Diversity Scholars Initiative


“Strength lies in differences, not in


Stephen R. Covey


Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FACP, FTOS

Co-Director, NORCH Diversity Scholars


Dr. Stanford is a fellowship-trained obesity medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)/ Harvard Medical School (HMS). Dr. Stanford received her BS and MPH from Emory University as a MLK Scholar, her MD from the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine as a Stoney Scholar, and her MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as a Zuckerman Fellow in the Harvard Center for Public Leadership. She completed her Obesity Medicine & Nutrition Fellowship at MGH/HMS after completing her internal medicine and pediatrics residency at the University of South Carolina. She has served as a health communications fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and as a behavioral sciences intern at the American Cancer Society. Upon completion of her MPH, she received the Gold Congressional Award, the highest honor that Congress bestows upon America’s youth. Dr. Stanford has completed a medicine and media internship at the Discovery Channel. An American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation Leadership Award recipient in 2005, an AMA Paul Ambrose Award for national leadership among resident physicians in 2009, she was selected for the AMA Inspirational Physician Award in 2015. The American College of Physicians (ACP) selected her as the 2013 recipient of the Joseph E. Johnson Leadership Award and the Massachusetts ACP selected her for the Young Leadership Award in 2015. She is the 2017 recipient of the HMS Amos Diversity Award and Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) Award for Women’s Health. In 2019, she was selected as the Suffolk District Community Clinician of the Year and for the Reducing Health Disparities Award for MMS.


Takara Stanley, MD

Co-Director, NORCH Diversity Scholars


Dr. Stanley is a pediatric endocrinologist and clinical investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.  She has a substantial interest in fostering the careers of trainees and junior faculty.  She is the fellowship director for the Pediatric Endocrinology fellowship at MGH, and she is the Pilot and Feasibility Director for the NORCH.  Dr. Stanley received her undergraduate training at Harvard and her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and she completed her residency and fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Her primary research interest is the interrelationship between body composition and metabolism, with a current focus on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.


Diversity Scholars 2019-2020


LaPrincess C. Brewer, MD, MPH, FACC, FASPC, FACP

Dr. Brewer is a cardiologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine within the Mayo Clinic Department of Cardiovascular Medicine in Rochester, MN. She earned her MD at the George Washington University School of Medicine, her MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her BS, magna cum laude in Chemical Engineering from Howard University.  She completed Internal Medicine residency training at Johns Hopkins University and clinical fellowships in Cardiovascular Diseases and Preventive Cardiology at Mayo Clinic. Her primary research focus is addressing cardiovascular health disparities through community-based behavioral interventions for cardiovascular disease risk factor modification in racial/ethnic minority populations, particularly African-Americans. She has published on racial differences in weight maintenance among women and psychosocial factors influencing obesity and overall cardiovascular health.

She was awarded highly competitive career development awards including the American Heart Association-Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program Award, NIH Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Scholar Award and the NIH KL2 Mentored Career Development Award to expand her work as a clinical investigator. She is currently principal investigator of the FAITH! (Fostering African-American Improvement in Total Health) trial, a cardiovascular health promotion intervention in partnership with African-American churches. Her research and community engagement initiatives have been recognized by a number of prestigious awards including the 2017 MN Chapter American College of Physicians Volunteerism Award. Her community health advocacy efforts have been featured on both local and national media outlets such as the ABC, CBS, PBS, CNN and the Huffington Post. She was recently named a 2019 ChangeMaker by MN Public Radio News which honored leaders making history in MN to commemorate Black History Month.

You can read more about Dr. Brewer on her faculty bio.


Elvin Thomaseo Burton, PhD, MPH

Dr. Burton is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN.  Trained as a psychologist, Dr. Burton’s research seeks to develop and implement high quality behavioral interventions for children, adolescents, and their families with overweight and obesity; he has a particular interest in group-based interventions.  He is a member of the Pediatric Obesity program at UTHSC and serves as pediatric psychologist for the Healthy Lifestyle Clinic at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Burton earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Purdue University as well as an MPH with a focus on community health. He completed postdoctoral training in pediatric obesity at Boston Children’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School.


Michelle Cardel, PhD, M.S., R.D., F.T.O.S.

Dr. Cardel is an assistant professor and obesity and nutrition scientist in the Department of Health Outcomes & Biomedical Informatics at the University of Florida (UF), where she is also an Associate Director for the Center for Integrative Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases and founder and director of UF’s Obesity Research Alliance. Her research is focused on characterizing psychosocial factors, including low social status and food insecurity, that contribute to the development of obesity and implementing effective weight loss treatment programs for obesity among underserved populations. Her specialties include nutrition, pediatric and adult obesity, psychosocial factors contributing to obesity, implementation science, and health disparities.

Dr. Cardel is a member of American Society for Nutrition (ASN), and was selected as a Fellow of The Obesity Society for her contributions to the field of obesity. Dr. Cardel has been presented with a variety of awards including the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Outstanding Woman Award, UAB’s President’s Diversity Award, The Obesity Society’s Ethan Sims Young Investigator Award finalist, UAB’s National Alumni Society Young Alumni Rising Star Award, and the ASN Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigators Award. She has been co-I or PI on several funded obesity grants, including her current NIH K01 career development award.

Dr. Cardel received her bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in Chemistry at Florida State University and is a registered dietitian. Her master’s degree in clinical nutrition and doctoral degree in Nutrition Sciences was awarded from University of Alabama at Birmingham.

You can read more about Dr. Cardel on her faculty bio.


Tiffany L. Carson, PhD, MPH

Dr. Carson is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the UAB School of Medicine. She is also an Associate Scientist in the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center, the Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center. Dr. Carson is an applied epidemiologist with expertise in the area of psychosocial factors related to obesity such as stress, social support, body image, and quality of life. Dr. Carson’s current research also incorporates biological measures into her investigations to inform a bio-behavioral model for addressing obesity and other health disparities. She has received funding from an NCI Diversity Supplement, additional pilot grant programs , and an NCI-funded K01 award to examine the complex relationships between biological (e.g., cortisol, gut microbiota) and behavioral (e.g., stress, coping, dietary intake) factors and their effects on weight and weight loss among black and white women and men living in the Deep South.  Dr. Carson has published in the areas of obesity, diet, physical activity, stress and other psychosocial factors related to obesity in black women.


Adolfo G. Cuevas, PhD

Adolfo G. Cuevas, Ph.D., is a community psychologist and Director of the Psychosocial Determinants of Health (PSDH) Lab at Tufts University. Dr. Cuevas received a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology at Portland State University concentrating in Community Psychology and Research Methods, an MS in Applied Psychology at Portland State University, and a BA in Psychology at City College of New York. He attained additional training as a cancer prevention postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2015-2017). His work primarily focuses on the intersection between race/ethnicity, psychosocial stressors, and obesity. Dr. Cuevas has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Cancer Disparities Research Network to investigate the biobehavioral pathways linking psychosocial stress and obesity among Hispanics/Latinos and Black Americans. His work has been published in scientific journals such as Health Psychology, Cancer Causes and Control, American Journal of Public Health, and Cardiology Clinics and featured in HuffPost and NPR’s Code Switch. He is the recipient of Tufts CTSI Career Development Award to examine the effects of psychosocial stressors on obesity disparities among middle-aged and older adults. For his research work on race, racism, and health, Dr. Cuevas was selected as one of the National Minority Quality Forum’s 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health.


Kofi D. Essel, MD, MPH, FAAP

Dr. Essel is a board-certified community pediatrician at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. Dr. Essel also serves as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, the Director of the George Washington University School of Medicine’s Community/Urban Health Scholarly Concentration, a Clinical Public Health Mentor, and the Director of the Clinical Public Health Summit on Obesity. 

Dr. Essel has dedicated his career to advocacy and research around healthcare training, health disparities, and community engagement, with expertise and national recognition in the areas of addressing obesity and food insecurity in families.  He was nationally recognized by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for helping to create an innovative curriculum to enhance pediatric resident trainee skills on obesity management.  He also assisted with developing a national toolkit for pediatric providers to better screen and intervene for food insecurity in their clinical settings with the Food Research & Action Center. He is the Principal Investigator of a large multidisciplinary population health initiative that aims to strengthen community-clinical ties to address obesity in marginalized areas in Washington, D.C.  Dr. Essel has received numerous local and national awards for his professional practice, most recently being selected for the Top 40 Under 40 Leaders in Health Award by the National Minority Quality Forum.

Dr. Essel earned a BS from Emory University with a focus on Human Biology and Anthropology, and earned his Medical Degree and Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology from GWU. He completed pediatric residency and General Academic Pediatric fellowship training at Children’s National. Dr. Essel is happily married and has 2 young children that keep him very busy and active.


Angela Fowler-Brown, MD, MPH

Dr. Fowler-Brown is an internist and researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received her MD degree from Harvard Medical School and then completed a residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.   After residency, Dr. Fowler-Brown served as an officer and staff physician in the US Air Force and subsequently completed a research fellowship and MPH at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently, she maintains a busy clinical practice and aims to provide the best care to individuals in her practice.  Dr. Fowler-Brown is also motivated by her clinical practice to conduct research to better understand factors that affect health on a broader population level. Her research interests are in understanding how clinicians can help patients to mitigate the adverse impacts of obesity and other chronic disease conditions, particularly in vulnerable populations.


Rameck Hunt, MD

Dr. Hunt is board-certified in both internal medicine and obesity medicine, a clinical researcher on obesity, and founder and medical director of the weight management program at Penn Medicine Princeton Health. In 2015, he was named the New Jersey Hospital Association Healthcare Professional of the Year for his work in obesity medicine. He is the co-founder of The Three Doctors Foundation, which focuses on health, education, leadership, and mentoring. He has been a medical contributor on CNN and was a weekly medical expert on the nationally-syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Radio Show. He has been interviewed on numerous talk shows, including Oprah.  He is also an international motivational speaker and also gives lectures around the country on obesity. He and his two doctor friends co-authored The Pact and We Beat the Streets, which both became New York Times bestsellers.  Dr. Hunt has a forthcoming book on the treatment of obesity entitled No Guess Work- A Low Carb Approach at Taking the Guess Work Out of Healthy Living that will be released in 2020.

Dr. Hunt received his Bachelor of Science from Seton Hall University.  He received his Doctor of Medicine and completed his residency in internal medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  Dr. Hunt also the chair of the IRB at Penn Medicine Princeton Health.


Chandra L. Jackson, PhD, MS

Dr. Chandra L. Jackson is an Earl Stadtman Investigator who leads the Social and Environmental Determinants of Health Equity group in the Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences with a joint appointment in the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. She earned a Master’s degree in Epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a PhD in Epidemiology from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and was an Alonzo Smythe Yerby Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health before becoming a Research Associate in the Harvard Catalyst Clinical and Translational Science Center.

She has certificates in both ‘Health Disparities and Health Inequalities’ as well as ‘Community-based Public Health’ from Johns Hopkins, and is interested in translating epidemiologic evidence into interventions, policies, and practices that improve population health and address health disparities. As a former White House Intern working in both the National Economic and Domestic Policy Councils during the Obama administration, she researched and synthesized public health evidence that informed, for example, program decisions for the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Campaign.

Dr. Jackson’s current research focuses on how the physical and social environments impact disparities in sleep health and subsequent risk of cardiometabolic dysfunction, including obesity. Her research has been presented at national scientific conferences and published in both academic journals like Lancet, JAMA Internal Medicine, and the American Journal of Epidemiology as well as major media outlets like the US News & World Report and The New York Times. She has earned merit-based awards, including the Charlotte Silverman Award for outstanding commitment to public health, policy, and community outreach at Johns Hopkins, an Outstanding Fellows Award at Harvard, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

You can read more about Dr. Jackson on her faculty bio.


Holly Lofton, MD, DiplABOM

Dr. Holly Lofton started her personal journey of weight loss as a pre-teen when she modified her lifestyle to improve her diet and became more active in sports. Even during her regimented medical school years at the Medical College of Georgia, she enlisted patients and fellow classmates to lead more active lifestyles and to use nutrition to improve their overall health.

     Dr. Lofton completed her Internal Medicine residency at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. She was then hand selected from a pool of many physicians to train at Geisinger Medical Center’s fellowship in Nutrition Support and Obesity, became board certified in Obesity Medicine, and went on to serve as a staff physician and fellowship director at Geisinger.

     In recent years, she has served on the bariatric medicine committee for the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery as well as on the Board of Directors for the Obesity Action Coalition, all while training other physicians to become skilled in weight management and nutrition. She also educated the general public about the importance of maintaining a normal weight through lectures, workshops, and a national radio segment.

     Dr. Lofton was welcomed into the NYU Langone Weight Management Program in early 2012. She designed the popular New You weight loss program to help her patients obtain results while fostering nutrition education and placing emphasis on a healthy lifestyle. She is currently involved in clinical research pertaining to the effects of liraglutide on patients who have regained weight after bariatric surgery, and continues to educate students on diagnosing and treating obesity. She became a founding member of the NYU Comprehensive Program on Obesity and Leads the Education and Clinical Access divisions of the program. She is also the fellowship director of NYU Langone Health’s Clinical Obesity Medicine Fellowship.

You can read more about Dr. Lofton on her faculty bio.


Numa Pompilio Perez, MD

Dr. Perez, is a PGY-5 General Surgery resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital, currently on the 2nd year of a two-year research sabbatical. Dr. Perez’ interest in pediatric obesity and its management emanates from his love for pediatric surgery combined with his passion for solving healthcare disparities. In light of the rising prevalence of pediatric obesity in the United States, and its disproportionate effect on racial minorities, Dr. Perez feels it is our society’s moral duty to invest significant effort and resources into providing children and adolescents who suffer from obesity equitable access to a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, while ultimately tailoring our therapy to their specific circumstances, supported always by objective data. In parallel, we must work towards identifying effective methods for primary prevention of pediatric and adult obesity, while promoting a healthy lifestyle and prolonged health span for all individuals, regardless of class or socioeconomic status.

During his research sabbatical, Dr. Perez works at the Codman Center for Clinical Effectiveness in Surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and is additionally the 2018-2019 Healthcare Innovation Research Fellow at the Healthcare Transformation Lab at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Perez’ goal is to apply his background in technology and system design towards identifying effective ways to use technology and digital health to tackle pediatric obesity, improve overall surgical outcomes and reduce healthcare disparities. Dr. Perez spent his childhood in El Salvador before coming to the United States at the age of seventeen and joining the U.S. Marine Corps, where he worked as an Avionics Technician for the CH-53E Helicopter and had the honor to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. From there, he moved onto the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated with honors with his BS degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. After college, Dr. Perez worked as a Research Engineer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics for two years, prior to returning to complete medical school at Harvard Medical School. Outside of work, Numa enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter.


Nakiya Naomi Showell, MD, MPH, MHS 

Dr. Showell is a General Pediatrician and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is dedicated to a research and clinical career focused on addressing socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in child obesity and cardiovascular disease risk. At the age of 16, Dr. Showell matriculated at Bryn Mawr College where she later graduated with a B.A. in Chemistry. She then received her MD from the Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) National Medical Honor Society. In 2010, Dr. Showell completed her pediatrics residency at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). After completing her training, Dr. Showell committed to a career in academic medicine by first earning a Masters in Public Health degree at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) and subsequently completing a Fellowship in General Academic Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2013. Upon completion of her Fellowship, Dr. Showell transitioned into a tenure-track faculty position at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine during which she completed a second Masters degree in Clinical Investigation from JHSPH in 2015. A selected participant in the 2017 AAMC Early Career Women Leadership Seminar, Dr. Showell also served as an invited alumna speaker on the inaugural Bryn Mawr College Women in Medicine Panel. Presently, she serves as a core faculty member of the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Residency Health Equity Track and member of the Pediatric Intern Selection Committee. In recognition of her scholarship, leadership experience and commitment to health disparities research, Dr. Showell was chosen to be a core faculty member in the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity and most recently elected as the 2019-2022 Co-Chairman of the Academic Pediatric Association Obesity Special Interest Group.


Erica Warner, Sc.D., MPH

Dr. Warner is an Assistant Professor in the Department Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Assistant Investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital where she conducts epidemiological research on cancer. She is a member of the Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center in the Cancer Epidemiology and Breast Cancer Programs.  Dr. Warner is a cancer epidemiologist, studying how lifestyle, behavioral and genetic factors including obesity across the life course affect cancer screening, risk of cancer, and intermediate markers of cancer risk, with a particular interest in molecular subtypes and racial/ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities. Dr. Warner has a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a master’s in public health degree (MPH) from Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Warner completed her doctorate and the Alonzo Smythe Yerby Postdoctoral Fellowship, both in Epidemiology, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.