Basic Sciences Faculty



Dr. Michael BrinkerMichael Brinker, PsyD  
Teaching Faculty, CU School of Medicine at

Dr. Michael Brinker was born and raised in the Twin Cities. He completed his doctoral degree from the University of Denver, with a specialty in clinical neuropsychology. Following this, he finished his internship in Hamilton, Ontario, before completing a two-year post-doctoral residency in Boise, Idaho. Following a few years in Boise, he and his wife moved back to Fort Collins to set up a permanent home. In his clinical role, he provides neuropsychological evaluations to children, adolescents, and young adults, and works with medically complex patients to help assess the  neurodevelopment impact of these conditions. Dr. Brinker also has specific interests working with medically complex patients, including genetic conditions, seizures, oncology, and traumatic brain injury. He began teaching in an adjunct capacity at Boise State University and is currently an assistant professor in the PhD counseling program at CSU and the director of the graduate school training clinic. Dr. Brinker enjoys helping students develop their early clinical skills and facilitating early career growth. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, dogs, and young son, training for triathlons, and building things around the house.  

Chicco Headshot

Adam Chicco, PhD
Teaching Faculty, CU School of Medicine at CSU

Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, CSU


Dr. Chicco is a Professor of Biomedical Sciences, with expertise in cardiorespiratory physiology and metabolism. His laboratory studies how variations in lipid metabolism contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, with a particular interest in the roles of polyunsaturated fatty acids and mitochondria. His research group conducts basic, integrative and translational studies utilizing animal models of human disease, dietary and pharmacological interventions, and genetic gain/loss-of-function approaches to target central regulators of metabolism in health and disease. These studies are complimented by collaborative projects with faculty at CSU and across the country investigating metabolic adaptations to physiological and pathogenic stress in humans, laboratory animals and non-model organisms. 

Tod ClappTod Clapp, PhD

Teaching Faculty, CU School of Medicine at CSU
Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, CSU


Dr. Tod Clapp grew up in Colorado, then attended Colorado State University where he earned a BS in Biology, MS in Anatomy, and PhD in Neuroscience.  At CSU, Dr. Clapp is the director of the professional master’s degree program in the department of Biomedical Sciences and director of the Human Anatomy program. He has been teaching anatomy and neuroanatomy for over 15 years and is passionate about helping students to develop their critical thinking skills.  His lab is currently focused on the development and use of virtual reality for data visualization. 

Gries, Casey

Casey Gries, PhD
Instructor, CSU Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology

Assistant Professor, CUSOM, Fort Collins Branch Campus 


Dr. Gries is originally from Storm Lake, IA and received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Sioux Falls. He earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Pathology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, then did a postdoc and became faculty at the University of California Riverside School of Medicine, Division of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Gries joined the faculty at CSU in Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, and the CUSOM Fort Collins Branch in the fall of 2021. His teaching and research interests are in bacterial pathogenesis and innate immunity, and his laboratory is focused on the molecular mechanisms of Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation and medical implant-associated infections. Dr. Gries enjoys spending his free time hiking, biking, skiing, and otherwise exploring Colorado with his wife and two daughters.

kafer, ilanaIlana Kafer, MD
Director of Radiology Curriculum, Fort Collins Branch

Assistant Professor, Radiology-Ultrasound Imaging, CUSOM

Clinical: UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital

Dr. Ilana Kafer is originally from Hartford, Connecticut and attended undergraduate college at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed a year of research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City before earning her medical degree at New York Medical College. Dr. Kafer trained at Northwell Health for her Internship and Radiology residency. She completed a Body Imaging Fellowship at New York University with a special focus on MRI. After working as a teaching Radiologist at Northwell Health for two years, Dr. Kafer moved to Colorado and joined CU as an Assistant Professor in the Abdominal Imaging section.  She is excited to lend her knowledge and expertise to students as they learn hands-on, clinically relevant diagnostic radiology skills that will prove useful throughout their medical career. When she is not teaching medical students and residents, she is enjoying all that Colorado has to offer with her three boys and husband, who is a practicing physician also in Fort Collins. 

Nicole Kelp, PhDNicole Kelp, PhD
Teaching Faculty, Fort Collins Branch
Assistant Professor in Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, CSU

Dr. Nicole Kelp was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. She attended Washington State University where she earned a B.S. in Biochemistry, a B.S. in Genetics and Cell Biology, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biosciences with a research focus on progesterone signaling in female reproductive pathologies. She stayed at Washington State as instructional faculty teaching microbiology, genetics, and science communication; as an instructor, she developed her current research focus in science education, particularly science communication education. She came to CSU in July 2020 to help develop the new medical branch campus and build an interdisciplinary research lab focused on science communication education and health communication. 

At the CUSOM, Fort Collins Branch, Dr. Kelp is the Chair of the Medical Science Content Directors, helping integrate the medical sciences with clinical sciences and health and society content longitudinally throughout the four-year curriculum. At the Fort Collins Branch, Dr. Kelp also contributes to directing Foundational Principles, Hematologic and Lymphatic Systems, Endocrine and Metabolic Systems, and Reproductive System and Life Cycle courses. She is also the pathology content director longitudinally. She is passionate about helping students learn and apply information practically. 

Outside of work, she enjoys hiking and biking with her son in Colorado’s beautiful natural areas and practicing yoga.

Ellison McNuttEllison (Ellie) McNutt, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences

Ellison (Ellie) McNutt is a comparative anatomist and functional morphologist. She spent the last two years as an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Sciences at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine teaching gross anatomy and related fields to first- and second-year medical students. She earned her Masters in biological anthropology from Boston University and her PhD in the same at Dartmouth College, within their Ecology, Evolution, Ecosystems, and Society Program. 

Driving her interest in anatomy and functional morphology is a desire to understand how animals move through, interact with, and are changed by the world around them. She is particularly interested in understanding the origin and evolution of the human lineage. Her research program utilizes multiple approaches to understand and reconstruct locomotor behavior in extinct ape and human ancestors. Her fieldwork primarily takes place in Southern and Eastern Africa. 

Tara NordgrenTara M. Nordgren, PhD
Teaching Faculty, CU School of Medicine at CSU
Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, CSU

Dr. Tara Nordgren is broadly trained in lung toxicology, immunology, lipid signaling, and environmental health. She has a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University in Virginia and performed her doctoral and postdoctoral training at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her research interests involve identifying how environmental dust exposures impact inflammation, injury, and repair in the lung. Ongoing research includes investigating the potentials of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid-derived lipid mediators in resolving lung inflammation associated with agricultural dust exposures. Dr. Nordgren is passionate about teaching and mentorship, and she has been actively involved in various aspects of medical education throughout her career. Outside of work, Dr. Nordgren enjoys hiking and camping with her family and friends, reading dystopian and fantasy novels, and trying out new recipes.  

Ryan, Elizabeth resizeElizabeth Ryan, PhD 
Professor, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, CSU
Teaching Faculty, CU School of Medicine at CSU

Dr. Ryan was born in Rochester, NY. She is the first U.S. born/generation in her family that immigrated from Kerala, India in the early 1970’s. She attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio where she earned her BS in Biology/BS Environmental Science. She then served for 2 years in the Peace Corps in Nepal before attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine where she earned her MS/PhD in Molecular Toxicology and Environmental Medicine. Her postdoctoral fellowship was completed with funding from the National Cancer Institute at the James P. Wilmont Cancer Center in Rochester, NY, with a focus on human cancer control and prevention. She conducts human clinical research globally and brings real-world experience with interdisciplinary training in environmental exposures, biochemistry, metabolism, and immunology to the classroom. She enjoys the sharing of ideas in teaching/training of students. “I have genuinely enjoyed interactive learning across the spectrum of basic and clinical dimensions of human health and disease, and particularly opportunities for integrating dimensions of environmental-ecological importance,” she said.  She and her husband (Tim) moved to Fort Collins in 2007, and they have three beautiful daughters. Ryan has worked in different environmental health sectors prior to focused research in biomedical sciences, gastrointestinal disorders and global public health. "Since being at CSU, I have engaged in clinical and translational-focused research with local Coloradoans at risk for chronic diseases across the lifespan and have been able to carry out clinical research addressing household and child malnutrition in Latin America, Africa, and Asia,” she said. She enjoys nearly all outdoor activities in every season (e.g. paddle boarding, snowboarding, backpacking, biking) and loves cooking, exploring international food cultures and seeking out yoga practices that integrate multiple styles.   

Zach ThrockmortonZach Throckmorton, PhD 
Medical Human Anatomy Director and Teaching Faculty 
Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences

Originally from mid-Michigan, Professor Throckmorton earned his BS in Anthropology-Zoology from the University of Michigan, MS in Human Biology from the University of Indianapolis, and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin. He is a paleoanthropologist, a scientist who studies the fossil record of human evolution. Prof. Throckmorton is a member of the international team that discovered and described an extinct species of human, Homo naledi. This ongoing work is facilitated by the University of the Witwatersrand’s Evolutionary Studies Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he is a research associate. More broadly, Prof. Throckmorton is interested in anatomical variation and comparative anatomy. As an educator, his philosophy is simple: “students do not care what you know until you know they care,” a reflection of the critical roles his own mentors had in his training. Prof. Throckmorton’s personal interests include domestic travel (47 states down, three to go), hiking national and state parks, playing video games, and reading about nature.  

Jeffrey WiluszJeffrey Wilusz, PhD
Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, CSU
Medical Microbiology Teaching Faculty and Research Mentor

Jeff Wilusz is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at Colorado State University.  He was born and raised in the great state of New Jersey. He attended Rutgers University for his BS, Duke University for his PhD, and Princeton for postdoctoral training. He has a special interest in RNA molecular biology and virology. He is passionate about the the microbial things that surround us - from ascaris to Zika virus - and wants each and every student to fully achieve what they are capable of achieving.  

When not rooting for the Rockies, Broncos, or Duke University sports teams, his research interests focus on the interface between viruses and the RNA biology of the infected cell. He is an elected fellow of the AAAS, Honorary Lifetime Member of the American Society for Virology, and Editor-in-Chief of the RNA review journal WIREs-RNA. He tries to keep fit by being walked by his 120 lb. German Shepherd.   


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