Faculty and Staff

Qing ZengQing Zeng, PhD

Director, Biomedical Informatics Center
Professor, Department of Clinical Research and Leadership, GW SMHS

With 20 years of experience in informatics, Dr. Zeng has special expertise in text mining, consumer health informatics, and semantic integration of data sources. She has published over 80 peer-reviewed articles, as well as served as the PI and Co-PI on a number of VA HSR&D, NIH and DOD funded research projects. Dr. Zeng’s research vision is to leverage information for healthcare research and delivery. Her main research areas are NLP and consumer health informatics. Several of her papers have been selected by the International Medical Informatics Association’s Yearbook and one paper won the Distinguished Paper Award in the 2011 American Medical Informatics Association’s Joint Summit. In 2014, her “HeartsLikeMine” project won first-place award in the “Ideas That Work” contest in the iHealth conference sponsored by the American Medical Informatics Association and Academy Health. Prior to coming to GW, Dr. Zeng was a Professor at the University of Utah and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, where she developed an NLP tool (HITEx) for two large consortium projects (i2b2 and SPIN). HITEx was the first open-source, comprehensive clinical NLP system in the nation. In addition to her work at GW, Dr. Zeng is currently the Associate Director of the Center for Health and Aging at the Washington DC VA Medical Center. At the VA, she has organized a VA-wide collaboration to develop interoperability standards for the broader clinical NLP community. The Open Access Collaborative (OAC) Consumer Health Vocabulary (CHV) produced by her team is the first and only consumer health vocabulary that has been incorporated into the Unified Medical Language System. She has also developed a number of novel informatics methods (e.g. automated illustration of instruction and social media analysis) to improve patient-centered care.

Email: zengq@gwu.edu

Ali AhmedAli Ahmed, MD, MPH

Clinical Director, Biomedical Informatics Center
Professor of Medicine, GW SMHS

In addition to his GW appointment, Dr. Ahmed serves as the Director of the Center for Health and Aging at the Washington DC VA Medical Center. Dr. Ahmed is a fellowship-trained geriatrician with a clinical and research interest in heart failure in older adults as well as health and outcomes of older adults with multiple chronic conditions. His research focuses on quality and outcomes of care in these patient populations using epidemiological methodologies, including propensity score matching. Prior to his move to Washington, Dr. Ahmed was a Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and the founding Director of the Geriatric Health Failure Clinic at the VA Medical Center in Birmingham.

Marc BlackmanMarc Blackman, MD

Professor of Medicine, GW SMHS
Research Affiliate

Dr. Blackman has appointments at George Washington University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, and University of Maryland Medical Centers. He also serves as the Associate Chief of Staff for Research & Development in Washington DC VA Medical Center, where he facilitates various clinical, translational and laboratory based research and research training programs within the Medical Center, and with the VA’s academic partners. His research interests are in neuroendocrinology, reproductive endocrinology, and gerontology/geriatrics.

Yan ChengYan Cheng, PhD

Assistant Research Professor

Yan earned her M.S. in Pharmacoeconomics, Epidemiology, Pharmaceutical Policy and Outcomes Research from the University of New Mexico in 2011 and PhD in Pharmacotherapy Outcomes Research from the University of Utah in 2017. She received the Technology-Oriented Comparative Effective Research Scholar Award from the University of Utah in 2013. In the same year she was appointed as the WOC research staff at the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System. Since then she has been involved in the projects of addressing health and health care disparities in osteoporosis and HIV/AIDS among the VA populations. Her two first-author posters based on these projects won the Finalist Poster Award in the 20th Annual International Meeting of ISPOR in 2015. Currently, she works on the NIH- and Pharma-funded projects related to frailty and mental illness. Her primary areas of expertise are pharmacoepidemiology, comparative effectiveness research, and SQL and SAS programming. Her specific research interest is to address health disparities in aging population.

Email: yan_cheng@gwu.edu

George Head placeholder imageGuy Divita, MS

Research Affiliate

In additional to his work with the GW Biomedical Informatics Center, Mr. Divita is associated with the University of Utah’s Medical School and the Salt Lake City VA Health Sciences R&D division as an NLP evangelist by day, and research associate by title. Known to a few as the wise guy, he is known for naming his tools after favorite characters, including “Sophia: an expedient information extraction tool”, “Nora, a vocabulary building tool”, his current professional interests include document sectionizing, template identification, synthetic document creation, vocabulary curation, and building NLP tools for clinician’s use. Prior to his association with the VA and the University of Utah, Mr. Divita has had the honor and privilege to work at the National Library of Medicine’s Lister Hill Center for Biomedical Communications for 16 years. He aided the creation of well-known tools and resources as the UMLS, the SPECIALIST Lexicon, MetaMap, MMTx, LVG, and long forgotten tools like gspell. Mr. Divita holds a batcher’s degree in Statistics from The George Washington University, and a master’s degree in Computer Science from George Mason University.

George Head placeholder imageJoseph Goulet, PhD

Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine, GW SMHS

Dr. Goulet is an Adjunct Professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, and is currently the Director of Biostatistics for: 1) Veterans Aging Cohort Study, an NIAAA funded multi-site prospective cohort study examining the role of alcohol use and abuse in determining outcomes among veterans aging with HIV infection and comparing this role to age-race-site matched HIV negative veterans, and 2) the VHA funded Pain Research, Informatics, Medical comorbidities and Education study (PRIME), a project to promote access, continuity, and sustainability of safe and effective interventions for pain and pain-related disability for veterans. Dr. Goulet conducts research focusing on the process of care and outcomes related to HIV infection, including the effects of aging, medical treatment and adherence, provider characteristics, and psychiatric comorbid illness.

Peter KokkinosPeter Kokkinos, PhD

Adjunct Professor, Department of Clinical Research and Leadership, GW SMHS

Dr. Kokkinos is currently the Director, CRC-Human Performance Research and Lifestyle Interventions for Veterans (LIVE) at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC and has previously held faculty positions at Georgetown University School of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and the University of Maryland School of Public Health. His research interests include assessing cardiovascular risk and overall mortality, with some of his previous studies focusing on the impact of exercise on various conditions such as chronic kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and obesity. The findings of his work have been published in prestigious journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Circulation, Diabetes Care, and Hypertension.

Phillip Ma, MDPhillip Ma, MD

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Phillip earned his B.A. in Biology and Economics from Rutgers University before earning an M.D. in 2019 from the American University of Integrative Sciences. While earning his medical degree, he served as an assistant in the Pharmacology department. Phillip leverages his clinical training and burgeoning interest in Python, Machine Learning, and SQL as a resource to the Biomedical Informatics Center. His primary interests include utilizing social media data in informatics research and addressing mental illness/wellness in underserved communities.

Stuart NelsonStuart Nelson, MD, FACP, FACMI

Adjunct Professor, Department of Clinical Research and Leadership, GW SMHS
Adjunct professor, George Mason University
Visiting Professor , University of New Mexico

He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics. After considerable experience in academic medicine, with a research area of medical informatics, he left medicine for full time medical informatics. He worked as a consultant to the National Library of Medicine on the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) project from 1988 until 1996. From 1996 to 2012 he served as the Head of Medical Subject Headings at the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. In addition to his work on MeSH, he conceived and developed RxNorm, a structured vocabulary of medication names, and, with the cooperation of the FDA, DailyMed, the official site for publishing the product labels of medications in the United States. While at NIH, he received the NLM Board of Regents award for Scholarship and Technical Achievement and an NIH Award of Merit. He has numerous publications and presentations.

Yijun ShaoYijun Shao, PhD

Associate Director of Data Science, Biomedical Informatics Center
Assistant Research Professor, Department of Clinical Research and Leadership, GW SMHS

Dr. Shao earned PhD in mathematics from the University of Arizona in 2010 and a graduate certificate in Biomedical Informatics from the University of Utah in 2015. He received Daniel Bartlett Fellowship in 2009 and Outstanding Research Fellowship in 2010 from the Department of Mathematics, University of Arizona. In 2016, a paper he presented at the AMIA Annual Symposium won the Distinguished Paper Award. His main interest is to apply mathematical knowledge and skills to solving medical informatics problems. He has developed several new methods for informatics tasks including ICD-based topic modeling and stable topic extraction, which were applied to a number of projects funded by VA, NIH and PCORI.

Email: yshao@gwu.edu

George Head placeholder imageHelen Sheriff, MD

Adjunct Professor
Department of Clinical Research and Leadership, GW SMHS

Research Affiliate




Senait Tekle, MS, MASenait Tekle, MS, MA

Research Program Associate

Senait has an MA in international business management from the University of Westminster in London and a MS in prevention science from Washington State University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in prevention science from Washington State University. Before joining the Biomedical Informatics Center at GW, Senait was a research translation graduate intern with the National Prevention Science Coalition. As the Biomedical Informatics Research Program Associate, she leverages her experience in human subjects’ research and administration to coordinate the Center’s research projects as well as organize grants and contract proposal submissions.

Email: stekle@gwu.edu

George Head placeholder imageEduardo Trujillo-Rivera, PhD

Assistant Research Professor

Eduardo received his BS in Mathematics at the University of Guanajuato in a joint program with the Center for Research in Mathematics, Mexico (CIMAT by its acronym in spanish). Eduardo obtained his PhM in Probability and Statistics in the Center for Research in Mathematics where he worked as instructor and as assistant to professors. Eduardo received his PhD in Statistics in the Iowa State University where he completed his dissertation in nonparametric regression models with errors in variables; at the same time, he worked as teaching assistants for statistic courses, as research assistant in projects with the Department of Transportation of Iowa, and developed nonparametric methods to study biomarker data as health indicators. Currently, Eduardo works in the Biomedical Informatics Center at GW in joint projects with the National’s Children Hospital and with the VA Medical Center to detect sensitive variables that affect the survival of ICU patients.

Email: Eduardotrujillo@gwu.edu

T. Elizabeth Workman, PhDT. Elizabeth Workman, PhD

Assistant Research Professor

Dr. Workman’s research interests primarily address how people obtain, process, and communicate biomedical information, and how discoveries in these areas can lead to improved patient outcomes. She received a PhD in Biomedical Informatics from the University of Utah, where she developed a novel algorithm that adaptively summarizes abstracts from the biomedical literature. Her postdoctoral work at the National Library of Medicine addressed several research areas, including information seeking behavior, automated knowledge discovery, data visualization, retrieval algorithms, and the semantic analysis of text. Dr. Workman’s current research includes applying methods in natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to clinical text. She and her colleagues have developed novel methodologies to identify risk factors of disease, improve surveillance systems, understand temporal processes in disease pathologies, identify and extract symptoms, improve NLP tools, and increase insight to healthcare communications and processes.

Email: lizworkman@gwu.edu

George Head placeholder imageEdward Zamrini, MD

Adjunct Professor, Department of Clinical Research and Leadership, GW SMHS