MHRT 2020-21 Grantees

Dailianys Barrios

Dailianys Barrios is a sophomore at the University of Miami. She was born in Cuba and migrated to the United States when she was thirteen years old, since then she has lived in Miami.  She is currently a double major in Biology and Spanish as well as a minor in Chemistry and Public Health. Her primary research experience has been the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer with the use of Cryotherapy and MRI/US Fusion-guided ultrasounds, in an effort to develop feasible and safe ways to cure cancer.  She has also been part of the HHMI Labs at the University of Miami and the PRISM Program. Other of her strong passion has been improving the health conditions of those who need it most through community service. In that effort, she was part of MedX last December, a mission trip to the rural areas of Dominican Republic where she was able to help in local hospitals and in the community.

This summer she will be part of the MHRT program in Colombia, to conduct research with Universidad de Los Andes. Her program will focus on measuring as well as enhancing the local capacity for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in Colombia.

In the future, she would like to attend Medical School and obtain a master's in public health to continue her goal to improving the healthcare system of this country and the world.

Dulce Gomez

Dulce Gomez is a third-year doctoral candidate in the School of Kinesiology at Auburn University. Ms. Gomez works under Dr. Michael D. Brown in the Hypertension and Vascular Health Lab, where their research interests revolve around racial disparities, human endothelial function/dysfunction, clinical hypertension, endothelial cell research, and the effects of exercise training on human hypertension. Ms. Gomez was awarded a Pre-Doctoral Research Training Program Fellowship (TL1TR003106) and a Professional Development Grant (Western Society for Physical Education of College Women) to conduct pilot research using an in vitro model for endothelial cells to understand, at the cellular level, the racial differences observed in endothelial function and its contribution to atherosclerosis, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease progression.

Ms. Gomez’s career goal is to be a molecular physiologist who can perform clinical and translational research in cardiovascular health, particularly determining mechanisms regulating endothelial function, and investigating racial and sex differences in cardiovascular regulation. Specifically, she is interested in using molecular biology as the foundation to understand dysfunction within blood vessels and the consequent diseases that can develop, and using integrative (e.g., inclusive of lifestyle and pharmaceuticals) interventions as a potential treatment strategy. Ms. Gomez has accepted a T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellow position with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School to pursue after she completes her PhD Program in spring of 2022.

Jennifer Francisco

Jennifer D. Francisco is a first-year Doctor in Dental Medicine student at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus after having completed her bachelor's degree in Chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. She founded an organization named "Proyecto Muelitas", which looks to promote oral Health education, prevention and hygiene practices based on scientific evidence, to children and adults of all communities, particularly to underserved communities.

Her research interests focused on microbiomes, infectious diseases, prevention and to better understand how health disparities play a huge role in the incidence, prevalence and the effect that these have over the Latinx community. During the 2021 MHRT Summer program she will be working alongside Dr. Eugenia Corrales's Team in Costa Rica in the topic of Antibody neutralization profiles in human and wildlife sera against arboviruses, especially those against Zika.

She decided to follow this career path to have the opportunity to impact her community in a broader way, not only through clinical practice but also in research. Jennifer Francisco is someone who always tries to promote an optimization of activities and a healthy learning environment between her peers. In her spare time, she loves to visit the beach, participating in community service activities and enjoying life through dance and singing.

De'Asia Harris

De'Asia Harris is a graduate student in her last year of her Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Public Health Practice and Policy program at the University of Maryland, College Park. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Economics from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in May of 2017. She is a graduate research assistant for the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity (CRGE) at the University of Maryland where the focus is the promotion of intersectional scholarship examining the lived experiences of historically underrepresented minorities (URM) and dimensions of inequality. She currently works as a Medical Assistant at an Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic in Washington D.C. as well as an intern for The Danya Institute's Central East Region Prevention Technology Transfer Center (PTTC). Upon completion of her MPH program, she plans to pursue her PhD in community prevention. Her career goal is to pursue public health research focusing on the intersection of economic stability and public health among underserved populations.  

Brandie Bentley

Brandie Bentley is a third-year Ph.D. student in the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research uses a systems-level lens to investigate racial disparities in the Early Intervention Program (EI), a federally funded service system that meets the specialized needs of children with developmental delays and disabilities, as well as their families. She seeks to build community capacity by engaging multi-level stakeholders, including family members, direct service providers, and policymakers, in the conversation regarding early disability service access. She plans to use her research as a tool for enhancing community systems development efforts that work to improve maternal and infant health outcomes for dually marginalized families.

Brandie received a BSW from Eastern Michigan University and an MSW from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She is a former Ronald E. McNair Scholar, IL LEND Trainee, and current Birth Equity Research Scholar with the National Birth Equity Collaborative. Additionally, she is a Full-Spectrum Doula in training. In her free time, Brandie enjoys baking, crafting, and hula hooping. 

Bria Necole Diggs

Bria-Necole has always had a love for healthcare and helping others. While attending the University of Miami she found her passion and calling in the field of Public Health. Bria-Necole is a spring 2021 graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with double minors in Classics and Health Management and Policy. Her experiences through research, volunteering, and academics have intensified her enthusiasm to continue researching and learning about infection disease as well as blood diseases and disorders. Her personal (familial) background with Sickle Cell Disease has given Bria-Necole her passion and drive to continue contributing to science in order to make a difference for people living with such ailments. This passion has propelled Bria-Necole to pursue her Master of Science in Public Health at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. Bria-Necole currently works as a COVID-19 Research Assistant and Study Coordinator for Dr. Denise Vidot’s Cannabis Lab at the University of Miami’s School of Nursing and Health Studies. Bria-Necole works alongside a team of students and researchers to study the health impacts of cannabis use on individuals globally. 

Bria-Necole is ecstatic to continue contributing to science through the field of public health, furthering her research skills to improve the lives of individuals living with chronic and infectious diseases and serving as an advocate for public health policy changes.

Stefan Williams

Stefan Williams has Bachelors of Science in Biopsychology from Oglethorpe University. He is currently enrolled at Mercer University's Masters of Public Health program. He grew up in Jamaica and decided to further his educational experience in the United States of America. As a result of living in both countries, he was able to observe the impact that different health systems have on communities with similar characteristics, resulting in his interest in global health. Stefan’s interest in global health further solidified by the opportunity to shadow the director of Global Health for Atrium Health in 2019. Part of his short-term and long-term goals in public health aim at eradicating health disparities and promoting health equity. 

Gerardo Lazaro

Gerardo Lazaro received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Education, and completed coursework for a Master's in Higher Education and a Ph.D, in Public Health with mention in Community Health. He was born, raised, and educated in Lima, Peru. He is proficient in Spanish and English and has been working in the biomedical field as an Embryologist/Andrologist. Gerardo is a nationally certified healthcare interpreter, and educator for more than 20 years in Peru and the U.S.

He worked in Human Assisted Reproduction (IVF) for almost eight years. Since 2005, he has worked as an Educator and Medical Interpreter and acquired a lot of knowledge from health systems in the U.S. but mainly about the needs of low-income and limited-English Proficient (LEP) patients. His work has opened his eyes to many aspects: social, cultural, and mainly Public Health.

Gerardo is also part of a non-profit organization that works to eliminate health care disparities by working on academic, clinical, and financial issues related to healthcare using a bilingual Community Health Worker and Professional Medical Interpreter approach.

He combines his knowledge on biomedicine, education and health literacy in Public Health, primarily focusing on Community Health, health disparities, language and culture, nutrition, and prevention of chronic diseases with minority and underserved populations.

Gerardo discovered the universe of evidence that supports plant-based nutrition and its benefits to prevent and reverse chronic diseases and has personally tested since October of 2018, with fast and compelling results, and decided to switch to plant-based nutrition permanently. Furthermore, he made his life mission to do research and spread plant-based nutrition knowledge.

He is excited about learning, practicing, and consolidating the knowledge through his professional career and put in practice in Public Health research, health communication, and health promotion initiatives.