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Student Profiles

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Maxwell Akanbi
Health Services and Outcomes Research | 2015 Cohort

Maxwell holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) degree from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and a Master’s degree in Clinical Investigation from Northwestern University. He is also a Fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria with specialty training in Internal Medicine & Pulmonology. His prior research focused on elucidating the epidemiology of lung disease, particularly tuberculosis and Chronic Obstructive Airway in Africans with HIV. For his PhD research, he is interested in evaluating interventions to improve lung health outcomes in resource limited settings. He is the co-founder of ‘All Things Health Africa’ (ATHA), a HealthTech start-up focused on health promotion and chronic disease management in resource constrained settings.
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Aparna Balakrishnan
Health Services and Outcomes Research | 2016 Cohort

Aparna received a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, and pursued a career in journalism before working in public health. In 2012, she completed a dual masters degree program in Public Health and Public Administration, also at Columbia University. For the four years in between finishing her Masters degrees and starting the HSIP program, she worked first as a cancer outcomes researcher in the Mount Sinai Medical System in New York City, and then managed an outreach program for underserved and immigrant cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. A second year student in the HSOR track, Aparna hopes to explore how access to and use of non-clinical services impacts treatment adherence among underserved cancer patients in the safety net hospital setting.

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Salva Balbale
Health Services and Outcomes Research | 2014 Cohort

Salva is a doctoral candidate in the Health Services & Outcomes Research Track within the Health Sciences Integrated PhD (HSIP) program. Prior to her doctoral training, Salva earned her undergraduate and Master's degrees in Public Health from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She then worked as a Research Analyst at the Hines Veterans Affairs (VA) Center of Innovation for Complex Chronic Healthcare, supporting a broad range of research studies designed to enhance care and outcomes for Veterans. She is currently a pre-doctoral T32 fellow in the Division of Gastroenterology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine. Her research interests include improving health services and patient safety for individuals with complex and chronic conditions, particularly gastrointestinal disorders.

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Sarah Bassett
Social Sciences and Health | 2015 Cohort

Sarah received BAs in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Kansas. During this time, she worked and studied in Madrid, Spain, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, respectively. She subsequently received an MA in Psychology from Brandeis University, where she focused on psychoneuroendocrinology. Upon graduation, she worked for the healthcare startup, Gain Life, in Boston, MA. While at Gain Life, she helped implement, evaluate, and modify a best-in-class weight loss intervention for an underserved population. Sarah is currently a fourth year doctoral candidate in the Social Science and Health track of the HSIP program, where she focuses on the impacts of emotion, stress, and coping on health behaviors and outcomes in chronic diseases. She is a recipient of the NU Predoctoral Fellowship in Health Services and Outcomes Research.
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Ariel Chandler
Health and Biomedical Informatics | 2015 Cohort

Ariel is a third year Health and Biomedical Informatics PhD Candidate in the Health Sciences Integrated Program. Her current work is focused on measuring the quality of care coordination in hospitals, through a network-analysis approach aimed at identifying high or low scoring collaborators. She is interested in expanding this work in the future to understand the driving forces behind medical team collaboration and strategies to effectively communicate collaborator scores to providers. She is currently a NIH Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) doctoral fellow. Ariel previously worked at Boston Children’s Hospital on research integrating electronic health record and genomic data, and The Policy and Research Group in New Orleans, LA on projects evaluating the implementation and impact of federally funded public health programs. She received her Bachelors of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology from Tulane University.

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Mohamed Hasan
Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety | 2016 Cohort

Mohamed has 6 years of experience in hospital accreditation, implementation of patient safety interventions, coordination of quality improvement projects, and facilitation of multidisciplinary teams as part of his job as a Total Quality Management Consultant at the Armed Forces Hospitals of Saudi Arabia. He also volunteered as a trainer in which he worked with multiple Saudi Directors of Health Affairs to train healthcare workers on clinical risk management, patient safety, and quality improvement. Mohamed graduated from medical school at Zagazig University in Egypt and he completed his MPH with a concentration in Healthcare Management and Policy from American University of Beirut. His research interests include implementation science, diagnostic errors, simulation and health IT interventions to improve patient safety.

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Tim Herr
Health and Biomedical Informatics | 2013 Cohort

Tim received his BA in Psychology and Economics from Indiana University and his MS in Medical Informatics at Northwestern University. A combination of eight years in the Healthcare IT industry and his Master's studies at Northwestern led him to his passion in personalized medicine. Tim is interested in continuing research of this model and its potential to be the future standard of healthcare. He is currently the recipient of an F31 award from the National Institutes of Health. The title of his project is "Improving Physician Adoption of Pharmacogenomic Clinical Decision Support via Implementation Science Methodologies."

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Adovich Rivera
Health Services and Outcomes Research | 2017 Cohort

Prior to joining the Health Sciences Integrated Program, Ado worked as a researcher for the Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies in the Philippines where he was involved in various projects ranging from cost-effectiveness to impact assessment. He provided technical assistance including data analysis and grant preparation. He also trained and led data collection teams for various surveys. Ado holds degrees in Medicine and Public Health from the University of the Philippines Manila. During his PhD studies he is interested in researching health disparities and their impacts on issues of access and quality of health services for marginalized and underserved populations.

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Iva Terwilliger
Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety | 2017 Cohort

Iva graduated cum laude with a BS in Nursing from Georgetown University. After graduating, she completed a nurse residency program and worked as a Staff Nurse on an orthopedic / oncology / medical / surgical unit at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. She then worked at the New York University Langone Medical Center as a Senior Staff Nurse in Breast Imaging. As a PhD student in the Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety track, she is interested in studying how technology can help improve the quality of care provided to patients.

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Andrew Wang
Health Services and Outcomes Research | 2015 Cohort

Andrew developed a fascination with health services research during his time at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Tufts Medical Center in Boston conducting large-scale epidemiology clinical research studies. He graduated with a BA in Biological Sciences from Cornell University and an MPH in Health Policy and Management from Columbia University. His prior experiences in health policy include work at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services and Harvard University's School of Public Health. He has also conducted research at Columbia University and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. His most recent position was in health care administration as a Hospital Administrator at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. Andrew's current research interests are in access to care, social determinants of health, and public health policy.

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Charlotte Ward
Health Services and Outcomes Research | 2014 Cohort

Charlotte earned her BS in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009, and a Master in Public Health from Dartmouth College in 2010. Before coming to Northwestern, Charlotte spent four years as an analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital providing project management and statistical support for large-scale strategic and operational initiatives, which focused on population health management, performance reporting, and quality improvement. Her research interests include the application of statistical methods to studies in health services research, as well as their development. Specifically, she is interested in mixture, spatiotemporal, and generalized linear and nonlinear mixed-effects models. Her dissertation study involves the development of a finite mixture model for longitudinal count data that accounts for both within-subject correlation and overdispersion at the observational level.

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Rick Weinmeyer
Social Sciences and Health | 2017 Cohort

Rick spent the last four years serving as a Senior Research Associate for the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs at the American Medical Association. During his tenure with the AMA, he researched and wrote on subjects at the intersection of health policy, health law, and medical ethics, including expanded access to unapproved drugs, religious and philosophical vaccination exemptions, and hospital mergers and their impact on patient care. Rick earned his BA in Political Science from the University of Washington, his MPhil in Sociology from Cambridge University, and his JD and MA in Health Law and Bioethics at the University of Minnesota. His research interests are in health disparities research, legal epidemiology, and research regulation, and he’d like to use his doctoral training to conduct empirical work in public health law and health policy.

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Zexian Zeng
Health and Biomedical Informatics | 2014 Cohort

Zexian completed his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at the Beijing Institute of Technology before receiving two Master degrees in Computer Science and Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Prior to joining HSIP, Zexian worked for the University of Wisconsin Hospital serving as the project lead on quality control and informatics research. During his research at UW Hospital, he work on application design and database construction based on NIH requirements, creating communication web services for client-based web applications and the architectural patterns to support those applications. His current research interests revolve around making computation more practical and useful in healthcare. He is involved in breast cancer genomics, natural language processing, and machine learning modeling.

Manrui Zhang headshot

Manrui Zhang
Social Sciences and Health | 2016 Cohort

Prior to joining HSIP, Manrui worked at Rush Medical Center for three years as a Research Assistant in an epidemiological study of Chinese older adults living in Chicago. She studied how culture and immigration influenced health and well-being, and she helped develop culturally appropriate interventions to improve quality of life. Her research interests have evolved during her doctoral studies to focus on the application of psychometrics in patient-centered health outcome measurements across cultures and life-spans. She is especially interested in the analysis of differential item functioning in the assessment of emotion and cognition across cultures in large item banks such as the NIH-Toolbox and PROMIS. Manrui graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a dual Master's in Public Health and Social Work, and received her BS in Management Information Systems from the Beijing Language and Cultural University.

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Lindsay Zimmerman
Health and Biomedical Informatics | 2016 Cohort

Lindsay obtained her BS in Biological Science at DePaul University and later an MPH at the University of Illinois at Chicago in Epidemiology. Prior to being admitted to HSIP, she was the Director of Research for the Department of OB/GYN and Division of Family Planning at the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Chicago's safety net for health care. During her PhD in Health and Biomedical Informatics, she is studying health disparities and the effect of social determinants of health, predictive modeling and geospatial analysis, clinical research networks, and the aggregation of health data from various sources. Lindsay also serves as the President and Co-Founder of the Cook County Health Foundation Associate Board, supporting the Cook County Health and Hospitals System.

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Cassandra Iroz
Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety | 2018 Cohort

Cassandra is a first year student in the Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety Track within the Health Sciences Integrated PhD (HSIP) program. Cassandra earned her BA in Biology from Carleton College and her Master of Science in Health Communication from Northwestern University. Prior to joining the PhD program she worked as a Clinical Research Project Manager within the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS) where she worked on studies in a variety of areas including weight loss, urology, and liver transplantation. As a PhD student she is hoping to build upon her previous work to understand how improved communication within the healthcare team and with patients can improve quality and safety for all patients.
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Julianne Murphy
Health and Biomedical Informatics | 2018 Cohort

Julianne received her BA and MS degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Clark University. During this time, she worked and studied in Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Her research examined the distribution of microRNA gene copy number across human populations. Prior to joining HSIP, she analyzed self-reported risky health behaviors in middle and high-school students at the Worcester Division of Public Health. Her prior experiences include environmental health work at the Association of Public Health Laboratories and corporate medical management at AmeriHealth Caritas. Her research interests include integrating genomic data into EHRs and telehealth initiatives for quality of care improvement. She is a recipient of the NU Data Science Fellowship.
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Jessica Puri
Social Sciences and Health | 2018 Cohort

Jessica received a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from Loyola University and a Masters in Public Health from DePaul University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in the Social Sciences and Health Track at Feinberg's HSIP Program. She currently sits on the Alumni Advisory board for the Center for Community Health Equity and the Board of Directors for Soap Box PO. Jessica's prior research experience include studies on HIV, female circumcision, physician cultural competency, malaria and health equity in Chicago . Her interests include health equity, health promotion, global health, health behavior and health administration.
Jiancheng Ye headshot

Jiancheng Ye
Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety | 2018 Cohort

Jiancheng received Biomedical Engineering training from Tsinghua University in China and Health Informatics training from Johns Hopkins University. He has not only done much work in the design and implementation of medical devices, but also in the industry and data analysis. His PhD research will be focused on the intersection of informatics, health quality and patient safety. He enjoys interdisciplinary research for the opportunity to use technology to combine engineering and medicine, thereby improving people’s health and quality of life.
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