Nikita Chavarria, PhD
Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education Pre-Clerkship
Undergraduate Medical Education Pre-Clerkship
Dr. Chavarria received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Cell Science from the University of Florida working with the regulation and roles of ubiquitin-proteasome homologs in microbial systems.
After completion of her doctorate, Dr. Chavarria received a postdoctoral intramural training award to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the Cell and Structural Biology group in Bethesda, Maryland. During her time at the NIH, she focused on genetic and biochemical characterization of small proteins (less than 50 amino acids) in Escherichia coli. After her postdoctoral training program, she accepted a teaching faculty position at the University of South Florida in the Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology. In 2017, Dr. Chavarria was recruited to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine where she serves a module co-director for microbiology and immunology and was promoted to the position as Assistant Dean of Education Affairs, Pre-Clerkship.
Dr. Naomi D'Acolatse received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to entering medical school, she earned a Masters in Public Health with emphasis on Health Education and Disease Prevention. She then earned her medical degree at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan where she was elected as a member of The Gold Humanism Honor Society for her leadership and compassion in medicine. Dr. D'Acolatse completed a family medicine residency with a Global Health concentration at St. Mary Mercy Hospital, in Livonia, Michigan. Dr. D'Acolatse joined the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine initially as a Family Medicine residency faculty member and is now serving as Interim Associate Dean of Educational Affairs.
Dr. D'Acolatse is Board Certified in Family Medicine with a long-standing passion and commitment to the care of underserved populations, reducing health disparities, and global health.
Dr. Lori Acosta Berry received her master’s in public health, with a concentration in health policy and management at Texas A&M University Health Science Center in 2005. Dr. Berry received her medical degree from Texas A&M College of Medicine in 2008. She completed her residency in clinical and anatomic pathology at Texas A&M Health Science Center.
Dr. Berry was a Clinical Laboratory Assistant for clinical pathology at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Arlington Memorial Hospital. Later Dr. Berry became the Medical Technologist at the Department of Laboratory Medical Transfusion Services, Scott & White Hospital. Dr. Berry then became the Associate Director and Clinical Assistant at the Surgical Renewal & Aesthetics, in Cedar Park, where she provided clinical services.
In 2019, Dr. Lori Acosta Berry joined the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.
As Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Dentino joins the executive leadership team to help provide support to the chairs and deans in their teaching, research, clinical and administrative responsibilities.
Dr. Dentino is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP), the American Geriatrics Society (AGSF), the American Psychiatric Association (FAPA) and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (FAAHPM). He also represents UTRGV nationally as an elected member of the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and holds both the Colonel H. William Card and the Frank Boggus Professorship.
Dr. Stanley Fisch is the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. He oversees the operations of programs that support medical student academic progress, including student academic support, student advising, the learning environment, career development, and wellness initiatives. Dr. Fisch is also responsible for programs associated with the admissions, enrollment and recruitment of medical students. He formerly chaired the curriculum committee of the school of medicine.
Dr. Fisch has been practicing pediatric medicine in the Rio Valley for more than 40 years. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Job Lewis Smith Award for Leadership in Community Pediatrics from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Nausheen Jamal, MD
Associate Dean / Designated Institutional Official, GME
Graduate Medical Education
Phone: (956) 296-1426 Dr. Nausheen Jamal is the Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and Designated Institutional Official. Dr. Jamal comes to UTRGV from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine where she has served as Associate Professor of Otolaryngology and Director of the residency program. She received her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed her residency training in Otorhinolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Affiliated Hospitals in New York. Dr. Jamal specializes in voice, swallowing and airway disorders and completed her fellowship in Laryngology at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in California.
Dr. Adrian Sandoval obtained his pre-pharmacy education from The University of Texas at Austin and graduated from Texas A&M University Health Science Center’s College of Pharmacy with a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. He then completed an Ambulatory-Care/Community Pharmacy Residency at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple. He is a Board-Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS) and is Board Certified in Ambulatory-Care (BCACP). Dr. Sandoval completed the Higher Education Administration & Leadership (HEAL) doctoral certificate and is working on his EdD at Texas A&M Kingsville. Before joining the UTRGV School of Medicine in 2016, Dr. Sandoval was on the faculty for the UT/UTPA Cooperative Pharmacy Program.
Dr. Linger earned his doctoral, master’s and undergraduate degrees from West Virginia University: an Ed.D. in special education, learning disabilities and gifted; a Master of Arts in reading and a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, biology and science.
At the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, he has served as the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Vice-Chair of the Department of Medical Education and as the Assistant Vice President for Accreditation, Effectiveness, and Quality Enhancement. Before joining UTRGV in 2015, he served in leadership roles at new medical schools in Florida and Pennsylvania.
He served as Associate Dean for Student Success and Faculty Development and as Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education and Faculty Development in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, and led the charge for accreditation for that institution before it opened in 2011. Previously, he had served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Dean for Curriculum and Student Affairs at The Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In addition to his leadership roles at those institutions, he also served as Assistant Dean for Medical Education and Assistant Dean for Clinical Campus Medical Education at West Virginia University School of Medicine.
During his career, Dr. Linger has conducted numerous educational program leadership activities, has served on several accreditation survey teams, and has traveled worldwide to provide expertise and consultation to organizations such as Oman Medical College, in Sohar, Oman and King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Senior Assistant Dean, Admissions and Recruitment
Admissions, Recruitment and Student Services
Phone: (956) 296-1600 Betty Monfort, MPH, joined the UTRGV School of Medicine Office of Student Affairs in August 2015 as the Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions and Enrollment Management. Her educational background includes a Master of Public Health from Columbia University in New York City, a BS in Community and Health Education from William Paterson University in New Jersey, and a Certificate in Enrollment Management in Higher Education from the University of Miami in Florida. Aside from her education, Monfort’ s career in medical education spans over 25 years; she brings with her a wealth of experience in start-up medical schools, including Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Florida International University College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine and UTRGV School of Medicine. Included in her broad range of expertise are marketing, recruitment, admissions, student records and enrollment practices. She also served as the Chair of the Admissions Committee, serves a member of the Harlingen ISD Advisory Board, the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Texas Medical and Dental Student Application Service (TMDSAS), serves on the Deans Advisory Board for the JAMP program, and has held several executive positions within the AAMC Group on Student Affairs, Southern Region. Presently, Monfort is responsible for overseeing all admissions, recruitment and student services functions for the School of Medicine.
Dr. Robert Nelson serves as Senior Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and chair of Pediatrics. Dr. Nelson earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Washington, and a Master of Science in administrative medicine from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
He has worked in graduate medical education for more than 30 years, most recently at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa, where he served as associate vice president of Child Health, USF Health, and as professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and professor of Community and Family Health.
John Ronnau, PhD
Senior Associate Dean, Community Health Partnerships
Community Health Partnerships
Phone: (956) 665-6438 Dr. John Ronnau is the Senior Associate Dean for Community Health Partnerships. In this role, he is the Director of the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program, which includes primary health care clinics and other services in three Counties. He is also involved in various other community partnerships on behalf of the School of Medicine. He has held academic appointments as a faculty member and administrator for 30 years. His administrative roles have included Graduate Program Coordinator, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Director of a Research Institute and Department Chair, and Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services. He served at The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College for seven years as Dean of Graduate Studies and Sponsored Programs and Vice-President for Administration and Partnership Affairs. He has also worked as a clinical Social Worker and an elementary school teacher.
Beatriz Tapia, MD, EdD, MPH
Assistant Dean, Faculty Development
Phone: (956) 296-1481
Beatriz Tapia, M.D., Ed.D., M.P.H, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Assistant Dean of Faculty Development at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Harlingen, Texas. Dr. Tapia is a native of Chicago, Illinois. She attended the Autonomous University of Puebla in Mexico, where she received her M.D., and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University (JHSPH), in Baltimore, Maryland, where she received her Master’s in Public Health. In addition to her M.P.H., Dr. Tapia trained in occupational health and environmental medicine, health disparities and health inequality at the JHSPH. Dr. Tapia is also a recent graduate of a Doctor of Education in Professional Leadership with an Emphasis in Health Science Education from the University of Houston.
Since her appointment as assistant dean in 2015, Dr. Tapia has led the planning of over 120 faculty development series and workshops for UME and GME. Dr. Tapia is also a founding member for the Texas Consortium for Faculty Success (TCFS) established in 2016. The TCFS is a professional community of faculty and administrative leaders responsible for faculty affairs and faculty development in Texas' academic health institutions.
Dr. Tapia is a strong advocate for the medically underserved; she continuously provides environmental and public health education to promotoras (lay healthcare workers), public health professionals and community centers. Her research interests are border health, environmental medicine, public health, minority health, faculty development and medical education research.
Andrew Tsin, PhD
Senior Associate Dean, Research
Phone: (956) 665-1705 Dr. Tsin is a graduate of Dalhousie University and has an MS and PhD (Zoology/Physiology) from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship in the Program in Neuroscience and the Department of Ophthalmology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He was appointed an Assistant Professor in 1981 in the Department of Biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio and was promoted to Associate and then full Professor with tenure. He was also appointed Professor of Biochemistry and Ophthalmology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. At the University of Texas at San Antonio, Dr. Tsin also served as Division Director of Life Sciences, Associate Dean of Research, Director of the Center for Research and Training in Sciences, Director of Center for Interdisciplinary Heath Research and Associate Vice President of Health Research. Dr. Tsin has published more than 100 peer review articles and his scholarly activity includes biochemistry of the visual cycle and cell biology of angiogenic eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. His professional activity also includes development of institutional research capabilities and student/faculty mentoring. Dr. Tsin has received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEN award presented by President Obama), a Lifetime Achievement Award by the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society) and the Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award by the American Association for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Tsin is a Gold Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and an elected Fellow of AAAS, Royal Society of Medicine, Royal Society of Biology and the Linnean Society of London. Dr. Tsin has received research supports from the NIH (including two R01 and one R03 grant), NSF, DoD, as well as research grants from different private and public entities.
Adela Valdez, MD, MBA
Associate Dean, Special Programs
Phone: (956) 296-1471
Dr. Adela Valdez serves as the Associate Dean for Special Programs. In her role, she is responsible for creating the infrastructure for continuing medical education and diversity pipeline programs. She has a deep knowledge of these issues and has extensive national relationships that she brings to this position. Dr. Valdez previously served as Associate Dean for Student Affairs, and she currently serves as clinical professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.
She earned a B.S. in biology from the University of Houston, an M.D. from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and did her residency at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s (UTHSCSA) family practice program in McAllen.
She received her MBA from the Ken Blanchard MBA program at Grand Canyon University and Health Care Policy fellowship from NYU/NHMA.
Leonel Vela, MD, MPH
Senior Associate Dean, Educational Resources
Phone: (956) 296-1411 Dr. Leonel Vela is the Associate Vice President for Education-Division of Health Affairs, Senior Associate Dean for Educational Resources and holds a faculty appointment of Professor with Tenure in the Department of Family Medicine at the UT Rio Grande Valley-School of Medicine. He was Founding Dean of the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC), a campus of the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio (UTHSCSA), where he also held the appointment of Professor with Tenure in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. In this capacity, Dr. Vela directed the medical education and biomedical research components of the RAHC. As its first Regional Dean, he provided leadership in the development and establishment of the RAHC campuses during their formative years. Dr. Vela was previously at Texas Tech University Health Science Center (TTUHSC) where he was Vice President for Rural and Community Health, first holder of the Marie Hall Endowed Chair in Rural Health, Medical Director of Telemedicine/Telehealth and Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Vela received undergraduate degrees from Stanford University and medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine. He completed post-graduate studies at Harvard where he received a Master of Public Health Degree and was a Kellogg Fellow in Health Policy and Management. He completed post-graduate training in Preventive Medicine and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Preventive Medicine. His publications, professional presentations and committees have included medical education, tuberculosis, diabetes, migrant health, border health and telemedicine. He previously chaired the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health for the U.S. Secretary of Health and received the Plate of Bounty Award by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Migrant Head Start Branch. Dr. Vela was honored by Texas Tech University Health Science Center as recipient of the Rural Health Visionary Award and was a UTRGV School of Medicine inaugural member of the UT System Kenneth I. Shine M.D. Academy of Health Science Education.