Key Staff

The National Center for Health Research is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research, education and advocacy organization that promotes the health and safety of adults and children. The key staff of the National Center for Health Research also manage the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund.

Diana Z

Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D., President

Diana Zuckerman received her Ph.D. in psychology from Ohio State University and was a post-doctoral fellow in epidemiology and public health at Yale Medical School. She started her career on the faculty of Vassar College and then directed a research project on children as a faculty member at Yale University.

After a post-doctoral training at Yale Medical School, she took a position at Harvard directing a groundbreaking research study of college students. Dr. Zuckerman left her academic career in 1983, to come to Washington, D.C. as a Congressional Science Fellow in the program run by the American Association of the Advancement of Science. After spending the year as a staff member in the House of Representatives, she spent the next ten years working as a Congressional staffer in the House and Senate, and at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working to improve federal health programs and policies for adults and children. She initiated highly influential Congressional hearings on a wide range of health issues, including cancer prevention and treatment and the safety of medical products.

In 1995, Dr. Zuckerman served as a senior policy advisor in the White House, working for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Since 1996, she has served in leadership positions at nonprofit organizations, and has been in her current position since 1999.

While in her current position, Dr. Zuckerman was a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics for several years. She is currently on the Board of Directors of two nonprofit organizations, the Congressionally mandated Reagan Udall Foundation and the Alliance for a Stronger FDA. She was previously the chair of the Women’s Health Promotion Council appointed by the Governor of Maryland.

Dr. Zuckerman is the author of five books, several book chapters, and dozens of articles in medical and academic journals, and in newspapers across the country. Her policy work has resulted in news coverage on all the major TV networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, public television, 60 Minutes, 20/20, Voice of America, National Public Radio, and in major U.S. print media such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, USA Today, Detroit Free Press, New York Daily News, Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Report, Family Circle, New Yorker, Glamour, Self, as well as many other newspapers, magazines, and radio programs.

She is the proud mother of two adult children. She can be reached at


PBrownPaul Brown, Government Relations Manager

Paul Brown educates federal and state lawmakers and their staffs about health and medical issues that affect adults and children. He also monitors the activities of the Food and Drug Administration and other federal health agencies whose work is designed to protect the public health. He leverages NCHR’s influence through his effective outreach to other nonprofit organizations and by helping organize the legislative efforts of the Patient and Consumer Coalition.

Prior to joining NCHR, Mr. Brown had 13 years of advocacy experience, as a consumer health care advocate with US PIRG and as the Southern Nevada Director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN).

In his previous work, Mr. Brown has authored or co-authored numerous reports on issues such as prescription drug prices, campaign finance reform, economic contributions of immigrants, and state taxes. He has been frequently quoted in the media and has published numerous op-eds and letters to the editor.

A graduate of the University of Iowa, Mr. Brown is married to Lori Lipman Brown, a former Nevada State Senator. Mr. Brown ran his wife’s successful grassroots State Senate campaign in 1992, spending less than $2,000 to win the primary campaign. He can be reached at


JGR-933x809Jay G. Ronquillo, M.D., M.P.H., M.M.Sc., M.Eng., Director of Biomedical Informatics

Jay G. Ronquillo focuses on health policy issues with broad potential impact on public health, health information technology, and precision medicine and interoperability.

Prior to joining NCHR, Dr. Ronquillo worked as a programmer analyst at Goldman Sachs, research investigator at the National Institutes of Health, medical officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on the Precision Medicine Initiative, and also founded a biomedical informatics startup.  He has developed informatics software for diverse healthcare applications as well as performed, published, and presented collaborative research in several health informatics journals and conferences.

Dr. Ronquillo received his B.S. and M.Eng. in Electrical/Computer Engineering from Cornell University, Post-Baccalaureate training from the University of Pennsylvania, M.D. from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, M.P.H. in Quantitative Methods from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Master of Medical Sciences in Biomedical Informatics from Harvard Medical School, and completed a Fellowship in Biomedical Informatics at Massachusetts General Hospital.  He can be reached at


Samantha Watters Conway, M.P.H., Director of Communications and Outreach

Samantha Watters Conway manages all communication and outreach for the Center.  Before joining NCHR in 2016, Samantha worked at Adventist Hospital, providing tobacco cessation counseling to inpatients, outpatients, and community members, while also acting as the program director and project manager. She previously conducted health communications research in the area of risky driving behavior and taught community health courses. During this time, she produced several scientific publications. She has also worked with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in scientific communication and infectious disease research, the Food and Drug Administration in food safety risk analysis, and the US Department of Agriculture in database production and website search and retrieval. Samantha has a passion for video production and development, and developed several videos for NIH while working in their communications office.

Samantha received her Masters of Public Health from the University of Maryland, as well as a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.A. in English Language and Literature.  She can be reached at


Stephanie Fox-Rawlings, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

Stephanie Fox-Rawlings is a senior fellow, focusing on health and policy issues related to brain development and function across the lifespan. Prior to joining the NCHR, she conducted basic and early translational research on developmental neuroscience.

Dr. Fox-Rawlings received her Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Neurosciences, where her work focused on the genes regulating the maturation of serotonergic neurons. During her postdoctoral work at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, she studied how the brain repairs itself following injury in a model of very preterm birth. She earned her B.S. degree at Kansas State University in Biology and Psychology. She can be reached at


Miara JeffressMiara Jeffress, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

Miara Jeffress is a senior fellow focused primarily on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and health disparities.  She also has a major role as NCHR’s liaison to patient advocates, and manages NCHR’s outreach to patients and our Patient Training Project, including Workshops and related activities.

Prior to joining NCHR, Dr. Jeffress conducted basic science research on alcoholic cardiomyopathy and guest lectured at the Howard University College of Pharmacy. She received her Ph.D. from Howard University in Physiology and Biophysics, where her work focused on the molecular mechanisms responsible for alcohol-induced heart failure.  She earned her B.S. degree at North Carolina Central University in Biology.


Amelia Murphy

Amelia Murphy, B.A., Research and Administrative Assistant

Amelia Murphy is the Research and Administrative Assistant, responsible for gathering research, writing web/newsletter content, managing NCHR’s social media presence, and digital outreach. She also handles the online Health Helpline, edits the newsletters, and provides general administrative support. In her work with NCHR, Ms. Murphy applies her research skills, experience writing for a public audience, and passion for cause-driven work. Prior to NCHR, Ms. Murphy was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Indonesia.

Ms. Murphy graduated from Smith College in May 2013 with a B.A in Psychology and Italian. While at Smith, Ms. Murphy worked at a psychology clinic in Italy, served as the health representative for her college residential house, and wrote for a magazine and her own blog. She can be reached at



Farzana Akkas, BSc, MSc, Research and Public Health Fellow

Farzana Akkas is a research and public health fellow, focusing mainly on the NCHR Affordable Care Act (ACA) project, assisting with the health hotline, and also working on our survey of Essure patients. Prior to joining NCHR, she was an intern at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, supporting the international grants team. She has an MSc in Health Promotion and Public Health and a BSc. in Biomedical Science from universities in London, where she also interned and worked for the largest voluntary sector provider of HIV and sexual health services in the UK, the Terrence Higgins Trust.


Hannah Kalvin, our Marcy Gross intern, Spring 2016

Hannah became a Marcy Gross intern during the second semester of her internship at NCHR during her senior year.  “After proving herself such a valuable asset to our Center, we wanted to show our appreciation by giving her an internship named for one of our most important supporters,” explains NCHR president Diana Zuckerman.  Marcy Gross was a nationally respected voice on women’s health issues – many of the same issues that Hannah is working on at NCHR.  A major focus is women’s access to medically necessary procedures, collecting data and analyzing health insurance plans as a part of the NCHR Affordable Care Act project.

Hannah will be graduating in May from the George Washington University with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health and a minor in Biological Sciences. Hannah developed a passion for public health after learning about different health disparities in her first public health course in college. Since then, Hannah has studied abroad in the Global Health and Social Medicine program at King’s College London and taken a wide variety of public health courses.


Summer 2016 Interns

Summer 2016 internsfrom left to right:

Simon Essig Aberg (Amherst College – Economics, Mathematics)

Natalie Rosseau (Cornell University, ’16 – History, Minors in Law & Society and Inequality Studies)

Kristine Chin (Smith College – Biology and Government)

Elsie Yau (Yale University – Economics and History of Science, Medicine and Public Health)


Spring 2016 Interns

from left to right:

Miriam Mosbacher (University of Maryland – College Park, Community Health)

Nisa Hussain (University of Maryland – College Park, Community Health)

Hannah Kalvin (George Washington University, Public Health)


In Memoriam

Gwendolyn Lewis, a former sociology professor with important positions in the National Research Council, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, was a professional photographer who volunteered her time as our photographer since our founding in 1999 until she died from cancer in 2012.

As our photographer and friend, Gwen is responsible for the many memorable color photographs of the exceptional women who received our Foremother awards, as well as capturing many other important people and moments through the years.  As an artist, however, she specialized in black-and-white photography, with an emphasis on architectural subjects. Her work was exhibited in more than 100 shows in the Washington area and won many awards.