2017 Putnam Scholars

Congratulations to the 2017 ACH Putnam Scholar recipients! 

Traci Kazmerski, MD, MS and Nynikka Palmer, DrPH, MPH

Traci Kazmerski, MD, MS

Traci Kazmerski, MD, MS
2017 Putnam Scholar

Boston Children’s Hospital;
Harvard-Wide Health-Services Research Fellow
Institute for Healthcare Improvement; Fellow


About Traci Kazmerski, MD, MS: 
Traci Marie Kazmerski, MD, MS, is a 2016-2018 joint fellow at IHI and the Harvard Pediatric Health Services Research program. She is a fourth year pediatric pulmonology research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is originally from northeastern Pennsylvania and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame. She went on to complete her medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Kazmerski completed a pediatric residency and pediatric pulmonology fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. She completed a Masters in Clinical Research from the University of Pittsburgh during her fellowship training. Her research interest centers on the improvement of comprehensive health care for adolescents and young adults with pediatric-onset chronic disease. Her current project is focused on improving the sexual and reproductive health care of young women with cystic fibrosis through the development of patient-centered educational resources and interventions. She hopes to encourage shared SRH decision-making and collaboration with CF providers and enable young women with CF to take better ownership of their health. Her future goal is to expand this work to other pediatric patient populations and translate her research findings into policy change. She is currently funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She lives with her husband and one-year old son and enjoys travel, art, and reading.

Judy Chang, MD, MPH
University of Pittsburgh
Associate Professor

About Judy Chang, MD, MPH: 
Judy Chang, MD, MPH is an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences with a secondary appointment in the Division of General Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. She is also an investigator at the Magee-Women’s Research Institute and core faculty member in the Center for Research in Health Care and Center for Women’s Health Research and Innovation. She also serves as an Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research. After completing her undergraduate studies in the Plan II Honors Liberal Arts program at the University of Texas in Austin, Judy obtained her medical training at Baylor College of Medicine and completed residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. She then went on to obtain training in health services research and public health leadership in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Her early research focused primarily on understanding intimate partner violence (IPV) and how health care providers can help women experiencing IPV. Through this qualitative work, she found that women described the potential power of patient-provider communication as a source of support, motivation, empowerment and validation. Judy then expanded her research expertise to focus on patient-provider communication in women’s health, particularly in obstetric care. Her more recent research has examined a variety of topics within obstetric care communication including screening and counseling regarding substance use, addressing mental health concerns, breastfeeding counseling, and examining the impact of electronic medical records on patient-provider communication.

Judy is also a dedicated educator. She co-facilitates communication workshops for obstetrics and gynecology residents that teach skills such as Ask-Tell-Ask, delivering bad news, and dealing with patient emotions; co-facilitates Balint groups for obstetrics and gynecology residents; and leads workshops for medical students focusing on communication strategies to address and respond to intimate partner violence among female patients. Her contributions have been recognized with numerous teaching and mentoring awards.

Nynikka R. A. Palmer, DrPH, MPH

Nynikka R. A. Palmer, DrPH, MPH
2017 Putnam Scholar

University of California, San Franscisco;
Division of General Internal Medicine at
San Franscisco General Hospital

About Nynikka Palmer, DrPH, MPH: 
Dr. Nynikka Palmer received her undergraduate training from Morgan State University, where she obtained a degree in health education with honors. She then earned a master’s degree in public health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and subsequently worked for 3 years at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia collaborating with community organizations on cancer education and early detection in minority and underserved communities. Dr. Palmer then earned a doctorate in public health, in behavioral sciences and health promotion from the University of Texas, School of Public Health in Houston. During her doctoral program, she was a pre-doctoral fellow in an NCI-sponsored cancer prevention and control training program. She extended her training in cancer with a focus on cancer survivorship and health disparities as a postdoctoral fellow on an NCI-sponsored training award at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Dr. Palmer was recruited to join the faculty at UCSF in 2013 to further establish her research in cancer health disparities. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor, with a primary appointment in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFGH) and secondary appointments in Urology and Radiation Oncology. Dr. Palmer is also an Associate member of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and an Associate Faculty member of the Center for Vulnerable Populations at ZSFGH.

Dr. Palmer’s research is grounded in cancer disparities and has progressed over the years to focus on racial/ethnic and geographic disparities (e.g., rural/urban) in cancer, challenges faced by male cancer survivors, prostate cancer in African American men, and quality cancer care. During her postdoctoral fellowship, she examined racial/ethnic disparities in health care receipt among male cancer survivors, rural/urban disparities in cancer survivors forgoing care because of cost, and racial/ethnic disparities in patient-provider communication, quality of care ratings, and patient activation among long-term cancer survivors. Dr. Palmer is particularly interested in prostate cancer among African American men, and has examined African American prostate cancer survivors’ treatment decision-making and their subsequent quality of life. Findings from these studies have directed her research agenda to further understand and examine quality of care and patient-provider communication among African American men with prostate cancer, particularly in low-income communities. Dr. Palmer’s long-term goal is to move beyond identifying cancer disparities to developing, implementing, and disseminating interventions and programs that will ultimately reduce the burden of cancer among vulnerable populations.

Dean Schillinger, MD
University of California, San Franscisco School of Medicine

About Dean Schillinger, MD:
Dean Schillinger, M.D. is Professor of Medicine in Residence at the University of California San Francisco, and Chief of the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH). He is a practicing primary care physician at SFGH, an urban public hospital, where he sees patients, teaches in the primary care residency program, and conducts research. Dr. Schillinger served as Chief of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program for the California Department of Public Health from 2008-2013. Dr. Schillinger carries out research related to healthcare for vulnerable populations, and is an internationally recognized expert in health communication science. His work focuses on literacy, health communication, and chronic disease prevention and management. He has been honored with the 2003 Institute for Healthcare Advancement Research Award; the 2008 Research Award in Safety and Quality from the National Patient Safety Foundation; the 2009 Engel Award in Health Communication Research; the 2010 Outstanding Bay Area Clinical Research Mentor; and authored a 2012 commissioned IOM paper on the attributes of Health Literate Healthcare Organizations. Dr. Schillinger is the founding director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, whose mission is to carry out innovative research to prevent and treat chronic disease in populations for whom social conditions often conspire to both promote chronic disease and make its management more challenging. Dr. Schillinger currently directs the CVP Health Communications Program. He is the co-founder of TheBiggerPicture.org, a social marketing diabetes prevention campaign to empower minority youth to change the conversation about diabetes and become agents of positive social change. In 2013 he received the Everett M Rogers Award from the American Public Health Association in recognition of his lifelong contributions to advancing the study and practice of public health communication.


Richard Street, PhD
Texas A&M University

About Richard Street, PhD: 
Dr. Street's research focuses on clinician-patient communication, pathways linking communication to improved health outcomes, and strategies for increasing patient involvement in case. His research and teaching awards include Outstanding Health Communication Scholar from the International Communication Associations, L. Donohew Health Communication Scholar Award from the University of Kentucky, TAMU AFS Distinguished Achievement Wards in Teaching and Research, and George L. Engel award from the Academy of Communication in Healthcare. 

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