Meet the PERC Team

Our dedicated research professionals will be completing studies with real-world data that will help refute and pre-empt traditional randomized clinical trials. The research team brings a variety of expertise to the design of Patient Engaged Research Center and the study of the data collected here.

Our team’s specialties range from Women's Health to Pediatrics and continues to involve various Henry Ford departments and services.

Meet our team:


Christine Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., is the Chair of the Public Health Sciences Department at Henry Ford Health System and the lead investigator for the Patient-Engaged Research Center (PERC). Dr. Johnson has a wide range of research interests including Pharmacoepidemiology related to cancer and other diseases, cancer screening and survival, and behavioral intervention studies. Her leadership role in PERC includes collaboration with physicians and the national research community to ensure publication and implementation of our evidence-based findings. Meet Dr. Johnson.

Karen E. Kippen, MSA MT (ASCP), is the Executive Director of the Patient-Engaged Research Center (PERC). Karen is a Senior National Baldrige Examiner with a focus on strategic planning and customer engagement. Her leadership role in PERC includes oversight of the Center’s resources and activities and outreach to stakeholders and researchers both inside and outside of Henry Ford Health System.

Research Scientists

Gwen Alexander, Ph.D., M.P.H., is dedicated to doctor-patient communication, disease risk reduction behaviors, patient treatment choices and program evaluation. Dr. Alexander has experience in survey methodology and research, design and implementation of web-based health interventions, multi-site intervention planning and recruitment, focus groups and qualitative analysis, and working with diverse populations. Her role on PERC includes leading the Patient Engagement Core, designing patient engagement activities, designing focus group questions and sessions, conducting qualitative analyses, and helping build capacity for patient engagement activities. Meet Dr. Alexander.

Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow, Ph.D., M.P.H., is an Epidemiologist with Center for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Research (CAAIR), is an Assistant Scientist in the Department of Public Health Sciences and an Investigator for Health Disparities Research Collaborative. With research interests centering on the developmental origins of disease framework, her research focus has been on early life health. Dr. Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow is the Principal Investigator of the PERC project which focuses on developing a discussion guide for physicians to use in their conversations with overweight and obese children and adolescents during the well-child visit. Meet Dr. Cassidy-Bushrow.

Christine Joseph, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a Senior Epidemiologist in the Department of Public Health Sciences. Her research interests include racial/ethnic health disparities, adolescent health, asthma and allergic disease, adherence, and school-based health management. Dr. Joseph was one of the first investigators to publish on undiagnosed asthma in urban Detroit. She is Principal Investigator of a series of NIH-funded projects that led to the development, implementation and evaluation of a web-based, asthma management tool known as Puff City. Dr. Joseph is the Principal Investigator of the PERC project that focuses on developing a physician discussion guide for practitioners to use in their conversations about weight status with obese or overweight adolescents that also have asthma. Meet Dr. Joseph.

Mei Lu, Ph.D., is a Senior Biostatistician the Department of Public Health Sciences. She is an established biostatistician who has more 20 years’ experience in Coordinating Center (CC) for Randomized Clinical Trials (RCTs) and network research. Dr. Lu is committed to bringing up-to-date statistical methods to medical research and promoting comparative effectiveness research (CER) to reduce costs and gaps between RCTs and observational studies for improvement of health care research. Dr. Lu has successfully implemented CER concepts as part of the ongoing observational study of chronic hepatitis B and C (CheCS) and is the Principal Investigator of an NIH-funded, web-based asthma intervention for urban teens. Dr. Lu is the Associate Director of the PERC and is the Core leader of the Study Design, Analysis and Measurement Core. Meet Dr. Lu.

Ganesa Wegienka, Ph.D., is an Epidemiologist with Center for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Research (CAAIR), and an Associate Scientist in the Department of Public Health Sciences. Dr. Wegienka’s research interests include causes of pediatric allergic diseases such as allergy and asthma, as well as the racial disparities observed in their occurrence. Dr. Wegienka is the Principal Investigator of the PERC project related to obese women who have undergone a hysterectomy and seeks to understand which surgical approach they chose. Meet Dr. Wegienka.

Research Team

Chad Coleman, MPH serves as a Project Manager for Dr. Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow’s study on pediatric preventative health screenings and heathy weight messages during the well-child visit and Dr. Ganesa Wegienka’s study on hysterectomy surgical approaches and experiences.  His duties and responsibilities include identification, recruitment, and follow up of study participants, data collection and analyses, and manuscript writing assistance.  He oversees the day-to-day activities of work for Projects 2 and 3. 

Dan McLaren is the Manager of Clinical Research Informatics Services at the Department of Public Health Sciences. Mr. McLaren leads a team of programmers and systems analysts, who design, develop, manage, and support computer systems used to collect and analyze research data. Mr. McLaren is a member of the Patient Data Network Core for the Patient-Engaged Research Center (PERC). Mr. McLaren has over two decades of experience in Clinical Research Informatics. Mr. McLaren’s specific areas of interest include Linux clustering, information security, and project management. Mr. McLaren serves as a member of the Monroe County Community College Computer Information Systems Advisory Committee.

Heather Olden, MPH serves as a Project Manager for Dr. Christine Joseph’s study on asthma control and weight management for the Patient-Engaged Research Center (PERC). She participates in qualitative data collection and analysis, manages the project team and day to day study tasks. Additionally, she serves as the Manager for the Patient Advisor program, a sustainable, HFHS system-wide initiative where patients partner with stakeholders to participate in decision-making to ultimately to improve healthcare. Heather developed recruitment strategies, training workshops and materials to better equip the advisors for their placements, and is responsible for the recruitment, screening, and training of advisor staff and administration.

Communication team

Melissa Sampey serves as a Marketing and Web Consultant at Henry Ford Health System. With more than 15 years of marketing and communications experience, Melissa has a proven track record of driving results and delivering innovation in both the traditional and digital marketing arenas. Her passion, backed by her strong work ethic and stringency for deadlines, is key in helping the Patient Engaged Research Center (PERC) to effectively communicate their message and grow interest in the PERC studies.

Physicians champions

Charles Barone, M.D., is the Department Chair of Pediatrics at Henry Ford Hospital, bringing valuable knowledge and experience to PERC. He is also the Co-Investigator of the project titled, Pediatric Preventative Health Screenings – Obesity and Family-Centered Outcomes. His clinical interests include adolescent medicine, children’s health, and pediatric care. Meet Dr. Barone.
Rachel Kado, M.D., Physician co-Investigator of the project titled, Developing Patient-Centered Approaches to Asthma Management in Obese Adolescents. Meet Dr. Kado.
Stacy Leatherwood, M.D., Physician co-Investigator of the project titled, Developing Patient-Centered Approaches to Asthma Management in Obese Adolescents. Meet Dr. Leatherwood.
Roopina Sangha, M.D., MPH., is an OBGYN specializing in minimally invasive gynecology and robotic surgery. Dr. Sangha is the co-Investigator of the PERC project titled, Hysterectomy Surgical Approach Guidelines for the Obese Patient. Her Clinical interests include women's health, sexual health, and family planning, among others. Dr. Sangha uses her guiding philosophy in practicing medicine of to "treat every patient as I would my own family members," to empower them by providing them knowledge and their conditions and treatment options.
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