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Current Scholars

Learn more about our current scholars below.

Carol Haywood, PhD

Research Assistant Professor of Medical Social Sciences

Faculty Profile

Carol Haywood, PhD, OTR/L, is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Social Sciences with an affiliation in the Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research. She completed her PhD in 2018 at the University of Southern California Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, and she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Integrated Fellowship in Health Services and Outcomes Research at Northwestern University until 2021. Dr. Haywood has expertise in qualitative research methods, and she is committed to advancing health equity and quality of life for people with disabilities through her work. Dr. Haywood’s current research aims to identify factors that affect ability and satisfaction with participation in health care for people with mobility impairments. The results will inform an item bank for development of a patient-reported measure of participation in health care for people with mobility impairments, which can be implemented in a variety of settings to examine access and quality of care.

Lajja Desai, MD

Attending Physician, Cardiology Instructor of Pediatrics (Cardiology)

Faculty Profile

Lajja Desai, MD, is an Instructor in the Department of Pediatrics (Division of Cardiology) and Invasive Pediatric Electrophysiologist at Lurie Children’s. She received her undergraduate degree in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and medical degree from the University of Iowa. She then completed her residency training in Pediatrics at Emory University/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and completed her fellowships in Pediatric Cardiology and Electrophysiology at Northwestern University/Lurie Children’s. Her broad research goal is to merge the engineering and pediatric cardiac fields to create novel solutions that improve the quality of patient care. Her current research project focuses on developing a non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tool to evaluate oximetry and 4D flow in single ventricle heart disease. Long-term, she aims to leverage her clinical role as an interventional cardiologist to be at the forefront of developing and implementing pioneering diagnostic MRI tools that guide interventional approaches.

Amanda Becker, MD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Critical Care)

Faculty Profile

Amanda Becker, MD is an Assistant Professor and physician-scientist at Northwestern University in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Critical Care Medicine. She received her medical degree from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and completed her pediatric residency training at the University of Wisconsin. She subsequently completed her fellowship in pediatric critical care medicine followed by a two-year research fellowship at Northwestern University. Broadly, Dr. Becker’s scientific pursuits focus on advancing understanding of age-related differences in innate immune responses to tissue injury and organ dysfunction during critical illness, with a specific interest in cardiac injury and recovery. She also seeks to identify novel therapeutic targets to improve tissue and organ recovery during critical illness. Her current research project investigates the neonatal mammalian myeloid response to hypoxia and the role of myeloid hypoxia inducible transcription factors in cardiac regeneration after cardiac injury. Her project also seeks to determine whether myeloid hypoxia-stimulated regenerative mechanisms exist in human neonates/infants and are lost with age. Dr. Becker’s research will help uncover age-related differences in immune mediated regenerative versus reparative responses to cardiac injury and may identify novel therapeutic targets to improve cardiac tissue recovery and myocardial function after injury.

Johnny Berona, PhD

Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a member of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing

Faculty Profile

Johnny Berona, PhD, is a research assistant professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a member of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH). They completed their BA in Comparative Human Development and Psychology at University of Chicago and MS and PhD in Clinical Psychology at University of Michigan. They conducted postdoctoral research in developmental psychopathology at University of Chicago and in sexual and gender minority health at Northwestern University. In 2021, they joined the faculty at the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. Their research focuses on substance abuse, suicide, and self-injury among sexual and gender minority youth. Active research in these areas examine biomarkers of minority stress, developmental trajectories, and novel approaches to mental health assessment and intervention.

Chiagozie Pickens MD, MSc

Assistant Professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care

Faculty Profile

Chiagozie Pickens MD, MSc is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She received her MD at Northwestern University FSM, where she also completed internship and residency in internal medicine and fellowship training in pulmonary and critical care medicine. Chiagozie’s research is focused on the diagnosis and management of pneumonia in critically ill patients. She leverages culture-independent platforms to understand how microbial communities modulate the development and resolution of lower respiratory tract infections. Her current research examines features of lung microbial communities that predict distinct clinical outcomes in viral pneumonia.

Milkie Vu, PhD

Assistant Professor in the Division of Behavioral Medicine

Faculty Profile

Milkie Vu, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Behavioral Medicine (Department of Preventive Medicine) at Northwestern University. She received her undergraduate degree in History and Cultural Anthropology from Duke University and her master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. Dr. Vu received her PhD degree in Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences from Emory University, where she was also awarded an NCI F31 fellowship. She then completed her postdoctoral training through the NCI-funded T32 fellowship in Cancer Prevention & Control at Northwestern University. Dr. Vu’s current research focuses on community-engaged approaches to increase HPV vaccine confidence and uptake among Asian Americans and immigrant populations. Her long-term goal is to develop and implement culturally-relevant evidence-based interventions that leverage digital health to reduce health disparities experienced by Asian Americans and underserved populations.

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