Meet Our Panelists

The following science and health experts will weigh-in on the debate and share how prevention and intervention strategies affect their specialities and the field of health and medicine in general. 

Roberta Brinton, PhD - Brain Health 

Dr. Brinton leads the UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science with the mission to bring innovations in brain science of the future to those who need a cure today. Dr. Brinton is an internationally recognized expert in Alzheimer’s and sex differences in the disease. She is currently developing the first regenerative therapeutic for Alzheimer’s. Her insights into the transition states of the aging brain that lead to age-related neurodegenerative disease reveal therapeutic opportunities to prevent, delay and treat neurodegenerative disease. In the Center for Innovation in Brain Science, Dr. Brinton brings her expertise in age-related neurodegenerative disease to the investigation of three other neurodegenerative disease of aging, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS.

Juanita Merchant, MD, PhD - GI Health 

Dr. Merchant is a Professor of Medicine in the UA Department of Medicine, Chief of the UA Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and a member of the Cancer Biology Research Program at the UA Cancer Center. In 2008, Dr. Merchant was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and appointed a member of the National Institutes of Health Council of Councils. In 2016, she also joined the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a unit of the NIH. She has written or co-written more than 75 peer-reviewed research publications and is editor or co-editor of two books and several book chapters. 

Joaquin Ruiz, PhD - General Science and Medicine

Dr. Ruiz is the UA's Vice President for Innovation, Dean of the College of Science, Director of the Biosphere 2 and Professor of Geosciences. As a scientist with equal abilities in chemistry and in geology, Dr. Ruiz addresses many first-order problems in the Earth Sciences, such as the development of new isotope systems for studying ore deposits. His research team addresses problems ranging from the origins of life to present-day climate change. He is also a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science. He is a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences and was named a “National Researcher” by the Mexican government in 2010 when he was recognized for his outstanding scientific contributions and efforts to enhance Mexico's scientific and technological capacity through collaborations with the UA and research institutions in Mexico.

Nancy Sweitzer, MD, PhD - Heart Health

Dr. Sweitzer is Director of the UA Sarver Heart Center, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Cardiology at the UA College of Medicine - Tucson. She is a board-certified advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist and clinical researcher, specializing in heart failure, mechanical circulatory support and heart transplant patient care. Nationally recognized for her leadership and experience in clinical trials, Dr. Sweitzer's research program focuses on interaction of the dysfunctional heart muscle in heart failure with other body systems to better understand how to improve symptoms and organ function in heart failure patients. She has done extensive work on the physiology of heart failure with preserved systolic function, a disease that disproportionately affects elderly women. She has led and collaborated on numerous studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health as well as studies supported by industry and academic sponsors.