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Yale University-Mayo Clinic CERSI

2018-2019 CERSI Scholars

Yale University

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Greg Rhee, PhD, MSW

NIA Postdoctoral Fellow, Section of Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine
Project Title: Association of Industry Payments to Physicians’ Prescribing Patterns: A Case Study of Recently FDA-approved Prescription Drugs

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Dr. Rhee is a geriatric pharmaco-epidemiologist and health services researcher. He is also a social worker by clinical training. One of his research interests is post-market surveillance of prescription drugs and its association with quality of care and patient outcomes. Through this research project, he is interested in guiding both clinical and public health interventions to improve clinical practice and patient care.

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Michael Solotke

Doctorate of Medicine Candidate (2020), Yale School of Medicine
Project Title: Medicare Formulary Coverage After FDA Black Box Warnings

Michael Solotke is a medical student at Yale School of Medicine. His research interests include policy-relevant issues such as drug safety and insurer formulary coverage. Michael's recent research has focused on characterizing Food & Drug Administration (FDA) black box warnings, and his CERSI Scholars project will examine the impact of black box warnings on Medicare formulary coverage. He developed an interest in health policy while working as a consultant at IMS Consulting Group (now known as IQVIA), where he worked for several years on pharmaceutical and biotechnology projects related to drug pricing, payer issues, research and development, and international health policy.

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Tasmeen Shiny Weerakoon, MS

MPH Health Care Management Candidate (2019), Yale School of Public Health in conjunction with Yale School of Management
Project Title: Improving Clinical Trial Diversity via Novel Partnerships between Industry Sponsors, Community Partners, and CTSA Sites

Shiny is a recent graduate of the MS program in Cell, Molecular and Structural Biology at Miami University. Currently, she is an MPH Health Care Management candidate who is committed to a career that applies management tools to advance scientific discovery and patient outcomes. Shiny looks forward to building upon her diverse backgrounds in science research and healthcare management consulting to increase patient diversity in clinical trials. Her research aims to develop a framework for creating novel and strategic partnerships between major partners in clinical trials, such as industry sponsors or Big Pharma, community partners, and CTSA sites. As an emerging healthcare consultant, Shiny has a vested interest in improving patient well-being by aligning incentives of multiple stakeholders in the multifaceted and interconnected healthcare industry.

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Audrey Zhang, AB

Postgraduate Associate, Yale School of Medicine
Doctorate of Medicine Candidate (2020), NYU School of Medicine

Project Title: Characteristics of Pivotal Trials Supporting Supplemental Indications for FDA-Approved Novel Therapeutics

Audrey is a current MD candidate at the NYU School of Medicine with an interest in evidence-based translation of research into policy and practice, including the evaluation of new therapeutics and incorporation into the standard of care. She has previously worked with Connecticut and Massachusetts state agencies on initiatives regarding the appropriate use of medication and pharmaceutical cost containment, respectively. Her recent research has focused on factors influencing FDA decision-making on novel therapeutics, including different forms of evidentiary support.

Audrey was the recipient of the 2019 Society of General Internal Medicine Lipkin award.

Mayo Clinic

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Luz Milbeth Cumba Garcia, MS

Predoctoral Student, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Immunology
Project Title: Characterization of Plasma-derived Exosomes in Patients with Glioblastoma for Potential Use as Liquid Biopsies

Luz Milbeth Cumba Garcia is a second-year Immunology PhD student at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She taught basic science skills to college science students in China before being recruited to Mayo Clinic’s Post baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP/PostBac) in 2014. While at Mayo, Luz has worked on the structure of amyloid proteins from amyloidosis patient samples and the pathologic contribution of T cells during acute neuroinflammation, which resulted in two publications. She is currently working with Dr. Ian Parney, analyzing the molecular signature of plasma extracellular vesicles shed from glioblastoma tumors and exploring the potential of these particles as liquid biopsies.

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Shaheen Kurani, ScM

Predoctoral Student, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Project Title: Area Deprivation Index as a Predictor of Opioid Overdose

Shaheen is a current predoctoral student at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Her area of focus is mixed methods research and interests include big data and marginalized populations. Shaheen’s current research aim is to understand area deprivation as it relates to opioid overdose mortality in an effort to inform policy surrounding opioid prescriptions. Upon graduating, Shaheen plans to work as a health services researcher improving access and quality of care for populations in need.

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Srishti Saha, MBBS, MD

Postdoctoral Research Trainee, Mayo Clinic Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Project Title: Durability and Safety of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in Clostridium Difficile Infection: A Long Term Follow Up Study

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Dr. Saha recently completed her Internal Medicine Residency from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India. She is interested in the human gut microbiome and fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT); specifically, FMT for Clostridium difficile and other infections. FMT is a highly efficacious new therapy which holds immense potential in treating several diseases. As its therapeutic net widens, it will be vital to have robust safety data. In her current project, she plans to study the durability, safety, and tolerability of FMT and provide long-term follow up data. Her future plan is to establish herself as a clinician-investigator and, through similar research, generate high-quality evidence that helps both physicians and patients make well-informed treatment decisions.

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Maryam Zolnoori, PhD, MS

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Mayo Clinic Department of Health Sciences Research
Project Title: Utilizing Patient-Generated Data to Identify Significant Factors Associated with Non-adherence to Antidepressants: A Text Mining Approach

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Dr. Zolnoori is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the field of text mining and machine learning at Mayo Clinic. Her long-term research goal focuses on integrating data sources from electronic health records, patient-generated data, and biomedical literature to improve medication non-adherence, pharmacovigilance, and mental healthcare. She is also interested in developing interventions to support and promote patient engagement and patient-centered care. Her diverse educational and research background in health and information science has prepared her with a unique skill-set, such as terminology, statistical analysis, text mining, and knowledge management for tackling complex problems in biomedical informatics research and providing innovative solutions for current healthcare problems.

2017-2018 CERSI Scholars

Yale University

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Sanket S. Dhruva, MD

Postdoctoral Fellow, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine
Project Title: Post-Market Surveillance with a Novel mHealth Platform

Dr. Dhruva is a board-certified general cardiologist and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at Yale University School of Medicine. His research interests focus on technology assessment, particularly ensuring that therapies employed in clinical practice are targeted to patients who may benefit. He has studied Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval decisions for high-risk medical devices, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) national coverage determinations, and Medicare Part D formulary coverage decisions. Dr. Dhruva has a track record of generating research findings that inform evidence development for high-value care and translating them into meaningful, policy-relevant contributions that also make a mark in the scientific literature.

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Ravi Gupta, MD

Doctorate of Medicine Graduate 2017, Yale School of Medicine
Project Title: Generic Drug Competition in the US: Role of Drug Acquisitions and Potential of Importation

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Dr. Gupta is a recent graduate of the Yale School of Medicine with an interest in FDA regulation and pharmaceutical policy. His most recent research experience has focused on uncovering barriers in access to medications for patients, including generic availability and drug pricing. He has worked as a Research Assistant for the MIT Jameel Poverty Action Lab in India on rigorous evaluations of health and education development programs. He has also worked with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation on designing and implementing state delivery and payment models. Dr. Gupta has gained strong domestic and international research experience from his work in India, Switzerland, Bhutan, and the United States.

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Jeremy O’Connor, MD

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Clinician Scholars Program, Yale University School of Medicine
Project Title: Adoption of Immunotherapy Following FDA Approvals: Insights from the Use of Checkpoint Inhibitors

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Dr. O’Connor is a general internist who is committed to a career that advances health equity for patients with cancer. He became interested in health equity during residency, and is pursuing postgraduate training in health services research. His previous work has focused on financial toxicity in cancer treatment, as well as the relation between social isolation and cost-coping strategies among patients with cancer. Because health policy has an important role in rising costs of care, as well as in the equity of care that is delivered to patients, he became interested in work that focuses on the intersection of health policy, access to care, and socioeconomic disparities in cancer outcomes. In addition, he became interested in the role of structural and regulatory processes in the perpetuation of racial disparities in cancer treatment. After fellowship, Dr. O’Connor hopes to work as a clinician-investigator who generates policy-relevant research that informs efforts to reduce barriers to care among vulnerable populations.

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Anand D. Gopal, BA, BS

Doctorate of Medicine Candidate (2018), Yale School of Medicine
Project Title: Characteristics of Clinical Studies of Off-Label Indications for Novel FDA-Approved Therapeutics in Ophthalmology

Anand is a current MD candidate at the Yale School of Medicine and an aspiring ophthalmologist whose academic interests rest at the intersection of meta-research and policy. He hopes to shed light on avenues through which research and regulation may better align to serve clinical decision-making and patient care. He is specifically interested in issues pertaining to integrity and transparency in clinical research and the implications that these issues have on evidence quality. As a rising clinician, Anand has a vested interested in ensuring that clinical practice is driven by the highest standards of unbiased evidence.

Mayo Clinic

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Ali Duarte-Garcia, MD

Rheumatology Fellow, Mayo Clinic
Project Title: Clinical Uptake, Utilization Patterns and Safety of Belimumab and Rituximab in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Dr. Duarte-Garcia is a Rheumatology Fellow at the Mayo Clinic focusing on comparative effectiveness of biologic medications in multiple inflammatory arthritides. Dr. Duarte-Garcia plans to identify the best practices to deliver rheumatologic care that are efficient, safe, and cost effective.

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Joseph A. Gottwald, PharmD

Doctorate of Medicine Candidate (2020), Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
Project Title: Effect of Sodium Channel Blocking Antiepileptic Drugs on Electrocardiogram Markers of Sudden Cardiac Death in Epilepsy

Dr. Gottwald is a graduate of the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. As an MD Candidate at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, he hopes to integrate a focus on pharmacotherapy into his future practice. His current research aims to develop improved predictive models and preventative strategies for patients at high risk of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death, with a particular focus on patients with epilepsy.

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Yanina Natanzon, PhD, MS

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Mayo Clinic
Project Title: Germline Genetic Variation Effect on Second-Line Drug Efficacy in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Natanzon is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the field of Cancer Genetic Epidemiology. During her undergraduate training, she collected and evaluated prospective epidemiological data for a CDC-funded project as part of the San Francisco Department of Public Health Tuberculosis Control Division. She has further built upon this knowledge during her doctoral work in genetic epidemiology, during which time she collaborated with a large multi-ethnic women’s cohort study and designed a project utilizing repeated measures modeling to evaluate how genetic variation affects complex traits over time. She has also tackled methodological difficulties by applying multivariate analysis and data reduction techniques to real-world multi-omic datasets, and computational approaches to solve these problems. Dr. Natanzon has been immersed in learning all aspects of ovarian cancer etiology and treatment in her postdoctoral training at Mayo. Prior to her doctoral program, she completed a Master’s degree in applied anatomy which included in-depth study of the four anatomical sciences. Her long-term research interests lie in how the utilization of pharmacogenomics data, incorporated into the FDA regulatory guidelines, can aid optimization and repurposing of currently available drugs to improve survival in rare and recalcitrant cancers.

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Liwei Wang, MD, PhD

Research Fellow of Medical Informatics, Mayo Clinic
Project Title: Combining Electronic Medical Records with Spontaneous Reports in Discovering Adverse Drug Events: A Case Study of Conventional DMARDs for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Dr. Wang’s current work is centered on drug knowledge discovery, based on various data sources such as Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), drug package inserts, and the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS). She has medical informatics training and research experience in ontology and Natural Language Processing (NLP) as well as medical sciences. Previously Dr. Wang has leveraged NLP methods to normalize FAERS and produced a freely accessible knowledge-enhanced data mining set, i.e., AERS-DM. After joining the Mayo Clinic, she worked on a U24 project and compared three information sources for smoking information, including narrative text of clinical notes, patient-provided information, and diagnosis codes in EMRs. In terms of academic service, she has helped organize AMIA iHealth 2016 Pre-Conference Workshops, Innovative Informatics and Analytics in Medicine, and the 2014 Workshop on Translational Biomedical and Clinical Informatics in conjunction with the 8th International Conference on Systems Biology and the 4th Translational Bioinformatics Conference (ISB/TBC 2014).