Tonya Palermo, PhD

Tonya Palermo PhD square 

Professor of Anesthesiology, Pediatrics and Psychiatry

Dr. Tonya Palermo is a professor of anesthesiology, pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She serves as associate director for the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development. Palermo’s longstanding NIH-funded research program has focused on assessment and treatment of chronic pain in children and adolescents. She is specifically interested in cognitive-behavioral interventions; delivery of psychological treatment via eHealth and mHealth interventions; sleep disturbances; and parent/family factors as they relate to pain treatment. Through her work as program director for the University of Washington Anesthesiology T32 program and for the Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Pain Research, Palermo is active in training clinician–scientists at the postdoctoral and junior faculty level.

Palermo serves on the executive boards of the Society of Pediatric Psychology and the American Pain Society, serves as editor of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology and has been elected a fellow of the American Psychological Association. She also serves as a member of the advisory council for the Center for Scientific Review at NIH.

Contact Dr. Palermo.

Rocío de la Vega, PhD

Rocío de la Vega 

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Rocío de la Vega is a postdoctoral research fellow at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and a member of the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab, led by Dr. Tonya Palermo. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington under the supervision of Dr. Mark Jensen in 2017. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Spain) in 2014, and completed a master’s in treatments in clinical and health psychology at the University of Málaga (Spain). Her research interests are mainly focused on the development and testing of self-administered interventions for the management of pain using smartphones (mHealth) and how to improve their efficacy. She is also interested in the interrelations between sleep and pain.

Laura Dempster

Laura Dempster

Clinical Research Associate II

Laura Dempster is a clinical research associate in the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab. Her primary project is the coordination of a multi-site investigation of teen musculoskeletal pain outcomes. She earned a MS in Health Services Research from the University of Washington in 2018 and a BA in Psychology and Spanish with a minor in Anthropology from Bucknell University in 2006. Her previous research experiences primarily focused on end-of-life issues specific to hospice and palliative care. Laura is dedicated to helping improve the quality of life for anyone experiencing pain.

Cornelius (Neels) Groenewald, MB ChB

Groenewald 

Acting Instructor

Dr. Cornelius (Neels) Groenewald is an attending anesthesiologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and an acting instructor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 2002. He completed his anesthesiology residency at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, and his pediatric anesthesiology and pain medicine fellowship at Seattle Children’s Hospital. His research interests include pain, quality of life and activity limitations after major surgery and critical illness in children.

Tricia Jessen-Fiddick, BS

Tricia Jessen-Fiddick 2 

Research Supervisor

Tricia Jessen-Fiddick is a clinical research supervisor. She oversees and provides direct support for the many studies being conducted within the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab. In 2006, she received her BS in psychology and a minor in biology from DePaul University in Chicago. She joined Seattle Children’s Research Institute in 2008. She enjoys the complexity, excitement and rigor of working on a research study from the beginning stages to the end.

Yeon Joo Ko, BS

Yeon Joo Ko 

Clinical Research Associate

Yeon Joo Ko is a clinical research associate in the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab. She helps coordinate multiple projects involving the use of online programs to help children and adults with chronic pain. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2017 with a BS in psychology and a minor in global health. Her previous research experiences include using EMA (ecological momentary assessment) to measure impulsivity and emotional responses to stress in young adults. She is interested in mobile health interventions and wearable technology especially to help patients with chronic illness.

Emily F. Law, PhD

Emily Law 2 

Assistant Professor

Dr. Emily F. Law is an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a pediatric psychologist in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She provides clinical services in the outpatient pain management clinic and inpatient pain rehabilitation program at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She received a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in 2010 and completed her pre-doctoral internship in pediatric/child clinical psychology at UCLA Medical Center. Law completed her post-doctoral training under the mentorship of Dr. Tonya Palermo at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Her research focuses on pediatric chronic pain with a particular interest in pediatric chronic headache. Her current projects include evaluating psychosocial treatment needs among youth with chronic headache, and developing and testing behavioral interventions for parents of children receiving intensive pain rehabilitation.

Cara Lind, BS

Cara LindClinical Research Associate

Cara Lind is a clinical research associate in the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab. She helps coordinate multiple projects that aim to help children with chronic pain. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2017 with a BS in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology with a minor in Nutritional Sciences. Her previous research experiences studied ways in which to improve health outcomes in adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes through the use of social media and incentive strategies. She is currently in the process of applying to medical school and is interested in integrating clinical research into primary care and family medicine.

Lexa Murphy, PhD

 Lexa MurphyPostdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Lexa Murphy is a postdoctoral research fellow at Seattle Children’s Hospital under the mentorship of Dr. Tonya Palermo. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Vanderbilt University and completed her predoctoral internship training in child psychology at University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Hospital. Her interests include the development and testing of interventions for youth with chronic pain; examining longitudinal relations among pain, sleep, and anxiety/depressive symptoms; and family processes involved in the transition from acute to chronic pain after a new medical diagnosis.

Caitlin Murray, PhD

Caitlin Murray 

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Caitlin Murray is a postdoctoral research fellow at Seattle Children’s Hospital under the mentorship of Dr. Tonya Palermo. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from Loyola University Chicago and completed her predoctoral internship training in pediatric psychology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Columbus, Ohio). Her primary research interests include elucidating unique health and developmental issues facing adolescents and young adults with chronic painful conditions, with the long-term goal of creating tailored cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions that target outcomes of highest importance and interest to this population.

Olivia Ohls, BS

Olivia OhlsClinical Research Associate II

Olivia Ohls is a clinical research associate II in the Pediatric Pain and Sleep Innovations Lab and coordinates multiple projects. She graduated from Western Washington University with a BS in Psychology and has been active in behavioral health research since 2014. She has worked in a variety of research labs with diverse populations across the age spectrum, youth to older adults. Her research involvement has focused on topics from prevention and early intervention of eating disorders, mindfulness meditation’s impact on stress response and psychophysiological variables, teen anxiety and suicide prevention, and the relationship between chronic pain and sleep disturbance. Olivia gathered experience in qualitative methods, ecological momentary assessments (EMA), actigraphy, conducting focus groups, structured/semi-structured interviews, fMRI, project design and coordination. Her research interests encompass understanding the mental and physical health experiences of underserved populations, in order to modify current evidence-based programs for more inclusive use. Additionally, she is interested in outcomes of more diverse, or culturally sensitive and adapted interventions, on current health disparities that exist among marginalized identities and groups (e.g., sexual and gender minorities, racial and ethnic minorities).

Jennifer Rabbitts, MB ChB

Jennifer Rabbitts MB ChB 

Assistant Professor

Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts is an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an attending anesthesiologist in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She received her medical degree from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 2002. She completed her anesthesia residency, pediatric anesthesia fellowship and translational research fellowship at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota. Her research focuses on postsurgical pain and recovery in children after surgery. She is conducting an NIH-funded study examining biopsychosocial risk factors for poorer outcomes after surgery. She is particularly interested in the impact of sleep on recovery from surgery.

See Wan Tham, MB BS

See Wan Tham 2 

Acting Assistant Professor

Dr. See Wan Tham is an acting assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She is a pediatric anesthesiologist and pain physician with the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She received her medical degree in Sydney, Australia, in 2001. She completed her anesthesiology residency at the State University of New York (Syracuse) and subsequent pediatric anesthesiology fellowship at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She went on to pursue post-doctoral research training in Dr. Tonya Palermo’s lab. Her research interest lies in identifying the mechanisms underlying the relationship between pain and sleep in pediatric populations, and in functional outcomes in children with pain conditions.

Research Affiliates

Sarah Beals, PhD

Beals_Sarah 

Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor at Children’s Mercy Hospital – Kansas City

Dr. Sarah Beals is a clinical psychologist and assistant professor.

Jessica Fales, PhD

Fales 

Assistant Professor

Dr. Jessica Fales is an assistant professor at Washington State University Vancouver.

Amy Lewandowski Holley, PhD

Amy Lewandowski Holley, PhD 

Assistant Professor

Dr. Amy Holley is assistant professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University.

Melanie Noel, PhD

Noel 

Assistant Professor

Dr. Melanie Noel is an assistant professor at the University of Calgary and Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute.