Center for Improving Care Delivery for the Aging

CICADA, the Center for Improving Care Delivery for the Aging, is Penn’s Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR).  It aim is to train emerging scientists from underrepresented backgrounds in the interdisciplinary science of HSR as it applies to the most pressing issues for aging Americans, particularly minority elders.

CICADA selects three new RCMAR Scientists each year through a competitive call for pilot grants that last one year. It targets three categories of trainees to become RCMAR Scientists: (1) MD and MD/PhD clinical fellows who have completed their residency, (2) PhD postdoctoral trainees, and (3) MD/PhD, MD, and PhD junior faculty [defined as Instructor or early-stage (<3 years) Assistant Professor]. Eligible trainees are persons who are underrepresented in research based on the Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-15-053) definitions, including Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders; individuals with disabilities; and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Trainees must either be actively engaged in HSR in aging relevant to CICADA themes or committed to developing new research skills in HSR applied to aging and must be at Penn during their training as a RCMAR Scientist.


Year 4 RCMAR Scientists (2021-2022)

Lan Đoàn, PhD, MPH is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Population Health, Section for Health Equity, in the Center for the Study of Asian American Health at New York University. Her work is centered on the structural determinants of health and mainly focused on cardiovascular disease and psychosocial factors, including quality of life and depression, among Asian American older adults and how neighborhood deprivation modifies the impact of these determinants. Her long-term career goal is to conduct community-engaged research on aging and aging-related processes in racial/ethnic minority populations, and investigate potential interventions for these high-risk groups.

Courtney Lee, MD, MPH is an LDI Associate Fellow, internist at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and General Internal Medicine Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the intersections of health disparities, inpatient care utilization, social determinants of health, performance metrics for hospitals, and alternate payment models. Her current projects are focused on evaluating Medicaid rebalancing programs that transition institutionalized persons back to the community, understanding provider sentiment in clinical notes, and evaluating quality metrics of inpatient psychiatric hospitals.  

Rose Onyeali, MD is an LDI Associate Fellow, an attending hospitalist at Pennsylvania Hospital, and a recent graduate of the Geriatrics Fellowship at Penn. Here research interest focuses on transitions of care of incarcerated adults with cognitive and functional impairment. A former member of the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Ethics Committee, she actively contributed to the Jefferson Alliance for Minority Health. During her fellowship, she observed gaps in the health care transitions of older incarcerated adults into the community, which led to her research interest in transitions of care for incarcerated adults with cognitive and functional impairment.  

Year 3 RCMAR Scientists (2020-2021)

Juan Pablo Atal, PhD, MS, is an applied micro-economist whose research focuses on different aspects of health economics. He is currently studying the workings of long term health insurance, the determinants of team productivity in the emergency department, and the effect of quality regulations on the pharmaceutical market. Prior to earning his PhD in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley, Atal graduated with a BS in Industrial Engineering and an MA in Economics from Universidad de Chile, and worked as a research assistant at the Inter-American Development Bank. In 2016, he joined the University of Pennsylvania’s Economics Department.

Roman Ayele, PhD, MPH, is a Research Health Scientist currently working as a qualitative methodologist at the Veterans Health Administration's Center of Innovation for Veteran-Centered and Value-Driven Care (COIN) in Denver. She does research in Public health using mixed methods. Dr. Ayele’s research focuses on understanding healthcare utilization of dementia Veteran patient decedents at the end-of-life, especially relationships between race/ethnicity and utilization patterns. Dr. Ayele earned her MPH from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2011. She then earned her PhD in Health Services Research in 2018 from the Colorado School of Public Health.

Maya Clark-Cutaia, RN, MSN, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. Her scholarship focuses on the increased risk morbidity and mortality that result from end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and hemodialysis renal replacement therapy. This patient population is more likely to suffer from sudden cardiac events, is two to three times more likely to be rehospitalized than the general population, and spends a disproportionally high percentage of Medicare funds. Clark-Cutaia received her PhD in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh and MS and BS in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.

Year 2 RCMAR Scientists (2019-2020)

Nwamaka Eneanya, MD, MPH is currently an attending nephrologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University, medical degree from Meharry Medical College, and master’s degree in public health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Eneanya’s research focuses on palliative care, informed decision-making and racial disparities among patients with advanced chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney disease. Her work has been supported by NIDDK, NIMHD, and the American Society of Nephrology.

Salama Freed, PhD, MA, MS joined us as a postdoctoral researcher at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Freed earned her PhD in Economics from Vanderbilt University in 2018. Her research agenda focuses on three areas: 1) affordable health care provision for the elderly, 2) health insurance and health care access, and 3) the role of payment policies and incentives in health care spending. Each of these topics fits into her broader interest in evaluating innovative methods and policies that may contain rising health care costs while providing necessary care to vulnerable populations. Her work at LDI and Perelman focuses on evaluating long term care provision for the rapidly expanding elderly population. Her CICADA project investigates the role of information on competition between nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Dr. Freed is currently the Duke-Margolis and National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) post-doctoral health policy fellow in Washington, DC. 

Eleanor Rivera, PhD, RN joined us as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health at the Penn School of Nursing. Her research focuses on illness representation theory, which is a patients’ unique understanding of their diagnosed disease, and can be based on factors such as their lived experience and personal definitions of health and wellness.  She believes that centering the primary care experience around these illness representations is crucial to the creation of realizable and relevant treatment plans.  Her current research is taking that model into the chronic kidney disease population, to assess the relationship between illness representation and multiple health outcomes such as adherence and health services resource use. Her dissertation research, published in Geriatrics in 2018, was given the Emerging Scholar and Professional Organization Interdisciplinary Paper Award by the Gerontological Society of America. Dr. Rivera is now an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing.

Year 1 RCMAR Scientists (2018-2019)

Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins, PhD joined us a vice-provost post-doctoral fellow in the School of Policy and Practice at Penn. After obtaining his bachelor’s and master’s degrees focused in medical and legal history, Dr. Jenkins earned a PhD in Sociology and Criminology & Law from the University of Florida. His work examines the influence of race, racism, and psychosocial stress among patients living with chronic disease. Most recently, Dr. Jenkins has investigated how experiences with racism-induced stress, both in and outside of the health care setting, contribute to more rapid decline in kidney function. Dr. Jenkins is currently in investigator with the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP) at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.

G. Adriana Perez, PhD, CRNP, ANP-BC, FAAN is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the Penn School of Nursing and past Chair and current Policy Advisor of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), Public Policy Committee. She was a Congressional Fellow supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies and CDC Healthy Aging Program to work with Latino city planners, local policymakers, stakeholders, and residents to inform environmental policies that promote healthy aging. Her current research is on promoting primary care and preventive services through the leadership of bilingual Latina nurses. The pilot offers her the opportunity to extend her research to address specific challenges of high-risk older Latinos and their caregivers.

Jasmine Travers, PhD joined us a Postdoctoral Fellow in the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health at the Penn School of Nursing, a National Clinician Scholar at the Yale School of Medicine, a Penn Dean's Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow for Academic Diversity, and an LDI Associate Fellow. Her pilot project focuses on studying the differences in psychosocial, mental health, and medical health outcomes among minority older adults receiving longer-term services and support in community-based settings compared to nursing home settings. Dr. Travers is now an assistant professor at New York University College of Nursing.