Research is a core mission at Carolinas HealthCare System. Clinical studies give us the ability to offer the best treatment options for our patients and continue those advancements. Carolinas HealthCare System medical faculty, affiliated physicians, residents and fellows are involved in clinical research targeting specific illnesses, from cancer and emergency medicine, to pediatrics and surgery, and more.

  • 1,100 active clinical studies
  • More than 15 translational research laboratories
  • Cutting-edge investigator-initiated clinical trials
  • National Institutes of Health-supported registries and interventional trials

Read our 2014 Research Annual Report.

Research and Clinical Trials Leadership

Michael A. Gibbs, MD, FACEP
Vice President for Research
As the Interim Vice President for Research, Dr. Gibbs is responsible for the oversight of research transformation and operations of Carolinas HealthCare System. He also serves Carolinas HealthCare System and its patients as Professor and Chair in the Department of Emergency Medicine and a practicing physician. He earned his medical degree from New York Medical College and completed his emergency medicine residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Joan Connell
Assistant Vice President, Research Regulatory Affairs and Quality
As the Assistant Vice President for Research Regulatory Affairs and Quality, Mrs. Connell is responsible for the oversight of the Office of Clinical and Translational Research including the Institutional Review Board. She also leads the Corporate Compliance Research Matrix as Facility Compliance Officer and Facility Privacy Officer for Carolinas HealthCare System under the Division of Research. She has over thirty years of clinical research experience and over twenty years of clinical research certification.

Clayton Owens
Assistant Vice President, Research Administration
As an Assistant Vice President for Research Administration, Mr. Owens is responsible for the vision and oversight of the Grants and Contracts team, the Project Management Team, the Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer as well as the Student Services in Research. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Duke University and his Masters of Library Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He has been with Carolinas HealthCare System more than 26 years.

John A. Watts, PhD
Assistant Vice President, Research Affairs and Facility Management
As an Assistant Vice President for Research Administration, Dr. Watts is responsible for the structure and oversight of the scientific affairs including the operation of the Carolinas HealthCare System Core Laboratory Facilities. He is also responsible for the Facility Safety for the James G. Cannon Research Center. He completed his undergraduate degree at Drew University and his PhD at the University of Maryland.

Lela Wulf, MBA
Controller, Research Finance
As the Controller for Research Finance, Ms. Wulf is responsible for all aspects of financial operations and reporting for CHS Research and Sponsored Programs. Ms. Wulf directs the Budget and Revenue Cycle, and Accounting teams for pre and post award activities. She joined Carolinas HealthCare System in 2013 bringing over 20 years of healthcare industry experience, with the last 10 years gained in healthcare research from both academic and community health system settings. Ms. Wulf earned her bachelor’s degree in Marketing at the University of Iowa; and, an MBA in Finance from the University of Denver.

Research Administration

Our research administration offices provide support and infrastructure for clinical-translational and bench research:

All are committed to the highest professional and ethical standards in the conduct of all research and related activities.

Additionally, the Summer Research Scholars Program is managed through this group.

Research Compliance

Carolinas HealthCare System is committed to conducting its business and research in accordance with the laws, regulations and standards to which healthcare organizations and researchers are held. Integrity is one of the core values of Carolinas HealthCare System. All teammates and collaborators are expected to uphold standards to promote an environment of integrity, ethics and safety.

Please reference this site as well as the Carolinas HealthCare System Code of Business Conduct and the administrative policies for research (policies are available to teammates on the company intranet).

The Corporate Compliance Research Matrix (an ancillary group within Corporate Compliance) was formed in 2005 in collaboration with the Office of Clinical and Translational Research (OCTR) and is dedicated to dealing with compliance issues unique to the conduct of research at Carolinas HealthCare System; prior to that year, compliance was monitored directly by the OCTR.

The Research Compliance and Privacy program is guided via the Carolinas HealthCare System Research Administrative Policies and Standard Operating Procedures that are published, teammates are trained on and conformance is monitored internally. These policies and procedures cover our Human Research Protection Program, Comparative Medicine Research and Translational Research.

Additionally, each study is reviewed by the Carolinas HealthCare System Institutional Review Board (IRB) or designee. The IRB ensures participants are protected.

Financial Conflict of Interest Policy

Read our Financial Conflict of Interest Policy

Researcher Directory

Browse our directory of researchers.

Research Departments, Centers and Institutes

Clinical departments, centers and institutes are actively engaged in patient-centered research. Many of these departments also offer physician residency programs.

Clinical Departments



Research Core Facilities and Support Services

Research Core Facilities

Our research core facilities are managed by PhD researchers and offer customizable services. They are housed in the James G. Cannon Research Center.

Research Support Services

Carolinas Medical Center supports biomedical research in the following areas:

  • Carolinas Laboratory Network
  • Computed Tomography
  • Investigational Drug Services
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Positron Emission Tomography
  • Ultrasound

Research Laboratories

The James G. Cannon Research Center, with 60,000 square feet, houses 16 laboratories plus four core facilities. The center’s goal is to make fundamental new discoveries that can be later translated into advances in clinical care.