Numerous faculty within the department have a primary interest in research blended with their clinical and teaching responsibilities. Noted below are the research faculty with administrative responsibilities for the research mission of the department (Linda Weinreb, MD, Carole Upshur, EdD and Judy Savageau, MPH), followed (alphabetically) by research faculty with on-going projects.
Linda Weinreb, MD, Vice Chair for Research and Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a nationally recognized expert on the health needs of homeless families as well as the integration of behavioral health services in primary care, especially for women and disadvantaged populations. Dr. Weinreb has extensive expertise in the development, implementation, and evaluation of service interventions that integrate behavioral health services with primary health care for homeless and low income adults, women, and families. Her epidemiologic and intervention studies with homeless populations have helped to define the health needs of homeless mothers and children, impacted state and federal policy, and substantially informed clinical practice, program design, and program replication across the country. She has conducted funded research from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Oak Foundation. Dr. Weinreb recently completed a Maternal and Child Health Bureau/HRSA-funded study to adapt and test an evidence-based intervention for pregnant women with post-traumatic stress disorder. She is currently working on studies focused on strengthening the alignment between homeless services and community health services.
Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is the Associate Director of Research for the department. In addition to completing her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, she also completed a three-year Clinical Research Fellowship in Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research and Faculty Development at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Gardner was awarded an NIH K award focusing on Integrative Medicine, technology, and health disparities. Her research concentration is patient-oriented research regarding chronic pain and evidence-based integrative medicine access in low income patients. Current research is focused on the adaptive role of an Integrative Medicine Group Visit (IMGV) combining mindfulness-based stress reduction and a medical group visit to support health behavior change and reducing pain and stress. With PCORI funding, she is also the PI on a RCT of IMGV compared to a primary care visit for participants with chronic pain. Dr. Gardner is leading the implementation of this medical group visit model nationally and provides training on medical group visits around the United States. She has published over 90 peer-reviewed papers on chronic pain, technology, dietary supplements, pregnancy, preconception care, stress, and integrative medicine in underserved patients.
Carole Upshur, EdD, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and Associate Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, has over 30 years of experience in the areas of education, mental health, disability, and health care. She has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Agency for Health Care Quality and Research, the Health Services Research Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the US Department of Education. Her current work is focused on managing chronic illness such as depression, diabetes, substance abuse, chronic pain in primary care, and developmental outcomes for young at-risk children. She provides leadership for the Education Core of the Center for Health Equity Intervention Research (CHEIR) funded by the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities and in that role leads an undergraduate Health Equity Scholars Program (HESP) for UMass Boston undergraduates interested in health careers. She also has expertise in developing training and quality improvement materials for both providers and patients, as well as implementing QI in primary care. She has conducted studies on prevention of behavior problems in young children enrolled in preschool programs and currently has a large classroom RCT investigating an executive functioning and social/emotional development intervention in 64 preschool classrooms in Worcester County. She serves as an academic partner to the Health Care for the Homeless PBRN which has 35 sites nationally and recently conducted a nationally representative epidemiological study of women’s alcohol and drug use and co–occurring mental health and health problems among women using Health Care for the Homeless primary care clinics.
Judy Savageau, MPH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is an epidemiologist and biostatistician with over 25 years of experience in a variety of investigations of community-based, public health issues. She divides her time between the Department and the medical school’s Center for Health Policy and Research. Her particular interests include maternal and child heath as well as the identification of factors related to the utilization of health care and compliance with preventive health measures. The relationship between these outcomes and the development of programs to improve the quality of medical care are a focus for her research endeavors – especially as they relate to medical education and faculty development efforts. In addition to her research activities, she spends considerable time teaching at the medical school in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, Scientific Writing, Preventive Medicine/Public Health, facilitating journal clubs, and as the Director of the Senior Scholars Program for 4th year medical students.
Lucy Candib, MD, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, graduated from the first class of the Worcester Family Practice Residency in 1976 and has been a faculty member practicing, teaching, and conducting research at the Family Health Center of Worcester for over 40 years. Within the context of long-term doctor-patient relationships, she has put feminist principles to work in a multicultural setting. Dr. Candib has also focused attention on the concerns of women trainees and practitioners, and has lectured widely on the topics of sexual abuse and violence against women. The author of numerous articles, Dr. Candib introduced a feminist critique of medical theory in her book, Medicine and the Family: A Feminist Perspective. In 1995 she won a Fulbright grant to teach family medicine in Ecuador, and she continued her involvement with Ecuador as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in 2004. In 2001, she was the first department faculty member to adopt group visit methodology for working with people with diabetes. She conducted diabetes group visits in English and Spanish for 15 years until retiring from clinical care in June, 2016, while continuing to teach and precept in the department. In 2010, Dr. Candib, together with co-author and co-editor Sara G. Shields MD, published their well-received book, Woman-Centered Care of Pregnancy and Birth. She is an active member of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and is on the steering committee of the WONCA Working Party on Women and Family Medicine.
Suzanne Cashman, ScD, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and Director of Community Health, is trained as a health services researcher and evaluator. Her evaluation research experience has included assessing the WKKellogg Foundation supported community-oriented primary care national urban demonstration project, as well as a state-supported initiative to develop and evaluate interprofessional health care delivery teams in community health centers. Overall, Dr. Cashman’s work has focused on developing and monitoring implementation initiatives that use a community-engaged approach and that strive to use principles of community-based participatory research. She has provided evaluation assistance to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supported Center for Excellence in Eliminating Disparities initiative and a Health Resources and Services Administration funded oral health case manager project. From 2009-2012, she served as Principal Investigator for the school’s Corporation for National and Community Service Learn and Serve grant. Currently, Dr. Cashman serves as evaluator for the Massachusetts statewide Area Health Education Center Network, and as Co-Director for the Community Engagement Section of the school’s recently funded Center for Clinical and Translational Science as well as for its Center for Health Equity Intervention Research. In addition, she is a core investigator for the school’s Prevention Research Center. A common thread in her evaluation research work is Dr. Cashman’s commitment to ensuring that programs aimed at providing health care services to low-income and vulnerable populations reach their goals.
Michael Chin, MD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a Health Policy Associate with the Center for Health Policy and Research. His work has included research, analysis, and policy expertise in the areas of health insurance coverage, health insurance exchanges, health information exchanges, and the Massachusetts Medicaid program. Dr. Chin is an educator of medical students at UMass Medical School, and serves as the school's Director of the International Medical Education Program and the Director of the Global Health Pathway. As a board certified physician in family medicine, his clinical work has included over 10 years as a primary care and urgent care physician in community health centers. His most recent work has been as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Massachusetts Medicaid program, where which he has focused on providing policy support to the state's health information exchange.
Robin Clark, PhD, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a core faculty member in the Clinical and Population Health Research doctoral training program. Robin specializes in the economic evaluation of health care interventions and policies and has authored more than 80 peer-reviewed articles in that area, primarily related to mental health and substance abuse. His work has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation and by health and human services agencies in all of the New England states. Robin’s current work focuses on efforts to manage costs and improve the quality and effectiveness of care for individuals with chronic illness, with a particular focus on primary care for Medicaid beneficiaries and other underserved populations. His recent publications include analyses of how state laws impact evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction, criminal justice involvement by Medicaid beneficiaries with substance use disorders, and care management for high cost Medicaid “super utilizers”.
Joseph DiFranza, MD, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is an internationally recognized expert on teens and tobacco. Since 1980, Dr. DiFranza has been conducting research on the topic of tobacco. Winning numerous scientific and citizen activist awards for his work, Dr. DiFranza’s research covers a range of tobacco-related topics including tobacco addiction, the effects of tobacco advertising, tobacco industry public relations programs, and the effects of environmental tobacco smoke. Dr. DiFranza is widely recognized for his contribution to the efforts to prevent the illegal sale of tobacco to children. He has a significant history of funding from the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. With over 110 published papers in peer-reviewed journals, plus countless other writings and presentations, Dr. DiFranza has been recognized as one of the most influential people in the fight against tobacco during the last 25 years. His publications have been cited by other investigators in over 9000 manuscripts.
Jack Gettens, PhD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health is a Research Scientist at the Center for Health Policy and Research. He conducts research on the employment and healthcare of persons with disabilities in addition to research on public health topics. He has expertise in both quasi-experimental and qualitative research methods. Dr. Gettens’ recent work includes a study examining the geographic variation in Social Security disability program participation across the United States and a mixed-method study of the employment-related health insurance needs of working-age persons with disabilities. Dr. Gettens’ public health research focuses on smoking behavior, quit attempts, and the use of tobacco cessation treatments among Massachusetts Medicaid members.
Heather-Lyn Haley, PhD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is the project manager for community health initiatives within the department. Her professional and scholarly interests include population and community health, the use of medical-legal partnerships to address social determinants of health, and teaching about racism, power, and privilege in clinical and medical education settings. She has recently completed research conducted in partnership with Community Legal Aid of Central MA and the Central West Justice Center, using CBPR and mixed methods to better understand the legal needs of refugees. She is principal investigator on a grant from the March of Dimes working with the Worcester Healthy Baby Collaborative to develop deeper relationships for working together with local Latina populations to reduce infant mortality. She is also Co-PI with FMCH Assistant Professor Jennifer Bradford and third year family medicine resident Ivonne McLean on a UMass Public Service grant exploring patient racism as a barrier to care.
Lee Hargraves, PhD, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, focuses his research on using patient and consumer assessments of health care to improve quality of medical care. He has extensive experience developing and using survey methods to assess health care quality from patients’ perspectives. Dr Hargraves’ research has contributed to national efforts to document racial and ethnic disparities in health care. His current interests focus on treatment of disparities in health care as an opportunity for improving health care quality. With colleagues in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Dr. Hargraves has developed and tested curricula to teach community health workers to support patients living with chronic conditions. In the UMass Center for Health Equity Intervention Research, he currently is an investigator working on a study funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to train and deploy community health workers to use motivational interviewing to support patients with hypertension in their efforts to control blood pressure.
Jay Himmelstein, MD, MPH, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and Quantitative Health Sciences, is the Chief Health Policy Strategist for the Commonwealth Medicine Center for Health Policy and Research. His professional career in research, policy development, and service is dedicated to improving health care and health outcomes for those served by the public sector with a special emphasis on people with disabilities, leading him to be a nationally recognized physician, educator, and researcher. His most recent work has focused on providing support for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at the State and National level and promoting University Partnerships with state Medicaid agencies.
Roger Luckmann, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a primary care internist with advanced training and experience in health services research and in medical informatics. He has been involved in research on promoting cancer screening for more than 15 years. With support from NIH, CDC and the Komen Foundation, he and his colleagues have focused on the development and evaluation of innovative, computer-assisted telephone counseling programs for promoting breast and colon cancer screening and for supporting informed decision-making on prostate cancer screening. Dr. Luckmann also has an active interest in chronic pain management in primary care and has developed a handheld electronic pain diary that he proposes to evaluate in future research efforts. As one of UMMMC's Physician Quality Officers, Dr. Luckmann is working on developing and studying primary care patient outreach programs aimed at improving adherence to cancer screening and management of chronic disease and on improving outcomes for patients with sepsis spectrum disorders in the hospital. Supported by a contract from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute he has been collaborating with a group of professional mediators on designing and implementing a process for developing clinical practice guidelines on prostate and lung cancer screening in Massachusetts. Most recently, he has turned his attention to the application of mindfulness and related meditation practices aimed at helping patients cope with chronic pain using alternative therapies.
Glenn Pransky, MD, MOccH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and Director of the Center for Disability Research at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in Hopkinton, MA, has research interests and expertise focused on understanding the effects of health status and medical treatment on ability to work, identifying effective interventions to support employment in persons with various conditions, and workplace interventions to improve health and work ability, with a focus on the aging workforce. Several of his investigations have evaluated the effectiveness of various treatment approaches for work-related conditions in community settings, through administrative data and clinical trials. He also directs investigations of causes and prevention of work-related conditions in special populations of workers, and is currently working on studies of effectiveness of early intervention to prevent work disability, and geographic variation in health care for work-related conditions. Dr. Pransky is the past Chair of the Scientific Section on Work Disability Prevention and Reintegration of the International Commission on Occupational Health, a venue for international exchange of research knowledge in this area, and is a senior editor for the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation.
William Shaw, PhD, Instructor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a psychologist with research interests in workplace injuries, musculoskeletal rehabilitation, and disability. Dr. Shaw’s primary appointment is with the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, Hopkinton, MA, where he is a Principal Scientist in the Center for Disability Research. At the Institute, his research examines risk factors for work disability after injury as well as worksite and clinical interventions for musculoskeletal disorders. Current studies are focused on the experiences of patients with occupational low back pain, workplace factors that can complicate recovery and return-to-work, patient-physician communication of workplace and lifestyle pain concerns, early patient screening and intervention for acute low back pain, and supervisor training programs to improve employer response to workplace injuries. Dr. Shaw’s research includes collaboration with a number of employers and occupational health clinics throughout New England to develop improved methods for injury treatment and rehabilitation.
Sonal Singh MD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health also has a joint appointment at the Meyers Primary Care Institute. He conducts clinical research with a focus on drug safety, evidence synthesis and shared decision making. Dr. Singh has taught at Wake Forest University and Johns Hopkins University and served as a consultant to the World Bank, the World Health Organization International Agency for Research Cancer, the Food and Drug Administration, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, pharmaceutical sponsors, and research firms. His work has been featured in Science, Journal of the American Medical Association, British Medical Journal, and the Lancet in addition to media outlets such as the NYTIMES, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Dr. Singh is also a practicing general internist.
Melodie Wenz-Gross, PhD, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychiatry, has over 25 years of experience in applied research, program development, and evaluation focused on child development and adjustment. She has been involved in implementing and evaluating programs to improve school readiness for low-income, at risk preschool children. Currently she is Co-PI on a 4-year Department of Education Sciences study, implementing and testing a preschool curriculum designed to improve social skills, executive functioning, and school readiness for low-income preschool children. Previously, she has directed a Maternal and Child Health funded study testing the effectiveness of a primary care intervention designed to improve outcomes for low-income pregnant women with PTSD, as well as directing the evaluation of two SAMHSA-funded system of care grants for children with serious mental health challenges, and two child trauma projects, one dealing exclusively with children in foster care. In addition, she has also conducted research on stress, social support, and adjustment during the transition to middle school for children at risk, and co-authored a curriculum to ease this transition for all children.