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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research
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Meet the Team

The Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research welcomes your questions and comments. Please contact us at:

750 N. Lake Shore Dr. Suite #680
Chicago, IL 60611
312-503-1042
cfaar@northwestern.edu

Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH

Director

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Ruchi Gupta

Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, has more than 15 years experience as a board-certified pediatrician and health researcher and serves as the director of the Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research (CFAAR), where she is actively involved in clinical, epidemiological, and community-based research. Dr. Gupta completed her undergraduate and medical education at the University of Louisville and completed her medical residency at Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center, University of Washington in Seattle. She completed her pediatric health services research fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and went on to receive her Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. She is nationally recognized for her groundbreaking research in food allergy and asthma epidemiology, specifically for her research on the prevalence of pediatric and adult food allergy in the United States. Dr. Gupta is the author of the Food Allergy Experience, has written and co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed research manuscripts and has had her work featured on major TV networks and in print media. She strives to improve the lives of children and their families through her research and hopes to continue finding answers and shaping policies surrounding pediatric food allergy and asthma.

Fun fact: Dr. Gupta coaches basketball in her free time!

Hometown: Louisville, KY

Lucy Bilaver, PhD

Faculty Researcher

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Lucy Bilaver

Dr. Bilaver has successfully coordinated a number of CFAAR's research projects including being the co-investigator on the Medicaid project, the Peanut Allergy Guidelines Assessment Clinician, Pediatrician, and Parent surveys project, and Understanding Preferred Precautionary Allergen Labeling (PAL) Language Among Food Allergy Stakeholders project. She also assists with analysis of the Natural History study’s severity and family history data. Dr. Bilaver earned a PhD from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and completed her post-doctoral training in health services research through an Integrated Fellowship at Feinberg. As an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern Medicine, her child health services research program spans several areas of children with special health care needs including autism, asthma, obesity, and food allergy.

Fun fact: Lucy’s home away from home is Croatia!

Hometown: Wauwatosa, WI

Kathy Boon, MPH

Senior Program Administrator

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Kathy Boon

In her role as a Senior Program Administrator, Mrs. Boon manages the CFAAR team as well as all aspects of the Improving Technology-Assisted Recording of Asthma Control in Children (iTRACC) study, such as coordinating patient recruitment, clinic participation, IRB submissions, and environmental lab testing. In addition, Mrs. Boon managed the Student Media-based Health Research Team (SMHRT) study. Throughout her career, Mrs. Boon has served as a public health advocate, especially for under-served Chicago communities. Mrs. Boon earned a Master of Public Health with a focus in Health Policy and Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Fun fact: Kathy dances salsa and mambo professionally and has traveled internationally to perform with her husband/dance partner :)

Hometown: Humboldt Park, IL

Alexandria Bozen

Research Study Assistant

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Alexandria Bozen

Ms. Bozen joined the CFAAR team in 2017 after graduating from Saint Louis University. She works on our FORWARD, FAMILY, iTRACC, Solid Food Introduction, and Peanut Addendum Guideline Adherence studies. She assists in recruiting, creating survey instruments, writing manuscripts, and creating psycho-educational materials- just to name a few. Ms. Bozen also enjoys designing marketing and educational materials. Additionally, she plans our food allergy and asthma conferences, which include Midwest Food Allergy Consortium for Education & Science (FACES) and the Conference for Asthma Research and Education (CARE). Ms. Bozen also leads our Community Research and Medicine Club at Francis W. Parker School.

Fun fact: Alexandria founded Shared Attire Clothing Drive. By partnering with the Chicago Food Depository and Hyde Park Union Church, her team serves anywhere from 200-400 individuals per month. To learn more about our efforts or donate your gently used attire, check out our Instagram (@shared_attire) and Facebook (@SharedAttire).

Hometown: Lockport, IL

Ria Das

Research Assistant

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Ria Das

Ria began with CFAAR in the summer of 2018 as an intern. She just graduated from Northwestern University in 2019 with a B.A. in Neuroscience and has started working full time as a Research Assistant. She has assisted the team with several projects including enrolling participants for the FORWARD and Yobee studies. Her current focus is on the new U01 iREACH (Intervention to Reduce Early Allergy in Children) study which looks to improve physician adherence to the 2017 PPA Guidelines regarding the early introduction of peanuts to infants. Ria is looking forward to gaining more knowledge about food allergies and asthma during her time with the CFAAR team. 
Fun Fact: Ria enjoys running in her free time and her goal is to complete a half marathon in 2020!
Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC​

Ashley Dyer, MPH

Part-Time Research Project Manager

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Ashley Dyer

Since 2011, Ms. Dyer has managed CFAAR's research projects on childhood asthma, food allergy, and school health. Her current work focuses on better understanding Quality of Life (QoL) of children, adults, and families managing food allergies. Ms. Dyer is finishing her third year of doctoral studies in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, and remains passionate about combining her love for East Asian Medicine with her public health roots to forward meaningful research, education, and patient-centered approaches to healthcare. Ms. Dyer earned her Master of Public Health in Community Health Sciences and Maternal and Child Health with a concentration in Global Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Fun fact: As a child, Ashley would try to break the Guinness Book of World Records for hula hooping in my grandparents' backyard. Her personal best was 7 hours!

Hometown: Clive, Iowa

Jamie Fierstein, MS, PhD

Senior Research Data Analyst

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Jamie Fierstein

Jamie is a Senior Research Data Analyst for the CFAAR Team. She graduated with a PhD in Nutrition from Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston; her thesis focused on the confluence of environmental factors associated with child stunting in under-resourced populations. In addition, she holds a Master’s Degree in Epidemiology from The Friedman School. To date, her work has focused on the application of quantitative methods in nutrition studies at Tufts University such as the Exit Strategies among Development Food Assistant Projects in Honduras and Bolivia. Currently, Jamie provides statistical and research support to the team and manages several data sets such as FORWARD, Natural History of Food Allergy, and iTRACC.

Fun fact: Jamie has a 13 year old diabetic toy poodle named Duke and he rules her world.

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Isabel Galic

Research Assistant

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Isabel Galic

Isabel joined CFAAR as an intern during the summer of 2019 right after graduating from St. Olaf College with a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology/Anthropology with a concentration in Neuroscience. She currently assists the team with a variety of projects involving recruiting participants, drafting surveys and writing manuscripts. One of her current projects is FORWARD, a study designed to understand the racial differences for food allergies between Caucasian, African American and Hispanic/Latino children. She recently joined the team full-time and is excited to learn more about food allergy and asthma from a community health standpoint.

 

Fun fact: She spends her weekends tending to plants at an organic urban greenhouse in Chicago. 

 

Hometown: Oak Park, IL​

Gwen Holtzman

Research Study Coordinator

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Gwen Holtzman

Gwen Holtzman joined CFAAR during the summer of 2020 after working as a bilingual medical scribe in the greater Chicagoland area. She graduated from Grinnell College in 2019 with a B.A. in Biochemistry and Spanish. She assists the team with recruiting participants, translating surveys, and collaborating on new projects. Her main focus is the FORWARD food allergy study, where she is working with Spanish-speaking families to better understand racial differences between White, Black and Hispanic/Latinx families. Gwen is excited to expand her clinical knowledge of food allergy as well as engage with the Chicago Community through CFAAR’s commitment to improving health equity across our own communities. 
 
Fun Fact: Whether it’s hiking, biking, camping or running, Gwen loves anything and everything outdoors.

Hometown: Las Cruces, NM 

Jialing Jiang

Research Study Coordinator

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Jialing Jiang

In her role as a Research Coordinator for CFAAR, Jia primarily focuses on food allergy studies including the Prevalence study, FORWARD, iREACH, and FACE India. She also supports the Natural History study and the Peanut Addendum Guideline Adherence study. Ms. Jiang received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also underwent the Pre-Medicine track and minored in Spanish.

Fun fact: Jia can speak 5 languages!

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Madeleine Kanaley

Research Study Coordinator Senior

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Madeleine Kanaley

Ms. Kanaley joined the CFAAR team in December 2016 has assisted in coordinating the team's asthma clinical trial, ITRACC (Improving Technology- Assisted Recording of Asthma Control in Children), as well as studies about food allergy stakeholder preferences for food allergen labeling, understanding the prevalence of food allergy among Medicaid enrolled patients, and assessing the psychosocial impact of food allergy on families. In addition, Madeleine also leads the team's Community Research and Medicine (CRM) program and works to implement asthma and food allergy-related interventions in Chicago schools. She graduated from Marquette University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Health Studies. 

Fun fact: Madeleine loves to dance in her free time!

Hometown: Glenview, IL

Mallori Kelley, MS

Program Coordinator Senior

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Mallori Kelley

Mallori Kelley joins the Center for Food Allergy and Asthma Research from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She will primarily focus on coordinating outreach, education, and policy as it pertains to the community sector of CFAAR. Ms. Kelley is passionate about healthcare, diversity, and service. As such, she has participated in multiple medical missions, specifically in Ghana and Uganda. She earned a Master of Science in Healthcare Communication from Northwestern University in 2018.

Fun fact: Mallori loves traveling internationally to volunteer and immerses herself in new cultures.

Hometown: Riverside, IL

Ko Lee

Administrative Assistant

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Ko Lee

In her role as Administrative Assistant, Ko will be supporting the team with a variety of administrative duties and managing expenses. She played diverse roles in the healthcare field, from dental assistant to a part of healthcare tech venture team. Ms. Lee earned B.S. in Health Administration and minor in Business Administration at Northern Illinois University.

 

Fun fact: Ko rode the world’s tallest slingshot ride – over 390 feet tall!

Hometown: Suwon, South Korea

Lisa Lombard, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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Lisa Lombard

Lisa Lombard, a licensed clinical psychologist, has been providing general psychological services and specialized mind-body treatment to children, families, and adults for over 25 years. She earned her Ph.D. in psychology/human development from the University of Chicago. In her private practice, she provides psychotherapy to children, teens, and families with a particular emphasis on anxiety, stress-mediated health concerns, and pain management. She also consults to a preschool/elementary school and supervises psychology graduate students. She is excited to integrate her expertise in pediatric psychology with her specialized training in mind-body practices as she develops interventions that support children and families coping with food allergies. As a member of CFAAR, she collaborates on manuscript writing and the development of psycho-educational materials to meet the psycho-social needs of children and families with food allergies.

Fun fact: Lisa loves to walk along the beach in Delaware and look for dolphins!

Hometown: Tonawanda, NY

Caroline Moassessi

Research Associate

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Caroline Moassessi

Joining the Center for Food Allergy and Asthma Research team in 2019, Caroline Moassessi supports the team remotely from Reno, NV. In her role, she focuses on social media development and synthesizing research summaries into digestible text for patients, food allergy, and asthma advocates. Caroline is the Founder of the food allergy and asthma blog Gratefulfoodie and is an active food allergy and asthma advocate, which includes impacting policy, legislation, and the food industry. She is passionate about healthcare and uplifting communities. Caroline earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Fun Fact: Caroline can cram a dozen grapes into her mouth!

Hometown: Albany, California

Pamela Newmark

Research Study Coordinator Senior

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Pamela Newmark

Pamela joined CFAAR in 2016 with a primary focus on recruiting patients for the team’s many research studies. Her role as the primary recruiter for The Natural History of Food Allergy study was the springboard to her role as the lead coordinator for the multi-site FORWARD Study. While both of these studies aim to understand the progression of food allergy in children as well as predictors of severity and tolerance, FORWARD also examines racial disparities. She also recruited and educated patients for the iTRACC Study, a clinical trial incorporating the use of technology to improve adherence of asthma medications in children. Additionally, she coordinates CFAAR's food allergy conference, FACES (Food Allergy Conference for Education and Science) and asthma conference (Conference for Asthma Research and Education). Pamela received a BA in Communications from University of Wisconsin. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, watching movies and spending time with her family.

Fun fact: Pamela was once featured on the Today show!

Hometown: Nashville, TN

Waheeda Samady, MD, MSCI

Junior Faculty Researcher

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Waheeda Samady

Waheeda Samady, MD, MSCI is a faculty researcher for the CFAAR team. She completed her pediatric residency and hospital medicine fellowship at University of California San Diego before joining Northwestern in 2013. As a junior faculty member at Northwestern, she completed a masters in clinical investigation at Northwestern and began work in the areas of inpatient asthma and infant anaphylaxis. She recently published her work on the low-severity of infant anaphylaxis and hopes to study this further with support from an NIH Career Development Award. At CFAAR she is involved in evaluating prevalence of eczema and other associations in children with food allergy and developing supportive tools to help families and medical providers prevent and manage food allergies (iREACH and FAMILY studies).

Fun fact: During medical school, Waheeda learned American Sign Language and participated as a summer student at Gallaudet University in Washington DC.

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Shruti Sehgal

Business Data Analyst Senior

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Shruti Sehgal

Shruti Sehgal joins the CFAAR team as a Business Data Analyst Senior. Her current focus is on the FAREDATA study with the long-term goal of building a comprehensive “Food Allergy Data Commons”. She is also assisting the team with writing research publications. Previously, she worked at the Central Research Institute(H) as a Senior Research Fellow for the ministry of AYUSH’s ‘Homoeopathy for Healthy Child’ program. She also served as a practitioner for their Pediatric OPD that aimed at early diagnosis and management of common diseases of children and adolescents. As a Business Project Manager for a chain of clinics, she spearheaded the execution of clinical training workshops on a complementary system of medicine, with a focus on chronic diseases and lifestyle disorders for improving patient outcomes. She also developed tools, as ROH Mobile App and delivered ROH e-books for users on Amazon Kindle. Ms. Sehgal completed her education in Homoeopathic medicine from the University of Delhi, India. With an analytical mind and passion to add value to the healthcare delivery system through technology, she graduated from the University of Chicago with a Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics. She strives to apply informatics principles to healthcare research for promoting patient-centered care.

Fun fact:  Shruti is a Kathak dance scholarship holder and has performed at numerous stage presentations and classical dance festivals in solo capacity.

Hometown: Delhi, India

Bridget Smith, PhD

Faculty Researcher

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Bridget Smith

Dr. Smith provides statistical/methodological consultation for the CFAAR team and works on a variety of projects including the Prevalence and FORWARD studies. Her expertise is in health economics, statistical methods, and research design. She received her Doctorate from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington and she has a joint appointment as a Research Health Scientist at the Center of Innovation for Complex Chronic Healthcare at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital.

Fun fact: Bridget’s mother once taught her how to cross-stitch ornamets and she has been creating them for the holidays ever since!

Hometown: Oak Park, IL

Eileen Vincent, MS, RDN

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Eileen Vincent, MS, RDN

Eileen Vincent is a registered dietitian who has been involved in nutrition research for over two decades.  She launched her career in research by working as a NASA research assistant in Clear Lake, TX while also completing her joint dietetic internship/Master’s degree in clinical nutrition at Texas Women’s University in Houston.  At Northwestern, Eileen has served as a research interventionist, coordinating randomized clinical trials spanning from early life (pregnancy) through older adulthood.  She is passionate about early intervention approaches to reducing pediatric obesity, food allergies and other common nutrition issues influencing children in the US.  As part of the CFAAR team, Eileen is applying her nutrition expertise to the FORWARD and iREACH research projects.

Fun fact:  Eileen is an avid road cyclist who has had the pleasure of pedaling through 20 states in the US including her favorites: Colorado, Wyoming, Wisconsin, New York and New Hampshire.

Hometown: LaGrange, IL

Christopher Warren, PhD

Research Consultant

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Christopher Warren

Chris has worked with CFAAR since 2011, when our merry band of allergy/asthma researchers was simply known as “Team Ruchi”. Over the past 8 years he has filled a variety of roles on the team including research project coordinator, biostatistician and music video producer. During this time he and Dr. Gupta have co-authored roughly 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts and presented their research at dozens of meetings around the world . He now spends the bulk of his time spearheading the US Food Allergy Prevalence Study and its many sub-studies. He recently received PhD in Preventive Medicine will continue his work on a wide variety of CFAAR projects as a postdoctoral fellow. 

Fun fact: Chris worked for 2 years at a non-profit school for Mayan youth in the Western Highlands of Guatemala (El Colegio Miguel Angel Asturias).

Hometown: Belvidere, IL

Mark Wlodarski, MS

Senior Data Analyst

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Mark Wlodarski

Mark is a Senior Data Analyst for the CFAAR team.  His background is primarily in Computer Programming and
Software Engineering.  He received his Bachelor's Degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and a Masters Degree in Software Engineering from Depaul University in 2018.  Previously he has worked for the financial industry in database management and in interpreting information flow for high-frequency trading.  He is eager to take those skills and translate them into working with electronic health records and patient data.

He started with Northwestern in 2020 working primarily on the Food Allergy Data Commons project and is working to design the Data Commons Database as well as working to translate the Food Allergy Data Dictionary into the OMOP Common Data Model. In addition, he is also assisting the CFAAR team in designing a database for the FORWARD study.

Fun fact: Mark is an avid practitioner of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) and a member of the Chicago Swordplay Guild

Hometown: Chicago, Il (Go White Sox!)

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