Montana Pediatric Clinical Trials Network Team

Our Team

paul smith

Dr. Paul Smith D.O. FAAP, ACOP, FSCCM

Smith is the Director of Pediatric Pulmonology at Community Medical Center in Missoula, Montana. He is also clinical professor in Pediatrics through the University of Washington and adjunct research professor at the University of Montana. He directs the Montana Pediatric Clinical Trials Network, a program sponsored by the NIH/Environmental Influences on Childhood Health Outcomes (ECHO). He received his fellowship training in Pediatric Pulmonology and Critical Care at Case Western Reserve University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio where he worked for 20 years prior to moving to Montana in 2010. In addition to his pediatric pulmonary and ICU work, his research has been in wood smoke and air pollution effects on pulmonary health and cellular mechanisms of asthma.

Erin Semmens

Erin Semmens, PhD

I am a co-investigator on the ECHO ISPCTN’s University of Montana (UM) site and an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology in the UM School of Public and Community Health Sciences (SPCHS). My research interests primarily focus on the impact of environmental and occupational exposures on health. In addition to collaborating on two clinical trials aimed at improving health by improving indoor air quality, with Dr. Curtis Noonan, I lead a study of the long-term effects of wildland firefighting in Department of the Interior arduous duty wildland firefighters (NIOSH 1R21OH011385-01). More recently, quantifying the impacts of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome in Montana native communities and identifying factors that provide resilience to these effects has become an active area of research development. Each year, I teach the Fundamentals of Biostatistics to our Master of Public Health students and Advanced Quantitative Research methods to our doctoral students.

image of sara cox

Sara McClure Cox, RN, BSN, CPN, CCRP

I am the Clinical Research RN Coordinator for the Montana Pediatric Clinical Trials Network which is sponsored by the NIH/Environmental Influences on Childhood Health Outcomes grant (ECHO). The University of Montana along with 16 other institutions received these NIH awards to build infrastructure, capacity and expertise in service of rural children and national clinical trials research. I was a pediatric/PICU/NICU RN at Community Medical Center for 15 years and loved my work. I hold a pediatric nursing certification from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board and am a member of Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA). I have also been employed in clinical informatics and documentation roles. I am a 5th generation Montanan and, while I love to travel, this will always be home. I am honored to be caring for children in a brand new way.

Photo of Helen Russette

Helen Russette, MPH

I am a PhD student in Public Health at the University of Montana, a second-year fellow with the Utah Regional Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) program, and a fellow for the Indigenous Substance Abuse, Medicines and Addictions Research Training (ISMART) program. Under these fellowships, I work with experts from diverse fields to learn more about outcomes and interventions for families with children prenatally exposed to opioids, methamphetamine and other drugs. Additionally, I am conducting a cultural engagement component for URLEND trainees, where we focus on community interventions for Native American women that have delivered a child that was prenatally exposed to opioids or other drugs on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. The goal is to better orient trainees to serving Native American families that have children with complex health and behavioral health needs.


Jennifer Faiella, RN, BSN, CPN

I joined the Montana Pediatric Clinical Trials Site at the University of Montana in November 2018 as a Clinical Research RN. I am originally from Colorado and was fortunate to call Montana home for a number of years in my childhood. After graduating from Colorado State University with a B.S. in Psychology I joined the Peace Corps, specializing in health education and promotion on the small isle of Dominica, West Indies. During my work as a Peace Corps volunteer, I was inspired by the nurses that I worked with and the contributions that they made to their communities. Following such an invaluable experience, I went back to school to become a Registered Nurse, obtaining my B.S. in Nursing from Metropolitan State University in 2008. My nursing career has afforded me the opportunity to live in many beautiful places, while working in a career that I love. Excited to call Montana home once again, I moved to Missoula in 2013 and have since worked at Community Children’s at Community Medical Center in both the NICU and Pediatric departments. I am certified in pediatric nursing by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, a member of the Society of Clinical Research Associates, and was a recipient of The Daisy Award for nursing excellence in 2017. I am thrilled for the opportunity to work with the Montana Pediatric Clinical Trials Network at the University of Montana to serve children and families through research.