Meet the members of the 2023-2024 CDI Resident and Fellow Committee.
Giovanni (Vanni) Rodriguez, MD
Emergency Medicine (PGY-4)
I am one of the Chief Residents for the Harvard’s Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency program, and I work clinically at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I am a first-generation Mexican American and moved to the US when I was 6 years old. I attended undergrad at UW-Madison and majored in Biology. After graduation, I entered the Master of Science in Medical Science Program at Indiana University as I prepare to apply to medical school and study for the MCAT.
I, fortunately, gained a spot in the class of 2020, and only completed one year of the program and started medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine. As an MS4 I had to opportunity to rotate in the MGH/BWH system as a Sub-I and fell in love with the institution and also the culture and welcoming nature of the faculty and staff. Most importantly, I loved that CDI at Mass General was a resource for minority students like myself.
I am excited to be a part of RFC as your Chair! I hope to continue to build our CDI community and create a family away from home. I want to ensure that we highlight and foster the wonderful community we have.
Outside of medicine, I love to travel (anywhere with a beach!), spend time with my family and friends, and exploring restaurants because I love to eat!
Sandra Saade-Lemus, MD
I am in my senior year of residency at MGB/Harvard Neurology. I completed my intern year at MGH and found a great community in the CDI since then! Last year I was the Public Relations Co Chair, and I am now grateful for the opportunity to serve as a Vice Chair for MGH’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion RFC.
I was born in Valledupar, Colombia, in a family of Lebanese descent. I spent my childhood in Valencia, Venezuela, before returning to Colombia and calling Bogotá my home. I went to medical school in Bogotá at Universidad del Rosario, our first medical school (founded in 1653!). After that I moved to Philadelphia to do research with the University of Pennsylvania/CHOP before coming to Boston.
My main clinical and research interest is the impact of socioeconomic disparities in neurologic and sleep health. After I finish my Neurology training, I will complete a Sleep Medicine fellowship. I plan to build a career centered around serving vulnerable populations and improving primary prevention efforts for conditions such as stroke and sleep disorders.
As a Colombian and three-times immigrant, my priority in the CDI RFC is to strengthen our community outreach efforts, as well as continue to foster a strong network between UiM trainees and faculty where we can feel at home and grow professionally.
Outside of work, I love dancing salsa, traveling, and hiking with my husband and our two dogs!
Michael N. Andrew, MD, MPH
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PGY-3)
Education and Career Development Co-Chair
I am a PGY-3 resident physician in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (SRH). I was born and lived in Harare, Zimbabwe until age of 12 when I transplanted to East Lansing, Michigan. Interests in collegiate athletics (track and football) took me to Albion College, MI where I completed my undergraduate studies with a major in Biological Sciences. Following a brief period of research and development in the pharmaceutical industries, I completed a Master of Public Health and Doctor of Medicine degrees at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (MSU-CHM) in East Lansing, Michigan.
My experiences as a former collegiate athlete helped shape my curiosity about the mechanisms involved in maintaining optimal function in a constantly evolving physique. Through several service-volunteer opportunities such as an alternate delegate for the American Medical Association - MSU-CHM, I observed the impact of collaboration amongst multi-disciplinary teams working together to generate policy driven agendas. My research interests include impact of health policy, biomedical innovation, pain and musculoskeletal medicine.
I am humbled to serve as one of the CDI RFC Education and Career Development Officers. It is my hope that my role will bring about awareness of the multitude of resources that can propel professional development among resident physicians, especially those of UiM. I am also interested in financial literacy programs with the goal of empowering UiM to achieve financial freedom and building lasting impact that will transform under-marginalized communities.
Outside of my clinical and research interests, I enjoy spending time with my growing family, challenging the inner athlete, exploring past knowledge, playing music and trying out new cuisines.
Juan Sebastian Martin Saavedra, MD
Pediatric Neurology (PGY-4)
Education and Career Development Co-Chair
I joined MGH/Harvard Pediatric Neurology Residency on 2022 after completing 2 years of general pediatrics at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. I am currently a PGY4 pediatric neurology resident.
I was born in Cali, Colombia, in a family of Chilean immigrants where I lived until I was 19 years old and moved to Bogota D.C. for medical school. I graduated in December 2016 from Universidad del Rosario and stayed for a year leading a clinical trial using music for pain in primary dysmenorrhea. Then, I moved to the US to work at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s department of Radiology in 2018.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as Education and Career Development Officer for MGH’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Being a URiM and coming from an immigrant family; my priority is increasing awareness among trainees of URiM providers and diverse patient populations different educational experiences.
Outside of work, I love dancing salsa, traveling, and hiking with my wife and our two dogs!
Catherine Gutierrez, MD, PhD
Internal Medicine (PGY-2)
Community Outreach Co-Chair
I am a second year internal medicine resident at MGH and am thrilled to have joined the warm and welcoming community of CDI this year. I was born and raised in New York and my family is from Medellin, Colombia. I studied molecular biology and microbiology at the University of Central Florida for my undergraduate training and completed an MD/PhD in cancer biology at Harvard Medical School and Dana Farber Cancer Center. I am applying to hematology/oncology fellowship this year.
Throughout my training, I have been passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion and participated in several minority outreach programs including as LMSA Pipeline Chair (HMS), Co-chair of the Women of Color in Medicine and Dentistry (HMS), Student Coordinator of the PPCS program for minority students (HMS), and as a panelist at the Youth Career and Research Day (BCH), the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, and the SRTP program. I have deeply enjoyed mentoring minority pre-med students both informally and through formal programs such as the MAPS program at Northeastern. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of interacting with current and past members of CDI and value the opportunity to continue to build bridges between our vibrant community and other URM students, trainees and professionals as a Community Outreach Officer.
Outside of work, I enjoy picking up new skills, like crochet and pottery. My husband and I have two golden retrievers and we love spending New England days out in the mountains backpacking or camping.
Darius White, MD
Internal Medicine – Pediatrics (PGY-2)
RFC Community Outreach Co-Chair
Darius White was born and raised in Newark, NJ. He attended Rutgers University for college and majored in Biological Sciences. During his undergraduate years he experienced first-hand how powerful mentorship for individuals from underserved communities can be. Between undergraduate and medical school, he spent two years working as a clinical researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the Department of Colorectal Surgery. During this time, he was fortunate enough to engage in life changing service-learning trips to both Ile-Ife, Nigeria and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He attended Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in his hometown of Newark, NJ. In medical school he pursued a dual MD/MPH degree, both concentrating in Urban Health. During medical school he furthered his education and solidified his passion for community-based program implementation in marginalized communities. He is now a resident in MGH’s Combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics program (Med-Peds).
He is ecstatic to serve as the RFC Community Outreach Co-Chair because of his passion for bringing resources/programming to marginalized communities. MGH’s CDI was critical in transitioning to residency by bringing him into a community of amazing, supportive individuals. He also sees MGH’s CDI as a well-established institutional organization to make a difference for UiM healthcare professionals and individuals from underserved communities.
Outside of work he loves playing basketball, bicycling, hiking, gardening, traveling with his partner, cooking, and spending time with friends/family!
Adriana Cantos, MD
Public Relations Co-Chair
I am a PGY2 resident in the Massachusetts General Hospital / McLean Hospital Adult Psychiatry Program. I was born in Portoviejo, Ecuador and moved to Florida when I was a child. I graduated from the University of Notre Dame and later attended medical school at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Coming from a Hispanic and immigrant background has been a big contributor to my passion for DEI efforts. Throughout undergraduate and medical school, I have been involved in health disparity research and groups such as the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA), diversity council, multicultural student affairs, and the coalition for immigration advocacy.
Throughout my time in residency, I have been so grateful to be a part of this wonderful CDI community. It was at the CDI where I have met some of my closest friends and support systems, making MGH truly feel like home.
This year, I am elated to be a part of the CDI Resident and Fellow Committee Board (RFC), working alongside such inspirational and hardworking colleagues. As the public relations co-chair, I hope to continue to promote and foster this community for UiM residents and prospective applicants.
Patricia Hernandez, MD
Emergency Medicine (PGY-2)
Public Relations (Co-Chair)
Patricia was born and raised in New Jersey as a first-generation Dominican American. She attended Princeton University where she studied molecular biology and global health policy. She received her MD at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and is currently a PG2 emergency medicine resident in the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency Program at Massachusetts General/Brigham. As one of the current Public Relations Co-Chair for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion board, Patricia deeply committed to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment.
Patricia's early experiences witnessing family members navigate cultural and financial barriers in healthcare ignited her passion for advocacy. During her medical school years, Patricia actively engaged in diversity and inclusion initiatives, serving as the co-chair of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and as the medical student liaison for the Alliance of Minority Physicians at UPenn Med. She played a crucial role in fostering multidisciplinary mentorship and community experiences for underrepresented minority medical students, as well as promoting dynamic social and professional networks for underrepresented minority residents and faculty.
Upon arriving in Boston as a new intern, Patricia connected with the CDI community during the annual Gala in June 2022. This initial engagement not only resulted in meaningful friendships with fellow residents across the institution, but also exposed her to the impactful CDI efforts dedicated to building a supportive community for underrepresented residents and faculty. In her current role as Public Relations Chair, Patricia is honored to contribute to CDI's mission. Drawing from her unique lived experiences and acquired skills, she strives to enhance engagement among prospective applicants and current UiM residents, fellows, and faculty. Patricia is dedicated to upholding and advancing CDI's commitment of recruiting and supporting a diverse cohort of residents.
2023-2024 Resident and Fellows Council
Falen Demsas, MD
Surgery-Vascular Surgery (PGY-2)
Community Outreach Co-Officer
Falen Demsas is an Integrated Vascular Surgery resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology with a minor in Faith Peace and Justice from Boston College. After completing her undergraduate studies, Falen took an unconventional path, dedicating five years to educating high school students in science in both Compton, CA, and Northeast DC. This enriching experience laid the foundation for her journey into medicine, culminating in matriculation at Dartmouth School of Medicine. Falen's passion for vascular surgery is fueled by the dynamic range of surgical cases and the complex patient population that often faces inequities in care. Beyond her clinical pursuits, Falen is actively engaged in research aimed at advancing equitable healthcare practices to address existing disparities. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her niece and nephew, spontaneous traveling, brunches and biking.
Sean V. Brown, MD, MBA
Emergency Medicine (PGY-2)
Community Outreach Co-Officer
I am a PGY-2 in Emergency Medicine at Harvard’s Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency (HAEMR) program. I was born and raised in New Jersey and am extremely fortunate to have had supportive parents growing up. Coming from very humble beginnings, they gave up so much to grant my younger brother and I all the opportunities that they didn’t have. Their high and sometimes seemingly unattainable expectations really pushed me to be the best version of myself. They really emphasized the importance of school and just generally being a good, well rounded person who stands on moral principles. At the end of high school, my father received a terminal medical diagnosis and subsequently passed away in my first year of college. His passing allowed me to re-examine my life, the lives of my family members, and the lives of other black and brown families which I interacted with frequently. I realized the importance of going to the doctor. This together pushed me towards a career in medicine. I earned my MD and MBA from Temple University. When I matriculated as a first year medical student at Temple, I was the only African-American male in my class which was especially striking given the demographics of North Philadelphia. This opened my eyes to the reality that medicine is a career path of the privileged. I realized that in order to address the health disparities that exist in medicine this needed to change. This and all of the social issues that intersect with health lead me to emergency medicine (EM). EM provides a safety net for marginalized communities. The inequity that exists in our society strips the right to a healthy life.
I am grateful to serve on the newly formed RFC Council. I am particularly interested in programs that target individuals with low health literacy as well as programs that will help expose young people to medicine. I started working with the YSIMS program affiliated with MGH Learning Lab which is focused on exposing Boston youth to medical simulation. I hope to continue this work by bringing novel ideas and leveraging this position to recruit more trainees and fellows to help with this program.
Maria Camila Velez Florez, MD
MGH/McLean Psychiatry (PGY-2)
Public Relations Co-Officer
Dr. Velez Florez is currently a PGY-2 Psychiatry Resident in the Physician-Scientist Track, enrolled in the health disparities division, and is a member of the Resident Hispanic clinic. Born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, she earned a national scholarship for academic excellence during her medical school years at the Universidad del Rosario, where she was actively involved in the neuroscience lab. After graduation, Dr. Velez Florez spent three years as a hospitalist in emergency medicine and critical care. Subsequently, she pursued a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
During her research fellowship, she led projects for curriculum development, professional identity formation, cultural humility, and artificial intelligence-driven tools for precision learning, receiving multiple grant funding. She also contributed and published research projects in the hospital’s additive manufacturing team, which was awarded the National Science Foundation grant to develop and deploy innovative technology solutions addressing frontline medical shortages related to COVID-19. To support these efforts, Dr. Velez Florez developed an affordable and accessible transparent facemask, receiving grant funding from the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation. This medical device was tested with NIH and FDA standards, piloted and deployed throughout the hospital, the Center for Autism Research, and in multiple schools in the community. Committed to addressing disparities and improving access to quality health care in vulnerable communities, she plans to continue using mixed methods to explore cultural psychiatry, Hispanic psychiatry, LGBTQIA+ mental health, cultural humility, and safety, along with medical education.
Vanessa F. Moreira Ferreira, MD
Public Relations Co-Officer
I am in my third year of neurology residency at MGB/Harvard. I was born and raised in Brazil, a country known for its diversity and friendly people. During medical school, I became fascinated by the human brain and decided to share my excitement about neurology with my peers and patients. I coordinated and participated in several events to bring awareness to neurologic diseases in Brazilian communities. These activities contributed to my increasing passion for patient advocacy.
Being part of CDI today, not only allow me to feel embraced on a diverse community of health professional with similar backgrounds in different stages of their careers, but also allows me to continue to connect to patients through our community outreach projects.
It is an honor to be part of the CDI and my goal is to contribute to the continuous growth of this diverse community.