Cohort 1

Aaron Anderson, MD

Academic Position: Assistant Professor
University Affiliation: Emory University, Neurology
City and State: Atlanta, GA
Research Interest: My interest is in stroke awareness and lifestyle modification in African American communities. My career goals include the design of behavior modification techniques to increase stroke awareness and lower stroke incidence rates in high risk populations.


Temitayo Oyegbile, MD, PhD

Academic Position: Staff Physician
University Affiliation: Georgetown University
City and State: Washington DC
Research Interest: I am interested in assessing the effects of neonatal brain insult on future cognition and behavior.


Preeti Raghavan, MD

Academic Position: Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Physical Therapy
University Affiliation: New York University School of Medicine
City and State: New York, NY
Research Interest: I am interested in developing therapeutic strategies for recovery of hand function after stroke, and in improving access to these strategies in the community to reduce the disparity in functional outcome post-stroke.


Cohort 2

Alethea N. Hill, PhD, MSN, RN, ANP-BC

Dr. Alethea Hill has been an advanced practice nurse in acute and primary care settings for over thirteen years. Her research interests include health disparities such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in African American populations. Dr. Hill's passion drives her to continually find ways to empower individuals so that they can achieve optimal self-management skills, ultimately improving quality of life and health outcomes. Noting the impact of obesity and its association with sleep apnea, Dr. Hill hopes to refocus the lens of her research trajectory toward age/sex-specific differences and implications of sleep apnea and stroke risk among obese and non-obese African American women when compared to their male counterparts and Caucasians.


April Rogers MD, MBA

Dr. Rogers is an Adjunct Faculty Health Professor at Berkeley College, New York, NY and an Adjunct Instructor at New York University. Her interest in research began in her Alma Mater, St. John’s University in 2003, when she assisted in SUNY Downstate Healthy Lifestyles Program, assessing overweight children and tracking exercise, nutritional and behavioral modification in an attempt to prevent adult obesity. Dr. Rogers’s research interest takes a multi-disciplinary approach towards understanding health disparities, while examining blacks with metabolic syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea. Her current work examines predictors of obstructive sleep apnea risk among black with metabolic syndrome.


Diana Rojas-Soto, MD

Dr. Rojas-Soto is a Neurologist, currently completing a clinical and research fellowship in Vascular Neurology at the Department of Neurology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. She completed her medical training in Colombia and moved to the U.S to continue her training as neurologist at SUNY Downstate. Dr. Rojas-Soto diagnoses and treats all types of neurological disorders resulting from abnormalities in the brain, spinal cord and other nerves throughout the body. Her clinical research interest focuses in the link of cognition and cerebrovascular disease. Dr. Rojas-Soto will be joining SUNY Downstate as a faculty early this summer.


Dawn Aycock, PhD, RN, ANP-BC

Dr. Aycock is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at Georgia State University. She is a registered nurse and adult health nurse practitioner who has spent the majority of her nursing career coordinating clinical and nursing research projects. Dr. Aycock received her PhD in nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2012. Her research focuses on helping African Americans improve their understanding of stroke and increase lifestyle behaviors to reduce stroke risk.


Teresa Smith, MD

Dr. Smith is an emergency medicine physician who has dedicated her training to working in the urban communities of New York City. After her undergraduate studies at Spelman College, she attended NYU School of Medicine and completed an emergency medicine residency training at NYU/Bellevue Hospital. In 2011, she joined SUNY Downstate/Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, completing a fellowship in emergency ultrasound, and eventually staying on as Assistant Program Director. Currently, she is pursuing a Masters in Medical Education at University of Pennsylvania, through their distant learning program. Her ultimate goal is to develop a health disparities research center here in Central Brooklyn.


Pei-Ying Chuang, PhD, RN

Dr. Chuang’s research has contributed to analyze the pathogenesis mechanisms between neuroprotectors and pro-inflammatory vs. endothelial responses and to exam neuro-functions and socio-behaviors in long-term care consequences following stroke . She received her research funding through the Oncology Nursing Society and Southern Nursing Research Society Foundation. To date, Dr. Chuang continues to use her experience and abilities to pursue her research/academic strategies and explore a translational research from the bench evidence to bedside practice in neurological populations in both critical care setting and long-term recovery.


Ilana Ruff, MD

Dr. Ruff is an assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. She works as a stroke attending at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and is the Associate Program Director for the Neurology Residency Program. In women’s clinic, she counsels young women with strokes or stroke risk factors who would like to become pregnant and treat patients who have strokes during their pregnancy. She is interested in evaluating the role of telestroke to help resolve health care disparities in Chicago and also interested in in primary and secondary prevention of stroke in pregnancy.



Cohort 3

Elizabeth Cahill, MD

Dr. Cahill was born in New York City. She went to Reed College in Portland, Oregon and then returned to the Bronx for medical school at Albert Einstein. She did her neurology residency at the University of Washington in Seattle and is currently at the University of California San Francisco doing a vascular neurology fellowship. Dr. Cahill spends her free time eating, skiing, biking, sailing and traveling.


Natalie Cheng, MD

Dr. Cheng is a clinical instructor of neurology at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF). She received her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry and completed her neurology training at New York-Presbyterian Hospital - Weill Cornell Medical Center. Following residency she pursued a stroke fellowship at UCSF. She is interested in barriers to care in the hyper-acute ischemic stroke setting, particularly primary language.


Shauntice Allen, PhD

Shauntice Allen, PhD, is the Program Director for the Community Engagement component of UAB’s NIH-funded Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS).  In this role, Dr. Allen has been responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of the Birmingham Neighborhood Leaders Survey (BNLS), a community-designed survey tool used to explore issues impacting health in a large urban metro area, along with leading a grant making process focused on innovative solutions in urban communities.

Prior to Dr. Allen’s work with the CCTS, she served as the Project Director for the DHHS Office of Minority Health’s Community Initiative to Eliminate Stroke (CITIES), a multi-year project aimed at increasing hypertension awareness and stroke risk factor reduction in African-American communities in Birmingham. Dr. Allen’s focus as a public health researcher is in cardiovascular disease disparities and understanding the health information-seeking behaviors of African-American young adults aged 21-45.


Yolene Gousse, DrPH, MPH

Dr. Gousse, Research Assistant Professor, and Director of Community Based Research at the Department of Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center has over 18 years of experience managing research projects. Dr. Gousse is Co-Investigator on a sub-study of the Women HIV Interagency Study. She also serves as Project Coordinator for the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center research in progress meetings. Dr. Gousse currently manages two initiatives, namely the Barbershop Talk with Brothers project, an National Institute of Mental Health and Health Disparities (NIMHHD) funded project aimed at evaluating a CBPR-based HIV prevention program for Black heterosexual men at non-traditional settings, and the Ready–To-Respond project, a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funded initiative designed to test the feasibility of implementing brief HIV and substance use prevention interventions for older adults (50+) in clinics. Dr. Gousse has extensive experience in qualitative research methods and the development of tools to evaluate programs. Dr. Gousse’s research and practice interests include immigrant and urban health, health disparities, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular health, and stress related to health outcomes.


Stephen Williams, MD

Dr. Williams is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the NYU School of Medicine in the Department of Population Health. Dr. Williams is a board certified general cardiologist and hypertension specialist. He is interested in the impact that behavior, social and environment variables have on the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. He has been trained in medicine at several prestigious medical institutions including Dartmouth Medical School, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Williams has always been fascinated by the psychosocial role in organic disease in general. He pursued a fellowship at New York School of Medicine’s Center for Healthful Behavior Change in order to gain exposure to the innovative community-based behavioral research and interventions. He currently serves as a co-director at the Bellevue Hypertension Clinic mentoring residents and fellows. The clinic cares for patients with resistant hypertension and other high-risk features for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. He also serves as a co-investigator in pragmatic clinical trials under the auspice of the Clinical Directors Network, a practice-based research network, and clinician training organization.


Jina Huh, PhD

Dr. Huh received her PhD From University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in Philosophy in Information, specializing in Human-Computer Interaction,School of Information. Her research involves human-­‐computer interaction (HCI), design, and consumer-­‐health informatics. She has been studying how information and communication technologies can motivate behavior change for wellness and provide peer support for chronic illness patients. As a designer developing health informatics systems, myriad opportunities remain in strengthening prevention-­‐oriented research as part of her professional goal. Building on her existing skills and strengths in designing, building and evaluating information systems, her professional goal involves moving beyond user experience to examine biomedical and behavioral solutions for improved clinical outcomes. To achieve this goal, Dr. huh would like to be further trained in the domain expertise, research study design, and ways to communicate results back to the biomedical and behavior science community. Through the CSDS program, her goal is to build biomedical and behavioral expertise, understand challenges around intervening patients with stroke disease and behavioral health issues, design behavioral health interventions accordingly, and conduct research in ways that would make an impact on clinical outcomes.


Kimberly Martin, PhD

Dr. Martin received her PhD in Philosophy in Chronic Disease Epidemiology from Yale University in 2009. She is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the UAB School of Public Health and is committed to research in stroke and the reduction/elimination of health and health care disparities. Her long-term research goals are to further explore social and behavioral factors related to differences in the quality of patient care, which may identify future opportunities for intervention. Her career goal is to become a leading independent investigator of health and health care disparities in minority and other vulnerable populations, which is very much in line with the purpose of the Center for Stroke Disparities Solutions Training and Mentoring Institute. Dr. Martin believes that participation in the CSDS Training and Mentoring Program would be a great opportunity for me to expand my knowledge of the multifactorial causes of health and health care disparities in the specific context of stroke, and to augment her previous research experiences with additional formal instruction. Under the mentorship of leaders in the CSDS network and other UAB faculty, she hopes to be able to meet her shorter-term goals, such as establishing a track record in published work in this area, as well as successfully competing for career development and small grants to support my research.


Monik C. Jiménez, ScD

Dr. Jiménez received her doctorate of science from Harvard School of Public Health with a focus in epidemiology. Her long term goal is to become a leading, independent cardiovascular epidemiologist. Her research is focused on understanding the role of social and biologic determinants of sex and racial/ethnic disparities in stroke using innovative biostatistical tools. The Center for Stroke Disparities Solution (CSDS) Training and Mentoring Institute will provide the advanced training and mentorship she needs to develop innovative research proposals at the R01 level and establish key connections for future collaborations.


Sara Rostanski, MD

Dr. Rostanski received her MD from New York University School of Medicine in 2010. She is interested in studying treatment disparities in the large Hispanic population she helps care for at CUMC. From her experience with frequent re-admissions to the stroke service and seeing patients in our post-admission stroke clinic, it seems that medication adherence rates to secondary stroke preventive medications are suboptimal. While many of the barriers to and facilitators of medication adherence in black patients have been elucidated, less is known about the factors underlying medication non-adherence in Hispanic patients. She recently submitted an internal feasibility grant to determine the unique factors at play in medication non-adherence among patients admitted to the stroke service at CUMC. Her proposal is to conduct in-depth, open-ended patient interviews in a subset of Hispanic stroke survivors to establish the barriers to adherence in this understudied population. Based on the findings from these interviews, she plans to then design and implement a behavioral intervention specifically targeted at promoting medication adherence in Hispanic stroke survivors. This project is a complex one, with unfamiliar theoretical and methodological concepts. Dr. Rostanski believes that the mentorship she would get through the Center for Stroke Disparities Solutions (CSDS) with experts in this field would be invaluable in helping her navigate this specific project and develop others using behavioral research techniques.


Sonja Schuetz, MD

Dr. Schuetz received her MD from Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Germany and is now a fellow at NYU School of Medicine in the Sleep Medicine Department. Her interest in sleep apnea research was piqued during her last year as a resident in neurology, when she had the opportunity to attend sleep clinic and learn about the relationship between sleep apnea and stroke. During the four years prior, she has seen countless stroke patients admitted to the hospital, yet the question of sleep apnea testing did not come up once. From the perspective of a sleep medicine specialist with a background in neurology, two steps are necessary: we need to improve our understanding of the relationship between sleep apnea and stroke, and we need to increase awareness of OSA as a modifiable risk factor for stroke among neurovascular care provides as well as in the patient community. She believes that educating physicians and patients about sleep apnea and its treatment is the first crucial step in improving patient treatment adherence and ultimately preventing future cerebrovascular events.


Susan W. Law, DO

Dr. Law received her Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of New York Institute of Technology in 2008. She is currently the Director of Stroke Services within the Department of Neurology at Kings County Hospital Center (KCHC), board certified in neurology and vascular neurology. She has a major research interest in clinical cerebrovascular disease. Dr. Law is actively involved in multiple research projects and trials including NIH and NINDS sponsored phase III multicenter randomized clinical trials (POINT, ATACH-2, SHINE) as well as NIH-NINDS phase II (ARTSS-II) and investigator initiated trials (RUN). As POINT PI, I have overall responsibility for the conduct of the POINT trial at KCHC. She oversees the conduct of the trial, meeting weekly with the coordinator to review cases and data. In the hospital, she works closely with our emergency medicine physicians, neurosurgeons, intensivists, and radiologists in our ongoing recruitment of patients for our trials currently open to enrollment.


Valerie Newsome, PhD

Dr. Newsome received her PhD from Penn State University in Biobehavioral Health in 2013. Her research background has involved the investigation of socio-cultural and structural influences on a variety of health behaviors. Dr. Newsome is most interested in conducting research that promotes social justice and health equity. She has interests in expanding her scope of study to other major health problems such as Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Cancer, and Maternal Health, and risk behaviors for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).


Cohort 4

Adam Knowlden, PhD

Dr. Knowlden is an assistant professor in the department of health science at the University of Alabama. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in health promotion and education with a concentration in statistics from the University of Cincinnati. He received his M.B.A. from Fran klin University while employed as a legislative analyst for The Columbus City Council (Ohio). Dr. Knowlden specializes in the development of behavioral prediction models and the evaluation of theory-based interventions. His research focuses on prevention of obesity and sleep disorders in children and adults.


Charles Esenwa, MD

Dr. Esenwa attended medical school at SUNY Downstate. He co mpleted his internship year in Internal Medicine, followed by residency training in Neurology, at Columbia University Medical Center where he also served as chief resident. He is currently a clinical fellow in vascular neurology and is pursuing postdoctoral training in neuro-epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He is interested in primary and secondary stroke prevention and in-hospital processes of stroke care.


Darling Paul-Richiez, DNP, MSPH, CHES, RN, APHN-BC

Dr. Paul-Richiez is an Assistant Professor with National University in the Department of Nursing. She is Chair and Director of the Community Engagement Core within the School of Health and Human Services, Center of Excellence. She works with community based non-profit agencies including Healthy Heritage Movement (HHM), a nonprofit faith-based organization, and a health ministry with Mountain View Community Church in Temecula, CA, where she implemented the PRAISE: Promotion, Recognition, Advocacy, in Stroke Education stroke pilot program to evaluate efficacy and feasibility for larger scale implementation. She co-chairs a health ministry initiative to Ghana, Africa in a joint effort providing global and international health to countries. She has experience writing and receiving grants. In collaboration with ACCESS, she has received a grant from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), State of California. She secured a grant from San Bernardino County Nutrition Department to implement Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention (NEOP) program for Healthy Heritage Movement. She is an active member with APHA, SOPHE, American Nursing Association, National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing; Beta Zeta At Large. Most recently she founded a 501c3 non-profit; Health Education Advocacy Leadership, Inc., which focuses on health promotion, diseases prevention, and primary care services to refuges, immigrants, uninsured and underinsured members of the Mid-City area of San Diego County, California. Her vision is to eliminate health disparities and inequities by bridging the gap in health no matter what the wealth.


Rebecca Robbins, PhD

Dr. Robbins’ research focuses on communication related factors for promoting population sleep health, specifically advancing sleep health through innovative marketing, mobile, and social network methods and modalities. Her work uses interdisciplinary approaches (qualitative and quantitative) and draws on persuasion, message diffusion, and social influence theory and methods. In her work with Dr. Girardin Jean-Louis, Dr. Robbins leads an NIH-funded study entitled “Tailored Approach to Sleep Health Education” that is designing and testing an online health communication resource to promote awareness about sleep in a minority population. Dr. Robbins received an MS and PhD in Health Communication and Marketing from Cornell University, and a BS in Business and Hotel Administration from Cornell University. She is the co-author of a book entitled Sleep for Success! and has held a teaching position at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Doha, Qatar.


Teddy S. Youn, MD

Dr. Youn recently completed fellowship training for both Neurocritical Care and Vascular Neurology at Yale-New Haven Hospital (June, 2016). He has been trained in Neurology at several prestigious medical institutions including Yale School of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine and the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, and will be an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville later this year (October, 2016). Of note, Dr. Youn also completed a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship for medical students at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, which provided him an opportunity to experience advanced clinical research in neuroimaging techniques (both volumetric analysis and diffusion-weighted imaging) in traumatic brain injury patients. His current research interest in health disparities in cerebrovascular disease include using social network analysis to determine how exposure to different risk factors distribute across large social networks of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. He eventually hopes to use targeted behavioral interventions for cerebrovascular risk factors that leverage how these social networks form and mature over time.