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Our Team

Program Faculty

Claudia Miller, M.D., M.S. emerita

Dr. Claudia Miller co-authored a landmark report for the state of New Jersey on chemical susceptibility, for which the state received the American Association for World Health’s Macedo Award, and a professionally acclaimed book, Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes (2nd edition, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, 1998). She has authored or co-authored numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed publications on the health effects of low-level chemical exposures.

Her federal appointments include: the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs Persian Gulf Expert Scientific Committee, and the National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors. She has served as consultant to the chief-of-staff of the Houston VA for its Persian Gulf Regional Referral Center, and as an advisor to the Texas Department of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the Canadian, German, Japanese, and Swedish governments. During her sabbatical year, she served as special consultant to the Deputy Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS/NIH). She has organized and chaired two NIH meetings on chemical intolerance, one in Tokyo that focused on the need for and use of environmentally controlled hospital units for research, the other on Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance, the disease mechanism she first described in 1996.

Board-certified in Allergy/Immunology and Internal Medicine, Dr. Miller graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree with honors in Molecular Biology at The University of Wisconsin at Madison. She received her M.S. in environmental health from The University of California School of Public Health, Berkeley. After receiving her M.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, she completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, and her fellowship in allergy/immunology at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Prior to medical school, she worked as an industrial hygienist for 12 years and directed occupational health training for compliance officers at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s National Training Institute in Chicago.

Dr. Miller is professor emeritus at the UT Health San Antonio and visiting senior scientist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She was recruited by the Marilyn B. Hoffman Foundation in 2015 to be its environmental scientific consultant. Dr. Miller and Ms. Hoffman, who died in 2013, had known each other for several years because of their mutual scientific interests. Ms. Hoffman named Dr. Miller and TILT, or Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance, the term she preferred for related illnesses, in her bequest to the foundation.

Raymond F. Palmer, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator/Faculty Program Director

As a biostatistician/epidemiologist trained in Preventive Medicine, Raymond F. Palmer, Ph.D., has extensive experience in health promotion disease prevention research. As an NIH funded principal investigator in autism and dementia epidemiology, his work is focused on investigating environmental influences to understand the etiology of autism spectrum, chemical intolerance, and other neurological disorders.

For the past decade, Dr. Palmer has collaborated with Dr. Claudia Miller in studying the relationship between environmental exposures and health outcomes— specifically environment exposures that may also underlie TILT.  Dr. Palmer developed a deep understanding of how to use the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) in research through his study comparing QEESI scores of mothers who have children with autism and mothers of typically developing children. This work shows that mothers with chemical intolerance are three times more likely to have a child with autism compared to mothers who do not have chemical intolerance.

Dr. Palmer is a former nurse, has a Master’s degree in psychology, and holds a Ph.D. in preventive medicine from the University of Southern California. He is currently a professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at The UT Health San Antonio. Dr. Palmer is director of the Hoffman TILT program where he is responsible for the scientific integrity and oversight of daily operations and progress in each phase of the project.

Cliff Despres, BA
Communications Director

Earned a bachelors degree in Journalism and News and Public Affairs at the University of Texas Austin. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism and public relations and is now communications director for Salud America! at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. He serves as a communications and public relations specialist for our project.

Roger Perales, MPH, RS,
CIEC Specialist-Retired

Roger Perales, MPH, RS, CIEC, retired, is a Faculty Specialist in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UT Health San Antonio. For more than 18 years, he served as Assistant Director of the South Texas Environmental Education and Research (STEER) Program. He was lead coordinator and co-founder of the award-winning environmental medicine and public health elective for medical students.

Mr. Perales is a registered professional licensed sanitarian and a board certified Indoor Environmental Consultant. With support from HUD, EPA, CDC and National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, he has conducted hundreds of environmental house calls. He checks for exposures such as pesticides, hazardous household products, mold, asthma triggers and other known environmental hazards.

Mr. Perales earned a B.A. in Biology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, and attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. In December 2005, he completed his MPH degree from the University of Texas School of Public Health regional campus in San Antonio.

Before his retirement this year, Mr. Perales was responsible for the design and implementation of the environmental house calls, participant action plans, environmental sampling and lab coordination.  In addition, he will be helping educate current and future health professionals, faculty, staff, participants and the general public on the importance of recognition, avoidance, and potential health impact of environmental exposures.

Rodolfo Rincon, M.D., MPH
Specialist, retired

Before retirement this year, Dr. Rodolfo Rincon was a Specialist in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. He received his M.D. from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. He practiced family and emergency medicine at the Regional General Hospital in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, for more than 15 years. At the same time, he served as director of the Laredo, Texas, health department’s HIV/AIDS/STD program.  He wrote and administered a number of state and federal grants related to HIV/AIDS education, prevention and services.

After completing his Master of Public Health from the School of Rural Public Health at Texas A&M University, Dr. Rincon worked as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M International University in Laredo where he initiated the public health track in 2006. Dr. Rincon worked with the City of Laredo Health Department – Environmental Division from May 2002 to June 2005 as the director of the Mosquito Control & Surveillance Program. He is a member of the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Association, Bi-national Health Council, Mexican Association of Emergency and Family Physicians, and of the American Public Health Association.

In 2010, he joined the South Texas Environmental Education and Research (STEER) Program in Laredo, Texas. STEER was a successful UT Health Science Center at San Antonio elective that provided hands-on activities to health-professions students on environmental medicine emphasizing border health concerns. Dr. Rincon taught about a number of topics including neglected parasitic diseases, HIV/AIDS, MDR-TB, and an overview of the Mexican health care system. He also introduced STEER students to research projects and mentored them.

Before retirement, Dr. Rincon coordinated the online research component of the Hoffman TILT program, communicating with participants, handling biological sampling and insuring data integrity and safety. Additionally, he kept close communication with people seeking educational resources on Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance.

Dr. Rincon also helped conduct environmental house calls and serves as liaison to the Institutional Review Board. He also served as the Hoffman TILT program English-to-Spanish translator, and reviewed scientific literature for the team.

Robert Wood, Dr.PH., MPH
Database Development – Statistics

Dr. Robert Wood received a B.S. from the University of Houston and his MPH and Dr.PH. degrees from the UT Health San Antonio. He has worked as a statistical and database consultant and programmer analyst in the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s Department of Computing Resources.  At the School of Public Health, Dr. Wood worked as a geo-database and web support programmer/research associate in the Administrative Office of the Dean and Center for Health and Manpower Policy Studies.

After returning to the UT Health San Antonio, Dr. Wood held the position of Assistant Director for Research in the Center of Health Economics and Policy where he supervised the creation and maintenance of geographic information databases for medical workforce policy research. He has supplied statistical and data expertise for grants from HRSA, NIH, NSF and NIAAA as well as others. Dr. Wood was an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Texas School of Public Health from 2013 to 2015 and was elected to a fellowship of the Texas Public Health Association. He constructs data entry forms and databases and provides statistical support for the Hoffman TILT program.

Jessica Hernandez
Research Area Specialist

Jessica Hernandez, MS, former Research Area Specialist for the Hoffman TILT program. She assisted in recruiting patients for the study, serving as a liaison between patients and researchers, and collecting survey information and questionnaires from participants. She has since moved to another department in the school of medicine and no long works for the project.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from the University of The Incarnate Word. She then went on to further her education and obtained a Master of Science degree in 2017 from the University of The Incarnate Word. Mrs. Hernandez has previously worked on other projects such as APC (Advance Primary Care), which focuses on diabetic education and helping lowering patient’s A1c. She has also worked with UT Austin on a project called Healthy Frio, which promotes healthy lifestyles in rural Latino families through a randomized controlled trial comparing the effectiveness of two approaches to healthy lifestyle intervention. In addition to her experience at the UT Health San Antonio, Mrs. Hernandez has also gained her research experience from working on clinical trials such as diabetic neuropathy, HIV neuropathy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis, mountain cedar, and Asthma studies.

Jasmine Rodriguez
Research Area Specialist

Jasmine Rodriguez is the Research Area Specialist for the Hoffman TILT program. She assisted in recruiting patients for the study, serving as liaison between patients and researchers.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio in 2013. Since 2014, Rodriguez has been part of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UT Health San Antonio, with various responsibilities including recruitment, study coordination, and managing data for different projects. Ms. Rodriguez’s experience in recruitment has helped other researchers in various aspects of health, including diabetes education, healthy eating, medication adherence, and domestic violence.

She assists in the day to day financial and logistical operations of this project.