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Core Research Team Staff:

Jennifer Tjia, MD, MSCE

Principle Investigator 

Dr. Jennifer Tjia is an Associate Professor of Quantitative Health Sciences and Medicine at UMass Chan. She is currently PI of a 5-year R01 from the NIMHD to conduct a clinical trial of a community-engaged simulation training that seeks to improve clinician-patient communication by raising clinicians’ implicit bias awareness and improving person-centered communication skills, and an R21 pilot study on patient-centered medication review in hospice settings. Dr. Tjia’s research focuses on understanding how to minimize harm and maximize benefit from prescription medication use in older adults with advanced illness. The underlying premise of her work is that prescription medications are of most benefit when used in the context of patients’ goals for care. Her work examines the prevalence and predictors of unnecessary medication use in institutionalized and hospice-enrolled elders, and aims to develop safe and effective approaches to deprescribing.

Lynley Rappaport, M.ED., MPH, MA

Program Director 

Lynley Rappaport, MPH, MEd, MA, is currently the Project Director for Dr. Tjia’s NIMHD funded R01 “COmuNity-engaged SimULation Training for Blood Pressure Control” (CONSULT-BP) and her R21 pilot study “Standardized PatiEnt-CenTered medicatiOn Review (SPECTORx) in Home Hospice.” She has a strong history at the interface of community-academic partnerships and research, having developed evidence-based public health curricula and programs in conjunction with departments and ministries of health, directed community health programs and organizations, adapted and created health related service provision trainings, programs, and written materials for Latino/Hispanic communities, and held multiple public health education and research management roles in the US, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. Ms. Rappaport is multi-lingual and has experience as a translator and medical interpreter.

Kayli Anderson, BS

Clinical Research Assistant

Kayli is a recent graduate who received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Bridgewater State University. She is currently looking into master’s programs for Research Psychology, and in the future hopes to get her PhD in Psychology. Kayli joined Dr. Tjia’s research team in August 2019. Some of her responsibilities include conducting patient surveys as well as data entry for various projects.

Vennesa Duodu, BS

Clinical Research Assistant 

Vennesa is a recent graduate from Brandeis University with a double major in Biology and Health: Science, Society & Policy, with the latter fueling her interest in the health of marginalized and underrepresented populations. In the future she hopes to get her medical degree and become either an OB-GYN or Pediatrician with a focus on immigrant populations. Vennesa joined Dr. Tjia’s research team in August 2019. Some of her responsibilities include conducting patient surveys, data collection and data entry. In her free time, Vennesa enjoys working out, helping out with the children’s ministry department at her church and taking lots of selfies.

Andriana M. Foiles Sifuentes, Ph.D., MA,

Post-doctoral Fellow 

Dr. Foiles-Sifuentes is a post-doctoral fellow supported by a TL1 grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to UMass Chan Medical School. Her background is as a Cultural Anthropologist. She brings experience examining the impact of language barriers and provider-recipient language concordance on the experience of diverse populations ranging from youth to retirees. During her dissertation in cultural anthropology, she used qualitative research methods to analyze how the use of language, race and ethnicity operated as currencies and were traded for access to goods and services among working-class retirees migrating from the Midwest US to the Texas-Mexico borderlands.

Geraldine Puerto, BS

Research Coordinator

Geraldine is a research coordinator working closely with the Program Director in the Central Study Office to execute day-to-day activities of the project. Geraldine graduated from Worcester State University with a bachelor’s in Psychology. She completed a Post Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Pre-Medicine at Northeastern University, and she is currently enrolled in the Master’s in Public Health program through the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In the future she hopes to work with minority populations such as immigrants and LGBTQ youth. 


Janice Sabin, Ph.D., MSW, Co-PI

University of Washington

Dr. Janice A. Sabin is a Research Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, University of Washington, School of Medicine and Adjunct Research Associate Professor, School of Social Work. She is affiliated faculty with the University of Washington, School of Medicine, Center for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, working on workforce diversity and education for clinicians on implicit bias and patient care. Dr. Sabin's area of expertise is racial/ethnic health care disparities with an emphasis on understanding mechanisms and pathways that lead to unequal treatment in health care. Dr. Sabin is one of the earliest investigators in the nation to apply the science of implicit bias to health care disparities research. She has designed and implemented original research as principal investigator or co-investigator in academic medicine, the Indian Health Service, the Washington State community mental health system, and with national samples. Her research includes examining patient-provider communication, pediatricians’ racial bias/discrimination in treatment decisions for African American and white patients, racial/weight bias among providers in the Indian Health Service, provider stereotypes of people with mental illnesses, providers' attitudes about weight, and providers' attitudes toward lesbian women and gay men. She has experience in community based participatory research with African American and American Indian/Alaska Native communities to develop culturally appropriate health education materials. She has developed interactive, web-based health disparities education materials that include the science of implicit bias for physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers.

Center for Health Impact, Worcester MA

“The Center for Health Impact (CHI) helps organizations and communities develop the sustained capacity to promote health and well-being. Our multi-disciplinary team will work in partnership with you, your organization and your constituents to develop sustainable organizational systems, stronger leaders and enhanced team capacity. With social justice as a core value, we model a collaborative, asset-based approach in working with you to improve systems and solve seemingly intractable problems.”



Margaret F. Clayton, Ph.D., FNP-BC, FAAN, Co-PI

Dr. Clayton is a Professor in the College of Nursing with an Auxiliary Faculty appointment in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah, a member of the Center on Aging, a Huntsman Cancer Institute Investigator with membership in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. Dr. Clayton’s research has focused on hospice nurse-cancer caregiver communication, and cancer survivor-provider communication. She has over 10 years of continuous funding as PI or Co-I, including participation in a recently completed Program Project study investigating hospice nurse–cancer caregiver communication as part of an NCI funded multisite longitudinal PPG Enhancing End-of-Life and Bereavement Outcomes Among Cancer Caregivers. In addition to her research expertise, she has 25+ previous years of clinical nursing experience and is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner.

Susan A. DeSanto-Madeya, Ph.D., RN, CNS, FAAN, Co-PI

Dr. DeSanto-Madeya has expertise in palliative and end-of-life care practice, education and research. She has over 30 years of clinical practice as both a nurse and advanced practice nurse, over 20 years of academic teaching in adult-gerontology and palliative and end-of-care, and over 10 years of research experience with patients and their family caregivers, and most recently as a nurse scientist in an academic medical center. Dr. DeSanto-Madeya is passionate about and committed to the provision of high-quality palliative and end-of-life care, specifically enhancing the quality of life and care outcomes for patients and family caregivers living with advanced and/or chronic illnesses across the healthcare continuum.