Program Faculty

Claudia Miller, M.D., M.S.
millercs@uthscsa.edu

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
palmerr@uthscsa.edu

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 epidemiology, his work is focused on investigating environmental influences to understand the etiology of autism spectrum and other neurological disorders.

For the past decade, Dr. Palmer has collaborated with Dr. Claudia Miller in studying the relationship between environmental exposures and the risk for autism — 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 TILTed mothers are three times more likely to have a child with autism compared to mothers who are not TILTed.

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.

Lynne Parsons Heilbrun, MPH
Specialist – Education
heilbrun@uthscsa.edu

Lynne Heilbrun, MPH, received her B.S. in Education & Biology from Louisiana State University-Shreveport and her MPH from The UT Health San Antonio School of Public Health. She was an Environmental Protection Agency STAR/GRO Fellow for her 2003 work on chemical intolerance and has more than 14 years of experience in environmental exposure research.

Ms. Heilbrun also serves as a Co-PI for the Tooth Fairy for Autism study, where her team discovered a new biomarker for pesticide, plasticizer and medication exposures in children’s baby teeth (featured on CNN Headline news in 2012). Ms. Heilbrun and her team have now discovered 40 toxic chemicals in children’s teeth, several of which have been associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. She was appointed to the scientific advisory board for the Neurological Health Foundation where she helped create the Healthy Child Guide to provide recommendations on reducing pre-pregnancy and prenatal exposures.

Ms. Heilbrun is responsible for co-designing the biomarker research studies and is the lead instructor for the educational components in the Hoffman TILT program. Her online TILT course for fourth-year medical students is designed to teach future physicians to recognize chemical exposure symptoms and to help patients reduce their risks. Fourth-year students have the unique opportunity to take what they learn into the field during a house call and develop an action plan for minimizing exposures. Physicians outside the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio will soon have the opportunity to earn continuing medical education credits on TILT through an additional online course.

Roger Perales, MPH, RS, CIEC
Specialist
peralesr@uthscsa.edu

Roger Perales, MPH, RS, CIEC, 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.

Mr. Perales is 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 – Research
rinconr@uthscsa.edu

Dr. Rodolfo Rincon is 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.

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

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

Robert Wood, Dr.PH., MPH
Database Development – Statistics
wood@uthscsa.edu

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.

Program Staff

Diandrea Garza
Research Coordinator
Garzad8@uthscsa.edu

Diandrea Garza has worked in the biomedical research field since graduating in 2008 from Trinity University in San Antonio with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and business administration. While at Trinity, Ms. Garza completed a directed practicum at the Rape Crisis Center, and worked as a research assistant in psychology laboratories at Trinity University and the University of Texas at Austin.

Since then, Ms. Garza has worked at both UT Health San Antonio and Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in El Paso. She has experience in research administration in a wide variety of disciplines, including psychiatry, neuroscience and criminal justice. Ms. Garza joined the Hoffman TILT team in 2015 as a Research Coordinator. Having contributed to several projects concerning trauma and resiliency, she is particularly interested in the coping and resilience factors in people affected by Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance and contributing to research aimed at improving sufferers’ quality of life.

Jasmine Rodriguez
Research Area Specialist
rodriguezj33@uthscsa.edu

Jasmine Rodriguez is the Research Area Specialist for the Hoffman TILT program. She assists 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.

In addition to her experience at the UT Health San Antonio, Ms. Rodriguez has volunteered and gained experience in research in places such as Sea World, where she had the opportunity to observe the behavior of beluga whales. Her experience also extends to assisting homeless pregnant women at the Guadalupe Home in San Antonio.

Jacqueline Viramontes, LVN
viramontes@uthscsa.edu

As the program’s Licensed Vocational Nurse, Jacqueline Viramontes collects survey information and questionnaires from participants and takes blood and buccal swab samples. She helps provide TILT education by creating action plans based on participants’ lab work and home assessments. Ms. Viramontes also gives participants results of their genetic testing. She graduated from St. Phillips College in San Antonio in 2012 as a member of the National Honors Society.

Ms. Viramontes previously worked on Project TEACH, which was focused on children with asthma. She served as an educator on exposure reduction.

She has also worked with APC Services, focusing on diabetes education and emergency room hospital discharges. Ms. Viramontes began her career within family practice at University Health System in San Antonio.