Staff

Body

Sheena Abraham, MS
Program Manager

Katharine Buek, PhD, MPH
Senior Postdoctoral Researcher

Dagoberto Cortez, PhD
Senior Postdoctoral Researcher

Nagla Elerian, MS
Director of Population Health Strategic Initiatives

Jon Gibson, MS CS
Data Architect and Developer

Em (Mohamad) Karimifar, MFA
Senior UX Designer

Sheila Kuschke
Senior Administrative Associate

David Lakey, MD
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs

Dorothy Mandell, PhD
Assistant Professor

Lark Needham
Administrative Specialist

Eileen Nehme, PhD
Assistant Professor

Molly O'Neil, MS
Data Analyst

Daniel Oppenheimer, MFA
Director of Population Health Communication

Divya Patel, PhD
Assistant Professor

Katia Ramos, MPH
Grant Writer

Meliha Salahuddin, PhD, MBBS
Faculty Associate/Instructor

Amanda Wagner, MSN, WHNP-BC, CNE
Quality Improvement and Research Nurse

 

DAVID LAKEY, MD

Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer
The University of Texas System
Senior Adviser to the President, UT Health Science Center at Tyler

David Lakey is Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for The University of Texas System. He is also Senior Adviser to the President at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. He previously served on federal public health advisory committees for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Defense Health Board. Currently he serves on the March of Dimes Board of Trustees and the Trust for America’s Health Board of Directors.

Dr. Lakey served as Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services from January 2007 to February 2015. As Commissioner, Dr. Lakey led one of the state’s largest agencies with a staff of 12,000 and an annual budget of $3.3 billion and oversaw programs such as disease prevention and disaster preparedness, family and community health services, environmental and consumer safety, regulatory programs and mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. During his tenure as Commissioner, Dr. Lakey served as president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) in 2011‐2012, and received several national awards including the AMCHP President’s Award, the March of Dimes President’s Public Health Leadership Award, and the Arthur T. McCormack Award. 

He earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, graduating with high honors from Rose‐Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, and received his medical degree with honors from Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Lakey was a resident in internal medicine and pediatric medicine and completed a fellowship in adult and pediatric infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

SHEENA ABRAHAM, MS

Program Manager
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email: 
sabraham@utsystem.edu

Sheena Abraham is the Program Manager for TCHMB. Sheena received her M.S. in Nutrition and B.S. in Dietetics. Her previous work experiences were in maternal and child nutrition, serving through the WIC program with Pennsylvania Department of Health and Texas Health and Human Services Commission. 

 

 

KATHARINE BUEK, PHD, MPH

Senior Postdoctoral Researcher
Texas Safe Babies Initiative
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email:
kbuek@utsystem.edu

Katharine Buek is a health and education researcher with 15 years’ experience conducting research in the U.S. and internationally. She joined Population Health in 2018 after completing her PhD in Human Development at the University of Pennsylvania, where her training focused on quantitative methods and psychometrics. She also holds an MPH from the George Washington University. Dr. Buek has designed and implemented experimental and quasi-experimental evaluation studies in the U.S., Africa, and Asia. She has worked closely with programs serving children and families to define program objectives, identify performance measures, and collect high quality data to measure program outcomes and impacts. Her primary research interests include parent and family influences on early childhood health and development. She currently works with the Safe Babies project to examine parent social and behavioral correlates of early maltreatment.

 

DAGOBERTO CORTEZ, PHD

Senior Postdoctoral Researcher
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email:
dcortez@utsystem.edu

Dagoberto joined UT System Population Health in January 2019. He is a Sociologist (PhD., 2019, University of Wisconsin) with a broad interest in health care experiences, medical decision-making, health care access, and qualitative research methods. Dagoberto is a senior postdoctoral researcher on the PATH (Postpartum Access to Healthcare) project, a project of the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies (TCHMB). The PATH project investigates the experiences of underserved women navigating the healthcare system from the late prenatal period, through delivery, and into the postpartum period. This project also assess how state programs can best be integrated with local programs to maximize resources and improve women’s access, experiences, and health. Dagoberto’s previous research focused on end-of-life planning, investigating how terminally-ill cancer patients, family members, and oncologists make treatment decisions and discuss impending death. This work was supported by a pre-doctoral fellowship from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a doctoral research award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

 

NAGLA ELERIAN, MS

Director of Population Health Strategic Initiatives
University of Texas System
Email: 
nelerian@utsystem.edu

Nagla Elerian is the Director of Population Health Strategic Initiatives at the Office of Health Affairs at UT System.  Prior to joining the UT System, Nagla was the Director of the Center for Health Statistics at the Department of State Health Services. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology and a Master of Science in Health Statistics with a minor in Geography.  She has 25 years of work experience in public health, health statistics and program management.  Nagla worked in the areas of maternal and child health, birth defects, mental health and substance abuse, Medicaid managed care, and healthcare quality.  In 1995, Nagla established the first electronic Birth Defects registry in Texas. In 1998, she established an evaluation program for Medicaid managed care where she initiated many improvements to the Medicaid managed care data and reporting.  In 2000, she joined the NorthSTAR program where she initiated many reporting mechanisms to allow the use and sharing of data for program improvements.  In 2007, Nagla joined the Decision Support unit at the Mental Health and Substance Abuse, where she developed through a multi-stakeholder collaboration the risk assessment tools to allow the state to evaluate and manage mental health centers and substance abuse providers using financial, access, quality and outcome indicators.  She provided information and recommendations to the Texas Resiliency Disease Management workgroup for migration of the mental health assessment tool and worked with various stakeholders as she developed the algorithms for placement of eligible children into mental health services using the newly adopted Children and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS). 

 

JON GIBSON, MS CS

Data Architect and Developer
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email:
jgibson@utsystem.edu

Jon Gibson joined Population Health in 2016 in the role of Data Architect and Developer to support research needs with incoming and generated data as well as any IT system needs the group might have.  He also serves as the Population Health Information Security Administrator.  Jon earned a  BA in History as well as a BS and MS in Computer Science from The University of Texas at Austin.  Prior to Population Health, Jon spent seven years as a Software Developer/Software Engineer with the University of Texas Libraries helping develop large data repositories for digital collections such as the Guatemalan National Police Archive (ahpn.lib.utexas.edu) and the Latin American Digital Initiative (ladi.lib.utexas.edu) containing millions of objects and their associated metadata.  He has over 20 years of experience in IT in a variety of areas including user support, technical training, network administration, server support and SQL and web development.

 

EM KARIMIFAR, MFA

Senior UX Designer
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email:
mkarimifar@utsystem.edu

Mohamad "Em" Karimifar received his MFA in design from The University of Texas at Austin. His design practice spans both 2D and 3D design, including the fields of interaction design, typography, architectural design, and instructional design. As a part of his work with the Population Health team, he develops websites and redesigns the user experience with the Population Heath's digital media outlets.

 

SHEILA KUSCHKE

Senior Administrative Associate
University of Texas System
Email: 
skuschke@utsystem.edu
Phone: 512-499-4529

Sheila Kuschke is the Senior Administrative Assistant at the Office of Health Affairs at UT System. Prior to joining UT System, Sheila was the Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of the Department of State Health Services. She has over 30 years of high level administrative experience at the state and federal levels as well as with non-profit and for-profit organizations.

 

DOROTHY MANDELL, PHD

Assistant Professor
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
Safe Babies Research Initiative
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email: dmandell@utsystem.edu

Dr. Mandell received her PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle in Developmental Psychology and her BA from The University of Texas at Austin. She also served as a post-doctoral fellow at the Wake Forest School of Medicine and the University of Amsterdam. Her research has spanned multiple topics in maternal and child health including understanding long-term effects of a variety of perinatal and post-natal insults and intergenerational transfer of traits. She has also conducted analyses and research on a variety of public health topics, including work that has supported the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force, Healthy Texas Babies, and the strategic plan to align prevention resources between the Department of Family Protective Services and the Department of State Health Services in Texas. She served as the primary investigator for the Texas Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) and is currently a research consultant for Texas PRAMS. She is currently an Assistant Professor at UT Health Science Center at Tyler and supports the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies and is the Primary Investigator for the Safe Babies project in Population Health.

 

LARK NEEDHAM

Administrative Specialist for Population Health
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
Email:
hneedham@utsystem.edu
Phone: (512) 852-3245

Haley "Lark" Needham is an accomplished, versatile procurement and planning coordinator with more than 20 years experience with a global/public company. Her experience includes procurement and planning, management of purchases of over $20 million in inventory annually, supply chain management, vendor relations, public relations, commodity driven market analysis, process improvements, and administrative support.

 

EILEEN NEHME, PHD

Program Director, Texas Health Improvement Network
Assistant Professor for Population Health
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
Email:
enehme@utsystem.edu

Eileen Nehme earned her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan in 1993 and PhD in epidemiology from UT Health Science Center in Houston, Austin Regional Campus in 2015. In the interim, she worked in violence and injury prevention, and youth development and advocacy at local government and non-profit organizations. Her work has focused on the connections between health and place, the impact of policies and environments on health behaviors, and equitable access to healthy environments. She was the lead author on the 2015 South Lamar Corridor Study Health Impact Assessment, the first HIA conducted in Austin, Texas. Dr. Nehme also taught an undergraduate epidemiology course for two years through the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

MOLLY O'NEIL, MS

Data Analyst
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
Email:
moneil@utsystem.edu

Molly O’Neil earned her MS in Epidemiology at The University of Texas School of Public Health and her BS in Biology at The University of Texas in Austin. Her research interests focus in spatial epidemiology and understanding disparities in access to care in Texas.  She joined Population Health to assist with geospatial and visualization projects, including community health indicator mapping. She currently works as a data analyst with the Safe Babies initiative, which includes multiple projects investigating and informing prevention efforts aimed at improving infant health, safety, and wellbeing.

 

DANIEL OPPENHEIMER, MFA

Director of Population Health Communication
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
Email:
doppenheimer@utsystem.edu
Phone: (512) 852-3269

Daniel Oppenheimer joined population health in 2016 to oversee communications. He received his MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and is the author of Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century (Simon & Schuster 2016). Before coming over to UT System he was Director of Strategic Communications for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin. As a freelance writer and short documentary filmmaker, his articles and videos have been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Tablet Magazine, the History News Network, and Salon.com. Dan oversees the communications track of the Population Health Scholars program.

 

DIVYA PATEL, PHD

Assistant Professor
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email: 
dpatel@utsystem.edu

Divya Patel joined the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies (TCHMB) in November 2015 as Assistant Professor.  She is an epidemiologist (Ph.D., 2003, University of Michigan) with a broad interest in women’s health research.  Previously, she served on the faculty in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan (2004-2010) and in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University (2010-2012).  She received a 5-year career development award from the National Cancer Institute for her research focused on the prevention and early detection of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers in women.  She has also worked at the Texas Department of State Health Services and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on population-level maternal and child health projects.  Dr. Patel holds an adjunct position at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston - Austin Regional Campus, has taught several graduate-level courses in Epidemiology, and has provided research mentorship to students ranging from undergraduates to medical residents and fellows.

 

KATIA RAMOS, MPH

Grant Writer
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email: kramos@utsystem.edu

Katia L. Ramos earner her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine and her B.S. in Print & Multimedia Journalism at Emerson College.  During her MPH, she completed a practicum in Ghana where she observed the efficacy of seasonal eye care clinics within remote villages on optic health throughout the country.  She has over 8 years of experience in federal and non-federal grant writing and management.  She has assisted in the submission of over 100 clinical and non-clinical grant submissions.  With over 10 years of experience in a health care research setting, Katia currently oversees the operations and management of existing grants as well as the submission of all future funding opportunities within Population Health.

 

MELIHA SALAHUDDIN, PHD, MBBS

Faculty Associate/Instructor
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email: msalahuddin@utsystem.edu

Meliha Salahuddin is a trained epidemiologist with a clinical background. She earned her Ph.D in Epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin in December 2016. Prior to that, she earned her M.P.H. from the same institution in 2013, and completed medical school and internship in Bangladesh in 2009 (M.B.B.S.). Her research interests mainly focus on epidemiology of maternal and child health and childhood obesity. She joined the UT System Population Health group as a PhD candidate in June 2016, and completed her postdoctoral training with the same group in June 2018. She currently works as a Faculty Associate/Instructor, appointed through UT Health Science Center at Tyler, mainly supporting the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies and Healthy Families initiatives. Dr. Salahuddin is an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin.

 

AMANDA WAGNER, MSN, WHNP-BC, CNE

Quality Improvement and Research Nurse
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email:
awagner@utsystem.edu

Amanda Wagner is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Certified Nurse Educator whose nursing experience has focused around women’s healthcare. After earning her MSN in maternity nursing from The University of Texas at Austin in 2015, she completed her post-master’s certificate to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner from Vanderbilt University in 2017. She became board certified as a WHNP and licensed as an advanced practice nurse that same year. She is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Vanderbilt University where her capstone project is called: Implementing an Evidence-Based Onboarding Program for Newly Hired Clinical Staff in an Ambulatory Care Setting. Her projected completion is in August of 2019.

As part of her WHNP coursework, Amanda was part of a team that presented to women in recovery regarding HPV and the HPV vaccine. She's worked in nursing education as a clinical teaching assistant and guest lecturer for pre-licensure nursing students in their OB rotation. She also has experience in healthcare simulation having been involved in creating the new maternity simulation currently being used at UT-Austin’s School of Nursing.

She joined Population Health in 2018 to work as a quality improvement and research nurse for the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies initiatives.