Research Team

Career Advancement and Culture Change in Biomedical Research: Group Peer Mentoring Outcomes and Mechanisms

Dr. Linda Pololi, Brandeis University
Linda Pololi, MBBS, FRCP
Principal Investigator
Director, National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine: C-Change; Distinguished Research Scientist, Brandeis University

Linda Pololi is nationally recognized for innovative contributions to the professional development of faculty in academic medicine, including women and underrepresented minority groups. She developed — and is a leading proponent of — an evidence-based collaborative group approach to mentoring and leadership development that is predictably reliable in facilitating career enhancement for medical faculty.

Pololi’s research and efforts to improve education for students, residents and faculty have emphasized humanizing the learning environment, learner-centered and relationship-based methods to facilitate vitality, learning, physician-patient communication, mentoring and multiculturalism. Her multi-institutional research on the academic medical environment showed the importance of the “culture” to faculty vitality, challenging academic leaders to be change agents and was the subject of her book, “Changing the Culture of Academic Medicine.”

Pololi was the principal investigator and founding director of the National Center of Leadership in Academic Medicine (ECU). She has served in professorial and administrative posts within the schools of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Brown University, East Carolina University, and the University of Massachusetts, and in numerous educational advisory groups.

Pololi is the recipient of the 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Development Award and is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (UK). She is a certified facilitator for the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare and the Center for Courage & Renewal.

Pololi received her medical degree and postgraduate training at the University of London, UK.

Robert Brennan, Senior Research Scientist
Robert T. Brennan, EdD
Co-investigator
Senior Research Scientist, Brandeis University

Robert T. Brennan is a quantitative methodologist with more than two decades of connection to the Women’s Studies Research Center, including ten years with C-Change. Over the course of his career he has specialized in novel applications of multilevel models, including the study of marital dyads. He is known for his work in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods and in low-income countries in sub-Saharan African. Recently, his work has included the application of statistical matching methods to cluster randomized trials.

Dr. Brimhall-Vargas
Mark Brimhall-Vargas, PhD
Co-investigator
Executive Vice President of Racial Equity and Social Justice, Fenway Health

This summer, Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Ph.D. joined Fenway Health as its first Executive Vice President of Racial Equity and Social Justice. Brimhall-Vargas brings 25 years of experience in change management, organizational development, and training and programming around systemic inequities, most recently at Brandeis University, where he was Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Brimhall-Vargas is a leading scholar and practitioner within the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As Brandeis University’s first-ever Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, he led efforts to build an equity infrastructure across all areas of Brandeis University. Prior to working at Brandeis University, Brimhall-Vargas was Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Provost at Tufts University. He is a contributing editor to Occupying the Academy: Just How Important Is Diversity Work in Higher Education? He has consulted as a mediator in conflict resolution for the US Institute of Peace in Medellin, Colombia; Yangon, Myanmar; and Ramallah, West Bank. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Maryland where he worked from 1997 through 2015 in a variety of progressively more senior positions in the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Dr. Jan Civian
Jan Civian, EdD
Research Data Manager
Senior Research Associate, Brandeis University

A survey research specialist, Janet Trabucco Civian has spent her career focused on improving workforce diversity and employee engagement. She has conducted workforce studies in corporations, government agencies, and colleges and universities. At C-Change, Jan is focused on identifying factors that enhance and inhibit the success of faculty, residents and students in their academic medicine careers. When not collecting or analyzing data, Jan can be found lifting weights, hiking mountains, wrangling her Great Pyrenees mix, perfecting her gravy and finding ways to use her sourdough starter.

Dr. Lisa Cooper
Lisa A. Cooper, MD, MPH, FACP
Co-investigator
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and James F. Fries Professor of Medicine, John Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Lisa A. Cooper is the James F. Fries Professor of Medicine and a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in Health Equity at Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and School of Public Health.  She studies how race and socioeconomic factors shape patient care, and how health systems, with communities, can improve the health of populations with complex social needs.  A general internist and social epidemiologist, Cooper founded and directs The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, where she and her team work, in partnership with health systems and community-based organizations, to identify interventions that alleviate racial and income health disparities and translate them into practice and policy changes that mean better health for communities. She has published over 200 articles and is the author of the forthcoming book, Why Are Health Disparities Everyone's Problem? (Johns Hopkins University Press, Summer 2021). Dr. Cooper has been the principal investigator of numerous federal and private grants and is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Arthur Evans
Arthur Evans, MD, MPH
Co-investigator
Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Hospital Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College

Dr. Arthur Thomas Evans is a Professor of Medicine and Chief of Hospital Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. Dr. Evans studied philosophy at Stanford, learned medicine in Texas and at Dartmouth, and embraced clinical epidemiology and clinical research at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After 11 years practicing and teaching at one of the country’s most famous public hospitals—Cook County Hospital in Chicago—he moved to New York City, and his current role as chief of hospital medicine at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medicine. He continues to attend to full litany of academic medical endeavors: caring for patients, diagnosing disease, promoting health, prognosticating accurately, identifying effective therapies, relieving suffering, teaching, and mentoring.

Dr. Kimberly Bloom-Feshbach
Kimberly Bloom-Feshbach, MD
Co-investigator
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Assistant Attending Physician, Weill Cornell Medicine
Kimberly Bloom-Feshbach, MD is an Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medical Center and hospitalist at NYP/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Lower Manhattan Hospital. She joined the C-Change Research Team in 2020, where she engages in qualitative and mixed methods research. As a physician, medical educator and investigator, Dr. Bloom-Feshbach aspires to build, teach, and empirically study a practice of medicine that is as unrelenting in its application of scientific rigor as it is generous in its consideration of the whole person. Her work harnesses communication and mentoring strategies to increase humanism and vitality in medicine. She graduated from Yale University, summa cum laude, with a BA in Religious Studies, conducting qualitative research on the spiritual issues linked to serious news disclosure, and deriving communication insights from chaplains and medical educators. As an epidemiological researcher in the Division of Epidemiology and Population Studies of the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health, Kimberly served as an NIH liaison, collaborating with researchers at the Statens Serum Institute and Roskilde University in Denmark. At Weill Cornell, Dr. Bloom-Feshbach designs and evaluates medical education curricula from the medical student through faculty development level, including a Group Peer Mentoring Facilitator in Training Program (FIT-PM). She directs the Patient Care and Physicianship curriculum for second year medical students and the Virtual Hospitalist Program. She also serves as Senior Faculty with Vital Talk, teaching serious illness communication skills to clinicians at Weill Cornell and beyond.
Dr. Brian Gibbs
Brian K. Gibbs, PhD, MPA
Co-investigator
Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer - UMass Memorial Health Care

Dr. Gibbs serves as vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for UMass Memorial Health Care (UMMHC). Dr. Gibbs leads initiatives to further an inclusive institutional climate where all learners, patients, faculty and staff feel welcome, respected and valued independent of their race, ethnicity, gender or gender expression, veteran status, ability, primary language, education or income level.  Dr. Gibbs has extensive experience conducting research, educational programs and training on a variety of DEI topics including mentoring, unconscious bias and health inequality. Beyond academic medicine, his career experiences consist of addressing social determinants of health through public health practice and as a licensed Occupational Therapist providing pediatric early intervention services in underserved communities.

Dr. Gibbs received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University, where he was a Pew Health Policy Fellow, and completed post-doctoral training at the Harvard School of Public Health. He received his Master's in Public Administration from California State University Dominguez Hills and his Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy from Eastern Michigan University.

Dr. Lance Laird
Lance Laird, ThD
Co-investigator
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences, Boston University School of Medicine
Dr. Laird is Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine. He joins the research team as lead qualitative researcher. Dr. Laird brings expertise in both diversity and inclusion and the formation of health professionals. He was a leader in the Greater Boston Muslim Health Initiative and is currently working on projects with the American Muslim Health Professionals; and with local im/migrant communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to community-based research initiatives, Dr. Laird has provided qualitative research design and analysis for clinical research projects on integrative medicine for chronic pain, hospital discharge and readmission, HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening, virtual diabetes control support groups, and refugee oral health. He has frequently taught a graduate seminar on “Society, Healthcare, and the Cultures of Competence,” exploring processes of professionalization and clinical culture among physicians, acupuncturists, and chaplains. With secondary appointments in the Graduate Medical Sciences (Boston University School of Medicine) and the Graduate Division of Religious Studies Boston University), Dr. Laird teaches courses on theory in medical anthropology, refugee and im/migrant health, religion and public health, and the formation of health professionals.
Dr. Vasilia Vasiliou
Vasilia Vasiliou, PhD
Research Associate
Visiting Assistant Professor, Clark University
Vasilia Vasiliou, PhD is Visiting Assistant Professor at the School of Management at Clark University. She joined C-Change as Research Associate in 2021, where she engages in qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research. At Clark University, Dr. Vasiliou teaches leadership, management, and organizational behavior. Her research interests include managing diversity, diversity in leadership and teams, and organizational culture. Dr. Vasiliou received her Ph.D. from Bentley University (USA), where she was a Center for Women and Business Fellow, her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Cyprus International Institute of Management (Cyprus), and her BSc (First Class Hons) in Mathematical Science from City, University of London (UK).