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Improving the Doctor-Patient Relationship
through Patient Care, Teaching and Research.

Bucksbaum Junior Faculty Scholars

2014-15 Associate Junior Faculty Scholars
Bree Andrews, MD, MPH

Bree Andrews, MD, MPH
Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Andrews did her residency in Pediatrics and her Neonatal-Perinatal Fellowship at the University of Chicago and runs the Center for Healthy Families, a multidisciplinary clinic for NICU graduates, at both Comer Children’s Hospital and Larabida Children’s Hospital.

She is a physician for the Chicago Medical Legal Partnership for Children (CMLPC), which provides legal services to families especially in regard to public benefits. This provides depth to the idea that social circumstances affect the welfare of medically complex children.

Her current research focuses on the uncertainty of early prognosis for infants born at the border of viability and on the neuro-developmental outcomes of those infants born extremely low birth weight.

Stacy Kahn, MD

Stacy Kahn, MD
Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Kahn is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Section of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Nutrition and is faculty at The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. She received her medical degree from New York University School of Medicine and completed her residency and fellowships in pediatric gastroenterology and medical ethics at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Kahn specializes in the evaluation and treatment of digestive diseases in children and adolescents. She has a particular interest in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Dr. Kahn is the founder and Director of the Transitional IBD Clinic, a unique program that provides multidisciplinary specialty care for teens and young adults with IBD. Dr. Kahn’s research focuses on novel treatments for IBD and improving patient care for patients with IBD. Specifically, she is interested on adherence, self-management, and the transition of care from pediatric to adult IBD specialists.

Robert Kavitt, MD MPH

Robert Kavitt, MD MPH
Department of Medicine

Dr. Kavitt is an Assistant Professor in the Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and Medical Director of the Center for Esophageal Diseases. He received his MD at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and completed internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago. He received his gastroenterology fellowship training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and also earned a Master of Public Health degree while at Vanderbilt.

Dr. Kavitt’s clinical and research interests focus on benign esophageal disorders, including eosinophilic esophagitis, GERD, esophageal motility disorders including achalasia, and the evaluation of patients with dysphagia.

David Kiragu, MD

David Kiragu, MD
Department of Medicine

Dr. Kiragu is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Section of General Internal Medicine. He received his medical training at Northwestern University and was a medicine resident and chief resident at The University of Chicago at NorthShore. He provides comprehensive primary care to adults and is passionate about preventive health. He currently sits on the committee of the Kidney Transplant Program and provides both evaluation and care for the transplant candidates. He is also interested in systems improvements by identifying factors predictive of poor outcomes among kidney transplant patients. Dr. Kiragu is also involved in training medicine residents and medical students.

Grace Mak, MD

Grace Mak, MD
Department of Surgery

Dr. Mak has expertise in providing surgical care for children of all ages. She specializes in the surgical treatment of neonatal diseases and congenital malformations, anorectal malformations, inflammatory bowel disease, and pediatric oncology. Dr. Mak is also highly skilled in pediatric minimally invasive surgery.

Her academic interests include surgical education, particularly involving the pediatric surgical fellows. As the Program Director of the Pediatric Surgery Fellowship, she has worked with many national committees to improve the education of pediatric surgical fellows and develop the new Milestones for Pediatric Surgery.

Dr. Mak’s research interests include advancement in minimally invasive techniques, innovations in surgical education, and health care disparities. Specifically, she is currently developing a curriculum for the families and care givers of patients with complex anorectal and colorectal malformations. The goal is to improve the education and understanding of these families to provide not only better overall patient care but also enhance the physician patient relationship and allow the families more autonomy.

Jennifer McNeer, MD, MS

Jennifer McNeer, MD, MS
Department of Pediatrics

Dr. McNeer is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Section of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Stem Cell Transplant. She attended medical school at New York University School of Medicine, and completed her residency and fellowship training at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 2009.

Her clinical and research interests are in the treatment of children, adolescents and young adults with hematologic malignancies, especially those with high-risk or relapsed disease. She is an active member of the Children’s Oncology Group, and co-directs the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Clinic at the University of Chicago.

Dr. McNeer has been involved in the leadership of the Fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the University of Chicago since 2011, and assumed the role of Fellowship Director in 2013. She is dedicated to the education of future hematologists/oncologists, not only in terms of medical knowledge and procedural skills, but also as it relates to excellent communication between providers, patients, and families.

Navin Pinto, MD

Navin Pinto, MD
Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Pinto is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Comprehensive Solid Tumor Clinic at the University of Chicago and a member of the Committee on Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacogenomics. Dr. Pinto’s research focuses on the role of genetic variation in ethnic disparities and responsiveness to chemotherapy. Dr. Pinto directs the GREAT KIDS research program, an effort to comprehensively sequence the genomes of patients with newly diagnosed or relapsed pediatric cancer in order to gain a broader understanding of gene-environment interactions as well as actionable genetic alterations. Future research goals include improving communication of complex genetic traits and inheritance to patients and families affected by cancer.

Tamar Polonsky, MD

Tamar Polonsky, MD
Department of Medicine

Tamar Polonsky, MD, MSCI, an assistant professor and is a general cardiologist. She treats a wide range of cardiac conditions, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and valve disease.

Dr. Polonsky also specializes in the management of heart disease in cancer patients. She works closely with oncologists and surgeons to take care of patients with preexisting heart disease and to help monitor for potential cardiac complications from chemotherapy and radiation. ??Dr. Polonsky has research expertise in cardiovascular epidemiology and prevention. She has experience analyzing data from large cohort studies, with the aim of finding novel ways to predict a person's risk of developing heart disease.

Milda Saunders, MD, MPH

Milda Saunders, MD, MPH
Department of Medicine

Dr. Saunders is an Assistant Professor in the Section of Hospital Medicine. Since coming to the University of Chicago, she has completed a combined internal medicine-pediatrics residency, a research fellowship in hospital medicine, and a clinical medical ethics fellowship at the MacLean Center. In addition to her clinical work as hospitalist, she serves the University’s Living Donor Advocate Physician where she works with potential living donors to make sure they have the appropriate medical and psychosocial evaluation as well as a full understanding of the risks of living donation. Dr. Saunders’ research focuses on reducing disparities and improving the quality of care received by patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD). She is currently working on an educational module for hospitalized patients with advanced CKD in order to increase their knowledge about and preparation for renal replacement therapy.

Manish Sharma, MD

Manish Sharma, MD
Department of Medicine

Dr. Sharma is a medical oncologist and clinical pharmacologist who focuses on the development of novel therapies for patients with all types of cancer, and gastrointestinal cancers in particular. His research involves computer-based modeling and simulation using data (including patient-reported outcomes) from oncology clinical trials. The broad objective of this research is to improve the development (by informing clinical trial design) and use of anticancer therapies. He has designed and conducted clinical trials that involve genotype-guided dosing of chemotherapy and repurposing of old drugs (such as sirolimus and metformin) as potential anticancer therapies. He is also using model-based phenotypes to develop genomic prediction tools for response to anticancer therapies. In an educational capacity, Dr. Sharma has an interest in improving doctor-patient communication with respect to informed consent for phase I cancer clinical trials.

Robert Steppacher, MD

Robert Steppacher, MD
Department of Surgery

Robert Steppacher, MD FACS and assistant professor in the Department of Surgery. Dr. Steppacher specializes in the medical, surgical, and endovascular management of aortic, carotid, and peripheral vascular disease. His interests also include treatment of venous disease and dialysis access. In addition to his clinical pursuits, Dr. Steppacher is also a Medical Director of Informatics at the University of Chicago. He has extensive expertise and interest in improving the electronic health record at UCM. Dr. Steppacher serves on numerous committees and taskforces at the local, regional, and national level. He is the director of arterial quality for the Mid-America Vascular Study Group and the chair of the medication optimization and EHR integration committees for the Society for Vascular Surgery. Dr. Steppacher research interests include using large data sets to foster improvement in vascular care and increasing the usability of the EHR.