Research Co-Design Team (Weight Management) Member Bios

Romona Allen (Koren), Patient Representative: Ms. Koren is a patient stakeholder representing a SAFTNet clinic partner from Colorado.  She has worked for a number of years with the University of Colorado on a diabetes peer support project, is a member of the pSCANNER Stakeholder Advisory Board, and welcomes the opportunity to help other patients in a way that leads to better health.


Mary Jean Christian, Clinician: Ms. Christian is a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator at UC Irvine Health Diabetes Center. She participated in Phase I of pSCANNER on the research prioritization panel for weight management; area of research interest includes population health management.


Edward Chao, Clinician/Researcher: Dr. Edward Chao is an associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and a clinician at the VA San Diego.  He participated on the research prioritization panel for weight management in Phase I of pSCANNER and is interested in collaboration that can result in new ideas and approaches.


Denny Lynn Engelke, Patient Representative: A sincere desire to contribute to research concerning weight management and obesity is the primary reason for Ms. Engelke’s interest in participating on the research co-design team.  Her professional background as a home economist included instruction in cooking and nutrition and working in a test kitchen. This experience, coupled with her personal experience with weight loss and management, will provide a unique point of view.


Linda Gigliotti, Clinician: Ms. Gigliotti is a registered dietitian and diabetes educator with over 25 years working in medical weight management programs.  Her background as a registered dietitian and diabetes educator has provided her with an understanding of the interrelationships of weight and health and the impact that weight has on every system on the body. She is interested in gaining the insight and identifying answers to not only treat, but also prevent this disease.


Runa Haq, Researcher: Dr. Haq is a health researcher with over 25 years of experience in preventive and curative medicine and healthy community based perspective.  She participated on the research prioritization panel for weight management in Phase I of pSCANNER. Her involvement in population-based health environments and her clinical skills, medicine and public health background support her interest in the nationally concerning topic of weight management.


Andrew Odegaard, Researcher:  Dr. Odegaard is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Irvine Department of Epidemiology. The overarching focus of his research relates to the etiology and epidemiology of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Within this context he focuses on diet and lifestyle related factors throughout the life course with the ultimate goal of contributing to and informing efforts related to the prevention and control of these diseases.   


Dena Rifkin, Clinician/Researcher: Dr. Rifkin is the pSCANNER site co-lead at VA San Diego. She is a nephrologist and epidemiogist at UC San Diego and VA San Diego Healthcare Systems, where she is the director of dialysis services.  Her major research interests are in patient outcomes in chronic kidney disease and hypertension.


George Sami, Patient Representative: Mr. Sami is an attorney who participated in Phase I of pSCANNER on the research prioritization panel for weight management.  He brings a patient’s perspective and experiences and believes that a diversity of perspectives will positively influence the final product.


(Jon) Eric Sadler, Patient Representative: Mr. Sadler has been actively involved in helping other patients understand their conditions and helping support patients as they deal with their medical problems. He participated on the research prioritization panel for weight management in Phase I of pSCANNER, is a member of the pSCANNER Stakeholder Advisory Board, and is interested in helping design research to understand weight management concerns and to be a patient voice for the project. 


Lisa Schilling, Clinician/Researcher: Dr. Schilling is a practicing, board-certified internist and is also board certified in clinical informatics. She is a health services researcher, who focuses on clinical and research informatics, with an interest in making clinical data valuable for secondary use.


pSCANNER Research Team


Bethany Kwan, Researcher: Dr. Kwan is a social health psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She also serves as the Assistant Director of the Scalable Architecture for Federated Translational Inquires Network (SAFTINet), a Practice-Based Research Network and is a member of the pSCANNER Stakeholder Engagement Workgroup. Dr. Kwan’s research primarily concerns the application of health behavior theory and health information technology (HIT) to the study of chronic disease self-management and health behavior change in primary care settings.


Zhaoping Li, pSCANNER Clinical Champion (Weight Management): Dr. Li is a Professor of Medicine and the Director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition in the Department of Medicine, at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System. She is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Physician Nutrition Specialist. Dr. Li’s primary areas of research are obesity treatment and prevention, the role of nutrition, phytochemicals, and botanical dietary supplements in the prevention and treatment of metabolic disease, common forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease. She has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers in journals such as JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and Journal of American Dietetic Association.


Kate Marie, UC Davis Project Manager: Ms. Marie is the Research Manager for the UC Davis Center for Health and Technology providing management and oversight for technology-enabled health programs.