The ARIA Research Team

Dr. John P. Barrett

President and Founder

Founded by visionary orthopedic surgeon John Barrett, M.D., ARIA is dedicated to finding the cure for the next generation. “A future without osteoarthritis for our children, grandchildren and beyond is a precious gift we can start giving them now,” says Dr. Barrett.

Michele Barrett

Executive Director

Michele Barrett is an honors graduate of the University of Florida. She has served on The Arthritis Research Institute Board of Directors for 9 years and has been Executive Director since 2009. “Why do some people get osteoarthritis while others don’t?” is the question Michele would most like to see answered by The Clearwater Osteoarthritis Study. Michele is also a volunteer participant in this important research effort.

Lissa Fahlman

Lead Epidemioloist

Lissa Fahlman received her BS in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota, her Doctorate of Chiropractic from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon, and her MPH in Epidemiology from the University of South Florida. She diagnosed and treated patients for 10 years prior to shifting to a research focus. A part of the research team at ARIA since January 2010, she provides coordination and planning for research projects.

Emmeline Sangeorzan


Emmeline received her BS in Mathematics from Arizona State University and she received her MPH in Biostatistics from the University of South Florida (USF). Emmeline has assisted in several projects involving oesteoarthritis as the outcome measure and plays an important role in producing collaborative research for ARIA.

Dr. Paul Leaverton, Retired

Special Consultant

Paul E. Leaverton received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Statistics from Iowa State University. He has held faculty positions at the University of Colorado (assistant professor), and the University of Iowa (associate professor and professor). He was also professor and founding chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of South Florida (USF) in 1985. He retired from USF in 2001 and is now professor emeritus. Leaverton was a member of the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. He was also Associate Director for Research at the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, MD, from 1974-1980, and later served as Deputy (then Acting) Director for Epidemiology and Biometry at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, MD. He has authored or co-authored four books on epidemiology and biostatistics and has published over 100 research articles. Leaverton is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is past president of the American Epidemiological Society. He has been associated with the Clearwater Osteoarthritis Study since its planning stages. Recently he retired from Director of Research for ARIA.

    Meet the ARIA Board of Directors

Dr. John P. Barrett

President and Founder

Dr. Barrett is the President and Founder of ARIA and is Director of the Florida Knee and Orthopedic Centers. He is a retired orthopedic surgeon with over 30 years of experience treating osteoarthritis.

Ed Farina

PT, MBA, Phd, Board Chairman

Dr. Farina has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2000. He’s also served as Treasurer. He is the president and owner of Progressive Rehabilitation Agency, Inc., as well as the vice president of Sarasota Therapy Centers, and President of Crossfit Rebels, Clearwater, FL. Dr. Farina is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and The Florida Physical Therapy Association. His research has been published in the peer-reviewed journals Osteoarthritis and Cartilage and the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Michele Barrett

Executive Director and Board Secretary

Ms. Barrett is ARIA’s Executive Director. Under her leadership, ARIA has published 18 papers in peer-reviewed journals and expanded the volunteer base to over 4000 total volunteers. Michele is an honors graduate of the University of Florida and also a volunteer participant in The Clearwater Osteoarthritis Study (COS). Michele’s big question is “Why, at 40, did I already have osteoarthritis in my hands?” It is her fervent hope that the COS can answer this and other questions about osteoarthritis..

Cheryl ‘DeeDee’ Cornelius

Director and Treasurer

Dee Dee Cornelius is Chief Operating Officer for five companies. She holds licenses as a Certified Property Manager (CPM), Licensed Real Estate Broker and a Real Estate Instructor. She is also a broker member of the local, state and National Board of Realtors, and a member of IREM (Institute of Real Estate Management) and CCIM (Commercial Investment Real Estate Institute). Her former positions include Sr. Asset Specialist-Resolution Trust Corporation, and Vice President-Equity Programs Investment Corp. (EPIC). Ms. Cornelius brings a wide breadth of financial management experience to her role as treasurer.

Joe Baker


Mr. Baker is retired from a successful career in plumbing products sales. Mr. Baker is omnipresent at the Institute and spearheads the ongoing development of “Take a Hike” walk-a-thons as well as Golf Events for the Institute. ARIA’s 1-888-554-2742 toll-free line is in effect today because of his belief in that all ARIA’s constituents should have immediate access to help from the Institute.

Mariellen Murray


Ms. Murray is the Chief Operating Officer of The Florida Knee and Orthopedic Institutes in Pinellas and Paso counties, FL. For 15 year, she has successfully managed these multi-surgeon orthopedic practices. Mariellen is a member of the BONES society her leadership and coordination with volunteer participants has been invaluable to ARIA.

    Other Research Affiliations

Treat-OA Consortium

United Kingdom based Kings College osteoarthritis scientific team partnering with ARIA’s research team on OA genetic research.

You’ve Helped Raise…

Become an ARIA Volunteer