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
Madhura (Maddy) Athreya, MS PGDM
Maddy graduated with a dual B.Sc. Degree in Biotechnology and Zoology from Osmania University, Hyderabad - India in 2009 and continued to pursue her MS in Clinical Research at the Medical university of South Carolina. Maddy also earned a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management from the Institute of Clinical Research India. She joined the TRAIN lab as the lab manager in 2018 after 4 years of managing the lab of Dr. Peter Kalivas, the chair of the Department of Neuroscience at MUSC. Maddy enjoys yoga, macro photography, cooking and trying new foods, and travelling.
Asia Bliss
Graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in New York, Asia decided to expand her professional development in the beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. Growing up with a Father in the Military, she had the opportunity to meet a spectrum of personalities while living at home and abroad. This ultimately ignited her interest in social sciences and passion to be an aid for others who have not had access to self-help resources due to various external reasons. Asia is excited to contribute her skill set to MUSC and the Project Quit team. Find her with the QuitBuddy study!
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!).
Katie Lastrapes
Katie graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology along with a minor in anthropology from the College of Charleston in 2017. Previously, Katie worked as a research assistant in the Statistical Techniques and Attitudes Toward Science (STATS) Lab at CofC, and as a research intern in the Division of Global and Community Health at MUSC. When she’s not at work, Katie likes to travel with family and friends, read books, and go on long walks with her dogs Wednesday and Ramona.
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.
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.