Current Yerby Fellows and Research Associates

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Henri M. Garrison-Desany, PhD, MSPH
Yerby Fellow, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences 
hgarrisondesany@hsph.harvard.edu
Mentor(s): Christy Denckla and Karestan Koenen

Yerby Fellow: 2022 – Present

Research Interests: Dr. Henri Garrison-Desany received a PhD in Genetic Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and holds an MSPH in International Health. Henri’s dissertation examined the epigenomic effects of substance use during pregnancy, and the impacts during gestation on child neurodevelopment. Henri is passionate about combining social and genetic epidemiological methods to further mental and behavioral health among historically marginalized groups in the United States and globally. As a Yerby Fellow, Henri’s research focuses on understanding the relationship between genetic liability and socioenvironmental factors on neuropsychiatric disorders, primarily among African-ancestry and multiethnic communities, through collaborations with the Broad Institute and Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, and the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) consortium.

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Patricia S. Grace, PhD
Yerby Research Associate, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

pgrace1@mgh.harvard.edu
Mentor(s): Sarah Fortune and Galit Alter (Ragon Institute)

Yerby Fellow: 2021 – 2022
Yerby Research Associate: 2022 – Present

Research Interests:  Dr. Patricia (Patty) Grace received her PhD in Immunology from New York University, where her dissertation work focused on understanding T cell immunity during Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB) in humans. Passionate about harnessing immunity to improve TB vaccines, diagnostics, and therapies; she has continued to study immune responses to TB in her postdoctoral work. Patty’s research focuses on the antibody responses that develop in humans with TB disease and using monoclonal antibodies she aims to understand how features of TB humoral immunity contribute to protection in animal models of Mtb infection. Patty is co-mentored by Sarah Fortune at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease and by Galit Alter at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.

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Khristopher M. Nicholas, PhD
Yerby Fellow, Department of Nutrition

knicholas@hsph.harvard.edu
Mentor(s): Christopher Golden

Yerby Fellow: 2022 – 

Research Interests:  Dr. Khristopher Nicholas holds a PhD in Nutrition from UNC Chapel Hill, where he employed mixed methodology to examine diet outcomes of food environments in the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador. With a background in food systems research and doctoral training in nutrition science, Khristopher’s research goals are to (a) characterize how ‘where’ shapes ‘what’ we eat and (b) understand the role of human behavior throughout this process. Born in Trinidad and Tobago and raised in South Florida, Khristopher is passionate about food system advocacy both locally and globally, ranging from small island settings in the Galápagos islands and Jamaica to historically excluded settings within the United States such as Black communities in rural North Carolina. As a Yerby Fellow, Khristopher works with Dr. Christopher Golden to explore food system implications in the context of rapidly changing socioecological ecosystems.

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Lorena S. Pacheco, PhD, MPH
Yerby Fellow, Department of Nutrition

lpacheco@hsph.harvard.edu
Mentor(s): Frank Hu and Steven Gortmaker

Yerby Fellow: 2020–

Research Interests:  Dr. Lorena Pacheco received her doctoral degree in Epidemiology from the University of California San Diego-San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health. Her research interests include nutrition and chronic disease prevention, particularly cardiometabolic disease prevention, metabolomics, and dietary interventions. She is a practicing bilingual and multicultural registered dietitian nutritionist, having worked with a number of community-based health initiatives in diverse populations in the U.S. and Latin America, as a dietitian and research collaborator. She recently joined the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and is working on several nutritional epidemiological projects including analyses of the Nurse’s Health Studies, Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, and Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. Lorena will also be working with the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness (CHOICES) Study team.

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Jake Ryann C. Sumibcay, DrPH, MPH
Yerby Fellow, Department of Health Policy and Management

jrcsumibcay@hsph.harvard.edu
Mentor(s): Howard Koh

Yerby Fellow: 2022 – 

Research Interests:  Dr. Jake Ryann Sumibcay received his DrPH in Leadership and Management with a minor in Health Policy from Claremont Graduate University. His dissertation examined the historical and socio-political context of how structural racism affects the health of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the United States and the Indigenous Māori and Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand. His research focuses broadly on the health disparities and inequities among Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) populations. He is interested in understanding the nuances in racial representations of these groups and how these are reflected in public health policy, practice, and research. As a Yerby Fellow, he will broadly focus on exploring the ways of advancing health equity, with particular interests in the advocacy of data disaggregation practices and examining the intersections of structural racism and health.

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Sarah S. Zahakos, PhD, MPH
Yerby Fellow, Department of Health Policy and Management

szahakos@hsph.harvard.edu
Mentor(s): Alecia McGregor

Yerby Fellow: 2022 – 

Research Interests: Dr. Sarah Zahakos earned her doctoral degree in Health Services Research from Boston University School of Public Health. Previously, she was an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality T32 pre-doctoral fellow and a research fellow at the Institute for Health System Innovation and Policy at Boston University. Sarah’s research interests focus on the political and legal determinants of health, specifically, those that surround equitable access to quality care. Her work draws on a variety of approaches, including legal, qualitative, quantitative, and geo-spatial analyses. Sarah has published on various health care topics in Boston University’s Online Law Journal. Her dissertation examined the forces influencing the financial sustainability and survival of needed urban hospitals. Before pursuing her PhD, she worked as a health budget analyst at the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee. As a Yerby fellow, she seeks to investigate the disparities that exist in accessing care.

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