Academics & Research

About Us

Rachel Hess, MD, MS

Director

Rachel is a health services researcher with an interest in patient-centered outcomes, such as health-related quality of life and interventions to improve the delivery of health care. When Rachel is not in the office, you can find her spending time with her husband and daughter, probably at a soccer game.

Education: MD, University of New Mexico; MS, University of Pittsburgh; BA, Washington University

Lama Albarqai

Lama Albarqai

Software Developer/Research Assistant

Lama is currently working with HSIR as a Software Developer. She has always had a strong interest in Data Science and has recently found passion for the (HealthCare, IT) combination. She is now pursuing her master’s degree in Data Management and Analysis at the U. Lama has joined us with a good software development experience that she has gained while working in the industry. In her free time, Lama enjoys spending time with her husband and friends, reading books, and enhancing her cooking skills at her kitchen.

Education: MS in Computer Science (Enrolled), University of Utah, B.Eng, Jordan University of Science and Technology (Jordan)

Adam Bress, PharmD, MS

Assistant Professor

Adam Bress is a cardiovascular clinical pharmacist and population scientist with broad interests in cardiovascular disease epidemiology with a focus on the way we measure and treat high blood pressure. His research uses pharmacoepidemiology (drug effects in populations) and pharmacogenetics (genetic causes of variable drug effects) and aims to understand the complex issues surrounding race/ethnicity, genetic ancestry, and racial/ethnic differences in medication responses and outcomes. He is particularly interested in how genetic ancestry can be used to learn more about the multi-factorial causes of racial/ethnic differences in medication responses and health. He currently has a NIH career development award investigating genetic and environmental causes of racial/ethnic differences in blood pressure medication responses. Adam enjoys spending his free time in the mountains running, biking, and skiing.

Education: PharmD, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD; MS, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, IL

Susan D. Horn, PhD

Susan D. Horn, PhD

Adjunct Professor

Susan Horn is a statistician and health services researcher with major interest in severity of illness measurement and multi-site practice-based evidence comparative effectiveness studies. She developed the Comprehensive Severity Index (CSI®) with inpatient, ambulatory, long-term care, hospice, rehabilitation, and pediatric modules. Clinical areas of study include preventing and healing pressure ulcers in long-term care, traumatic brain injury, post-stroke rehabilitation, and chronic cancer and non-cancer pain. In her free time, she enjoys traveling.

Education: PhD, Stanford University; MS, Stanford University; BA, Cornell University

Ainsley Huffman, MS

Ainsley Huffman, MS

Study Coordinator

Ainsley helps coordinate the technical and administrative details involved in HSIR research studies. She is also the local site project manager for the Greater Plains Collaborative clinical data research network. She enjoys spending her free time anywhere outside with her dog, Poppy.

Education: MS, University of Wyoming, BS, University of Arkansas

Michelle Karasawa, MS

Michelle Karasawa, MS

Research Assistant/Analyst

Michelle is sociologist working with HSIR as a Research Assistant. She assists in both qualitative and quantitative research focusing on patient-centered outcomes. In her free time, Michelle enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, and traveling.

Education: MS, Brigham Young University, BS, Brigham Young University – Idaho

Jacob Kean, PhD

Associate Professor

Jacob Kean is a health services researcher with primary interests in the development and refinement of clinical and outcome measures and the implementation of evidence-based practices in real-world practice settings. He is the recipient of a VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Career Development Award focused on the development of measurement-based telehealth care for mild traumatic brain injury. His past and current projects include the evaluation of the clinical performance of PROMIS pain and depression measures and the refinement of measures of brain injury recovery and outcome. He enjoys spending his free time with his family and in outdoor recreation.

EducationPhD, Indiana University, MA, Indiana University, BS, Ball State University
Lauren Kirwan, MPA

Lauren Kirwan, MPA

Program Manager

Lauren is the administrative manager of HSIR as well as the manager of the PhD program in Population Health Sciences. She focuses on the educational initiatives and special projects. When she’s not at work, she enjoys cooking, binge watching television shows or traveling to new places.

Education: MPA, University of Utah, BA, University of Washington

Nasser Sharareh, PhD

Nasser Sharareh, PhD

Research Associate

Nasser is a health services researcher with a background in engineering. He applies simulation techniques, data analysis, and GIS methods to address the complexities of health issues and he aims to provide policymakers with decision-support tools that would inform them on different health options. He is a big fan of soccer and any other sports that include action, not like baseball.

Education: PhD and MS in Industrial and Systems Engineering, the State University of New York at Binghamton, NY, USA, and BS in Industrial Engineering, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran.

Megan Vanneman, PhD, MPH

Megan Vanneman, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor

Megan is a health services/policy researcher. She primarily studies the impact of policy change on access, quality, and cost in large healthcare systems, with a focus on vulnerable populations and mental health. Megan uses mixed methods in her work, leveraging both quantitative (econometrics, biostatistics, surveys) and qualitative (in-depth interviews, focus groups) techniques. In her free time, Megan enjoys being active outdoors, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends.

EducationPhD, UC Berkeley; MPH, Columbia University; BA, Stanford University

Tianyu Zheng, MS

Tianyu Zheng, MS

Biostatistician

Tianyu is a biostatistician with interest in causal inference, machine learning and growth curve modeling. She has experience and knowledge on large medical data management, validation, and analyses. She enjoys learning new things and recently got into gardening.

Education: MS, West Virginia University, BEcon, North Eastern University (China)