Who We Are

Ira Ockene, MD, is a Professor of Cardiology and Director of Preventive Cardiology Nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Ockene holds an endowed position as the Milliken Professor of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He has conducted extensive research on compliance and behavior change, and has published numerous articles and books on the topic. http://profiles.umassmed.edu/profiles/ProfileDetails.aspx?From=SE&Person=371


Barbara Olendzki, RD, MPH, LDN. Barbara is an Assistant Professor of Medicine, and the Nutrition Program Director of the Center for Applied Nutrition. She works with all Preventive and Behavioral research studies that involve dietary interventions, assists with coordination and teaching nutrition to medical students, and sees outpatients for nutrition counseling, specializing in cardiac concerns, cancer, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory diseases. She has over 15 years of experience in the nutrition field. Ask the nutritionist? Barbara.olendzki@umassmed.edu  http://profiles.umassmed.edu/profiles/ProfileDetails.aspx?From=SE&Person=629


Jennifer Fournier, RD, LDN. Jen specializes in cardiac rehab, outpatient nutritional counseling, stress reduction techniques, and cooking classes. She has been working at UMass for more than 14 years.


Victoria Andersen, MS, RD, LDN. Victoria works in cardiovascular outpatient counseling, guides the shopping tours for cardiac rehab and works with Phase IV patients, and specializes in nutritional treatment of disease. She also provides nutrition counseling services to the Worcester Family Health Center.

Judy Palken, MNS, RD, LDNJudy is very interested in healthful dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet, high fiber eating, and the many health benefits of plant phytochemicals.  She likes to teach about diet as preventive healthcare, and creative ways to make dietary changes for cardiovascular health, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, and overweight.  She also greatly enjoys recipe development, writing about nutrition, and creating nutrition education materials.  She collects diet and activity data for clinical studies, and writes our nutrition blogs.   



Karla Menger, RD, LDN. Karla specializes in nutrition and physical activity data collection utilizing NDSR and other various databases. She has been working in this capacity nearly ten years and has been with the Behavioral Medicine Department since 2004. Karla is also bilingual in Spanish, a skill she developed working for the Massachusetts WIC Program.


Annie Culver, B.Pharm. Annie is our medication consultant. As a pharmacist, Annie is interested in natural medications as part of integrative medicine therapy.

Gioia Persuitte, MPA.  Gioia is a researcher trained in epidemiological study design, lifestyle and behavioral interventions for chronic diseases (metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity), clinical nutrition, (Inflammatory Bowel Disease, microbiome) scientific writing, grant writing, literature/systematic reviews. She is currently the interventionist for a pilot dietary study examining the combination of fiber and protein for weight loss among non-diabetic adults. 

  Kathryn K. P. Brodowski, M.D.
My passion for nutrition and the prevention of chronic disease led me to become a Resident physician in the field of Preventive Medicine. My focus is on the prevention and improved management of chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and inflammatory conditions like IBD. Specifically, I look at the role nutrition may play within theses diseases. Currently, I am working on a research project involving IBD patients and a specific dietary intervention called IBD-AID (part of the parent e-nose study). I also enjoy being a part of the patient education team here and you may often find me teaching cooking classes in our on-site test kitchen.

Anne Barnard is a 5th year medical student at UMass, pursuing a career in Family Medicine and Nutrition. She is passionate about the essential role nutrition plays in preventive health, mental health, and healing, and has extended her medical school training to a fifth year to be a part of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease research in the Department of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine. 

Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD. Yunsheng is an Associate Professor of Medicine, and our nutritional epidemiologist. He has many years of experience in studies on the effect of diet and other lifestyle factors for obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and heart disease; His most influential article is “Single-component versus multicomponent dietary goals for the metabolic syndrome: a randomized trial” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2015. The article received considerable media attention, including media stories from Reuters, Time Magazine, the LA Times, the Huffington Post, and television news stations WCVB Channel 5 Boston and WBZ Channel 4 Boston; Since diet is central in the lifestyle intervention, he becomes interest in dietary assessment methodology which is reflected from his publications starting in 1997 during his graduate school to the recent publication in 2014. He has contributed to over 120 original publications in the biomedical literatures and two medical textbook chapters. http://profiles.umassmed.edu/profiles/ProfileDetails.aspx?From=SE&Person=232


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