Meet the current and former fellows of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine.
Current T32 Fellows
Michael Bancks, PhD
Mike completed his MPH and PhD in epidemiology at the University of Minnesota. His research interests include primordial prevention of cardiovascular disease risk factors, etiology and prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and the intersection between T2DM and cardiovascular disease across the lifespan. His dissertation explored the relationship between cardiovascular health and cognitive function and brain structure. Mike has experience conducting projects in numerous population-based cohorts and is interested in applying his methods training and research questions to electronic health record data. He looks forward to learning from and collaborating with the skilled research faculty and staff during his training.
Joshua Bundy, PhD, MPH
Josh completed his MPH and PhD in epidemiology at Tulane University. His primary research interests include identification of novel risk factors for subclinical disease and targets for therapy in patients with chronic kidney disease, who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Josh is interested in testing new interventions in clinical trials and comparing the effectiveness of interventions using meta-analytic techniques. Additionally, he is interested in novel statistical approaches for evidence-based medicine, including use of new disease prediction methods and exploring the intersection of technology and disease prevention.
Amanda Marma Perak, MD
Amanda Marma Perak, MD, completed her MD at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, pediatrics and pediatric cardiology training at Boston Children’s Hospital, and noninvasive cardiac imaging training at Lurie Children’s Hospital. Her research interests include primordial prevention from fetal life through young adulthood with a focus on very early indicators of cardiovascular health and disease.
Stephanie Mayne, PhD
Dr. Stephanie Mayne completed her PhD in Epidemiology at Drexel University and her MHS in International Health at Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests include examining the effect of health policies and neighborhood environmental exposures on health behaviors and cardiovascular disease outcomes, and how electronic health record data may be used to study the effect of health policies and other natural experiments. Dr. Mayne started her first year of postdoctoral fellowship in the T32 Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Prevention Training Program in February 2017.
Current AHA Fellows
Victor Wenze Zhong, PhD
Victor Wenze Zhong is currently a postdoctoral fellow funded by the American Heart Association Strategically Focused Research Network on Prevention. He completed his PhD in nutrition epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Zhong has been interested in the following research areas: 1) using electronic health record data to develop phenotype algorithms for childhood diabetes and to study acute complications in adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes; 2) using cohort and clinical trial data to study nutrition, hypoglycemia, and cardiovascular risk factors in children with type 1 diabetes. During his postdoctoral training, he plans to expand his research interests to genetics and metabolomics in diabetes. Also, he is helping harmonize diet data for a large pooling project (LRPP) and will study nutrition, lipids, and cardiovascular events and mortality in the LRPP.
Former T32 Fellows
Faraz Ahmad, MD
Dr. Faraz Ahmad graduated from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine with honors in 2009, and he completed his Internal Medicine Residency in the Leadership in Quality Track at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. He formerly was a summer analyst at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, a researcher at The Advisory Board Company in Washington, DC, and an Albert Schweitzer Fellow. Dr. Ahmad’s work focused on using informatics for epidemiological, health services, and comparative effectiveness research with a clinical focus on heart failure prevention and outcomes. Dr. Ahmad is currently a Fellow in Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology, Division of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Norrina Allen, PhD, MPH
As a cardiovascular epidemiologist, Dr. Allen’s research focuses on the environmental and neighborhood influences on cardiovascular risk and outcomes with a particular emphasis on disparities in access to health care and health care quality. She is interested in utilizing novel statistical techniques to evaluate long-term trajectories as well as the use of large databases to examine these questions. Dr. Allen is currently an Assistant Professor in Preventive Medicine, Epidemiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Jarett D. Berry, MD, MSCI
Jarett D. Berry, MD, MS is an Associate Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Clinical Sciences. Dr. Berry earned his medical degree and completed a residency in internal medicine at UT Southwestern. He then completed postdoctoral fellowships in cardiovascular medicine and cardiovascular epidemiology at Northwestern University, where he also earned a master of science in clinical investigation. He joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2008. A busy clinical investigator, Dr. Berry has published nearly 50 peer-reviewed journal articles. His work is funded by both the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Institutes of Health.
Juan Bustos, MD
Dr. Bustos's research has been focused on minority health, with special emphasis on health among Hispanics/Latinos. He is interested in examining healthy lifestyle factors and how acculturation and other sociocultural determinants affect cardiovascular risk status. Other topics of interest for Dr. Bustos are cardiovascular risk factor status and long term markers of inflammation. Dr. Bustos is a Clinical Research Specialist at Abbvie, Inc.
Chintan Desai, MD
Dr. Desai's interests lie in the detection and prognostic value of subclinical atherosclerosis and left ventricular dysfunction, primarily using coronary artery calcium and echocardiography. He has studied the improvement in risk prediction for coronary artery disease and heart failure in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and the Cardiovascular Health Study. He is also interested in the development and progression of subclinical cardiovascular disease in young adults. He completed a Cardiology Fellowship at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Desai is currently a practicing cardiologist affiliated with Northwestern Medicine.
Steven Driver, MD, MPH
Dr. Driver completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Prior, he earned his MPH degree in Health Management and Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. He received his medical degree at Ohio State University in 2010. He has a dual appointment as a clinical cardiology fellow while completing the T-32 fellowship. Dr. Driver’s work focuses on managing healthcare costs in employee populations by intervening on cardiovascular risk factors like obesity via financial incentives and mobile health applications. He is currently completing his Cardiology Fellowship at Northwestern.
Arlene Hankinson, MD
Dr. Hankinson is a cardiovascular epidemiologist with particular interest in obesity risks and consequences. She served as Medical Director of Chronic Disease and Mental Health at the Chicago Department of Public Health and continues to serve as a lecturer in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University. Currently she is a Drug Safety Physician, conducting surveillance, performing benefit-risk assessments, and communicating health risks of marketed products and investigational compounds.
Rosalba Hernandez, PhD
Dr. Rosalba Hernandez received her PhD degree in Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012. That same year, she joined Northwestern University as a Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Prevention Postdoctoral Fellow, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Dr. Hernandez’s research focuses on the influence of psychosocial factors on health behaviors (e.g., physical activity) and health-related outcomes (e.g., glycemic control and subclinical atherosclerosis). She is now an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Mark Huffman, MD, MPH
Dr. Huffman is an assistant professor of preventive medicine and medicine-cardiology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. He is a practicing cardiologist and researcher with an interest in global cardiovascular epidemiology, prevention, and outcomes research. He leads an acute coronary syndrome quality improvement clinical trial in Kerala, India; is the coordinating editor of the Cochrane Heart Group US satellite; and serves as the senior program adviser to the World Heart Federation for its Emerging Leaders presidential initiative, which aims to develop a cadre of researchers from around the world to help achieve the WHO's goal of reducing premature mortality from chronic diseases by 25% by 2025. Dr. Huffman lives in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood with my wife, Katie, and our three year-old daughter, Virginia.
Kunal Karmali, MD, MSCI
Dr. Karmali received his MD degree from the Feinberg School of Medicine in 2007 and then completed his Internal Medicine and Chief Medical residency training at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in 2010. After completing a clinical cardiology fellowship at Northwestern University, he started a post-doctoral research fellowship in the department of Preventive Medicine in July 2014. Dr. Karmali is interested in the role of multivariable risk estimation in guiding cardiovascular prevention. Under the mentorship of Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, he has worked with the Blood Pressure Lowering Treatment Trialists’ Collaboration to complete a meta-analysis evaluating the role of pre-treatment cardiovascular risk in guiding blood pressure management. He is also working with Dr. Stephen Persell in the Division of General Internal Medicine to improve the effectiveness of cardiovascular risk estimates in clinical practice. He has a strong interest systematic reviews and is an active contributor to the Cochrane Heart Group. He is now on the faculty as Assistant Professor (Cardiology) at Northwestern.
Kiarri N. Kershaw, PhD
Dr. Kershaw is a social epidemiologist, whose research focuses on understanding how contextual factors lead to disparities in cardiovascular outcomes. Specifically she is interested in understanding the pathways through which racial and ethnic residential segregation lead to disparities in various cardiovascular disease risk factors. She is also interested in better characterizing the behavioral and biological factors linking chronic exposure to psychosocial stressors to cardiovascular-related risk factors and outcomes. Her current position is Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine (Epidemiology).
Andrea T. Kozak, PhD
Andrea T. Kozak earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Western Michigan University in 2003. She was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Hines VA Medical Center from 2003-2005. Next, she began a T32 fellowship that was completed in 2007. She is currently an Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Psychology at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan where she directs a research lab and teaches undergraduate and graduate students. Her work examines health-related quality of life and a number of topics related to obesity such as risk factors, associated diseases (e.g., CVD and diabetes), and interventions (behavior change, technology). She is currently Co-Chair of the Obesity and Eating Disorders Special Interest Group for the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Dr. Kozak is the 2015 recipient of the Oakland University Psychology Teaching Recognition Award.
Elizabeth B. Lynch, PhD
Elizabeth B. Lynch received her PhD in Cognitive Psychology at Northwestern University in 2000 and subsequently completed the T-32 fellowship. She then joined the faculty of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush as an Assistant Professor of Community and Social Medicine in 2008. Elizabeth's research focuses on the psychosocial factors associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors, as well as the development of behavioral interventions to improve health-related behavior in low-income African American adults and other high risk populations. Dr. Lynch is an Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Director, Section of Community Health in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush Medical College.
Rosenda Murillo, PhD
Dr. Rosenda Murillo completed her PhD in Health Behavior and minor in Social Science Approaches to Health and Healing Systems from Indiana University at Bloomington in 2012. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms through which psychosocial factors contribute to physical activity and disparities in cardiovascular disease risk among vulnerable populations. Dr. Murillo is currently an Assistant Professor of Health Disparities at the University of Houston.
Sarah Nadimpalli, RN, PhD
Dr. Sarah Nadimpalli began her clinical career as a general medicine nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and practiced community health nursing for nearly a decade before receiving a PhD in Nursing at New York University. She received pre-doctoral funding through a F31 grant with the National Institute of Nursing Research. Dr. Nadimpalli investigates health inequities, the social determinants of health, and psychosocial factors that may lead to poorer health outcomes among ethnic minority and marginalized groups. In particular, she examines how discrimination may operate as a psychosocial stressor and lead to indicators of cardiovascular risk and chronic disease among South Asian Americans. Dr. Nadimpalli also investigates the psychosocial and cultural resources individuals may utilize to cope with exposure to discrimination. Dr. Nadimpalli seeks to expand her research through investigating additional social determinants of health, how social determinants shape the experiences and well-being of ethnic minority groups, and how social factors may be addressed in future health interventions. Dr. Nadimpalli is a Research Associate in Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University.
Tamar Polonsky, MD, MSCI
Dr. Polonsky studied whether the use of cardiac imaging and biomarkers can improve cardiovascular risk prediction that is based on traditional risk factors. She also studied the use of magnetic resonance imaging in adults with peripheral arterial disease to gain a better understanding of atherosclerotic plaque characteristics. Dr. Polonsky is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago. She earned her MD at University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine in 2002, and completed her Internal Medicine residency at Brigham Women’s Hospital in 2005. She is a general cardiologist who treats a wide range of cardiac conditions, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and valve disease.
Christina Shay, PhD, MA
Dr. Shay completed her PhD in Epidemiology in 2009 at University of Pittsburgh. She also completed her post-doctoral training in cardiovascular epidemiology in the Department of Preventive Medicine in the Feinberg School of Medicine in 2011. During her T32 fellowship, Dr. Shay began her work as an investigator on the CARDIA study where she investigated the role of adiposity distribution in the development of cardiometabolic disease in this cohort. Under the mentorship of Jeremiah Stamler, she also expanded her research interests to the "low CVD risk" phenotype as a model for primordial and primary prevention of cardiovascular disease from a population perspective. Dr. Shay currently serves as the Director of Impact and Health Metrics at the American Heart Association at the National Center in Dallas, Texas. She is responsible for developing methodological approaches for identification, collection, analysis, and dissemination of data from AHA’s programs for the evaluation of effectiveness and impact.
Yacob Tedla, PhD, MSc
Dr. Yacob Tedla is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Center for Health Information Partnership at Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University. Formerly, Dr. Tedla was a T32 postdoctoral fellow in cardiovascular epidemiology and prevention at Northwestern University, Department of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Tedla’s research interest focuses on arterial structural and functional abnormalities and their impact on cardiovascular diseases. He investigated the association of decline in lung function and long-term blood pressure (BP) variability as well as the roles of BP control, BP variability, optimal clinical and lifestyle factors on the progression of arterial stiffness. He is also interested on the use of big electronic health record data to conduct clinical research while leveraging on robust epidemiologic methods and analytical techniques.
John Wilkins, MD, MS
Dr. Wilkins is an Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Preventive Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Wilkins earned his medical degree from Wake Forest University. He completed his internship, residency, cardiovascular disease fellowship, and Masters Degree in Clinical Science Investigation at Northwestern. Dr. Wilkins’ research focuses on the development of cardiovascular risk across the adult life course. He has specific interests in apolipoprotein structure and function as it relates to the development of atherosclerosis in young and middle-aged adults. His research is funded by the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.
Veronica Womack, PhD
While a T-32 fellow, Dr. Womack conducted epidemiological research on the psychosocial factors of cardiovascular-related health behaviors (i.e. sedentary behaviors, eating behaviors, and health care use) and metabolic disorders. Currently she is a research associate in the Scientific Careers and Research Development Group at Northwestern University. She designs, executes, and studies coaching intervention that seeks to address the low percentage of underrepresented minorities pursuing faculty positions in the biomedical sciences.
Yuichiro Yano, MD, PhD
Dr. Yano received his MD degree (2002) and PhD degree (2014) from Jichi Medical School, Tochigi, Japan. In Japan, Dr. Yano conducted blood pressure (BP) research for 10 years, with a focus on evaluating 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring (e.g., morning BP surge, nocturnal BP). In 2012, Dr. Yano came to the United States to pursue his research at the University of Chicago’s American Society of Hypertension Comprehensive Hypertension Center as a visiting scholar. Dr. Yano moved to Northwestern University in 2013 as a visiting scholar and was appointed to the NU-PROF fellowship in 2014. Under the mentorship of Drs. Donald Lloyd-Jones and Philip Greenland, Dr. Yano carried out population science research using the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). His primary interest is assessing the clinical implications of BP in the young, including nocturnal BP, BP variability, and BP phenotype (e.g., isolated systolic hypertension). Dr. Yano is now an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at The University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Former AHA Fellows
Abbi Lane-Cordova, PhD
Abbi Lane-Cordova, PhD, is a former American Heart Association Fellow in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. She finished her BS and MS at the University of Florida in Gainesville and her PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013. Prior to working as a fellow in the Department of Preventive Medicine, Lane-Cordova completed a 2 year National Institute of Health T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Translational Vascular Physiology Laboratory at the University of Iowa. Her research interests involve examining the effects of lifestyle factors, particularly exercise and physical activity, on mediators and mechanisms of vascular function and disease prevention throughout the lifespan. Dr. Lane-Cordova is currently an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at U South Carolina at Columbia.