New Faculty - 2018

Sandra AlbrechT – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Sandra Albrecht is formally trained as a social epidemiologist, with additional training in the social sciences, nutrition, and population health. Her research focuses on the socio-cultural and environmental factors that contribute to the progression of obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) in US immigrants, and among Latinos in the US and in Latin America using a variety of quantitative data sources. Examples of past research projects include investigating the social and environmental determinants of diet and weight gain in Latino and Chinese immigrants and exploring the role of ethnic enclaves in shaping nutrition-related outcomes in Latinos. With funding from an NIH/NIDDK Career Development Award (K01), Sandra’s emerging line of research seeks to understand the social and behavioral mechanisms underlying the high burden of T2D and associated complications in Mexican-Americans and other Latino subgroups. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, and a Faculty Fellow at the Carolina Population Center at UNC.

Sara Casey – Department of Population and Family Health

Dr. Sara Casey focuses on using sound data collection and analysis to improve the availability and quality of sexual and reproductive health services in countries whose health systems have been weakened by war or natural disaster. Sara is Director of the Reproductive Health Access, Information and Services in Emergencies Initiative (RAISE), a global program collaborating with program partners to identify and respond to challenges to improve contraceptive and abortion-related services in humanitarian settings in Africa and Asia. Sara provides technical guidance to partners to establish program monitoring and evaluation systems and conduct health facility assessments, population-based surveys and other implementation research. She received her Doctor of Public Health, Master of Public Health and Master of International Affairs degrees from Columbia University

Julius L. Chen – Department of Health Policy and Management

Dr. Julius Chen’s research utilizes empirical microeconomics to evaluate strategies designed to improve the production and financing of health care.  His current work studies alternative provider payment models, insurer behavior in the Medicare Advantage market, and innovation in health care delivery. Julius joins us from the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard University. He received his PhD and MS in applied economics and managerial science from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  Before starting graduate school, Julius served as a California Senate Fellow and worked on health policy issues at the state level.  He earned his BA in economics with highest honors and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley.

Stephen Coussens – Department of Health Policy and Management

Dr. Stephen Coussen's research lies broadly in the fields of health and behavioral economics. Most of his recent work has focused on clinical decision making by emergency department physicians and its implications for patient health outcomes. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, Stephen was a Research Associate at the University of Chicago Crime Lab and received a master's degree from the Harris School of Public Policy. A Los Angeles native, Stephen obtained his undergraduate degree from UCLA and subsequently worked for professional services firm Deloitte. Stephen joins us from Harvard University, where he recently received his PhD in public policy.

Jamie Daw – Department of Health Policy and Management

Dr. Jamie Daw studies how health insurance policies affect patient access, health outcomes, and out-of-pocket costs with a particular focus on women and families. She is also interested in improving methods for health policy evaluation. Her work has been published in leading journals including Health Affairs, JAMA, CMAJ, and the Journal of Health Policy, Politics, and Law. Her recent paper on health insurance changes around pregnancy was recognized as one of the Editor's top 10 articles of the year in Health Affairs. Jamie recently received her PhD in Health Policy from Harvard.

Lauren Houghton – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Lauren Houghton takes a bio-cultural and lifecourse approach to breast cancer prevention and is currently exploring how digital health can be used in the dissemination and implementation of the latest breast cancer science. With a background in anthropology, Lauren is interested in developing mixed-methods to be implemented in epidemiological studies to better capture biological and cultural mediators of health disparities. Using tools from molecular epidemiology, she focuses on hormones as the mechanism that links what happens above the skin with that beneath the skin. Specifically, she examines the steroid metabolome in relation to intermediate outcomes, including pubertal development and the menstrual cycle, and breast cancer risk. Lauren has worked extensively with migrant studies in Bangladesh, the UK and Mongolia to better understand risk factors among females moving from low to high risk geographic areas. She has conducted fieldwork with Native Americans in the Southwest US, menopausal women in the UK, and school girls in Bangladesh and is currently a co-investigator of The LEGACY Girls Study in New York City.

Jianhua Hu – Department of Biostatistics

Dr. Jianhua Hu’s research focus on methodology development to address unconventional data analysis challenges in biomedical studies to improve disease diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. This includes analyzing high-dimensional genomics/proteomics, imaging, and longitudinal data, modeling disease heterogeneity, and developing innovative adaptive designs to achieve personalized treatments. Jianhua’s research substantially involves variable selection, classification, dimension reduction, nonparametric estimation, and robust inference.

Stephen Patrick Kachur – Department of Population and Family Health

Dr. Stephen Patrick Kachur is a public health physician with 30 years of experience in global health practice. He completed clinical and residency training at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital and Johns Hopkins University and a community health fellowship at the University of Ilorin in Nigeria. For much of his career he was based at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where he held leadership roles in the Malaria Branch and Center for Global Health, receiving the agency's highest service award. His scholarship has focused on experimental and observational epidemiology and health systems studies examining the effectiveness and equity of malaria and child health interventions, with an emphasis on real world research that shapes policies and programs. He contributed to interdisciplinary research establishing the efficacy of insecticide-treated nets in western Kenya and the feasibility and impact of routine use of artemisinin-based combination therapy in Tanzania. Stephen joined the faculty in 2018, where he coordinates implementation science partnerships with a focus on expanding access to quality primary health care services. He serves on the World Health Organization's Malaria Policy Advisory Committee.

Maria Lahuerta Sanau – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Maria Lahuerta is an epidemiologist and public health specialist with over thirteen years of experience in strategic information, program evaluation and research on infectious diseases. As the Deputy Director of the Strategic Information Unit at ICAP, Maria oversees the design and implementation of systems to monitor and evaluate country- and project-specific programs, including large HIV service delivery programs in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, with the goal of achieving HIV epidemic control. Maria also supports and leads a number of public health evaluations and research studies to optimize the scale-up of comprehensive HIV services in resource-limited settings, as well as surveillance activities among key populations.

Matthew Lamb – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Matthew Lamb is an epidemiologist interested in utilizing sound study design and the principles of causal inference in improving the efficient utilization of routinely-collected data, as well as data collected specifically for evaluation and research purposes for informed decision making through implementation science and is also interested in the intersection between health informatics and epidemiology. His research focuses on identifying best practices in public health approaches to HIV prevention, service delivery, and treatment in resource-limited settings. Matthew teaches courses in the Epidemiology department on introductory epidemiology and biostatistics, applications of epidemiologic research methods, and advanced techniques in epidemiologic methods. Matthew works in the Strategic Information unit at ICAP-Columbia University.

Andrea Low – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Andrea Low is an Infectious Diseases Specialist and currently the Lead Epidemiologist on a PEPFAR supported multi-country population-based HIV impact assessment (PHIA) survey. She is also the project director of a Violence Against Children Survey (VACS) in Lesotho, where a team is collecting data from approximately 7000 adolescents and young women and men on their experience of violence and how that relates to a number of outcomes, including HIV status. She is also interested in the links between vulnerability to HIV and gender equity, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where women are so disproportionately affected, and where poverty and income shocks can have profound effects. She served as a Principal Investigator (PI) of a study of commercial sex workers in Burkina Faso, where she examined the potential impact of antiretrovirals on the epidemic through measurement of the genital concentrations of HIV and subsequent predictive modeling of these levels and transmission. Andrea’s current research builds on this past work, with planned predictive modeling of different interventions in different populations, to determine how to most efficiently target interventions to optimize resources while achieving sustainable epidemic control in Southern Africa.

Pia M. Mauro – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Pia Maria Mauro is a substance use epidemiologist whose work is at the intersection of epidemiology, policy, and health services. Her research focuses on substance use treatment access and utilization, substance use in hard-to-reach populations, policy interventions, and health equity. Her recent publications focused on knowledge of medical marijuana policy and marijuana use in the US, substance use in older age, and family-based treatment in juvenile drug court settings. In August of 2018, she received a career development award (K01) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Through this five-year grant, Pia aims to estimate multiple levels of associations between medical marijuana laws and substance use disorder treatment, including changes in criminal justice referrals and service use over time. She will differentiate trends and patterns by gender and race/ethnicity to make relevant policy recommendations. Pia currently serves the academic coordinator of the NIDA-funded T32 Substance Abuse Epidemiology Training Program (SAETP). She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in substance use epidemiology through SAETP at Columbia Mailman, obtained a PhD funded through a NIDA T32 at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and received a BA from the University of Notre Dame.

John McHugh – Department of Health Policy and Management

Dr. John McHugh's research focuses on organizational relationships, studying the effects of public policy on healthcare organizations and how changing organizational dynamics affect patient outcomes. He is particularly interested in using the hospital as his primary unit of analysis.


Caleb Miles – Department of Biostatistics

Dr. Caleb Miles develops semiparametric methodology for causal inference with applications in areas seeking to bring relief to populations suffering from poverty and disease. His current methodological focus is in interference, measurement error, and mediation analysis; my applied work has largely been in HIV/AIDS. He completed his PhD in biostatistics at Harvard University with Eric Tchetgen Tchetgen, and did a postdoctoral fellowship with Mark van der Laan in the Group in Biostatistics at University of California at Berkeley.

Gary Miller – Department of Environmental Health Sciences

Dr. Gary Miller joins us as Vice Dean, Research Strategy and Innovation and Professor, Environmental Health Sciences. Dr. Miller was Associate Dean for Research in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University from 2009-2018. There, Dr. Miller was the founding director of the HERCULES Exposome Research Center, the first exposome-based research center in the U.S. He authored the first book on the topic, The Exposome: A Primer published by Elsevier. His research focuses on environmental drivers of neurodegeneration. His laboratory uses a variety of methods including transgenic mouse production, immunohistochemistry, neurotransmitter transport assays, high-resolution metabolomics, electrochemistry, and behavioral assays. His work is conducted in several experimental models from cultured neurons and C. elegans to mice and human studies. He is an advisor to several exposome-associated research entities, including the Human Biomonitoring for the European Union (HBM4EU). He also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Toxicological Sciences, the official journal of the Society of Toxicology.

Christopher Morrison – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Christopher Morrison is a social epidemiologist specializing in spatial analytic methods. His research focuses primarily on social and physical environmental determinants of injury risk, including alcohol-related injuries, firearm violence and road trauma. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, he spent four years at the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley, California, before joining the Penn Injury Science Center in 2016.

Harriet Nuwagaba Biribonwoha – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Harriet Nuwagaba-Biribonwoha is a medical doctor and Rhodes Scholar with a PhD in Epidemiology, working as Research Director at ICAP in Swaziland.  She is the Principal Investigator for a CDC/PEPFAR award to strengthen national epidemiological and research capacity in Swaziland, including estimation of national HIV incidence among adults and children; and investigator of record for the HIV Prevention Network (HPTN) protocol 084, investigating the role of injectable cabotegravir in HIV prevention. She is the co-investigator with overall local responsibility to provide technical leadership and oversight for multiple research projects in Swaziland, including clinical trials, observational studies, implementation science. Dr. Nuwagaba-Biribonwoha established the Health Research Training Program (HRTP), a health research mentorship initiative for local healthcare workers in government departments, which has benefited a total of 40 fellows. She regularly hosts Columbia Mailman students on international placements. Previously, Dr. Nuwagaba-Biribonwoha coordinated ICAP research and program evaluations in eight countries in East and Southern Africa. Before ICAP, she coordinated clinical trials for the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit (MRC-CTU) in the United Kingdom and practiced as a medical doctor in Uganda.

Brandon Pearson – Department of Environmental Health Sciences

Dr. Brandon Pearson is a behavioral neuroscientist and toxicologist. His research applies cellular and molecular techniques to elucidate the causes and mechanisms of aging and brain disease. His work examines the hypothesis that environmental stressors such as chemicals, alone or in concert with psychosocial and lifestyle experiences, during discrete developmental stages, define individual risk parameters across the lifespan. Brandon’s lab applies new and innovative models to fundamental questions in neurotoxicology, psychiatry, gerontology, and oncology. In addition, his lab leverages emerging computational and bioinformatics tools to inform translational relevance of these lab findings with the goal of identifying precise prevention and intervention approaches. He completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases. He received a B.S. from the University of New Mexico, a M.S. degree from Bucknell University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii.

Seth Prins – Department of Epidemiology

Seth Prins, PhD, is a social and psychiatric epidemiologist interested in pushing the boundaries of the discipline to encompass rich social theory. His research concerns the collateral consequences of mass incarceration for public health, and the effects of the social division and structure of labor on mental illness. He is also working on a project studying the role of adolescent substance use as determinant and consequence of the school-to-prison pipeline, disentangling individual risk, social determinants, and group disparities. Seth explores these questions at the intersections of epidemiology, sociology, and criminology, combining theory-driven analysis with advanced quantitative methods.

William Reidy – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. William Reidy is an epidemiologist whose focus at the Columbia Mailman includes both implementation science research and supporting the global scale-up of HIV/AIDS prevention and medical care services. William has worked as an investigator or in a strategic information role on projects in numerous countries including Swaziland, Kenya, Myanmar, Tanzania, and South Africa. His strategic information support of program scale-up has aimed to strengthen systems for provision of HIV medical care, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), HIV testing and counseling, and HIV prevention programs for key populations, including pre-exposure prophylaxis. William’s research has examined the performance of HIV medical care and PMTCT models during scale-up and factors related to successful patient outcomes. He received a PhD in epidemiology at the University of Washington and an MPH in epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Kai Ruggeri – Department of Health Policy and Management

Dr. Kai Ruggeri studies how policy influences population behavior, and how integrating evidence into policies can improve economic outcomes and population well-being. His teaching is primarily in analytics and decision-making as well as in behavioral and managerial economics. His current projects involve a number of data-driven policy studies focusing on large-scale behavioral insights related to economic and health choices. Partners include local and national governments, non-profit organizations, industry, and other academic institutions, in New York, various parts of the US, and abroad. Kai joins us from the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, where he directs the Policy Research Group that he founded in 2013.

Goleen Samari – Department of Population and Family Health

Goleen Samari, PhD, is a public health demographer whose research focuses on social inequality and women's health. She examines how community health and women's reproductive health are shaped by discrimination, gender inequities, and migration both domestically and globally with a particular focus on communities from or in the Middle East and North Africa. She was the first to draw attention to Islamophobia as a public health issue in the United States, and one of a few researchers examining women's empowerment and reproductive health in the Middle East and North Africa. Cutting across all her research areas is an interest in the way social science constructs are measured and the methods that guide the research process. Her work also consistently aims to bridge the gap between research and policy.

Rupak Shivakoti – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Rupak Shivakoti’s research focuses on studies that examine the role of inflammation in HIV and TB outcomes, both in the US and internationally. He is also studying approaches to reduce inflammation by modulating diet and gut microbiome. Previously, Dr. Shivakoti was a member of the faculty at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and also conducted his graduate and post-doctoral training there.

Jeanette Stingone – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Jeanette Stingone, an environmental epidemiologist, conducts research that couples data science techniques with epidemiologic methods to investigate how prenatal and early-life environmental exposures affect children’s health and development. She is currently supported by an NIEHS Pathway to Independence Award. Her research seeks to identify the complex interactions between multiple exposures that contribute to children’s disease and disability including birth defects, adverse neurodevelopment and childhood asthma. Jeanette also has a strong interest in the use of collective science initiatives to advance public health research and works to develop methods and approaches for data harmonization across diverse studies of children’s health. She received an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University, a master of public health from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a doctoral degree in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Linda Valeri – Department of Biostatistics

Dr. Linda Valeri’s current statistical research is on modeling mediating and interactive mechanisms to explain the effect of high-dimensional exposures when factors such as missing data and measurement error complicate estimation. Linda is interested in translating causal inference approaches to further our understanding of mental health, environmental determinants of health, and health disparities. Prior to joining Columbia University, Linda was Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Biostatistics) at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital. She graduated from Harvard University, Department of Biostatistics, in 2013 and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the same department in 2015.

Wan Yang – Department of Epidemiology

Dr. Wan Yang is an infectious disease modeler, with further expertise in epidemiology, statistics, environmental engineering, and computer science. Her recent work applies mathematical modeling and Bayesian inference methods to study the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases such as influenza, Ebola, and measles. She is also developing forecast systems to predict infectious disease outbreaks. In addition, she studies how environmental factors influence the transmission of influenza, its seasonality, and the controlling mechanisms. More broadly, Wan is interested in understanding the dynamics and mechanisms of diseases (not limited to infections).

Monette Zard – Department of Population and Family Health

Monette Zard is the Director of the Forced Migration and Health Program and Associate Professor of Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). She is an expert on forced migration and human rights, and her work has spanned the fields of policy, advocacy and philanthropy. She has served as the Global Human Rights Program Officer at the Ford Foundation in New York and as Research Director at the International Council on Human Rights Policy in Geneva, Switzerland, a think tank focused on applied human rights research. Her work there explored issues of political violence and the human rights obligations of armed groups, economic and social rights and human smuggling. From 2000-2003, she was a Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington D.C. and held a visiting research fellowship in law at the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University. From 1997-2000, she directed the international refugee work of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, during which time her work focused on the use of legal remedies and approaches to strengthen refugee protection in Africa as well as the particular issue of how international law should deal with refugees and asylum-seekers accused of committing serious international crimes. She has consulted on international human rights and forced migration issues for a number of organizations including Amnesty International, the Brookings Institute, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She holds a Law Degree from Cambridge University and a Masters degree in International Relations and Middle East Studies from the School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University.