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The Community Guide Staff

Community Guide staff provide scientific, technical, and administrative support to the Task Force. They are based at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and include epidemiologists, behavioral and social scientists, systematic review methodologists, statisticians, economists, clinicians, communication specialists, health educators, and policy experts. Community Guide staff members:

  • Coordinate systematic review teams
  • Assure that each review is scientifically conducted according to approved methods
  • Write and publish review findings
  • Disseminate and participate in the translation of review findings to intended users including public health practitioners, policymakers, and researchers
  • Create and maintain partnerships with representatives of intended user audiences
  • Develop and refine systematic review methods
  • Provide consultation and training about systematic reviews and developing evidence-based recommendations

 

CDC Community Guide Staff Members

Consultants and Contractors

Research Fellows

 

Biographical Sketches

Federal Staff

Shawna L. Mercer, MSc, PhD

Shawna Mercer, MSc, PhD, is acting director of the Division of Epidemiology, Analysis, and Library Services. In this position, she supports The Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide), the CDC Library, and the Analytic Tools and Methods Branch—a collaborative center for developing and disseminating epidemiological and analytical tools and methods for improving population health. Dr. Mercer served most recently as chief of the Community Guide Branch, where she oversaw the conduct of systematic reviews of population-based public health interventions, supported the independent Community Preventive Services Task Force, and facilitated dissemination and implementation of Task Force recommendations.

Dr. Mercer previously served as a senior health scientist in CDC's Office of the Chief Science Officer, where she led initiatives to bridge gaps between research, practice and policy, and developed CDC processes and systems to ensure CDC's compliance with Office of Management and Budget requirements for scientific information. Dr. Mercer earlier served as a health scientist and deputy director of CDC's Office of Science and Extramural Research, where she co-developed and oversaw a $12M extramural research grant funding program, explored study design options for effectiveness and translation research, and led a research and evaluation program aimed at strengthening the rigor of participatory research and assessing its value and benefits for bridging research and practice. She started her CDC work in the Office on Smoking and Health, providing technical assistance to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and supporting state efforts to implement best practices for tobacco control following the Master Settlement Agreement.

Before joining CDC, Dr. Mercer conducted research at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the University of Toronto, exploring knowledge, attitudes, behavior and decision making surrounding breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancer screening and genetic screening for cancer, as well as assessing physician and patient education and support for cancer and AIDS. She previously served as the evaluation coordinator for the Ontario Breast Screening Program—one of the first population-based cancer screening programs in the world. Dr. Mercer has a master's degree in health behavior from the University of Waterloo, Ontario and a doctoral degree in epidemiology from the University of Toronto.

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Randy W. Elder, PhD, MEd

Randy W. Elder joined the Guide to Community Preventive Services as scientific director for systematic reviews in April of 2005. He oversees the development of Community Guide methods and ensures the methodological rigor of the systematic reviews. He earned a master's degree in education with a focus on applied measurement and evaluation from the University of Alberta and a doctorate in clinical psychology from Emory University. Dr. Elder joined CDC's Injury Center in 1999 to conduct research in the areas of alcohol-impaired driving and alcohol epidemiology. During his tenure there, he conducted several Community Guide reviews on the effectiveness of community-based interventions to prevent alcohol-impaired driving. In recognition of the contribution of these reviews to traffic safety, his team received several awards, including MADD's Ralph W. Hingson Research to Practice Award and the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary's Award for Distinguished Service.

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Katherine (Kathi) M. Wilson, PhD, MPH, CHES

Katherine M. Wilson leads the Dissemination and Implementation Team of the Community Guide Branch where she oversees the growth of methods, tools, and training for providing technical assistance in accessing and applying recommendations found in the Community Guide. She has been a project officer since coming to CDC in 1990, first with the Planned Approach to Community Health (PATCH) Program, then as a project officer to three Alaskan tribes and the state health department for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. She has been the project officer for various cooperative agreements including the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN), which designs and delivers trainings for state, local, tribal, and territorial constituents and CDC project officers on using evidence to improve practice. She has developed and conducted training on using evidence for local and state groups domestically and internationally. Dr. Wilson has also designed and overseen conduct of intervention research using Task Force findings as a foundation. Prior to coming to CDC, Dr. Wilson was a staff member of the Public Education Department for the national office of the Arthritis Foundation, and before that she oversaw the public education component of the Indiana Division of the American Cancer Society.

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Heba M. Athar MD, MPH

Heba M. Athar is an epidemiologist on the Population Health Metrics Team of the Community Guide Branch. She provides epidemiological support on the following projects: Community Health Needs Assessment scan, Community Health Status Indicators website, life expectancy methodology, and indicators of social determinants of health. Before joining the Community Guide, Dr. Athar was attaining her masters of public health degree in health policy and administration and informatics, and served as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Illinois, School of Public Health. Dr. Athar is a scientific editor of University of Illinois' Journal of Public Health Informatics. Her areas of interest include disease prevention, population health, and health disparities.

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Sajal K. Chattopadhyay, PhD

Sajal K. Chattopadhyay is the principal economic advisor for the Guide to Community Preventive Services. He directs the Community Guide's economic reviews. He previously served as a senior economist at the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and as the chief of the Prevention Effectiveness Branch in the Epidemiology Program Office at CDC. Before joining CDC, he was a member of the economics faculty at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Chattopadhyay is a founding member of the International Health Economics Association. He coordinated the collaborative work between CDC and the Institute of Medicine on re-estimating health benefits of federal regulations with different health-related quality-of-life measures and, more recently, served as an economic advisor for the Purchaser's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services. Dr. Chattopadhyay received his doctorate in economics with a specialization in health economics from the University of Connecticut in 1991.

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Zhuo (Adam) Chen, PhD, MS, MMgt

Zhuo (Adam) Chen is a senior economist with the Population Health Metrics Team of the Community Guide Branch. He provides economics and methodological support for the team, particularly on the Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI) website. His recent work includes reviewing cost calculators used in public health, developing a methodology to construct peer county groupings in CHSI, editing the Method Moments newsletter, and quantifying medical expenditure of cardiovascular diseases associated with physical inactivity. Dr. Chen previously served as a senior health economist with the CDC Office of the Associate Director for Policy where his responsibilities include reviewing of economic analysis of regulatory impact analyses conducted at CDC. He joined CDC as a Steven Teutsch Prevention Effectiveness fellow in 2006. He was a part-time assistant professor at the School of Economics, Georgia Institute of Technology during 2007-2008. He serves on the editorial board of Journal of Family and Economic Issues and is a Guest Editor of China Economic Review. Dr. Chen's areas of interest include health economics, analytic methods, and forecasting. He has published extensively in social determinants of health, health disparities, and economics of obesity.

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Onnalee Gomez, MS

Onnalee Gomez is a health scientist with the Community Guide Branch. Ms. Gomez performs literature searches in various bibliographic databases in support of systematic reviews of the literature for the Community Guide. She previously was a technical information specialist in the CDC Public Health Library and Information Center and has been with the CDC since 1988.

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Robert A. Hahn, PhD, MPH

Robert A. Hahn has served as an epidemiologist at the CDC since 1986 and is a member of the Senior Biomedical Research Service. He received his doctorate in anthropology at Harvard University (1976) and his masters of public health in epidemiology from the University of Washington (1986). He is the author of Sickness and Healing: An Anthropological Perspective (Yale, 1995) and co-editor of Anthropology and Public Health: Bridging Differences in Culture and Society (Oxford, 2009). In 1998-1999, he worked as a Capitol Hill fellow in the House of Representatives Committee on Veterans' Affairs and in the office of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. He has led Community Guide reviews on juvenile violence and excessive alcohol consumption, and is currently coordinating scientist of systematic reviews interventions to promote health equity.

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David P. Hopkins MD, MPH

David Hopkins joined the Guide to Community Preventive services in July of 1997. He now serves as medical officer while continuing to coordinate and conduct systematic reviews on a wide variety of topics for the Community Guide. Dr. Hopkins graduated from the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine in 1989, completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in 1992, became board certified in Internal Medicine in 1992, and obtained a master of public health from the University of California at Berkeley in May of 1993. After two years practicing clinical medicine in California, Dr. Hopkins joined CDC as an EIS officer in July 1995 and spent two years assigned to the New York State Tuberculosis Control Bureau in Albany, New York.

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Verughese Jacob, PhD, MPH

Verughese Jacob is a senior service fellow on the economics team at the Guide to Community Preventive Services. Prior to this fellowship, Mr. Jacob consulted as an economist on a health disparity project with the CDC and the feasibility of a national twin registry with the NIEHS. Mr. Jacob holds a doctorate in economics from Southern Illinois University, and a master of public health from Emory University.

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Jennifer Murphy Morgan, MSPH

Jennifer Morgan is an associate service fellow with the Guide to Community Preventive Services. Currently Ms. Morgan is working with the vaccine-preventable disease and tobacco review teams. Prior to rejoining the Community Guide, she worked as a research analyst for the Health Services Research and Evaluation Branch (HSREB) in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. In HSREB, she provided analytical support and technical assistance for the research and evaluation activities of the Economics and Adult Vaccination teams. In 2008, Ms. Morgan joined the Community Guide as an ORISE fellow. During her time with the Community Guide, she worked with the Vaccine-Preventable Disease team where they updated the set of existing reviews for vaccine interventions. She also worked with the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention to update the review on sobriety checkpoints to reduce alcohol-related fatal and nonfatal injuries. Prior to her fellowship with the Community Guide, she interned with the Physical Fitness Program, Tennessee Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program and the Division of Minority Health and Disparity Elimination at the Tennessee Department of Health. Before obtaining her master's degree, she worked as a research assistant with the Georgia Institute for the Prevention of Human Disease and Accidents. In this position, Ms. Morgan evaluated the role of lifestyle behaviors upon the development of insulin resistance, Type II diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular risk among prepubertal youth. Ms. Morgan received her bachelor's degree in biology from South Carolina State University and her master of science in public health from Meharry Medical College.

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Yinan Peng, PhD, MPH

Yinan Peng is a service fellow at the Guide to Community Preventive Services, leading reviews to evaluate the effectiveness of tobacco control interventions in reducing tobacco use and motorcycle helmet laws in reducing deaths and injuries. Dr. Peng was an ORISE fellow with the Community Guide for several years and worked on review teams evaluating effectiveness of various tobacco control interventions in reducing tobacco use and school dismissal to reduce the spread of influenza virus during pandemics. Prior to joining the Community Guide, Dr. Peng served two years with the U.S. Peace Corps in Kenya and Botswana. In both countries, but especially in Botswana, Dr. Peng worked on HIV/AIDS related issues, and assisted in planning, coordinating, monitoring and evaluating HIV/AIDS activities. Dr. Peng holds a doctoral degree in molecular and cellular pharmacology and a master of public health.

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Anil Thota, MBBS, MPH

Anil Thota is a senior service fellow at the Guide to Community Preventive Services. Currently he is working with a team of experts prioritizing and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions aiming to reduce morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease. Prior to this, he worked with a coordinating scientist to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of collaborative care to improve delivery of depression care. Dr. Thota has a degree in medicine (MBBS) from Manipal University in India and a master of public health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to the Community Guide, Dr. Thota was a consultant at the World Bank in Washington, DC. In this position, he worked on a review evaluating the effectiveness of health service delivery strategies in low-income settings and also participated in a World Bank systematic review looking at community empowerment strategies in low-income countries.

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Holly Wethington, PhD

Holly Wethington is a coordinating scientist in the Guide to Community Preventive Services. Prior to joining the Community Guide, Dr. Wethington worked with the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity conducting research and evaluation of behaviors associated with obesity. She also worked with the Community Guide from 2006-2007 as an ORISE research fellow. She received her doctorate in social psychology from Michigan State University.

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Consultants and Contractors

April Bailey, MA

April Bailey (Karna, LLC) is a health communications specialist on the Dissemination and Implementation Team of the Community Guide Branch. Her role includes development and implementation of The Community Guide in Action stories to showcase important real world use of Community Preventive Services Task Force recommendations and other writing assignments as needed. Prior to joining the Community Guide, Ms. Bailey wrote for the University of Georgia's news service in the public affairs division and was a part-time freelance writer and filmmaker. She holds a master of arts in journalism and mass communication with a concentration in health and medical journalism from the University of Georgia and a bachelor of science in journalism from Middle Tennessee State University.

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Deborah R. Bauer, MPH, RN, CHES

Deborah R. Bauer (Karna, LLC) is a health communications specialist and partnerships coordinator on the Dissemination and Implementation Team of the Community Guide Branch. Her role focuses in two key areas: optimizing relationships with Liaisons to the Task Force, and promoting awareness and use of Task Force recommendations. Before joining the Community Guide, Ms. Bauer served as coordinator of the CDC Healthier Worksite Initiative, building on previous experience in employee health promotion and management. Ms. Bauer's public health experience also includes cancer control and prevention, having served as statewide professional education consultant for the Georgia Department of Human Resources Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. She has a bachelor of nursing degree and a master of public health degree.

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Joe Bryce, BS

Joe Bryce (Karna, LLC) serves as web developer on the Dissemination and Implementation Team of the Community Guide Branch and is responsible for the design and maintenance of the Community Guide website. Mr. Bryce has more than fifteen years of experience in web development and design and has managed sites for a wide range of clients, including CDC's Public Health Library. Mr. Bryce holds a bachelors of science in business administration, information systems management.

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Krista Hopkins Cole, MPH

Krista Hopkins Cole (Karna, LLC) is a health communications specialist on the Dissemination and Implementation Team of the Community Guide Branch. In this role, she manages and develops content for the Community Guide website and disseminates information about Task Force findings. Before joining the Community Guide, Ms. Cole served as a health communication specialist for CDC's Injury Center where she led communication activities for the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention and worked to promote the application of behavioral sciences to injury prevention. She has lead health communication activities for state and county agencies and nonprofit organizations. Ms. Cole has a bachelor of science degree in psychology and a master of public health in health behavior, health education.

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Kate W. Harris, BA

Kate W. Harris (Karna, LLC) is a professional editor who has specialized in public health and medical editing for the past 20 years. She has been senior technical writer/editor at the Guide to Community Preventive Services since 2010. Ms. Harris previously worked in the same capacity at the Community Guide from 2000-2007, and was part of the team that developed the 2005 book, The Guide to Community Preventive Services. What Works to Promote Health? She was also instrumental in working with Community Guide scientists and the Task Force to develop segments of the terminology used in Community Guide reviews and Task Force recommendations.

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Krista Proia, MPH, CHES

Krista Proia (Karna, LLC) is a health scientist on the Effectiveness Review Team of the Community Guide Branch. In this role, she conducts systematic reviews and coordinates the review process for the cardiovascular disease prevention and control topic. Prior to joining the Community Guide, Ms. Proia worked as an epidemiology assistant and ORISE fellow at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities collaborating with the fetal alcohol syndrome surveillance (FAS) team. Ms. Proia holds a bachelor's degree in health science and a master of public health degree with a concentration in behavioral sciences and health education.

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Research Fellows

Ramona Finnie, DrPH, MPH, CHES

Ramona Finnie is an ORISE research fellow currently working with the cardiovascular disease review team at the Guide to Community Preventive Services. Prior to joining the Community Guide, Dr. Finnie was a visiting faculty member at Arizona State University, Department of African and African-American Studies working on a qualitative study of African American's experiences with colorectal cancer screening. Before that, she was a research analyst for Special Populations Research [now Underserved Populations Research] at the Behavioral Research Center within the American Cancer Society. Dr. Finnie received her bachelors of science from the University of Arizona and master of public health (MPH) from Emory University. She completed a doctor of public health (DrPH) with global health concentration from the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston where she completed field research assessing factors related to delayed care-seeking and diagnosis for tuberculosis (TB) and non-adherence to TB treatment in Limpopo Province South Africa. Her research interests include global health disparities, health communications, and the development and evaluation of community-based interventions.

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John A. Knopf, MPH

John A. Knopf is an ORISE research fellow at the Guide to Community Preventive Services. He is currently working on the systematic review of mental health benefits legislation as well as health equity reviews. Previously, at the University of Georgia, Mr. Knopf assisted with research on the impact of the magnocellular and parvocellular pathway visuo-spatial pathways on location-based inhibition-of-return phenomenon, and tobacco price elasticity from a behavioral economics perspective. He has a certificate in global leadership and has traveled to Belize for medical service learning. His interests include clinical medicine, social epidemiology, health policy, and chronic disease management. Mr. Knopf holds a bachelor of science in biology and psychology and a master of public health.

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Amanda Powell, MA, CPH

Amanda Powell is an ORISE research fellow on the Dissemination and Implementation Team of the Community Guide Branch. Her role includes development and implementation of The Community Guide in Action stories to showcase important real world use of Community Preventive Services Task Force recommendations.

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Tao Ran, PhD, MS

Tao Ran is an ORISE research fellow on the economic review team with the Guide to Community Preventive Services. Her primary work includes economic reviews of various healthcare interventions. Currently, she is working on economic reviews of oral health interventions such as community water fluoridation. Prior to joining the Community Guide, Dr. Ran worked for the University of Minnesota as a research associate on consumers' willingness to pay for food with different processing levels. Additionally, she worked for Louisiana State University on producers' behavior modeling. She also worked at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C on farmers' spending behavior. Dr. Ran has her master's degrees in applied statistics and economics, and a doctorate degree in natural resource and environmental economics.

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Jeffrey A. Reynolds, MPH

Jeffrey A. Reynolds is an intern at the Guide to Community Preventive Services. His current focus is assisting on the mental health parity legislation review. Mr. Reynolds obtained his bachelor of science in cellular biology and microbiology at the University of Georgia in 2008, and is currently a candidate for a master of public health with a concentration in epidemiology at the University of Georgia. His interests include clinical epidemiology, neuroepidemiology, and disease prevention and management.

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Cherie Rooks-Peck, PhD, RD

Dr. Cherie Rooks-Peck is an ORISE research fellow at the Guide to Community Preventive Services. Currently, she is contributing to the systematic review of the effectiveness of obesity-related interventions and tobacco control interventions. Prior to joining the Community Guide, Dr. Rooks-Peck completed a bachelor of science in psychology, a master of science in foods and nutrition, and the requirements to become a registered dietitian. She went on to receive her doctorate in kinesiology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in epidemiology. Her research interests include physical activity, nutrition, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and tobacco use.

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Kristin A. Tansil, MSW

Kristin A. Tansil joined the Guide to Community Preventive Services as an ORISE research fellow in January 2010. She has worked on the cancer screening, alcohol, and health communication systematic review teams throughout the fellowship. She recently evaluated and presented the findings for the alcohol electronic screening and brief intervention (e-SBI) review to the Community Preventive Services Task Force, which received a "strong recommendation of effectiveness." Currently, she is working on the breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening review team to help conceptualize and identify key intervention characteristics; disseminating the e-SBI findings and recommendation; and completing a health communication manuscript for publication. Prior to this fellowship, Ms. Tansil worked at the University of Michigan as a research assistant assessing racial identity and perceptions in African American and Latino children and families. She also interned at the Corner Health Center and Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan where she organized and facilitated health programs. Ms. Tansil holds a master of social work, with a concentration in management of human services, and a bachelor of arts in psychology, both from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

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Namita Vaidya, MPH

Namita Vaidya is an ORISE research fellow on the practice-based evidence and motorcycle helmet law review team with the Guide to Community Preventive Services. Before joining the Community Guide, Ms. Vaidya was working as a research and policy intern with HealthHIV, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C, on the development of the D.C. HIV comprehensive prevention plan. Ms. Vaidya's public health experiences also include research to support the implementation of the Stop TB Strategy in Nepal, breast cancer research at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, NY, and the investigation of molecular clustering patterns among tuberculosis cases in New York City. Ms. Vaidya holds a Master of Public Health degree in epidemiology from Columbia University, NY, and Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry, with a minor in economics, from Tufts University, MA.

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