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People

Leadership

  • Associate Professor of Medicine (AIDS) and Associate Clinical Professor of Nursing; Director, Infectious Disease Outpatient Clinic, Veterans Administration Healthcare Services, Newington

    Sandra Springer, MD is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases at the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Springer is Board-Certified in Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Addiction Medicine. In addition, she is an attending physician at the Veterans Administration Connecticut Healthcare System (VACHS) and the Director of the Infectious Disease Clinic at the Newington site of the VACHS. She graduated from Harvard University, then later received her Medical Degree from University of Massachusetts Medical School. She did her Internal Medicine Residency and Infectious Disease Fellowship at Yale School of Medicine. She currently is the director of her clinical research lab InSTRIDE (Integrating Substance use Treatment Research with Infectious Disease for Everyone) https://medicine.yale.edu/lab/springer/

Members

  • Assistant Professor

    Dr. Seval is an Assistant Professor in Infectious Disease at Yale School of Medicine and Affiliated Faculty in the Yale Program in Addiction Medicine. He completed his undergraduate training at The University of Texas at Austin in Biochemistry and earned his MD from the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. After completing his residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University, he stayed on for a year as faculty in the Department of General Internal Medicine practicing ambulatory care. Dr. Seval has been at Yale since 2017, initially for his T32 supported research fellowship under the mentorship of Dr. Sandra Springer, and joined the Infectious Disease faculty in 2020. Dr. Seval is interested in the intersection of Infectious Diseases and addiction both as a clinician and clinical researcher. He serves as the Medical Director for Dr. Springer's NCATS funded RCT Project COMMIT, which compares integrated ID/addiction care with injectable buprenorphine versus treatment as usual for persons with OUD hospitalized with infections. He is the site PI for the multisite NIH funded RCT REPRIEVE, assessing the role of statins for primary prevention for people living with HIV. His clinical practice includes inpatient ID consultation at both the York St and St Raphael's campuses, and HIV primary care at the Nathan Smith Clinic.
  • Clinical Research Nurse 3, Internal Medicine AIDS

    Cynthia Frank is a medical anthropologist and nurse who is the Director of Dr. Springer’s research program  at the Yale School of Medicine. She has clinical experience in emergency medicine and infectious diseases and extensive clinical research experience in HIV and Hepatitis C, where she has coordinated and implemented over 200 clinical trial protocols. Her research interests include disease-related stigma, infectious diseases, and substance use disorders and treatment with a focus on the experiences of women.
  • Project Coordinator

    Mark is a project coordinator working on research involving addiction and people living with HIV/AIDS. He graduated in January of 2019 with a Masters of Healthcare Administration and is using his work experience and education to support research in the world of addiction and HIV/AIDS. His previous work experience includes working as an early intervention specialist for the Ryan White CARE Act where he provided intensive case management to people living with HIV/AIDS who were newly diagnosed and/or out of care. Over the years, he has had the opportunity to contribute to the effort of getting to zero new infections in the state of Connecticut and has helped countless individuals overcome barriers to better health. Infectious disease and addiction are topics close to his heart and he will continue to be a part of the solution.
  • Data Manager/Project Coordinator

    Alysse is a project coordinator and data manager working on research involving addiction and people living with HIV. She graduated May 2020 with a Masters in Psychology from Northern Illinois University, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Sewanee: The University of the South with a B.A. in Psychology and English and a minor in Neuroscience. Interested in substance use disorders, public health, normal and abnormal neurological development, and the experiences of women in healthcare.
  • Project Coordinator

    Victor is a Project Coordinator with the InSTRIDE group and brings a diverse research background to the team.  Prior to joining Dr. Springer’s team, Victor worked on a variety of different research projects including epidemiological, qualitative, and behavioral studies related to opioid use disorder.  Most recently, Victor has worked on oncology clinical trials examining new treatments for blood cancers.Victor has always loved working in research, and his passion is in connecting people with treatment options that might otherwise have been unavailable to them, such as those treatment options available through research trials.  His interests are in expanding patient access to research trials, and he believes research is a wonderful way for participants and researchers to work together to find the best treatments possible.
  • Project Coordinator

    Esther is a Project Coordinator for InSTRIDE working on research involving substance use disorders and infectious diseases. Previously, she worked as the Postgraduate Research Associate for InSTRIDE. She graduated in May 2020 with degrees in Public Health and Jewish Studies from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. During college, she interned at the Connecticut Department of Public Health for the Office of Injury Prevention, Community, Family Health, and Prevention Section, where she worked on a statewide public awareness campaign to help communities deal with the prescription drug and opioids misuse crisis and assisted with the creation of an opioid overdose app specific to Connecticut. Additionally, she interned at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Allentown, PA where she worked on projects centered around opioid prevention and recovery. Also, she worked as Head Narcan Trainer for the “End Overdose Together” initiative where she assured community trainers were well-educated on how to administer Narcan and on the scale and scope of the opioid crisis in the Lehigh Valley. Esther is interested in public health, infectious diseases, substance use disorders, justice-system involvement, community health, and the opioid epidemic. She hopes to work in positions throughout her career that help people and that lead towards making positive changes in the health for all people.
  • Postdoctoral Associate; Project Coordinator

    Angela Di Paola is a Postdoctoral Associate with the InSTRIDE research group. She recently received her PhD in Public Health from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She has over 10 years of research experience with projects involving people with substance use disorders and criminal justice system involvement. Her research interest includes substance or alcohol use disorders, mental health, criminal justice involvement, health disparities, and infectious diseases.
  • YCCI Nurse Practitioner

    Mary Kay Wegman received her Bachelor's Degree in Nursing from Cedar Crest College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. She went on to receive her Master's Degree in Nursing from De Sales University and graduated as a Family Nurse Practitioner in 1999. She earned her board certifications from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners as a Family Nurse Practitioner and from the American Nurses Credentialing Center as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. Mary Kay has APRN work experience in Cardiology, Nephrology, Emergency Medicine, Weight Management, Family Practice, Occupational Health, Student Medicine, and Clinical Research. She has also worked in the Rapid Response Team at Yale University COVID-19 vaccine clinics and volunteered as an attending at the Neighborhood Health Project in New Haven, CT. Additionally, Mary Kay is employed at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family- husband- Darrin, 3 children- Reed, Rose, and Blake, and her yellow Labrador Retriever- Cody. She also enjoys baking and photography.
  • Tracy Ghantous is a registered nurse for InSTRIDE working on research involving substance use disorder and people living with HIV. Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Tracy graduated in 1991 from the Seneca College of Applied Arts with an Associates in Nursing. While in Canada, she was a nurse in the ED, Intensive Care, and IV team. In 1996, she came to the U.S., and worked at St. Raphael’s Hospital (now YNHH Saint Raphael Campus) in their high paced Emergency Room. Tracy is married with three daughters and enjoys outdoor activities including running, paddle boarding, gardening, and hiking with their two dogs.
  • Esther Wegener is a registered nurse currently working on the COMMIT project for the Yale School of Medicine AIDS Program. She has worked in various clinical settings which has given her the opportunity to work with a diverse group of patients. Esther got her start in Nevada where she earned her Associate of Nursing in 2015 from Western Nevada College, then her Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2018. Her current interests include substance use treatment, prevention, and its associated diseases.
  • Nurse Practitioner - YCCI

    Lauren Astorino is a nurse practitioner at Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI) and is supporting ACTION as the primary Mobile Health Unit clinician. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Villanova University. She later earned her master’s degree in nursing from Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts. She is board certified by the ANCC as a Family Nurse Practitioner. As an APRN for YCCI, Lauren serves as sub-investigator and study coordinator for multiple clinical trials in infectious diseases, pediatrics, women’s health, and maternal fetal medicine.Lauren has over 20 years of nursing experience, including critical care, organ donation, pediatric peri-operative care and pediatric solid organ transplantation. Lauren values patient and family centered care and is excited to be a part of the multi-disciplinary InSTRIDE team. Outside of work, Lauren enjoys cooking, hiking, kayaking, and travelling, especially with her husband and blended family of 5 children.
  • Steven has been working with people living with HIV (PLWHIV) since 1982 in the Bronx where he worked with one of the first Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs to offer primary care to HIV positive individuals with Opiate Use Disorder (OUD). Later in New Haven he continued his HIV work at Yale's Nathan Smith Clinic. In addition, he spent some time seeing patients at the Connecticut Department of Corrections. He left clinical practice briefly to work with Bristol Myers - Squibb. He then returned to HIV practice at the West Haven VA.
  • Research Assistant 2, HSS

    A. Luis Ojeda is currently a Research Assistant II, he has over 12 years’ experience as a Research Assistant. During his past twelve years, he has worked with people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). He has also worked with the homeless and those suffering from substance use disorders. Mr. A. L. Ojeda was born in Puerto Rico and was raised in the Tri-State area. Born of Hispanic parents, he is fluent in Spanish, which allows him to speak fluently with the Spanish speaking population in New Haven county and other areas of the state. Interesting facts about Luis is that he likes the outdoors, and as result he enjoys fishing, hiking, kayaking, and skiing.
  • Research Assistant Internal Medicine AIDS

    Barbara loves doing research. She has been involved in the HIV/AIDS field since the beginning of 1990's. She began her scientific journey back in 1994 in nursing school in Cuba. She has been doing research for more than 20 years, working at Yale for 13 years. Barbara has a passion for vulnerable populations, helping them to get services and doing research studies with them. She is fluent in Spanish and English. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Charter Oak State College and has an RN degree from Cuba. Aside from work Barbara is a volunteer for the Girls Scouts of CT serving as a leader, gold award mentor and Service Unit manager helping girls to grow as strong and independent leaders. Barbara loves traveling and discovering new and exciting places.
  • Research Assistant 2 HSS

    Yolanda is a Certified Nurse Assistant and has been a Research Assistant since 2011. For the past 10 years she has dedicated her life to working with special populations including but not limited to individuals who struggle with addiction, homelessness and those suffering from mental health issues. She lived in the Carolinas for more than fifteen years working at various healthcare facilities and providing care to different populations in need. Growing up in a minority community in Brooklyn, NY has empowered Yolanda to help and advocate for minority communities. In her spare time she enjoys reading, going to church and taking care of others.
  • Research Assistant, 2

    Marinelly Ventura is a Research Assistant 2 and has been working with people living with HIV/AIDS for 5 years. Her previous experiences were working as a Medical Case Manager for the Ryan White program, a CAC (Certified Application Counselor) for Access Health CT which was assisting individuals to apply for health insurance and assisting clients applying for SNAP and cash assistance. Marinelly grew up in NYC and moved to Connecticut in 2011. She is a certified Community Health Worker with the State of Connecticut and is fluent in speaking, reading, and writing Spanish. Marinelly is continuing her education and is currently completing her Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration and is excited to continue assisting and educating individuals on the importance of attaining quality care.
  • Research Assistant 1 HSS

    Sarah is a Research Assistant for the ACTION study working on research involving substance use and HIV/AIDS. She graduated in December 2016 with a B.S. in Counseling and an M.A. in Human Services Counseling with a focus on Marriage and Family therapy in August 2018. Her previous work experience includes working in the mental health field primarily in crisis prevention and intervention. Sarah is a community-oriented person and loves to work with and help others. Her passion is giving back to the community and she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to contribute to helping people living with substance use disorders and HIV/AIDS and to help people succeed in overcoming barriers that lead to better health.
  • Research Aide

    Linda Lopez is a Research Aide for InSTRIDE working on research with substance use disorders and infectious diseases. Linda was born and raised in New Haven, CT with a passion to give back to her community. She comes from a family that has always assisted vulnerable populations. At the height of the pandemic, she orchestrated a food donation to create care packages for the homeless of New Haven, CT. Linda’s extensive customer service experience, as well as being fluent in writing and speaking Spanish are tools in helping the research studies and the participants. In Linda’s free time, she enjoys comedy and making people laugh. Linda hopes to aid in ending the opioid epidemic and fight for equity in the justice system.
  • Community Health Worker

    Stazja is a Community Health Worker for InSTRIDE working on the ACTION study, which involves substance use disorder and infectious disease research. As a graduate from Muhlenberg College, Stazja completed her Bachelor of Arts in Public Health as well as an Art History minor at John Cabot University in Rome. Her undergraduate research focused on the intersection of healthcare and the carceral system, including topics such as maternal health practices in state and federal correctional facilities, compassionate release policies, and reducing infectious diseases in incarcerated populations. As a Community Trainer for the PA state-funded grant program “End Overdose Together,” she was trained to educate the community about the opioid epidemic and teach them how to administer Narcan during a suspected overdose. Stazja’s research interests include substance use disorders, infectious diseases, criminal justice system involvement, maternal and child healthcare, and health disparities. She looks forward to working in a direct role with the communities she is serving while advocating for an expansion of accessible and quality health care.
  • Coordinator 4

    Lauren is a Patient Navigator for InSTRIDE. Lauren received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (focus in Gerontology) from Central Connecticut State University. In 2019, she received her MBA in Entrepreneurial Thinking & Innovative Practices from Bay Path University. Lauren has over 7 years in case management experience, assisting individuals living with housing insecurity, justice involvement, and co-occurring disorders. Most recently, Lauren worked with Beacon Health Options (CT Behavioral Health Partnership) on the SUPPORT Act 1003 Planning Grant, assessing the CT Medicaid Substance Use Disorder treatment and recovery system. During this time, she focused on special sub-populations (i.e., Pregnant women, infants with NAS/NOWS, HIV, reentry, and rural), health equity/cultural competency standards, SUD/OUD/AUD best practices, and access to quality health care. Lauren’s passions include animal welfare, traveling, and the arts. She looks forward to being back in the field, advocating for improved quality of life for all.