Mrs. Burks is the Director of the Vanderbilt Coordinating Center. She began her career as a bedside nurse at The University of Florida. After caring for neurosurgical ICU patients, her passion for better understanding new treatment options led her to purse a research career. She coordinated various neurological trials at The University of Florida and eventually worked to establish a team there that specifically supported cerebrovascular clinical trials. Her work then transitioned to The University of Colorado Denver (UCD) within the Department of Radiology. There she expanded her focus to include interventional Radiology projects, general Radiology projects, and to establishing methods for providing Radiology support for trials across the UCD campus with unique research needs.
She found her home at Vanderbilt in 2012 within the Department of Neurological Surgery. Initially, she was responsible for building a research team to support acute stroke research. That team grew to incorporate additional cerebrovascular trials for prevention, treatment, and recovery of stroke within the Cerebrovascular Clinical Research Office (CCRO). In 2015, the CCRO expanded in order to provide more comprehensive support to additional surgical areas. She established the Surgical Core of Research Resources (SCORR) to support clinical and translational research studies in Neurological Surgery, Cardiac Surgery, General Surgery, Trauma Surgery, Colorectal Surgery, Hepatobiliary Surgery and Transplant, Surgical Oncology and Endocrine Surgery, Renal Transplant, Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, Vascular Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Urologic Surgery, and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. In 2016, she was tasked with reinstating the Vanderbilt Coordinating Center. Her current work involves increasing Vanderbilt’s contribution to improving patient care by ensuring that investigators receive flexible, comprehensive support through the VCC.