Advisory Board


Dr. Arden Handler

BIRCWH Chair of Evaluation
Professor, School of Public Health
Co-Director, Maternal and Child Health Program

Dr. Handler’s research has traditionally focused on factors associated with adverse pregnancy and perinatal outcomes, with a particular emphasis on access to, satisfaction with, and utilization of prenatal care. She has a solid background in the use of epidemiologic methods for the evaluation of public health programs and has been a leader in developing a conceptual framework for the study of the public health care delivery system. Currently, she is involved in evaluation research with a number of projects focused on improving the health of women and infants on the West and South Sides of Chicago. These projects include “Closing the Gap” (study of the quality of prenatal care in four Chicago communities), “Healthy Births for Healthy Communities” (an infant mortality reduction project with outreach and interconceptional care foci in two Chicago communities), and “Centering Pregnancy” (a group model of prenatal care). In addition, she recently received word that Chicago will be a site for one of the new 22 centers for the National Children’s Study, a longitudinal cohort study of the effects of environmental influences on 100,000 children nationwide; their mothers will be recruited prior to pregnancy and they will be followed from birth through early adulthood. UIC is partnering with Northwestern University (Lead PI) and the University of Chicago in this study; Dr. Handler is the UIC PI.


Dr. Tonda Hughes

Associate Dean for Global Health, College of Nursing
Professor, College of Nursing
Research Director, UIC National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health

Dr. Hughes has a distinguished career focusing on women’s mental health and substance use (total funding exceeding $20 million USD). She is well known for her ground breaking work in the 1980s related to chemically dependent nurses, and is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in the area of alcohol use among sexual minority (lesbian and bisexual) women.  Her pioneering studies on the predictors and consequences of alcohol use among sexual minority women have received continuous funding since 1999 from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and other sources and have grown into the world’s longest running longitudinal study of alcohol use and health among sexual minority women. She has served as Co-Investigator on numerous other funded studies with researchers from major U.S. and Australian institutions, including the University of Melbourne and Deakin University.


Dr. Molly Carnes

University of Wisconsin
Professor, Medicine, Psychiatry, and Industrial & Systems Engineering
Director, Center for Women’s Health Research
Co-Director, Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute
Director, Women’s Veterans Health Program at the William S. Middleton Veterans Hospital

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Carnes is a Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Industrial & Systems Engineering. She directs the Center for Women’s Health Research and the Women Veterans Health Program. Dr. Carnes co-founded and co-directs the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI). She has led several initiatives aimed at increasing the diversity of academic medicine, science, and engineering. Initially approaching this issue from an epidemiological perspective to try to identify what was “killing” women students on their way to becoming tenured faculty, Dr. Carnes has increasingly taken an organizational change approach. She is leading a multi-level NIH-funded study to assess the impact of a “Bias Literacy Workshop,” and teaches a course annually on Women and Leadership in Medicine, Science and Engineering. Dr. Carnes is a recipient of the prestigious 2010 NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award to Promote Scientific Workforce Diversity. She has published 120 articles and received numerous honors and awards. Dr. Carnes did her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan and received her M.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She trained in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned a Masters of Science Degree in Population Health.


Dr. Karen Colley

Professor, College of Medicine
Associate Dean for Graduate Research and Education, College of Medicine

Dr. Karen Colley is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate Research and Education in the College of Medicine. Her research involves elucidating the signals and mechanisms of protein subcellular localization and modification. She has published extensively on protein Golgi localization and is currently working to understand the process of protein polysialylation. Polysialic acid is an anti-adhesive sugar polymer that is required for brain development, learning and memory, and promotes the growth and invasiveness of cancer cells. Dr. Colley is currently funded by the NIH to evaluate the sequence requirements for substrate recognition by the polysialyltransferases with the ultimate goal of developing approaches to block polysialylation of proteins expressed by cancer cells.


Dr. Luisa A. DiPietro

Professor, College of Dentistry
Director and Founder, Center for Wound Repair & Regeneration

Dr. DiPietro’s research goal is to understand the tissue repair process, with a particular emphasis on how inflammation and blood vessel growth influence healing outcomes. A large portion of her research program is directed at understanding the mechanisms that regulate and modify scar formation in wounds and other fibrotic conditions. She is currently the PI of one of just four NIH sponsored national Centers for Innovative Wound Healing Research.



Dr. Tamar Heller

Professor and Head, Disability and Human Development
Director, Institute on Disability and Human Development
Director, Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities

Tamar Heller, Ph.D., Professor, is Head of the Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago and director of its University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities for the State of Illinois. She also directs the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities: Lifespan Health and Function and projects on family support and health promotion interventions for individuals with disabilities. Dr. Heller has written nearly 200 publications including five co-authored books on family support interventions and policies, self-determination, health promotion, and aging of people with developmental disabilities. She is the past President of the board of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. As a co-founder of the national Sibling Leadership Network, she is a member of its executive committee. Her awards include the 2009 Autism Ally for Public Policy Award of The Arc/The Autism Program of Illinois; the 2008 Lifetime Research Achievement Award, International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities, Special Interest Group on Aging and Intellectual Disabilities; and the 2009 Community Partner Award of Community Support Services. In 2005 she was a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging.


Dr. Linda Kaste

Associate Professor, College of Dentistry
Affiliate Associate Professor, School of Public Health

Linda M. Kaste, DDS, MS, PhD attended dental school at the University of Maryland, and holds graduate degrees in Epidemiology from Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She completed a dental public health residency at Harvard University and is an American Board of Dental Public Health Diplomat. Dr. Kaste was previously a Senior Staff Fellow at the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research where her research activities included participation in the publication of the dental data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and has held academic appointments at Harvard University and the University of South Carolina. She has produced over 25 peer reviewed publications and 80 meeting abstracts and presentations on topics including early childhood caries, dental workforce issues and health disparities. Her current research activities include state-level dental workforce assessment; the roles of the dental workforce in access to care, delay in detection for oral cancer, and oral health for populations with limited access to dental care; and women’s health related to dentistry particularly concerning the composition and education of the dental workforce. Dr. Kaste has provided dental clinical care in community health centers in Boston and in volunteer projects in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. She is on the IFLOSS (Coalition of Communities Working Together to Improve Oral Health in Illinois) Board of Directors and the NIH Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health.


Dr. Alicia Matthews

Associate Professor, Health Sciences System

Alicia Matthews, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and a Principal Investigator at the Howard Brown Health Center. Dr. Matthews is a licensed clinical psychologist with nationally recognized expertise in the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches to understanding socio-cultural determinants of health disparities in underserved populations. She has conducted NIH funded research to examine a range of factors associated with health disparities among racial/ethnic minorities and members of the LGBT communities. Current funded research includes a grant from the National Institutes of Drug Abuse to evaluate a culturally targeted smoking cessation treatment program for LGBT smokers. Dr. Matthews earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in Clinical Psychology at Binghamton University and a Bachelors of Science in Psychology at Muskingum College in Ohio.


Dr. Alan Schwartz

Associate Professor and Director of Research, College of Medicine

Alan Schwartz, PhD is an Associate Professor and Director of Research in the Department of Medical Education. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Pediatrics. His education includes a BA in Cognitive Science and Women’s Studies, an MS in organizational behavior, and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology. Dr. Schwartz’s research focuses on medical decision making by patients and physicians; he teaches decision making, leadership, and quantitative data analysis to health professions faculty. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Medical Decision Making,and has served on the executive boards of the Society for Medical Decision Making and the Society for Judgment and Decision Making.


Dr. Gregory Thatcher

Professor, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy


Dr. JoEllen Wilbur

Professor & Independence Foundation Chair in Nursing, Rush University

Dr. Wilbur’s work has focused on midlife women’s symptoms, cardiovascular health, and physical activity. Her research examines physical measures originally developed for men and extended to women’s activity and exercise as a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy in managing menopausal symptoms. She has a program of research that has been funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active Living Research to examine determinants of physical activity and test interventions to increase adherence to physical activity in African American women.


Dr. Jack Zwanziger

BIRCWH Chair of Curriculum
Professor and Director, Division of Healthy Policy and Administration, School of Public Health
Director, Center for Health Services Research, Institute for Health Research and Policy

Dr. Zwanziger’s educational background includes training in Physics and Policy Analysis. He has extensive experience in conducting health services and outcomes research. He has been co-PI on several Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) and foundation-funded policy and evaluation studies on the effects of the SCHIP program. He has also headed the Quality of Life/Cost Effectiveness component of a major clinical trial (MADIT II) and was co-PI on a study of the effectiveness of different treatment options for Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS). He is currently PI on a Pfizer-funded study to develop a strategy for combining preventive and pharmaceutical interventions to reduce elevated cholesterol in low SES minority populations. He was the PI of the T32 Training Grant for Health Services Research and Policy funded by the AHRQ at the University of Rochester. During this period, he served at various times as the Director of both the doctoral and post-doctoral training programs. Dr. Zwanziger has mentored several students who have been successful in obtaining federal research funding for both dissertation and post-doctoral research, including two trainees, one pre- and one post-doctoral, who were funded as investigators on a large National Cancer Institute-funded study of DCIS. Dr. Zwanziper was the PI for the K30 Clinical Research Training Program, which was funded in 2005 and co-PI on the CTSA Planning Grant.