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Putnam Scholar Alumni

Jody Lin, MD
2018 Putnam Scholar
Stanford University Pediatric Hospital Medicine; Clinical Instructor

About Jody Lin, MD: 
Jody Lin, MD is a Clinical Instructor in the Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at Stanford University. She received her BS in Chemical Biology with a minor in Public Policy at UC Berkeley followed by her MD at UC Irvine. She then completed her general pediatrics residency at Baylor College of Medicine before coming to Stanford to complete concurrent fellowships in Pediatric Hospital Medicine at the Department of Pediatrics and Health Systems Design at the Clinical Excellence Research Center (CERC). Dr. Lin is currently a Spectrum KL2 Career Development Award scholar through which she will complete a Masters in Health Policy.

Dr. Lin’s current research focuses on improving shared decision making for children with medical complexity and their families. During her fellowship she completed a secondary database analysis that established the association between medical complexity and poorer quality shared decision making in children. Under her ongoing KL2 award, she explored parental perspectives on shared decision making for children with medical complexity. Dr. Lin’s long-term goal is to establish an evidence base between shared decision making and health outcomes in children with medical complexity.

Lee Sanders, MD, MPH 
Stanford University 
Associate Professor of Pediatrics

About Lee Sanders, MD, MPH:

Lee Sanders, MD, MPH is Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Co-Director of the Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention (CPOP), and Division Chief for General Pediatrics at Stanford University.  Dr. Sanders is a national expert in the fields of health literacy and health disparities. With funding from the NIH, CDC, and other national agencies and foundations -- Dr. Sanders directs the Stanford Health Literacy Lab, which aims to address child disparities (including obesity, chronic illness, and educational achievement), by reimagining primary-care and community systems to support parents and families.  Through this lab, Dr. Sanders also leads multi-disciplinary teams that provide analytic guidance to public policy at the local, state and national levels.  He has served as an advisor to several national agencies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society, the Institute of Medicine, the CDC, and the FDA.  At Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Gardner Packard Children’s Health Center, he provides primary care to children with medical and/or social complexity.


Jennifer Barsky Reese, PhD
2018 Putnam Scholar
Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center

About Jennifer Barsky Reese, PhD:
Jennifer Barsky Reese, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Dr. Reese’s research focuses on designing, evaluating, and disseminating methods for improving intimacy, interpersonal functioning, and quality of life among those with cancer. She completed her undergraduate degree from Barnard College and received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She completed a psychology clinical internship in the Behavioral Medicine track at Duke University Medical Center, followed by a one-year T32-funded postdoctoral fellowship also at Duke and then a three-year American Cancer Society-funded post-doctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Reese is currently funded by a five-year Mentored Research Scholar Grant by the American Cancer Society centering on the development of clinician- and patient-focused interventions to improve patient-clinician communication about sexual concerns in the context of cancer.

Dr. Reese’s goal as a Putnam Scholar will be to build off of her research and clinical knowledge in sexual and interpersonal functioning for cancer survivors in order to gain expertise in patient-provider communication and use this knowledge to develop evidence-based interventions to enhance communication about sexual concerns for those with cancer. Her Putnam Scholars project will focus on adapting a previously tested clinician-focused intervention aimed at enhancing breast cancer clinicians’ communication about sexual concerns to a mobile technology-based (mLearning) format in order to increase its reach, and conducting a pilot test of the intervention. The overarching goal of this work is to improve the health and well-being of individuals diagnosed with and treated for cancer through integrating sexual quality of life into patients’ routine cancer care. Dr. Reese lives with her husband and two daughters in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and enjoys traveling, discovering new restaurants, and spending time in museums and outdoors with her family.

Mary Catherine Beach, MD, MPH
Johns Hopkins University Professor of Medicine

About Mary Catherine Beach, MD, MPH: 
Mary Catherine Beach, MD, MPH, is a Professor of Medicine in the School of Medicine, with a joint appointment in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Beach is a Core Faculty Member of the Berman Bioethics Institute and Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research. Dr. Beach received her B.A. from Barnard College, her MD from The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and her MPH from Johns Hopkins. She has completed the Greenwall Fellowship in Bioethics and Health Policy as well as a fellowship in the Division of General Internal Medicine. In 2001, Dr. Beach was a Congressional Health Policy Fellow in the office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, where she worked on such issues as the patients rights, mental health parity, human subject protection, genetic discrimination, human cloning and stem cell research. Dr. Beach is a past recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar Award and a K-08 Award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. She is currently conducting research on the theoretical foundations of respect and the impact of physician attitudes and patient-physician communication on patients in the primary care setting, in the treatment of HIV and substance abuse, and in the treatment of sickle cell disease.

Elaine Wittenberg, PhD
California State University, Los Angeles
Associate Professor

About Elaine Wittenberg, PhD
Dr. Elaine Wittenberg is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. She holds a PhD in Communication from the University of Oklahoma and has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles on palliative care communication, cancer family caregivers, and communication training. She is co-author of three books, two of which have been awarded Book of the Year by the National Communication Association, and the lead editor of the Textbook of Palliative Care Communication. Dr. Wittenberg is co-founder of the COMFORT Communication project, a national health communication training program funded by the National Cancer Institute. Her research and teaching awards include the Applied Research Award from the International Communication Association and Donohew Health Communication Scholar Award from the University of Kentucky.


Traci Kazmerski, MD, MS
2017 Putnam Scholar
Boston Children's Hospital;
Harvard-Wide Health-Services Research Fellow
Institute for Healthcare Improvement Fellow

About Traci Kazmerski, MD, MS: 
Traci Marie Kazmerski, MD, MS, is a 2016-2018 joint fellow at IHI and the Harvard Pediatric Health Services Research program. She is a fourth year pediatric pulmonology research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is originally from northeastern Pennsylvania and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame. She went on to complete her medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Kazmerski completed a pediatric residency and pediatric pulmonology fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. She completed a Masters in Clinical Research from the University of Pittsburgh during her fellowship training. Her research interest centers on the improvement of comprehensive health care for adolescents and young adults with pediatric-onset chronic disease. Her current project is focused on improving the sexual and reproductive health care of young women with cystic fibrosis through the development of patient-centered educational resources and interventions. She hopes to encourage shared SRH decision-making and collaboration with CF providers and enable young women with CF to take better ownership of their health. Her future goal is to expand this work to other pediatric patient populations and translate her research findings into policy change. She is currently funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She lives with her husband and one-year old son and enjoys travel, art, and reading.

Judy Chang, MD, MPH
University of Pittsburgh
Associate Professor

About Judy Chang, MD, MPH: 
Judy Chang, MD, MPH is an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences with a secondary appointment in the Division of General Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. She is also an investigator at the Magee-Women’s Research Institute and core faculty member in the Center for Research in Health Care and Center for Women’s Health Research and Innovation. She also serves as an Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research. After completing her undergraduate studies in the Plan II Honors Liberal Arts program at the University of Texas in Austin, Judy obtained her medical training at Baylor College of Medicine and completed residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. She then went on to obtain training in health services research and public health leadership in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Her early research focused primarily on understanding intimate partner violence (IPV) and how health care providers can help women experiencing IPV. Through this qualitative work, she found that women described the potential power of patient-provider communication as a source of support, motivation, empowerment and validation. Judy then expanded her research expertise to focus on patient-provider communication in women’s health, particularly in obstetric care. Her more recent research has examined a variety of topics within obstetric care communication including screening and counseling regarding substance use, addressing mental health concerns, breastfeeding counseling, and examining the impact of electronic medical records on patient-provider communication.

Judy is also a dedicated educator. She co-facilitates communication workshops for obstetrics and gynecology residents that teach skills such as Ask-Tell-Ask, delivering bad news, and dealing with patient emotions; co-facilitates Balint groups for obstetrics and gynecology residents; and leads workshops for medical students focusing on communication strategies to address and respond to intimate partner violence among female patients. Her contributions have been recognized with numerous teaching and mentoring awards.

Nynikka R. A. Palmer, DrPH, MPH
2017 Putnam Scholar

University of California, San Francisco;
Division of General Internal Medicine at
San Francisco General Hospital

Nynikka R. A. Palmer, DrPH, MPH:
CDr. Nynikka Palmer received her undergraduate training from Morgan State University, where she obtained a degree in health education with honors. She then earned a master’s degree in public health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and subsequently worked for 3 years at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia collaborating with community organizations on cancer education and early detection in minority and underserved communities. Dr. Palmer then earned a doctorate in public health, in behavioral sciences and health promotion from the University of Texas, School of Public Health in Houston. During her doctoral program, she was a pre-doctoral fellow in an NCI-sponsored cancer prevention and control training program. She extended her training in cancer with a focus on cancer survivorship and health disparities as a postdoctoral fellow on an NCI-sponsored training award at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Dr. Palmer was recruited to join the faculty at UCSF in 2013 to further establish her research in cancer health disparities. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor, with a primary appointment in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFGH) and secondary appointments in Urology and Radiation Oncology. Dr. Palmer is also an Associate member of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and an Associate Faculty member of the Center for Vulnerable Populations at ZSFGH.

Dr. Palmer’s research is grounded in cancer disparities and has progressed over the years to focus on racial/ethnic and geographic disparities (e.g., rural/urban) in cancer, challenges faced by male cancer survivors, prostate cancer in African American men, and quality cancer care. During her postdoctoral fellowship, she examined racial/ethnic disparities in health care receipt among male cancer survivors, rural/urban disparities in cancer survivors forgoing care because of cost, and racial/ethnic disparities in patient-provider communication, quality of care ratings, and patient activation among long-term cancer survivors. Dr. Palmer is particularly interested in prostate cancer among African American men, and has examined African American prostate cancer survivors’ treatment decision-making and their subsequent quality of life. Findings from these studies have directed her research agenda to further understand and examine quality of care and patient-provider communication among African American men with prostate cancer, particularly in low-income communities. Dr. Palmer’s long-term goal is to move beyond identifying cancer disparities to developing, implementing, and disseminating interventions and programs that will ultimately reduce the burden of cancer among vulnerable populations.


Dean Schillinger, MD
University of California, San Franscisco School of Medicine

About Dean Schillinger, MD:
Dean Schillinger, M.D. is Professor of Medicine in Residence at the University of California San Francisco, and Chief of the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH). He is a practicing primary care physician at SFGH, an urban public hospital, where he sees patients, teaches in the primary care residency program, and conducts research. Dr. Schillinger served as Chief of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program for the California Department of Public Health from 2008-2013. Dr. Schillinger carries out research related to healthcare for vulnerable populations, and is an internationally recognized expert in health communication science. His work focuses on literacy, health communication, and chronic disease prevention and management. He has been honored with the 2003 Institute for Healthcare Advancement Research Award; the 2008 Research Award in Safety and Quality from the National Patient Safety Foundation; the 2009 Engel Award in Health Communication Research; the 2010 Outstanding Bay Area Clinical Research Mentor; and authored a 2012 commissioned IOM paper on the attributes of Health Literate Healthcare Organizations. Dr. Schillinger is the founding director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, whose mission is to carry out innovative research to prevent and treat chronic disease in populations for whom social conditions often conspire to both promote chronic disease and make its management more challenging. Dr. Schillinger currently directs the CVP Health Communications Program. He is the co-founder of TheBiggerPicture.org, a social marketing diabetes prevention campaign to empower minority youth to change the conversation about diabetes and become agents of positive social change. In 2013 he received the Everett M Rogers Award from the American Public Health Association in recognition of his lifelong contributions to advancing the study and practice of public health communication.


Richard Street, PhD
Texas A&M University

About Richard Street, PhD:
Dr. Street's research focuses on clinician-patient communication, pathways linking communication to improved health outcomes, and strategies for increasing patient involvement in case. His research and teaching awards include Outstanding Health Communication Scholar from the International Communication Associations, L. Donohew Health Communication Scholar Award from the University of Kentucky, TAMU AFS Distinguished Achievement Wards in Teaching and Research, and George L. Engel award from the Academy of Communication in Healthcare.

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