Who We Are

Ira Ockene, MD, is a Professor of Cardiology and Director of Preventive Cardiology Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Ockene holds an endowed position as the Milliken Professor of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He has conducted extensive research on compliance and behavior change, and has published numerous articles and books on the topic. http://profiles.umassmed.edu/profiles/ProfileDetails.aspx?From=SE&Person=371

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Barbara Olendzki, RD, MPH, LDN. Barbara is an Assistant Professor of Medicine, and the Nutrition Program Director of the Center for Applied Nutrition. She works with all Preventive and Behavioral research studies that involve dietary interventions, assists with coordination and teaching nutrition to medical students, and sees outpatients for nutrition counseling, specializing in cardiac concerns, cancer, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory diseases. She has over 15 years of experience in the nutrition field. http://profiles.umassmed.edu/profiles/ProfileDetails.aspx?From=SE&Person=629

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Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD. Yunsheng is an Associate Professor of Medicine, and our nutritional epidemiologist. He has many years of experience in studies on the effect of diet and other lifestyle factors for obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and heart disease; characteristics, health trends, and health care utilization of Medicaid insured individuals; cardiovascular disease epidemiology; and applied statistical methods in clinical research. He has contributed to over 90 original publications in the biomedical literatures and two medical textbook chapters. http://profiles.umassmed.edu/profiles/ProfileDetails.aspx?From=SE&Person=232

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Jennifer Fournier, RD, LDN. Jen specializes in cardiac rehab, outpatient nutritional counseling, stress reduction techniques, and cooking classes. She has been working at UMass for eleven years.

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Victoria Andersen, MS, RD, LDN. Victoria works in cardiovascular outpatient counseling, guides the shopping tours for cardiac rehab and works with Phase IV patients, and specializes in nutritional treatment of disease. She also provides nutrition counseling services to the Worcester Family Health Center.

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Annie Culver, B.Pharm. Annie is our medication consultant. As a pharmacist, Annie is interested in natural medications as part of integrative medicine therapy.

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Gioia Persuitte, MPA. Gioia is a Research Coordinator. She assists with grant writing, research, and manuscript writing. She is interested in gastrointestinal diseases and teaches a special diet as well as cooking classes for those with IBD. She enjoys witnessing the empowerment individuals feel when they learn how to cook healthy food. Gioia also works on recipe development for certain patient medical needs.

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Judy Palken, MNS, RD, LDN. Judy has 26 years of experience in nutrition and received her Master's degree in Clinical Nutrition from Cornell University in 1983. She has extensive experience working with patients with cardiac disease, and has worked at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, where she designed and taught the nutrition classes for the Cardiac Rehab Program and Cardiac Risk Reduction Program. Judy has also worked in the Diabetes Center at the Memorial campus of UMass, and is currently one of the teachers for our Can Do study, she teaches people with metabolic syndrome how to improve their health by increasing their fiber intake. She enjoys developing nutrition materials for all of her classes.

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Penny Rosenzweig, MS, RD, LDN, CPC. Penny combines her nutrition background with her training as a Certified Professional Empowerment Coach. She is especially interested in how people are inspired and motivated to create healthy lifestyle changes that last! She brings her unique combination of skills and enthusiasm to leading nutrition classes for research studies aimed at helping people adopt lifestyle changes that prevent obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. She is currently working as one of the class teacher for the Can Do study.

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Karla Menger, RD, LDN. Karla specializes in nutrition and physical activity data collection utilizing NDSR and other various databases. She has been working in this capacity nearly ten years and has been with the Behavioral Medicine Department since 2004. Karla is also bilingual in Spanish, a skill she developed working for the Massachusetts WIC Program.

  Kathryn K. P. Brodowski, M.D.
My passion for nutrition and the prevention of chronic disease led me to become a Resident physician in the field of Preventive Medicine. My focus is on the prevention and improved management of chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and inflammatory conditions like IBD. Specifically, I look at the role nutrition may play within theses diseases. Currently, I am working on a research project involving IBD patients and a specific dietary intervention called IBD-AID (part of the parent e-nose study). I also enjoy being a part of the patient education team here and you may often find me teaching cooking classes in our on-site test kitchen.

  Anne Barnard is a 4th year medical student at UMass, pursuing a career in Family Medicine and Nutrition. She is passionate about the essential role nutrition plays in preventive health, mental health, and healing, and has extended her medical school training to a fifth year to be a part of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease research in the Department of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine.