Our Team

The Project Quit team at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is dedicated to improving treatment for smokers who are trying to kick the habit. Our team is comprised of committed and focused researchers with varied backgrounds, including psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors, physician assistants, biostatisticians, and research support personnel of study coordinators and research assistants. The group is based out of the Addiction Sciences Division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and works collaboratively with the other campus research groups like the South Carolina Tobacco Research Group (SCTRIG).

Initially established to focus on a quit smoking study to assist adolescents, the Project Quit team has expanded to include other active research—both treatment based and observational—to better understand tobacco use disorder. The focus of the team is to explore the potential to improve treatment outcomes through the spectrum of tobacco users from adolescence through adulthood.
Investigators
Brett Froeliger, PhD
Dr. Froeliger is a cognitive neuroscientist and the Director of the Translation Research of Addictions & Integrative Neuroscience (TRAIN) Laboratory. The overarching goal of the TRAIN lab is to use cognitive and affective neuroscience research methods to investigate drug addiction - psychiatric comorbidities. The TRAIN lab conducts studies that examine the neural mechanisms underlying addiction and relapse vulnerability, pharmacotherapies for treating the pathophysiology of addiction and mindfulness-based intervention that promote well-being.
Kevin Gray, M.D.
Dr. Gray is a board certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist who has dedicated his career to helping young people struggling with substance use. After earning his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Clemson University, Dr. Gray completed medical school, psychiatry residency and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at MUSC. His research focuses on developing innovative tobacco cessation and marijuana cessation treatments. Dr. Gray has maintained active clinical and research practice since joining the MUSC faculty in 2005. He is a nationally recognized leader in clinical, research, education and policy initiatives to improve adolescent substance use outcomes. A native of South Carolina, Dr. Gray enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters, and is proud to raise a family in this beautiful area.
Bryan W. Heckman, PHD
Dr. Heckman is a clinical psychologist who specializes in addiction studies, focusing on tobacco use disorders. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006 and completed his graduate training along with Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of South Florida in 2014. Following his clinical internship and postdoctoral research fellowship at MUSC Department of Neurosciences, Dr. Heckman remained in Charleston joining the Project Quit research team and Cancer Control Program at Hollings Cancer Center. When taking a break from research, Dr. Heckman is likely to be spending time with friends/family, traveling, cooking, or enjoying nature.
Erin A. McClure, PhD
Dr. McClure is a behavioral psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. McClure earned her B.S. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Allegheny College in 2003, and earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Florida in 2009. Go Gators! She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. McClure’s research interests focus broadly on improving strategies to treat cigarette smoking and study the complex process of relapse, while integrating technology to improve research and treatment efforts. Dr. McClure enjoys being outside and loves hiking and playing volleyball. Dr. McClure also loves the food scene in Charleston and cooking at home with husband and sous chef, Eric.
Rachel L. Tomko, PhD
Dr. Tomko is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the study of tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol use disorders. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pennsylvania State University in 2008 and completed her graduate training at the University of Missouri in 2015. Following a clinical internship at MUSC from 2014-2015, she remained in Charleston and joined the Project Quit research team. Rachel tries to spend most of her free time outside, enjoying Charleston’s parks and nature.
Research Staff
Elizabeth (Lizzy) Bradley
Lizzy graduated from the College of Charleston in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology along with a minor in Crime, Law, & Society. Outside of the office she participates in volunteer work, supporting the local music scene, and watching stand-up comedy. She also enjoys vegan food, the beach, and completing art projects.
Patrick Cato
Patrick graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Clemson University in 2014. He joined the Project Quit team after spending two years in industry sponsored clinical trials. Patrick enjoys spending time on the beach, eating pizza, and watching college football (Go Tigers!).
Christie Eichberg, CCRP
Christie is the Translational Research of Addiction and Integrative Neurosciences (TRAIN) Lab Manager. She graduated from the Honors College at the College of Charleston with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and a Minor in Health. She obtained her accreditation as a Certified Clinical Research Professional in 2016. She’s passionate about the outdoors and enjoys exploring new cultures and environments. She feels most at home in the mountains or on her bike “Fuji.”
Aaron Haas
Aaron graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, with honors, from Charleston Southern University in 2010. He went on to earn a Master's degree in Experimental Psychology from Morehead State University in 2012. Since completing graduate school, Aaron has traveled from coast-to-coast to work in a number of research laboratories, ranging from behavioral pharmacology work in rodents at Washington State University, to his current work with the TRAIN Lab at MUSC. Outside of research, Aaron enjoys gardening, visiting new places, and spending time with his two pit bull terriers, Lola and Rio.
Lauren Hurst
Lauren graduated from James Madison University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She completed graduate work at The College of William and Mary with a focus on bacterial and viral genomics. Lauren is new to the team at MUSC and is excited to join the TRAIN Lab because of her interest and passion for public health and research. In her free time, Lauren enjoys reading Stephen King novels, going to the beach, and cooking.
Kathryn Mase
Kathryn graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Davidson College in 2015. She joined the Project Quit research team after working in a forensic neuropsychology practice. Kathryn enjoys yoga, traveling, and spending time with her puppy, “JD”.
Patrick McConnell
Patrick is a 2nd year graduate student in neuroscience at MUSC and has worked in the TRAIN Laboratory since 2013. Patrick also has a M.S. in Exercise Science with a concentration in Sport Psychology and actively trains as a Brazilian Jujitsu purple belt with American Top Team Lowcountry.
Kathryn Meltzer, PA-C
Kathryn joined our team in October 2017. Prior to her Physician Assistant career in neurology, she pursued her passion in basic and clinical science research, including her previous role as research coordinator in the MUSC Addiction Sciences Division. She completed her bachelors in science with a major in biology at College of Charleston and obtained her masters in physician assistant studies at MUSC. She loves travelling the world in her free time and finding the best cup of coffee in every city she visits. Kathryn is a Charleston native and enjoys the charms of southern life with her husband and curious cat.
Shannon Powers
Shannon graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016. She recently joined the TRAIN lab after working in the Department of Psychiatry at UNC on the Mother Infant Research Study Team. An avid runner, she’s enjoying the flatness of Charleston and enjoys down time practicing yoga or long walks with her puppy, Tucker.
Sasha Silvernale
A College of Charleston graduate with a strong organization and communication background, Sasha recently joined the research team at MUSC Institute of Psychiatry as a program assistant for the QuitBuddy study. Her passion for fitness and a strong desire to help people live a healthy lifestyle is what drives her to succeed at her current role. Outside of work, Sasha enjoys yoga, dancing, biking, and traveling.
Breanna Tuck
Breanna is a new member of the team! She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Vanderbilt University in 2017. She joined the Project Quit research team shortly after. Previously, Breanna worked as a research assistant in the Emotion and Anxiety Lab and the Health Psychology Lab at Vanderbilt, as well as a lab in the Mental Health, Law, and Policy Department at the University of South Florida. Breanna is excited to bring all of her various research experiences to Project Quit and to learn more about clinical research. When she’s not at work, Breanna likes to visit the beach, read a book, or watch Netflix with her cat, Tinkerbell.
Jade Tuttle
Jade graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology along with a minor in Spanish from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Before joining the Project Quit team in May, 2017, she worked as a case manager serving individuals with disabilities. Outside of “MUSC life”, you can usually find Jade traveling around the globe, volunteering as an ESL teacher for local refugees, exploring the great outdoors with her border collie, or expanding her backyard garden.
Anjinetta Yates-Johnson, PA-C
Anjinetta obtained a bachelor’s degree in physician assistant studies from MUSC in 2001. Prior to becoming a physician assistant, she worked as a medical laboratory technician and diagnostic medical sonographer. Anjinetta took a distance learning program through University of Nebraska to obtain her physician assistant master’s degree.