and activity interventions for multi-site school and community-based studies.

Dr. Going recently led the Schools Team of the Pima County Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative, which sought to increase physical activity and improve nutrition in Arizona schools to reduce childhood obesity. Dr. Going’s work in the area of pediatric obesity and health has contributed to health-related obesity standards for children and adolescents. He received his B.S. in Physical Education from The University of Maine, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from The University of Illinois. Dr. Going is a Fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology.


Eric A. Peters, MD

Associate Research Scientist


Warren C. Rizzo, MD, PC, FACR

Associate Research Scientist


Dr. Warren C. Rizzo is a board certified Rheumatologist specializing in the treatment of rheumatic diseases and metabolic disease of the bone. He completed his undergraduate education at one of the nation's leading centers of learning and scholarship - the State University of New York at Stony Brook on Long Island near his hometown of New York City. Dr. Rizzo elected to receive his formal medical school training closer to his family's roots at the Universita Degli Studi di Palermo and Padova near Venice, Italy.  Upon his return to the United States he was accepted for his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Rizzo is also a graduate of Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia where he completed his Fellowship in Rheumatology. Following his training, he served in the Air Force as Staff Rheumatologist at Kessler Air Force Base, Chief of Internal Medicine at Aviano Air Base in Italy and Flight Surgeon for the 36th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base in Korea. After honorably completing his military career, he accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology at the University of Iowa.  Now, with almost 20 years as a medical doctor, Dr. Rizzo's career has reached fruition in private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona at Advanced Arthritis Care & ResearchDr. Rizzo serves as president of the Phoenix Rheumatology Association and Chair of the Arizona United Rheumatology Alliance.




Michael Shishov, MD, MHP

Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Shishov received his bachelor's degree with high honors from Brandeis University and later and later his medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv, Israel. He completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at New York University Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital in New York, followed by subspecialty training in pediatric rheumatology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio. During the summers of his three-year fellowship, Dr. Shishov completed a Masters in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass., with a concentration in Clinical Effectiveness.

Dr. Shishov’s clinical interests include the epidemiology of systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis and mixed connective tissue disease, vasculopathy in juvenile dermatomyositis, and adherence with medications in systemic lupus erythematous. Dr. Shishov is board certified in pediatric rheumatology and is the Division Chief of pediatric rheumatology at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Dr. Shishov is conversational in Spanish and Russian. Dr. Shishov is a member of the American College of Rheumatology.  He is also board certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Rheumatology.



John R. P. Tesser, MD

Associate Research Scientist

Clinical Lecturer, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, Arizona

Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor, College of Health Sciences

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Division of Clinical Education, Midwestern University, Phoenix, Arizona

Rheumatologist and Principal Investigator

Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates, PC

Arizona Arthritis & Rheumatology Research, PLLC



John R. P. Tesser, MD, is Clinical Lecturer in Internal Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, Ariz. He is also Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor in the College of Health Sciences and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Division of Clinical Education at Midwestern University in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Tesser is also a practicing rheumatologist at Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates, PC, in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Dr. Tesser received his medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, New York. He completed an internal medicine internship and residency at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, followed by a fellowship in rheumatology at Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Dr. Tesser is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine, with a subspecialty in rheumatology. He is a fellow of the American College of Rheumatology and American College of Physicians as well as a member of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research and the International Society for Clinical Densitometry. Dr. Tesser has been principal investigator for over 250 clinical research trials, studying all forms of rheumatic diseases, with an emphasis on rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. In addition, he has authored numerous articles for many peer-reviewed medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Rheumatology, and Arthritis and Rheumatism.





Fatima Alnaimat, MD

Rheumatology Fellow - Second Year


Dr. Alnaimat attended the University of Jordan medical school and completed her residency in internal medicine at The University of Arizona in 2012. Dr. Alnaimat’s research interest is in rheumatoid arthritis. She started her research project during her internal medicine residency with Dr. Sujata Sarkar on the role of IL-17 in rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Alnaimat’s research has been recognized by the 2012 University of Arizona GME Resident Excellence and Leadership Scholarship and she was awarded the 2011/2012 internal medicine residency distinguished research award. Dr. Alnaimat is a resident member of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and also is a member of the Jordanian Rose of Hope Society for Arthritis Patients. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family.


Haritha Bellam, MD

Rheumatology Fellow - First Year


Andrew Sharobeem, DO

Rheumatology Fellow - First Year


Dominick Sudano, MD

Rheumatology Fellow - Second Year


Dr. Sudano was born in Florida, but grew up in small suburb just outside of Philadelphia, Pa. As an undergraduate, he attended The Pennsylvania State University and earned a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. After college, he worked for two years at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia doing research in muscular dystrophy. He then went on to medical school at Drexel University College of Medicine and from there, to residency and serve as chief resident in internal medicine at The University of Arizona. His interests outside of medicine and rheumatology include sports (football and baseball), dogs and enjoying sunny days in southern Arizona.



Administrative Staff


Terri Buchanan

Program Coordinator, Sr.


Jim Fulford



Jim Fulford is a southern Arizona native and University of Arizona graduate. He has over seven years of accounting and financial analysis experience. Jim has worked in finance for University Medical Center, Science Applications International Corp, and The University of Arizona Bookstores. He enjoys reconciling accounts because he likes researching, investigating, auditing, and resolving discrepancies. In his spare time Jim enjoys playing with his son, riding ATV’s, and playing golf. Jim is a huge football fan and he hopes to witness the Wildcats win the Rose Bowl someday.


Betty Guenther

Executive Assistant


Betty Guenther is the Executive Assistant/Business Manager for the Director of the University of Arizona Arthritis Center  (UAAC).   Betty holds a BS in Business Administration from the State University of New York – Buffalo.  In 1999, Betty and her husband moved to Tucson from East Amherst, New York.  Betty joined the UAAC in March of 2003 as an Administrative Assistant for the APART Program where she was instrumental in facilitating the startup of the program.   She was promoted to Administrative Associate and worked closely with the Business Manager of the UAAC before being promoted to that position.

Betty serves on the UAAC Advisory Board and is a member of the UAAC Scientific Advisory Board. Betty is the event coordinator for the annual Statewide Rheumatology Conference held each June in Sedona, AZ. 


Thom Melendez, MEd

Director of Development


Thom Melendez joined the University of Arizona Arizona Arthritis Center after serving two years as associate director of development for the BIO5 Institute, where he successfully garnered support from corporations and individuals to support education and outreach programs. Prior to his development duties he was BIO5's coordinator of education and outreach programs that include on-campus internships as well as high school experiences for students across the state of Arizona.

Thom earned his bachelor's degree in education from the University of Arizona in 1989 and joined the Arizona Department of Economic Security where he quickly advanced into management. In 1998, he began a nine-year appointment as a third-grade teacher at Esperanza Elementary in the Sunnyside Unified School District. During his time in the classroom he earned his masters in educational leadership with distinction from Northern Arizona University. His passion for the progress made possible through education and scientific research will serve him well as he facilitates support for the University of Arizona Arthritis Center and the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UA College of Medicine.



Tracy Shake

Program Coordinator

Outreach and Education


Tracy Shake coordinates the Center's Living Healthy With Arthritis community outreach and education activities throughout the state of Arizona.  Tracy joined the UAAC staff after serving on its Advisory Board and as public relations chair of the Friends of the UAAC Advisory Board.  A University of Arizona alumna, Tracy spent 14 years in the UA Department of Intercollegiate Athletics where she served as Assistant Sports Information and Media Relations Director and later moved on to become Director of the Center for Athlete's Total Success program - a comprehensive community outreach, health, wellness and life skills program for 450 student-athletes.  Under her direction, the CATS Program won the National Collegiate Athletics Association Program of Excellence Award and was utilized as a national model throughout all divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.  In addition to working on national media campaigns in college athletics, Tracy has won numerous awards for her publications, including the College Sports Information Director's Best in the Nation Award.  A sustaining member of the Junior League of Tucson, Tracy has served on multiple campus and community boards and was named as Advisor of the Year by the UA Panhellenic Association.  With a strong interest in health, wellness and fitness, Tracy is also a member of the Canyon Ranch Health Resort fitness staff.