PE Fellows

Class of 2021

Cinthya Alberto, PhD, MPH

Dr. Cinthya Alberto earned both an MPH and a PhD in Health Services Research from Drexel University.  Her dissertation focused on health care access for Latino youth.  She is currently a post-doctoral fellow in health equity at the Urban Health Collaborative at Drexel University.  She has research experience with the Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice and the Department of Health Management and Policy, both at Drexel University and at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Public Citizens for Children and Youth.  Dr. Alberto has numerous publications focusing on health disparities and vulnerable populations.  She is assigned to the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation where she will engage in research and data analyses to inform decisions on key issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Marketplace, as well as HP’s current priority areas of COVID-19, health coverage, and health equity.  Dr. Alberto intends to use the concepts and skills learned in this Fellowship to improve population health and to instill trust in the science and evidence.

Stephan Brenner, PhD

Dr. Stephan Brenner earned his PhD in Medicine from Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany and his MPH in International Health from Harvard University. His dissertation was titled “Effects of placental Plasmodium falciparum infections of primigravid mothers on the development of an immune response in their newborns” His results found that Early infection was beneficial to pro-inflammatory immune responses (TH1). Late infections triggered incomplete TH1 response with higher likelihood of early postnatal malaria infections. Dr. Brenner’s work experience includes a position as a postdoctoral researcher for Heidelberg Institute of Global Health where he organized and supervised study design planning, data collection activities, data analysis, and results publication and dissemination. Dr. Brenner is assigned to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Office of Innovation and Analytics. Here, he will use one or more metrics to demonstrate the economic benefits of the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) health registry. He will also examine and quantify the economic benefit of using the GRASP Social Vulnerability Index (CDC SVI) to prioritize the development and implementation of public health programs focused on reducing disease and promoting health. Dr. Brenner’s main goal is to further expand his expertise and skill at using additional novel concepts and methods of outcome research to further expand his competence in the evaluation of health interventions.

Duygu Islek Yaras, PhD, MPH, MD

Dr. Duygu Islek Yaras earned and MPH and her Medical Degree in Turkey and then a PhD in Epidemiology from Emory University.  Her dissertation aims to examine the racial differences in out-of-hospital mortality from heart diseases and recurrent myocardial infarctions in a large US cohort population and was awarded the American Heart Association’s pre-doctoral fellowship.  Dr. Islek Yaras also recently analyzed the cost-effectiveness of a diabetes prevention program in India using a 3-year randomized trial (in the process learning economic evaluation methods) and published this work in JAMA.  Dr. Islek Yaras is assigned to the National Center for HIV, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Division of HIV and AIDS Prevention.  There she will study the impact of third party payment on PrEP assistance programs, the cost-effectiveness of an HIV testing program using a clinical decision support tool, and time trends in the use of (and associated costs of) telemedicine services used among PrEP patients.  Dr. Islek Yaras’ career goal is to will gain invaluable real-world experience in evaluating public health policies and intervention programs’ effectiveness in the PE fellowship and, ultimately, pursue a research career at the CDC, WHO, or academia, focusing on improving health both nationwide and on a global scale.

Ashutosh Kumar, PhD, MS

Dr. Ashutosh Kumar earned a MS in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Arizona, and a PhD in Economics from Washington State University.  His dissertation examined Medicaid expansion policy and its welfare effect on low-income households and underserved communities.  In fact, Dr. Kumar presented the first causal evidence of the impact of Medicaid expansion on homelessness in the United States (finding that Medicaid expansion increased homelessness by 10.3% due to migration of homeless individuals into expansion states).  He is assigned to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity and will leverage his data and analysis skills to analyze; prevention and cost effectiveness of weight management and other related interventions, the costs of childhood obesity and its related comorbidities on the national level, and healthcare utilization and cost of obesity among commercially insured adult and pediatric patients using large electronic healthcare and insurance claims data.

Junsoo Lee, PhD, MS

Dr. Junsoo Lee earned his MS and PhD in Economics from the University at Albany, SUNY.  He has performed research on topics ranging from prescription drug pricing and prescribing behaviors, diet and health, seasonality and birthweight, and the impact of weather conditions on pregnancy outcomes.  In 2019 and 2020, Dr. Lee was an ORISE fellow with the National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.  As a PE Fellow with the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Dr. Lee will be conducting a literature review in the area of economic burden or cost-effectiveness of interventions in CVD or related risk factors, studying the economic burden of multiple CVD chronic conditions, and developing a range of behavioral economic tools to address patient choices in the field of hypertension and CVD control. Dr. Lee’s goal is to work in a public health field where he can interact with like-minded colleagues, apply his economics knowledge and skills to public health research, and incorporate economic analysis as part of the public health decision making process.

Mengyao Li, PhD, MS

Dr. Mengyao Li earned her MS in Statistics and PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics both from the University of Georgia.  Her dissertation looked at the mental health impacts of environmental degradation and climate change.  Dr. Li has been an ORISE fellow with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and continues with that Center in the Division of Injury Prevention as a PE Fellow.  Dr. Li’s projects include; development of a Research Data Center proposal for access to state-level National Survey of Drug Use and Health data for research on two integrated studies examining regional and sub-regional disparities in substance use disorder and related suicidal behavior and interpersonal violence, identify state-level policies relevant to injury and violence prevention and conduct a rigorous evaluation of a specific policy implemented for effectiveness in reducing rates of injury and violence, and estimate the cost of implementation and cost effectiveness of the STEADI Algorithm for Fall Risk Screening, Assessment, and Intervention.

Muloongo Simuzingili, PhD, MA

Dr. Muloongo Simuzingili earned her MS in Economics from the University of Cape Town and her PhD in Healthcare Policy and Research from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Her dissertation evaluated physician payments and cash transfer programs to improve women and children’s health in low-income populations.  Dr. Simuzingili comes to the PE Fellowship from the World Bank where she is a WBG-Africa Fellow (Health, Nutrition, and Population Practice) working on the East Africa Region COVID-19 Response and Analysis Team.  She has also recently performed health economics and outcomes research for a pharmaceutical firm.  Dr. Simuzingili is assigned to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention.  There, she will evaluate policies (such as earned income tax credits, incarceration policies, and social service interventions) that address social and structural conditions to reduce the disproportionate burden of violence experienced by some groups and communities for the primary prevention of multiple forms of violence experienced by children, youth, and families.  Dr. Simuzingili’s overarching goal is to provide evidence-based research and technical support to policy makers during decision-making processes.

Shyamkumar Sriram, PhD, MPH, MHS, MS

Dr. Sriram earned his PhD in Health Services Policy and Management from the University of South Carolina. He earned his MPH in Global Health Systems and Development from Tulane University and his MHS in Health Economics from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Sriram also earned his MS in Global Health Policy from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. His dissertation addressed health insurance programs for the poor, out-of-pocket costs, and catastrophic health expenditures in India. Dr Sriram worked as a research assistant in the World Bank funded international health research projects and as a Graduate Teaching assistant at the University of South Carolina. In addition, he has several publications and posters. Dr. Sriram will bring his experience to the Utah Department of Health.  There he will work on a range of projects related to opioids, hypertension and other chronic diseases, and reproductive health.  Dr. Sriram’s career goal is to work in a research position in an international organization such as UNICEF, WHO, or World Bank.