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Current Research Group Members

  • Jennifer Tjia

    Jennifer Tjia, MD, MSCE, FAAHPM

    Principal Investigator

    Jen is a geriatric palliative care physician and PI of the research group.  She received her MD from the Boston University combined BA-MD program and completed clinical training at Boston Medical Center and UCSF/Mt Zion, and fellowship training at the UPenn. Jen was a postdoctoral fellow at UPenn with J. Sanford Schwarz, MD before joining the UMass faculty in 2006. She is a long-distance elder caregiver, hiker, and baker. She spends her spare time practicing cello, keeping up with her daughter and partner, and cooking Dutch-Indonesian food.

  • Geraldine Puerto

    Geraldine Puerto, MPH

    Research Coordinator/Team Leader

    Gerry is a research coordinator who joined the Tjia research group in 2018. Her interests include health equity, community-engaged research, social determinants of health, and BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and immigrant health. Gerry was born in Colombia and has lived in Massachusetts most of her life. She enjoys making art, reading, and going on hikes with her dog.

  • Vennesa Duodu

    Vennesa Duodu, BS, BA

    Research Coordinator/Community Engagement Specialist

    Vennesa is a research coordinator who joined the Tjia Research Group in  August 2019. Vennesa was born in Ghana and has lived in Massachusetts most of her life. She is an aspiring medical student with a strong personal interest and passion in the field of infant mortality and in serving immigrant populations. She enjoys working out, taking pictures/boomerangs, writing, reading and creating wonderful memories with people.

Current Students

  • Emmanuella Asiedu

    Emmanuella Asiedu, BS, MPH

    Clinical and Population Health Research (CPHR) Doctoral Student

    Emmanuella Asiedu is a doctoral student at UMass Chan Medical School who joined the Tjia Research Group in August of 2022. Emmanuella was born in Ghana and raised in both Ghana and Senegal. She is a Clinical and Population Health Research (CPHR) PhD student. Her research interests include structural racism & health of people of color, chronic diseases, children’s environment health, and health equity. In her free time Emmanuella enjoys watching documentaries, working out, exploring new places & restaurants, and talking to her family.

  • Kelly Harrison

    Kelly Harrison, BS

    Clinical Translational Research Pathway (CTRP) Medical Student

    Kelly Harrison is a medical student at UMass Chan Medical School who joined the Tjia Research Group in June 2022. Kelly was born and raised in Massachusetts. She is a member of the Population based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH) pathway and the Clinical Translational Research Pathway (CTRP). Her research interests include medical education, health equity, geriatric health, and infectious diseases. In her free time Kelly enjoys reading, gardening, and exploring new restaurants

  • Maki Karakida, MPH, MS

    UMass Boston Doctoral Student

    Maki Karakida, MPH, MS, is a Gerontology PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Boston McCormack Graduate School. Her current research interests include: racial and regional disparities in health care, socioeconomic disadvantages and caregiving, and healthy aging communities and nations.

Opportunities for Postdocs, DNPs and medical students 

Rotations for medical students and doctoral students

Are you a CPHR doctoral student or medical student on the CTRP track?  We have rotations available for MD/PhD students on the CPHR track and  medical students on the CTRP track.  Prior students have submitted abstracts to national meetings and manuscripts resulting in publications. Interested in learning more?  Send an email to Jennifer Tjia MD, MSCE at

Post-doctoral fellowship position

We are currently seeking physicians, psychologists, doctorally-prepared nurses (DNPs), social workers, and other clinicians who wish to prepare themselves for an academic research career in palliative care and health services research or pharmaco-epidemiology. This position will be part of the UMass Department of Population and Quantitative Health Science, in the Division of Epidemiology and will get all the benefits of being part of a vibrant, friendly, and productive research team with strong, methodological, research and training environment.  

Post-doctoral fellows may choose to pursue a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation in addition to participating in postdoctoral training seminars. This is a two year position. The Fellow will have opportunities to develop their own research question, compose and submit their own grants, write and publish in scientific journals, and continue their own scholarly and research development with input from other faculty and experts.

Key areas of scholarship include caregiver engagement in serious illness, symptom management, hospice enrollment, hospice policy, and medication use in older adults with chronic conditions. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow will be responsible for conducting and assisting in studies examining caregiver engagement in serious illness, and the interaction between symptom management, hospice enrollment, hospice policy, and medication use in older adults with chronic conditions, as well as other funded and unfunded projects.

Click here to view the position on

Interested? Please send cover letter, current CV and the names and contact information of three references to: Jennifer Tjia MD, MSCE Professor at