Saturday Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Rev. Linda McCarty, JD

Rev. Linda L. McCarty is the president and CEO of Faith In Practice, a national ecumenical Christian not-for-profit that sends volunteer medical teams to Guatemala. Each year more than 1,200 U.S. and 900 Guatemalan volunteers provide medical, surgical, and dental care to the poor of Guatemala through Faith In Practice. These teams serve more than 25,000 people on an annual basis, emphasizing continuity of care within the context of short-term medical mission. Faith In Practice’s network of care begins in the remote villages in clinics established to treat patients with the greatest need and least access to care. Patients requiring surgery are guided through the entire process—accompanied to one of Faith In Practice’s partner hospitals, provided with room and board as they heal in one of the patient guest houses, and accompanied safely home. This integrated approach to healthcare is designed to treat the entire person, not only as a patient, but as a brother or sister in Christ. Rev. McCarty has served as president and CEO of Faith In Practice since 2007. In this time, Faith In Practice has continued to grow, deepening relationships in Guatemala and developing a more integrated structure. For the past 12 years, Faith In Practice has received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, placing it in the top one percent of charities rated for fiscal responsibility. Rev. McCarty is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and an attorney, with degrees from the University of Chicago Divinity School and DePaul University College of Law. She is motivated by a strong sense of call, recognizing that even as we seek to bring healing to others, we ourselves are healed.


Mats Junek, MD

Mats Junek is a Canadian-Australian, Australian trained doctor currently completing a dual residency in public health, preventive medicine & family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.  Throughout his education and training he has worked with several non-profit research and advocacy organizations, his most recent posting is the director of NCDFREE for the Americas.  NCDFREE, a global social movement against NCDs founded in 2013, has reached millions of people with social media, films, conferences, and international advocacy campaigns.  Through his role as director, Mats has organized and mentored advocacy & communication bootcamps on four continents; directed the f21y youth conference; and launched the short film The Taste of Change.  He has also written for Huffington Post and the  His current areas of interest are the use of economic policy to drive health care outcomes, including a sugar tax in Canada, as well as finding ways of providing equitable care for those who suffer most from non-communicable diseases.

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Energy, Innovation, & Infrastructure

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Fannin’s Studio: An Emerging Approach to Capital-efficient Life Sciences Development

VaradAtul Varadhachary, MD, PhD

Dr. Atul Varadhachary is Managing Partner at Fannin Innovation Studio which works with innovators at the institutions in the Texas Medical Center in Houston to help commercialize early-stage technologies in the life sciences.  Fannin partners with innovators to co-found companies that it actively manages in addition to putting in seed capital and providing space and back-office support. Atul is a physician with a PhD in Physiology from Johns Hopkins, and over two decades of experience in life sciences and healthcare. Before Fannin, Atul served as President of U.S. Operations at Reliance Life Sciences, part of the Reliance Group, India’s largest private sector enterprise with over $75 billion in annual revenues. Atul served for nine years as President & COO of Agennix, Inc., a late-stage biotechnology company where he led advancement of Agennix’s lead molecule from preclinical studies into pivotal Phase 3 human studies and helped lead a successful sale of the company. Atul also served as Senior Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Co. Atul has served on the faculties of Rice Graduate School of Business, Baylor College of Medicine, and the UT School of Public Health.  He has served on multiple company and community boards including those of the Harris Health System, Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), Pratham and TiE, and is on the Healthcare Advisory Committee of the Greater Houston Partnership and on the Jones Health Care Advisory Board.

Kid Power: Get Active, Save Lives

Mrs. Katherine Porter

Katherine Porter, MPH

Katherine Porter is the Houston Community Engagement Fellow for UNICEF USA. Her role is to serve as a grassroots and national spokesperson for children and bring together networks of faith-based communities, schools, universities, volunteers, advocates, elected leaders and others to unite on behalf of children. Leveraging UNICEF USA’s education, advocacy, and fundraising initiatives, she works to create transformational change in the lives of children around the world, empowering people to act locally. Katherine served two years in Malawi as a Peace Corps volunteer working with youth empowerment and education programs. She recently completed her Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Her research focused on orphans and vulnerable children in rural Kenya, with Sodzo International in Maua, Kenya. She is delighted to represent UNICEF USA, uniting and empowering American youth and volunteers in service of children around the world.

Challenges in Sustainable Development Through Medical Innovations

Farhan Majid, PhD

Farhan Majid, Ph.D., is the L.E. and Virginia Simmons Fellow in Health and Technology Policy. Majid’s research covers a wide array of novel topics related to development economics and global health such as the impact of Ramadan fasting during pregnancy on the economic performance of the next generation, the effects of war on the stock of human capital, and the impact of minimum wages on the health of children in the developing world. His research has been published in economics and public health journals and cited by media outlets. Majid has received grants from the Hewlett Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to fund his work.

Majid received a dual A.B. and A.M. in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and a Ph.D. in economics from University of California, Riverside. He previously has worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and McGill University.

Non-Communicable Diseases

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Investigating an Epidemic of Unexplained Kidney Disease in Central America and other Epidemiologic Adventures 

FischerRebecca Fischer, PhD

Dr Fischer is postdoctoral research associate in at Baylor College of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics, Section of Tropical Medicine.  She received a BS in Biology from the University of Texas and later transplanted to Houston to earn her MPH and PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health.  Her major area of focus is global health research, with specific interest in infectious disease epidemiology, response to emerging public health threats, and epidemiologic methods.Global health is a priority interest, particularly addressing needs in high-risk communities, and she has worked on projects such assessment of nutrition and health needs in rural Honduras, rabies eradication in the Philippines, health risks to slaughterhouse workers in the Philippines, the 2009 H1N1 outbreak in Mexico. For her dissertation research on the epidemiology of Staphylococcus aureus in Botswana, she collected nasal swabs and interviews on more than 600 HIV-infected and –uninfected adults and children to determine risk factors of nasal colonization and describe antibiotic resistance profiles and genetic epidemiology of staph there. She found a high rate of antibiotic resistance and identified 21 novel staphylococcal strains. As a graduate student, she served as President of the Student Epidemic Intelligence Society and helped design a training curriculum to prepare students in health disciplines to serve as rapid responders. She worked closely with the local health departments and CDC to involve student surge capacity response teams during public health emergencies (e.g. foodborne outbreak investigations, emergency vaccine & prophylaxis clinics, community assessments, infectious disease case investigations, hurricane field and shelter assessments, media releases, and other response efforts). She continues to have an interest in teaching and mentoring students. Under Dr. Kristy Murray, Rebecca is leading Baylor’s Investigation into the Etiology of Unexplained Kidney Disease in Nicaragua. Working within a private sugar estate in western Nicaragua to target an agricultural population at high risk of Mesoamerican Nephropathy (MeN), she is exploring the clinical scenario and renal pathology of acute MeN and characterizing disease progression. Through a multidimensional research strategy and a One-Health perspective, the team’s ultimate goal is to identify the cause of that mystery disease.

Project Echo as a Foundation to Improve Cervical Cancer Prevention and Management in Medically Underserved Areas

BakerEllen Baker, MD, MPH

Dr. Ellen Baker is Director of Community-Based Cancer Prevention and Control Initiatives within the Cancer Prevention and Control Platform, Moon Shots Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.  Concurrently, Dr. Baker is Director, Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) at MD Anderson.  Among a range of leadership responsibilities, Dr. Baker serves as the operations lead for Cervical Cancer Prevention in Resource Limited Settings at MD Anderson. Dr. Baker earned a doctorate in medicine from Cornell University Medical College and a master of public health degree from the University of Texas School of Public Health.  She trained as an internal medicine physician at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas and joined NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) as a medical officer at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1981. After serving as a Medical Officer in the Flight Medicine Clinic from 1981-1984, Dr. Baker was selected as a NASA astronaut in 1984.  Dr. Baker is a veteran of three space shuttle missions during the period 1989 through 1995. Dr. Baker joined MD Anderson in 2014, where she leads tele-mentoring programs to reach providers in rural and underserved communities with the ultimate aim of improving access to cancer prevention services and cancer specialty care in rural, isolated communities worldwide.

Global Burden of Cardiovascular Disease Opportunities and Challenges in Achieving “25 x 25″ 

ZoghbiWilliam Zoghbi, MD

William A. Zoghbi is the Elkins Family Distinguished Chair in Cardiac Health, Chairman of the Department of Cardiology at The Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, and Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Institute of Academic Medicine. Dr. Zoghbi is a renowned leader in cardiology, cardiac imaging, and global health. He has developed new techniques to evaluate heart function and valve disorders without resorting to invasive procedures. Dr. Zoghbi has been actively involved with the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association for more than 30 years. He served as president of the American College of Cardiology in 2012 and has been on its Board of Trustees from 2001-2015. He is involved internationally in cardiovascular health advocacy and health promotion. Dr Zoghbi was instrumental in the vision and implementation of the international mission of the ACC since 2008 and has represented the ACC and the global cardiovascular community at the United Nations and World Health Organization, advocating for the reduction of premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 25 percent by 2025 (“25×25” initiative). He has served on the Board of the World Heart Federation in 2014-5 and co-chaired the Global Task Force for Cardiovascular disease for the World Heart Federation.

Reducing Health Disparities

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Reformation of US Refugee Resettlement System 

Nicole Holdman, PhD, MEd

Dr. Nicole Holdman is the Chief Operating Officer of Amaanah Refugee Services, Houston Region. She oversees Amaanah’s general operations and programs which include the Awesome Academy and Transformed Programs. Currently the Awesome Academy serves over 300 refugee students across 5 sites and the Transformed Program works with single refugee mothers to achieve economic and social independence in their resettled communities. Her professional career spans 20 years in education with 16 years in the public school system, as an ESL teacher, adjunct professor, curriculum writer, and campus extended learning coordinator. She has worked closely with nonprofits, faith, and community-based organizations to coordinate and evaluate a range of evidence-based programs supporting the second language acquisition skills of learners, school retention, self- sufficiency, family education, and positive youth development. Dr. Holdman holds a PhD in Educational Leadership from Capella University, a Master’s in Educational Curriculum and Instruction from Texas Southern University, and a Bachelors in Criminal Justice from the University of Houston.

Pertinent Issues and Potential Policies and Practices for Addressing the Health Needs of Child Migrants 

Kenneth Smith, PhD

Kenneth D. Smith, Ph.D. is a health economist, public health practitioner and health equity advocate. His interdisciplinary work as a researcher and practitioner spans local and national levels. Dr. Smith’s post-graduate research includes extensive experience in applied econometrics, health care financing, pharmacoeconomic analysis, program evaluation and design, and managed delivery systems for frail elderly. His more recent work has focused on leading cross-sector collaboration to foster policy, environmental and systems change to prevent or improve the management of chronic disease. This has involved developing and implementing strategies to disseminate and support the adoption of best practices to prevent chronic disease by improving the environments where people live, learn, work and play. Dr. Smith currently is the Interim Director for the UTMB Center to Eliminate Health Disparities, where he has identified and is addressing disparities in the UTMB patient population. Over the past year, he was the Principal Investigator for a study of the health risks and healthcare access issues faced by children fleeing violence from Central America and Mexico. This project, funded by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute, identified policies at the local, state, national and trans-national levels to ensure the ethical treatment of child migrants.

Poverty – a Global Health Concern:  The Role of Social Enterprise in Eradicating Poverty

Marian Davenport, JD davenport

Marian Davenport joined Genesys Works, a non-profit that enables disadvantaged high school students to enter and thrive in the economic mainstream, as Executive Director of the Houston office in 2013. Previously, she held executive positions with Big Brothers Big Sisters for over 8 years. Ms. Davenport has 23 years of experience in the energy industry, and most recently, from 1986 to 2002, served in leadership positions at Dynegy Inc. and predecessor companies. In addition to her current role, Ms. Davenport has served the community in volunteer leadership positions at the Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority and American Leadership Forum – Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter. She is also a member of the Executive Women’s Partnership Committee of Greater Houston Partnership. In 2014, Ms. Davenport was elected to the board of directors of Sterling Construction Company, Inc., where she serves as Chair of the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee and as a member of the Compensation Committee. A graduate of Colorado College with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences, she holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law and is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Michael Goodman, MDiv, MPH, DrPH

goodmanMichael Goodman completed his doctorate in public health at the University of Texas School of Public Health in 2014. He has been active in research on psychosocial, economic and physical health among orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya for the past 5 years. He is the executive director of Sodzo International, an organization with the mission to advance the well-being of the world’s most vulnerable children, and a post-doctoral research fellow at UTMB in the Center for Infectious Diseases. He enjoys mentoring students and building cross-sectoral collaborations such as that found with HGHC, where Michael was previously engaged as co-founder and board member. Michael is married to a pediatrician, Lauren Raimer-Goodman, and has two fantastic children.

Sustainable Partnerships

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Sustainable Partnerships Panel

Binata Mukherjee, MD, MBA, GPHAP

Binata has been working at Rice University since 2012, initially in Rice 360: Institute for Global Health Technologies managing scale-up and commercialization initiatives of technologies appropriate for low-resource countries, and subsequently in translation of early stage inventions at the Houston Area Translational Research Consortium. She started at the Jones School in June 2014. Dr Mukherjee teaches US Health Care Management to MBA students at the JGSB. She has developed an online module, Primer on Health Care Industry, an introductory course for students interested in learning about the complex US health care system. Prior to joining Rice University, Binata gained extensive experience spanning over 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry most notably working for Sanofi. She worked in various functions that include Business Development, International Marketing, Medical and Regulatory Affairs, and Training. During her tenure in Sanofi, she managed blockbusters like Plavix, Clexane, Aprovel across different countries. She worked as an in internist in Mumbai, India before foraying into the business world. She is passionate about medical education and improvement of patient care. Binata earned her M.D. from the University of Calcutta, India. She received her MBA and her Certificate in Health Policy & Administration from the University of Chicago.

AbdiSalahadin Abdi, MD, PhD

Salahadin Abdi, MD, PhD, is a Tenured Professor of Anesthesiology/Pain Medicine and Chair, Department of Pain Medicine at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.  Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Abdi was Chief of Division of Pain Medicine at Harvard in Boston and Professor and Chief of Pain Medicine at the University of Miami, LM Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL. Dr. Abdi is board certified in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. He is an active member in various national and international medical societies. He is a frequent ad hoc reviewer for several NIH study sections and NCI. He is also a regular reviewer for VA Grants. Further, he is editor and/or associate editor of several national and international journals such as Pain Physician, Anesthesia & Analgesia, Korean Journal of Pain, Frontiers in Pain Pharmacol & Therap, Lasers in Medical Sciences, World Journal of Anesthesiology to name a few;  and member of board of directors of American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. Dr.Abdi has attended many National and International meetings as an invited Speaker and also served as a Visiting Professor in national and international institutes worldwide. Dr. Abdi co-edited three books and currently working on two additional books.  Furthermore, he has authored and/or co-authored more than 250 manuscripts and abstracts, book chapters and review articles.  Dr. Abdi’s primary clinical and basic science research interests include stem cell and gene therapy for low back pain, cancer pain and chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy.

WindsorDuane Windsor, PhD

Duane Windsor (PhD, Harvard University; BA, Rice University) is the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Management in the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. He joined the Rice faculty in 1977. His research and teaching focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR), business ethics, stakeholder theory, and sustainable development issues. He has published various academic papers in journals and books. He served eight years (January 2007 – December 2014) as editor (in chief) of the academic journal BUSINESS & SOCIETY, for which he is currently consulting editor, sponsored by the International Association for Business and Society (IABS) and published by Sage. He is presently an associate editor on a planned seven-volume ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BUSINESS ETHICS AND SOCIETY (2nd edition), to be published by Sage.

GoshuWonedwossen Goshu, DNP

Wonedwossen is a native of Ethiopia. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree with a Nursing major and Health Science minor from South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD. He earned a Master of Science Degree in Nurse Anesthesia at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He then graduated from the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. He is currently working at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. He is a dedicated and resourceful Humanitarian Aid Worker with a strong work ethic and excellent breadth of experience in foreign aid programs. Goshu engages in Community service, and Humanitarian Aid and he is a recognized leader in international development, global public health, and non-profit organizations. He has a strong background in Project Management: Travel & Logistics, Manager for several medical missions to Ethiopia to bridge the gap between top Level Hospital Policy, Procedural Formats in the Medical Institutions, health systems reforms, and regional integration and participant in global think tanks groups. Goshu is an effective spokesperson and advocate with demonstrated capacity to build global partnerships and relationships with governments, the private sector, and civil society. He has excellent experience in developing public outreach initiatives and strong advocacy networks, which targets diverse, underserved communities; with a clear sense of purpose and urgency to scale up interventions and technologies that reach poor and marginalized groups.

Dacso picMatthew Dacso, MD, MA

Dr. Dacso is a clinician educator in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), where he is a primary care physician and an associate professor.  He received his B.A. in Music from McGill University and his M.D. from UTMB in 2006.  He holds a masters in international development studies at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies.  From 2009-2011 he lived in Gaborone, Botswana, where he worked with the Botswana-UPenn Partnership to enhance medical education, develop non-communicable disease treatment guidelines, and provide care for patients affected by HIV, TB, and chronic medical diseases.  Since 2011, Dr. Dacso has directed the UTMB Center for Global Health Education.  He provides mentorship and supervision to students participating in international health electives while collaborating with host partners to design projects that benefit their sites. He has published peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and abstracts in the areas of interprofessional global health education, ethics of short-term global health experiences, global health preparation/mentorship, and research training/capacity-building.  He is currently Principal Investigator on a pilot grant to strengthen training and research capacity in the eastern Dominican Republic and holds the Sterling-Turner Endowed Professorship, which supports the development of a Global Health Leadership Academy at UTMB.

Communicable Diseases

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The challenges in the prevention and management of Hepatitis C virus

hachem.150Ray Hachem, MD, FIDSA

Ray Hachem, MD. FIDSA. is a Professor of Medicine and Director of Extramural Education Program in the Department of Infectious Diseases, at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Dr. Hachem earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. His M.D. was received from the University of Santiago.  Dr. Hachem joined M. D. Anderson in March 1988. Over the years at M.D. Anderson , Dr. Hachem has made numerous innovations that have led to significant improvements in controlling life-threatening infections.  He has received numerous national scientific and professional honors. He is also a Co-Inventor on several U. S. patents which have been granted. Dr Hachem has authored over 200 peer reviewed articles. Dr Hachem is the president of the American Lebanese Medical Association. He is the executive director of   the World Institute of Medical Education which is a non-profit organization committed to provide health-related education globally. He is also well known for his commitment to medical missions through Health Outreach for Middle East which is a charity organization that is focused on bringing health care to the most vulnerable, poor and needy in the Middle East.

Chagas Disease in the Americas: who is at risk and what do our health care providers know about the disease 

Paula Stigler-Granados, PhD

Paula Stigler Granados is an Assistant Professor in Community Health Practice at the UTHealth School of Public Health, San Antonio Campus. She received her PhD from a joint doctoral program at University of California San Diego and San Diego State University in Global Health. Her interests in environmental health and vulnerable communities has led her to conduct research in indigenous and tribal populations along the U.S./Mexico border as well as Central America. Utilizing for her work a community based participatory research model has strengthened her capacity to work closely with small communities and better understand the role of culture and social networks in addressing vulnerabilities to resources such as clean water and improved sanitation. Dr. Stigler Granados has also conducted research on a variety of topics such as the global burden of tobacco waste and the toxicity burden on communities and climate change vulnerability assessments. Her most current research is looking at health care provider awareness of Chagas disease in South and South Central Texas and understanding the unique challenges to screening and treating this neglected parasitic infection in the U.S.


Clean Water & Sanitation

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Clean Water and Sanitation: “Even now we have no water” – Lessons learned from Maua, Kenya” 

ElliotAleisha Elliott

Aleisha Elliott, MS, is a PhD candidate in Epidemiology at the UTHealth School of Public Health (UTSPH), minoring in community health practice and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Her areas of research include water and sanitation insecurity, WASH-related diseases, neglected tropical diseases, and mental health. She is currently the global health concentration doctoral teaching associate at UTSPH. Her previous experience includes serving as an ORISE fellow with the US FDA in foodborne disease outbreak investigations, a guest researcher with the CDC, and her favorite job as a high school science and health teacher in Uganda. She received her Masters of Science in Epidemiology from UTSPH in 2012 and her Bachelors of Science in biochemistry and minor in microbiology from Montana State University in 2007.  Aleisha is also a proud auntie to her nephew and niece and an avid traveler.

Putting Heads and Hands Together to Improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Outcomes

Jason Rosenfeld_headshotJason Rosenfeld

Mr. Rosenfeld is a public health professional with over 10 years of experience designing, implementing and evaluating international and domestic community health education and behavior change programs. Jason began his career as a Community Health Advisor with the US Peace Corps in Ghana. After returning to the US, Jason supported the USAID Food for Peace program before obtaining his Masters in Public Health in the behavioral sciences and health education from Emory University. Mr. Rosenfeld then moved with his family to South Africa where he managed Community Health Club programs with the Africa AHEAD organization. His success in South Africa led to his appointment with the Zimbabwe AHEAD organization in Harare, Zimbabwe during the international cholera response efforts from 2009-2010. Since 2011, Mr. Rosenfeld has served as the Assistant Director for Global Health at the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics at UT Health San Antonio where he directs the medical school’s global health program. In this capacity, Mr. Rosenfeld has directed partnerships to implement the first adaptations of the Community Health Club model in Haiti, Burkina Faso and San Antonio (see recent TEDx talk: Jason is currently pursuing an Executive DrPH through the University of North Carolina.