The Program for Clinical Research in Diabetes Care & Complications team includes an exceptional group of physicians, clinical study nurses, and staff working together with the common goal of improving the lives of all patients with diabetes.
“Our success is possible only because of the clinical research team’s very hard work and dedication. I am very fortunate to work with such an outstanding group.” - Rodica Pop-Busui, MD, PhD
Learn More About Our Team
Principal Investigator, Rodica Pop-Busui, MD, PhD
Dr. Rodica Pop-Busui is a prominent diabetologist at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, and a nationally and internationally recognized leader in the field of diabetes as a result of her extensive clinical, research, teaching, and service activities. She has received awards from the Fulbright Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, and the University of Michigan. Since 2013, Dr. Pop-Busui has been an elected member of the Clinical Practice Committee of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the world’s leading organization dedicated to preventing and curing diabetes. Dr. Pop-Busui also served as a member of the Complications Study Section of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a member of the study section of the American Heart Association, and a member of the National Institutes of Health NIH ZDK1 GRB-J J3 and NIH ZDK1GRB-S (O2) Study Sections.
Due to Dr. Pop-Busui's scholarship efforts, she is internationally recognized as an expert in the field of diabetes complications, especially diabetic neuropathies. A particular focus of her research interest and efforts involve diabetic peripheral and cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy. She has received funding for her research from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the JDRF and the ADA. In addition, Dr. Pop-Busui has been privileged to contribute her research efforts to some of the most important national diabetes clinical studies to date, which have advanced the understanding of diabetes, informed changes in its treatment, and impacted the standard of care, thereby improving the lives of people affected by diabetes
As an investigator and site Principal Investigator of the NHLBI-funded Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) trial, Dr. Pop-Busui leads a team of ACCORD investigators from the United States and Canada in exploring the role of cardiac autonomic neuropathy on cardiovascular mortality in the study participants, and the effects of interventions on neuropathy risks in this cohort. As an investigator of the NIDDK-funded Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (DCCT/EDIC), Dr. Pop-Busui took the lead in studies evaluating the natural history and the impact of metabolic memory on cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy in this cohort, and the role of cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy in the development of left ventricular dysfunction in type 1 diabetes.
Most recently, Dr. Pop-Busui is the site Principal Investigator and member of the Steering Committee of the newly funded NIDDK trial "PERL: A Multicenter Clinical Trial of Allopurinol to Prevent GFR Loss in Type 1 Diabetes" and site Principal Investigator in the NIDDK-funded trial "Glycemia Reduction Approaches for Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness Study (GRADE)." Â In addition, as a member of the American Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Committee, Dr. Pop-Busui has made major contributions to the Standards of Clinical Care in Diabetes in 2013 and 2014, and advocated for implementing the optimal care for diabetes and its complications, based on most rigorous scientific evidence, with the ultimate goal to improve the life of all people affected by diabetes.
Dr. Pop-Busui has devoted her life and career to the treatment and understanding of diabetes and its devastating complications, a commitment forged when she was a medical school resident and saw in her rotations the suffering of people with diabetes. Dr. Pop-Busui lives in Ann Arbor with her husband.
Dr. Lynn Ang joined the Michigan Medicine Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes in 2013 as an Endocrinology Fellow and completed the Fellowship Program under mentor Dr. Pop-Busui in 2015. She currently serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Co-Investigator on Dr. Pop-Busui's team. Dr. Ang received her medical degree from the Institute of Medicine II in Myanmar. She completed her residency at North Shore-LIJ, Forest Hills Hospital in Forest Hills, NY. Dr. Ang also served as an Associate Chief Resident in her third year of residency and received the Resident of the Year Award. Her clinical interest is general endocrinology because, she says, "I love broad topics to brainstorm." Dr. Ang's research interest is type 1 diabetes and its complications, and is also interested in glucose variability and its association with development of cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction in type 1 diabetes. In her off-time, Dr. Ang loves to spend time with her baby girl and enjoys road trips with her family.
Dr. Nazanene Esfandiari is a Professor of Internal Medicine in the Michigan Medicine Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes (MEND) and an endocrinologist specializing in diabetes and thyroid diseases. She screens patients with type 1 diabetes for eligibility in the PERL study and also performs a physical examination at the clinical study participants' visit when it is required. Dr. Esfandiari's expertise in treating many patients with type 1 diabetes who have micro- and macrovascular complications is valuable to the Pop-Busui team's clinical research efforts. Dr. Esfandiari received her medical degree from the University of Bordeaux II, Bordeaux, France, and held several internships and residencies there before coming to the United States as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Cardiology Research Foundation, Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. She continued her education with a residency in internal medicine at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Health Care in Worcester, MA, and then a fellowship in endocrinology, metabolism, and diabetes at the University of Michigan. In 2003, Dr. Esfandiari joined the faculty of the University of Michigan, where her clinical interests are thyroid disorders and diabetes. Her research interests include thyroid cancer, obesity, and type 1 diabetes. Dr. Esfandiari is kept busy as the director of the MEND Division at the Brighton Health Center in Brighton, Michigan and Co-director of Endocrine Sequences for second-year medical students at the University of Michigan Medical School. She also serves as an attending physician in the University of Michigan's Thyroid Nodule FNA Biopsy Clinic, the Endocrine Oncology Clinic, the Hyperglycemia Inpatient Intensive Insulin Program, and the Endocrine Post-Bariatric Surgery Clinic. Dr. Esfandiari is also a member of the MEND Fellowship Steering Committee. In 2015, she was inducted into the Department of Internal Medicine’s Clinical Excellence Society, Academiae Laureati Medici. Outside of the clinic, Dr. Esfandiari enjoys traveling and cooking.
Dr. Yu Kuei (Alex) Lin is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the Michigan Medicine Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes (MEND). While practicing general clinical endocrinology, Dr. Lin is also a clinical diabetes researcher with particular interests and focuses on hypoglycemia and its complications. After receiving his medical degree in Poznan, Poland, he completed his Medicine residency at Beth Israel Medical Center, NY in 2014, and then Endocrinology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic, OH in 2016. Dr. Lin was recruited to the division in 2019 for his excellent clinical skills and research expertise in hypoglycemia.
Dr. Kara Mizokami-Stout is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine in the Michigan Medicine Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes (MEND). She completed medical school education and Internal Medicine residency at the University of Colorado and then Endocrinology fellowship at the University of Michigan. She practices general clinical endocrinology with a particular interest in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Dr. Mizokami-Stout’s research interest is in diabetes health services research with a particular focus on implementing technologies to improve diabetes self-management and preventing diabetes complications.
Dr. Brian M. Schmidt is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at Michigan Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes. He practices in all aspects of podiatric medicine and surgery, and is also a clinical researcher focused on the end-stage diabetes complication of diabetic foot ulcers and diabetic foot osteomyelitis. Dr. Schmidt received his medical degree at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Sciences and completed his residency training at Yale University. He is actively supported in his research by the National Institutes of Health - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for his work within the Diabetic Foot Consortium as a Co-Investigator. In addition, Dr. Schmidt actively serves as the inaugural Study Chair for the Diabetic Foot Consortium’s Biorepository program. He has been practicing at Michigan Medicine since 2015.
Clinical Study Nurses
Cynthia Plunkett, RNC, CCRC
Cynthia Plunkett is the Lead Study Coordinator for the Pop-Busui Clinical Research Team on multiple studies of diabetes complications, including the NIH-funded Preventing Early Renal Loss in Type 1 Diabetes (PERL) and Cardiac Autonomic Neuropathy and Myocardial Dysfunction in Type 1 Diabetes (CAN). In this responsible role, she oversees the workings of numerous components of concurrent clinical studies in various stages of completion. This includes supervising staff, coordinating patient visits, screening patients, arranging approvals, dispensing medications, collaborating with the study sponsors, and interacting with patients to ensure they have good health and a great experience during the clinical trial. Plunkett has been engaged in clinical research at the University of Michigan since 1990, including working on the General Clinical Research Unit for seven years, after serving as a staff nurse at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center for six years. She received her nursing degree from Chester County College in Pennsylvania and holds numerous certifications and advanced training from professional associations. She has been a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator since 2006. Outside of the clinic, her hobbies include reading, gardening, and trying new restaurants.
Cathy Martin, MS, APRN, BC-ADM, CDE
Cathy Martin has spent her entire professional career within the diabetes programs at the University of Michigan. She earned both her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science degree at the University of Michigan. She is the 1995 recipient of the R. Faye McCain Memorial Award for Leadership and Academic Excellence in Medical-Surgical Nursing, and the 2013 winner of the Diabetes Champion Award from the Michigan chapter of the American Diabetes Association, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to diabetes education, advocacy, and research. Since 1987, she has been involved in a variety of clinical trials to advance the understanding of diabetes and to improve its treatment. Martin contributed to the landmark “Diabetes Control and Complications Trial” (DCCT), which demonstrated the benefits of aggressively controlling blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes, as well as on the follow-up to that study, called “Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Study” (EDIC). She is currently study coordinator for the Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Type 2 Diabetes, A Comparative Effectiveness Study (GRADE). She has collaborated on nearly 50 publications and has been a sought-after speaker on diabetes topics for national organizations across the country. Given her long association with U of M, it should be no surprise that she is a fan of Michigan football and attends most home games. She enjoys golfing and biking in her spare time, and always has some home improvement project going on (ask her about the deck!).
Andrea Waltje, RN, MS
Andrea Waltje, RN, MS, brings her prior research experience to the team, having coordinated research projects on diabetes, tobacco cessation, and sun protection at the University of Michigan. With a Master of Science degree in clinical health psychology from Ohio University, her clinical focus has been on health behaviors. While at Ohio University, she provided psychotherapy and health education to persons with diabetes and HIV diagnosis. Before joining the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes (MEND) in December 2014, Andrea was the research nurse for a NIH-funded randomized controlled trial, educating nurses on the provision of smoking cessation interventions to inpatients in the hospital setting. In two other randomized controlled trials, she provided smoking cessation interventions and sun protection education to Operating Engineers. Currently, Andrea is a research coordinator for the GRADE Study (Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Type 2 Diabetes), a NIH-funded Comparative Effectiveness Study, of which Dr. Pop-Busui is Co-Principal Investigator. Privately, Andrea enjoys spending time with family and friends, gardening, and swing dancing.
Clinical Study Staff
Aaron Burant, BS
Aaron Burant is a Clinical Subjects Coordinator who joined the team in 2019. Aaron works primarily on recruitment for various studies. He also assists in the completion of study visits for the TEWL study and helps in the creation of electronic databases. Aaron is a 2016 graduate of Western Michigan University with a bachelor of science degree. In his off time, he enjoys creating art and keeping the household cat out of trouble.
Aimee Katona, BS, CEP
Aimee Katona is a Clinical Research Coordinator who joined the team in 2018. Aimee has worked for the University of Michigan for over 20 years. Prior to joining the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes, she worked as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine working in cardiac rehabilitation and stress testing. Aimee works on several studies, including the Incidence and Predictors of Acute and Chronic Complications in Patients with Diabetes and Severe COVID-19, the Metabolic Phenotypes and Heterogeneity in Disease Burden Risk in Type 1 Diabetes (JDRF-COE), and the Multi-center Assessment of Survivors for Kidney Disease After COVID-19: MASKeD-COVID studies. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Michigan University. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, and staying active.
Jake Reiss, BS
Jake Reiss is a Clinical Research Project Manager who joined the team in 2016. Jake works primarily on the TINSAL (Targeting Inflammation with Salsalate in Type 1 Diabetes Neuropathy) study, as well as a number of other studies involving diabetes technology and complications. In addition to his role as a research project manager, Jake is responsible for the creation of databases in the electronic data capture system RedCap. He is a 2016 honors graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a bachelors in biology with minors in chemistry and psychology. He will start his masters in Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2020. In his free time, he enjoys playing baseball, golfing, and wood working.
Brittany Williams is a Clinical Subjects Associate who joined the team in 2011 and performs a variety of vital tasks for the clinical research studies of the Pop-Busui team. She is trained and certified to perform Heart Rate Variability Testing and venipuncture, which she has utilized on numerous studies. She also reviews and screens databases for potential research subjects and interacts with patients in various phases of the clinical studies. Brittany also maintains databases for the clinical studies. She is a 2005 graduate of South Lyon High school and the Oakland Technical Center South West-Culinary Arts Program in Walled Lake, Michigan, and enjoys experimenting when cooking. Brittany also has accrued credits in the business administration program at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan. Outside of work, she loves playing with her two daughters, watching movies, and hanging out with her husband and family.