New Mexico Cares
Health Disparities Center

MSC09 5040
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

FAX: (505) 272-8045


Administrative Core

Research Core

Research Training and Education Core

Community Engagement Core

Environmental Health Core

Substance Abuse and Primary Care Project

Tribal Preventive & Early Mental Health Intervention

Medical Decision Making Among Medical Students Project

NM Cares Pilot Projects

Administrative Core

Rob Williams MD, MPH is the Principal Investigator/Director of New Mexico Center for Advancement of Research, Engagement & Science on Heath Disparities, Director of the Administrative Core, Professor of Family and Community Medicine, and Director of Research Involving Outpatient Settings Network. He has held a variety of clinical and research management positions throughout his career, and his research and publications have centered on the themes of translation of research into practice and health disparities. He worked for 8 years on the Navajo Reservation, a year for the Peace Corps/UN in Western Samoa, 8 years at an inner city community health center, and for a year in a periurban South African community.

Melvina McCabe, MD, is a Navajo physician and Professor in the UNM SOM Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. McCabe is the Co-Investigator of the New Mexico Center for Advancement of Research, Engagement & Science on Heath Disparities (CARES). As Co-Investigator, she serves on the Administrative Core of the NM CARES and is responsible for the Mentoring Program of the grant. She is also the Director of the Native American Center of Excellence established by Chancellor Roth of the UNM HSC and serves as the Vice-Chair for Diversity in the UNM SOM Department of Family Medicine. Her research area of interest is with American Indian communities and is the recipient of an RO1 NIH grant on diabetes, among other grant funding from the NIH and CDC. She has a strong commitment to educating and improving diversity understanding.

Nina Wallerstein, DrPH, is Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and was the founding Director of the Masters in Public Health Program at the University of New Mexico until 2007. She currently is the Director of the Center for Participatory Research, Institute for Public Health, Vice President's Office of Community Health; Director of Community Engagement and Research of the Clinical Translational Science Center, and Senior Fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at UNM. She received her DrPH and MPH in Community Health Education at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. For over 25 years, she has been involved in empowerment/popular education, and participatory research with youth, women, tribes, and community building efforts. She is the co-editor of Community Based Participatory Research for Health, 2nd edition, 2008 (with Meredith Minkler); co-author of Problem-Posing at Work: Popular Educator's Guide; and author of several other health and adult education books and over 100 articles and book chapters on participatory intervention research, adolescent health promotion, alcohol and addictions prevention research, empowerment theory, and popular health education. She has worked in Latin America with the Pan American Health Organization in participatory evaluation of healthy municipalities and communities, and in development of empowerment and health promotion trainings. Her current research interests focus on community capacity and health development in tribal communities, culturally appropriate translational intervention research, and community based participatory research processes and outcomes.

Miria Kano, PhD, is a health researcher and Senior Program Manager for the Research Involving Outpatient Settings Network (RIOS Net) and the New Mexico Center for Advancement of Research, Engagement and Science on Health Disparities (NM CARES HD). Dr. Kano is presently working on research projects involving endometrial cancer survivors, medical decision making among medical students, LGBTQ patients in primary care settings, and strategies to increase preventive care service utilization among patients served by primary care providers participating in RIOS Net. She has conducted long term ethnographic work in New Mexico counties throughout the state with a focus on people who are underrepresented in medical research due to ethnic minority status, gender/sexual minority status, rural residence, and socioeconomic disadvantages.

Denise Ruybal, is an Supervisor Administrative Support for the New Mexico Center for Advancement of Research, Engagement and Science on Health Disparities (NM CARES HD). She enjoys interacting with the diverse staff at the University of New Mexico. Family and community members on various advisory committees. Ms. Ruybal was born and raised in Colorado, but her family originates from the Santa Fe New Mexico area. She holds an AAS and ASG degree in Computer Sciences and Business Administrations, and plans continue her education at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Research Core

Steven P. Verney, PhD, is the Director of the NM CARES HD Research Core, and Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Education in the Department of Psychology at UNM. An Alaska Native (Tsimshain), he is an accomplished and well-respected Native American faculty member who has a history of collaboration with faculty in the Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences, and Center for Alcoholism Substance Abuse and Addictions.

Robert Rhyne, MD,, Co-Director, Research Core is the Vice Chair of Research and a Professor in the Family and Community Medicine Department at UNM. He is co-founder of the practice-based research network in New Mexico, Research Involving Outpatient Settings Network (RIOS Net). He has 25 years of experience in primary care, has been PI and co-investigator on numerous National Institute of Health funded projects, and has conducted research in Community Oriented Primary Care, community-based medical education as well as on Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use in Hispanic communities in New Mexico.

Victoria Sanchez, DrPH, is Assistant Professor in the Master of Public Health. She coordinates the Community Health Concentration track and teaches the program planning and social/cultural theory courses. She has a long-standing interest in understanding health behaviors within the broader contexts of family, cultural, community, and societal norms. Her research interests span substance abuse prevention, community capacity building, coalition effectiveness, participatory planning and evaluation processes with public health departments, and qualitative methodologies to understand community change.

Betty Skipper, PhD, is a Professor and Associate Chair in the Department. She received her Biostatistics Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. She has been Department faculty since 1967. She currently teaches Epidemiology Data Analysis and is a mentor for medical student research projects. She has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and is involved in many of the Department’s research projects. She directs the Biostatistics Unit in the Department.

Jennifer Averill, PhD, RN, is an Associate Professor of Nursing whose clinical background spanned medical-surgical, oncology, hospice, home health, school health, critical care, public health, rural health, and transcultural populations (including migrant health and NM Indian health), prior to completion of her PhD in Nursing at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in 1997. Currently her research focuses on rural and multicultural populations (especially elders), Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), critical ethnography, and interdisciplinary (research) collaboration with the UNMHSC Clinical Translational Science Center (CTSC). She has taught a variety of subjects in Colorado and New Mexico for all levels of nursing students (ADN through PhD). Currently she teaches nursing theory for both MSN and PhD students, rural and cultural health for PhD students, and qualitative research techniques. Jennifer is active in the International Institute for Qualitative Methods, Western Institute of Nursing, American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International, and is a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in CBPR. She and her husband enjoy trail riding (they have horses), hiking, and other outdoor activities, and she has a special interest in writing original poetry.

Research Training and Education Core

Matthew Borrego, PhD, RPh, is Director of the Research Training and Education Core. Dr. Borrego is also Associate Professor of Pharmacy Administration at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Borrego’s current research interests center around two major areas, pharmacy education and health outcomes research. Ongoing studies include the measurement of teaching, pharmacy education and interdisciplinary education related outcomes. Studies in the health outcomes area include applied pharmaco-economic evaluations, health related quality of life studies and general health outcomes studies. Dr. Borrego also has a growing interest and is conducting preliminary studies in issues related to cultural competence in providing health care services, health and pharmaceutical policy and the health status and access to care of minority (especially Hispanic) populations.

Community Engagement Core

Lisa Cacari-Stone, PhD, is Director of the Community Engagement Core is Assistant Professor with the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Senior Research Fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy at UNM. She has been a national recipient of the W.K. Kellogg Doctoral Fellowship in Health Policy Research at the Heller School of Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, where she received her doctoral degree in 2004. From 2005 to 2008, she served as an H. Jack Geiger Congressional Health Policy Fellow for Senator Edward M. Kennedy with the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. During that time, she also was a W.K. Kellogg Scholars in Health Disparities Program and Alonzo Yerby post-doctoral scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Cacari’s research explores the influences of border migration, and social policy upon health as well as the role of community engagement in developing interventions that might reduce those health disparities. She teaches two courses, "Health Policy Politics and Social Equity" and "Border, Migration and Latino Health" for graduate students in health and social sciences.

Nina Wallerstein, DrPH, (see bio above) is Co-Director Community Engagement Core see administrative core.

Environmental Health Core

Melissa Gonzales, PhD, is Director of the Environmental Health Core

Johnnye Lewis, PhD, is Co-Director

Janet Page-Reeves, PhD, Dr. Page-Reeves has a long history of engagement with political economic, cultural identity and food systems issues, including work in New Mexico with the Food Stamp Participation Project, the Food Stamp Working Group, and the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger. She has extensive experience working collaboratively with community groups in Albuquerque’s International District, the South Valley and Santa Barbara /Martineztown, and with a broad range of nonprofit organizations and university programs. Her knowledge of local issues and understanding of cultural dynamics allows her to design and conduct research that is contextually-relevant and culturally-situated. Her anthropological training and prior fieldwork experience in Bolivia give her the skills to use an ethnographically-inspired approach to explore issues in a way that produces qualitative, nuanced and multi-dimensional analyses.

Mark Moffett, PhD, is a health care economist for the Institure for Public Health and an Assistant Professor with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UNM's School of Medicine. Dr. Moffet is also a Co-Investigator on Project 1: Fiestas: Improving food securiy in an urban Hispanic community. He has extensive experience in retrospective (quasi-experimental) data analysis, economic analysis alongside clinical trials, desktop decision analysis, patient reported outcomes, systematic review, and community-based research.

Research Projects

Research Project One: Substance Abuse and Primary Care

Andrew Sussman, PhD, is the Principal Investigator of this project. Dr. Sussman is also Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. He is a medical anthropologist and has been with Department of Family and Community Medicine since 2003. He received his Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology and a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico. Dr. Sussman conducts much of his research with RIOS Net, the Departmental practice-based research network. He has expertise in qualitative research methods, formative assessment and process evaluation. His work focuses on patient-provider communication, clinical decision making and health disparities in the primary care setting. Dr. Sussman also teaches Qualitative Research Methods in the Masters of Science in Clinical Research Program.

Victoria Sanchez, DrPH, (see above bio) is Co-Investigator of this project.

Kamilla Venner, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico. Her training and research interests have centered on substance abuse problems and recovery with an emphasis on Native Americans. Her work has involved testing the cross-cultural applicability of addiction models developed with predominately Angle male samples.

Robert Williams, MD, (see above bio)

Research Project Two: Tribal Preventive & Early Mental Health Intervention Project

Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, PhD, (Hunkpapa/Oglala Lakota), Principal Investigator, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry/Director of Native American and Disparities Research at the UNM Center for Rural and Community Behavioral Health (CRCBH).  She was formerly an Associate Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work and a clinical intervention research team member at New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgerons. Dr. Brave Heart was Associate Professor at the University of Denver for many years and developed historical trauma and unresolved grief theory and interventions among American Indians. In 1992, she founded the Takini Network, a non-profit organization based in Rapid City, South Dakota, devoted to community healing from massive group trauma. Dr. Brave Heart’s Historical Trauma and Unresolved Grief Intervention was selected as a Tribal Best Practice by First Nations Behavioral Health Association and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Dr. Brave Heart’s prior work as PI on SAMHSA-funded projects such as the Lakota Regional Community Action Grant on Historical Trauma and Integrating Historical Trauma Intervention in a Lakota Parenting Project informs her current research. Dr. Brave Heart is also PI for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Survey on collective trauma, grief, and loss and is working with the Aberdeen Area Indian Health Service in designing an outreach video on PTSD for American Indian veterans.

Doreen M. Bird, MPH  is from Santo Domingo Pueblo (Kewa), New Mexico.  As an NIMH research fellow, she was trained, mentored and supervised by leading mental health researchers, Philip A. May, PhD and Tassy Parker, PhD at the University of New Mexico's Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions.  Ms. Bird received her Bachelor of Psychology and Master of Public Health degrees from UNM.  During her research career, she has focused on mental and behavioral health research with and within American Indian communities.  She has served as investigator, evaluator, and coordinator in a variety of community-based reserach studies in rural and tribal communities in New Mexico.  Her current work focuses on the adaptation, implementation and evaluation of multifamily group therapy (MFG) model for youth showing the early warnings signs of mental, emotional, and behavioral problems in an NIH funded project in a Southwest tribal community.  As an American Indian tribal member, she is able to understand the past, current, and future roles of research in America Indian communities and aspires to uphold the highest level of respect and integrity in engaging in research with minority populations.

Medical Decision Making Among Medical Students Project

Robert Williams,MD (see above bio)

Andrew Sussman, PhD, MCRP (see above bio)

Crystal Romney, Project Coordinator, received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in History from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 2003. In 2006 she was certified by the New Mexico Credentialing Board for Behavioral Health Professionals as a Prevention Specialist. She has done public health work with communities in New Mexico as well as prevention research since 2004. Her areas of interest are disease prevention as well as access to health care.

NM Cares Pilot Projects

Tamar Ginossar, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor in the Hematology/Oncology Division in the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. As a health communication researcher, she conducts community-based and clinic-based research on health information behavior and health disparities.

Dr. Eve Espey, is currently Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of New Mexico and also holds the position of Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Dr. Espey's main interests are in the area of family planning and medical student education. She is the Medical Director for the UNM Center for Reproductive Health and is a board member of several national reproductive health organizations. Dr. Espey chairs the American College of OB-GYN (ACOG) Committee on Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives and is a member of the Underserved Women committee. Additionally, she is the ACOG New Mexico Section Chair. She sits on the board of directors of the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Dr. Espey has published and presented nationally in the fields of medical student education and family planning and abortion.