Research Centers

Division of General Academic Pediatrics

The Division of General Academic Pediatrics, in the Department of Pediatrics, is an internationally-known academic research division dedicated to improving the health of children and adolescents.
  • 617-643-9201

Within MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Department of Pediatrics is the Division of General Academic Pediatrics, an internationally-known academic research division dedicated to improving the health of children and adolescents through:

  • Excellence in prevention and reduction of the burden of chronic disease among children; reduction and elimination of disparities in children’s health and healthcare; and improving the health of populations across the lifecourse through innovations in research, patient care, education, and community advocacy.
  • Preparing and supporting primary care pediatricians in the delivery of health care innovations and in the conduct of research that leverages clinical and community partnerships.

Until 2012 the Division, was directed by James M. Perrin, MD. Dr. Taveras joined the Division as Chief on April 1, 2013. With its multidisciplinary faculty staff of physicians and doctoral-level pediatric researchers, the Division carries out multidisciplinary research in academic general pediatrics. Faculty are supported by project managers, clinical research coordinators, analysts and administrative assistants.

Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH

Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH
Chief, Division of General Pediatrics
Dr. Taveras is the Chief of the Division of General Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC).  She is also the Director of the Department of Pediatric Population Health Management at MGHfC, and is an Associate Professor of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Taveras is a pediatrician and health services researcher.  Her research interests include the developmental origins of obesity, pediatrics, obesity prevention and treatment and racial/ethnic disparities.  Dr. Taveras trained in Pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston and Boston Medical Center and received her Master's Degree in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

 

Mahnoosh (Mona) Sharifi, MD, MPH
Instructor, Division of General Pediatrics
Dr. Sharifi is an Instructor in the Division of General Pediatrics at the MassGeneral Hospital for  Children (MGHfC) and Harvard Medical School, and is an attending pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital.  Her research is focused on chronic disease prevention and health behavior change in pediatric primary care with a focus on childhood obesity and tobacco smoke exposure prevention.  Her research employs qualitative methods to explore family-centered outcomes, preferences, and best practices as well as quantitative methods to evaluate adherence to clinical obesity management recommendations and social-contextual mediators of childhood obesity disparities. She has worked to develop and evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of novel primary care based interventions that leverage decision aids delivered to clinicians via the electronic health record and to families via remote and mobile technologies to support child health behavior change. 

Jennifer Woo Baidal, MD, MPH
Pediatric Health Services Research Fellow
Jwoo-baidal@partners.org
Dr. Woo Baidal is a Pediatric Health Services Research Fellow in the Division of General Pediatrics, and a GI fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Her research focuses on early life determinants of health disparities, with experience in health services research and population-based childhood obesity prevention interventions. She is interested in investigating the origins of pediatric fatty liver disease and severe obesity, two obesity outcomes that disproportionately burden racial/ethnic minorities. Dr. Woo Baidal’s ultimate goal is to prevent childhood obesity and its adverse outcomes in under-served populations.

Lauren Fiechtner, MD, MPH
Pediatric Health Services Research Fellow
Lfiechtner@partners.org
Dr. Fiechtner is a joint fellow in Pediatric Health Services in the Division of General Pediatrics, and Gastroenterology and Nutrition at Boston Children's Hospital. She has her MD from Boston University and completed residency with the Boston Combined Residency Program (BCRP). Her undergraduate training was in sociology, with a focus on health and aging, at the University of Michigan. Dr. Fiechtner has a longstanding interest in community-level predictors of obesity and other issues of health and equity for underserved populations.  Her research focuses on the food environment and how it impacts healthful behavior change and weight status among children.

Meghan Perkins, MPH
Project Manager
meperkins@partners.org
Meghan Perkins, MPH, is a Project Manager in the Division of General Pediatrics.  She has worked with Dr. Taveras for over 5 years and manages several projects in the Division, including Mass in Motion Kids, Family Experiences in Early Life and Technology to Enhance Child Health.  Meghan received her BA in Mathematics with a specialization in Statistics, and her MPH in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from Boston University. She has experience in qualitative and quantitative methods, and has supported a range of projects, including longitudinal epidemiologic studies and intervention work.  Her research interests focus on early life childhood obesity prevention efforts among racial/ethnic minority and low-income populations.

Chrissy Horan
Project Manager
choran2@partners.org
Chrissy Horan, MPH, is a Project Manager in the Division of General Academic Pediatrics. She has worked with Dr. Taveras for 5 years managing large, clinic based randomized controlled trials focused on the treatment and management of pediatric obesity, including High Five for Kids and STAR. She currently manages the Connect 4 Health study. She received her BA in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University and her MPH in Health Communications from Tufts University.

Sarah Price
Senior Health Educator
snprice@partners.org
Sarah Price, MPH is the Senior Health Educator in the Division of General Academic Pediatrics. She has worked with Dr. Taveras since 2005 leading the health education components of studies including High Five for Kids, Mommy & Me, and STAR. She received a BA in Sociology and Studio Art from Pomona College and an MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Miriam Brody
Staff Assistant & Clinical Research Coordinator
mbrody@partners.org
Miriam Brody is a Staff Assistant and Clinical Research Coordinator in the Division of General Academic Pediatrics.  In addition to supporting Dr. Taveras and Dr. Sharifi, she helps to manage Division operations and works on the Family Experiences in Early Life study, Mass in Motion Kids, and Technology to Enhance Child Health. Miriam received her BA in Operations Management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is a MPH candidate with a focus in Biostatistics from Boston University in 2016.

Courtney Cunningham, MPH
Senior Clinical Research Coordinator
cecunningham@partners.org
Courtney Cunningham, MPH, is a Senior Clinical Research Coordinator in the Division of General Pediatrics.  She supports several projects in the Division, including Family Experiences in Early Life and Technology to Enhance Child Health.  Courtney received her BA in Anthropology with a minor in International Development and Conflict Management from the University of Maryland, College Park and her MPH with a focus in Global Health from Brown University.  She has experience conducting national and international mixed methods projects studying a variety of topics, including physical activity and nutrition, HIV, mental health, and women's health.  Courtney also has experience in the clinical setting, having worked as a patient navigator for a local community health center.

Savannah Vicente
Clinical Research Coordinator
slvicente@partners.org
Savannah Vicente is a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Division of General Pediatrics.  She supports the Mass in Motion Kids project.  Savannah received her BS in Biology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Gabriella de Paz
Clinical Research Coordinator
gdepaz@partners.org
Gabriella de Paz is a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Division of General Pediatrics.  She supports several projects in the Division, including Mass in Motion Kids and Technology to Enhance Child Health.  Gabi received her BS in Biological Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Gareth Marshall
Senior Clinical Research Coordinator
gdmarshall@partners.org
Gareth Marshall is a senior clinical research coordinator in the Division of General Academic Pediatrics. He is interested in mixed-methods work and developing innovative approaches to chronic diseases, particularly childhood obesity.

Ongoing

Secrets of Success

  • Qualitative study funded by Harvard Catalyst and Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute to explore strategies to reduce BMI in patients ages 6-13 who have succeeded in doing so from neighborhoods with high obesity prevalence
  • Conducting parent and child focus groups and parent interviews
  • For more information: choran2@partners.org

Connect 4 Health

  • Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute funded intervention to manage overweight and obesity among children 2-12 years old
  • Intervention strategies include clinical decision support and personalized health coaching, enhanced with technology such as GPS mapped neighborhood resources and text message support
  • For more information: choran2@partners.org

CENTURY

  • NICHD funded study that aims to create a dataset of 215,000 children by linking Massachusetts birth certificates to an electronic database of well-child visits with the goal of identifying pre- and post-birth risk factors for disparities in childhood obesity
  • For more information: mbrody@partners.org

TREC

  • NIH/NCI funded study that examines associations of sleep duration in infancy and childhood with obesity, energy balance, insulin resistance and other cancer-related indicators
  • For more information: meperkins@partners.org

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Early Life Risk Factors for Childhood Obesity

  • NIMHD funded study with the overarching goal of pairing quantitative and qualitative methods to study racial/ethnic disparities in early life risk factors for childhood obesity
  • Quantitative Phase: Studying over 2,000 participants from two ongoing NIH-funded cohort studies of pregnant women and their children in Massachusetts , this study phase seeks to quantify disparities in early life risk factors for childhood obesity
  • Qualitative Phase: Conducting 12 focus groups with pregnant women and parents of infants 0-2 years of age
  • For more information: meperkins@partners.org

Mass in Motion Kids (Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration Project –CORD)

  • CDC funded whole-of-community intervention to prevent obesity among children 2-12 years of age
  • Collaboration with Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health, and the National Initiative for Children’s Health Care Quality
  • Strategies include intervention across multiple sectors including health care, child care, elementary & middle school, after-school, and the broader community
  • For more information: MiMkids@partners.org

Family Experiences in Early Life

  • NIH/NCMHD funded focus group study to explore racial/ethnic differences in risk factors associated with obesity during the prenatal period and in early childhood
  • Conducting 12 focus groups with pregnant women and parents of infants 0-2 years of age
  • For more information: cecunningham@partners.org

Technology to Enhance Child Health (TECH)

  • Harvard Catalyst funded pilot intervention to test the use of wireless technology among 5-18 year olds
  • For more information: TECHkids@partners.org

Completed

STAR

  • HHS funded cluster-RCT to accelerate adoption of childhood obesity comparative effectiveness research evidence among clinicians and parents
  • 14 pediatric practices in eastern MA
  • Intervention strategies included electronic decision support tools for clinicians; telephone and text message support for parents
  • For more information: STAR@partners.org

Healthy Habits, Happy Homes

  • CDC funded RCT to improve  household routines to prevent obesity among 2-6 year old, low-SES, inner-city children 
  • Recruitment through federally qualified health centers in MA
  • Intervention strategies included home visits, telephone coaching, text messages, home environmental changes,  and parent education and support
  • For more information: HappyHomes@partners.org

 

First Steps for Mommy and Me

  • Funded by RWJ  to promote healthful eating and physical activity among postpartum mothers and their infants
  • Recruited mother-infant pairs in first week postpartum from 3 pediatric practices in MA
  • Intervention strategies included brief, focused negotiation by clinicians, telephone coaching calls with a motivational counselor, and educational materials
  • For more information: meperkins@partners.org