The FIRST Team

Rodrigue
James R Rodrigue, PhD FAST

Director, FIRST Program
Professor & Vice Chair of Clinical Research, Department of Surgery
Division of Transplantation
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Professor, Departments of Surgery & Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School

Dr. Rodrigue is Professor and Vice Chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Surgery and a faculty member in the Division of Transplantation at BIDMC. In addition to leading the FIRST Program, he directs the Department of Surgery’s Clinical Scholarship Program – a novel clinical research program for 1st year surgical residents. He is also Professor of Surgery and Psychiatry in the Harvard Medical School. He received his PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Memphis in 1989 and then served on the faculty at the University of Florida from 1989 to 2005. He joined the Transplant Institute at BIDMC in 2005 and served as its Director of the Center for Transplant Outcomes and Quality Improvement. He has been Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on over 30 research grants, continues to have an active NIH-funded research program in organ transplantation and donation, and has published over 200 peer-review articles, 4 books, and numerous book chapters. He lectures nationally and internationally on the behavioral health aspects of transplantation, living and deceased donation, and disparities in transplantation and donation, and he has served on various policy and professional organization committees throughout his career. He is currently a standing member of the Behavioral Medicine Interventions and Outcomes (BMIO) NIH study section and a member of the United Network for Organ Sharing Living Donor and Vascularized Composite Allograft committees.

Fleishman
Aaron Fleishman, MPH

Associate Director, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Associate in Surgery, Department of Surgery
Harvard Medical School

Aaron received his BA from University of Massachusetts – Boston in Psychology and his Master of Public Health in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Boston University. He has worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center since 2011, originally coordinating Dr. Rodrigue’s research program. He has co-authored several peer-reviewed articles on organ transplantation and donation. In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of the FIRST Program, Aaron works per diem in the Division of General Medicine as a biostatistician for Dr. Christina Wee.

Crocina
Catrina Crociani, MPH

Project Manager, Surgical Disease Cancer Cluster, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Catrina received her BS from Eastern Illinois University and her Master in Public Health in International Health from Boston University. She has worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center since 2010 managing clinical research trials in the Division of Urology. She has implemented, managed, and monitored multiple research studies including single institution and multi-center studies with sites across the United States. She is a co-author on several peer-reviewed articles. Catrina oversees clinical research protocols which go through the Dana Farber Harvard Cancer Center’s Institutional Review Board.

Misretta
Christopher J. Mistretta RN, BSN

Clinical Research Nurse, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Chris earned his Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Salem State University in 2011. Since then, he has worked in numerous clinical settings, including: surgery, acute care, primary care, and research. Chris comes to Beth Israel from The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health’s research institution where he worked on HVTN and HPTN HIV Vaccine and HIV Prevention studies for nearly two years. His skill set includes phlebotomy and IV placement. Chris is dedicated to a career in nursing and the medical field, and believes strongly in patient advocacy, evidenced-based care, and improvements in patient outcomes through research. His clinical interests include: HIV/AIDS, Surgery, LGBTQ Health, Sexual Health & Prevention, and Cancer. He is a singer in the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, and enjoys being outdoors and hiking. He is involved with BU’s School of Health Sciences through Student Health Ambassadors and recently served as a panelist on one of their Q&A Panels on Sexual Health and Health Disparities in the LGBTQ community.

Sullivan
Joanna M. Sullivan RN, BSN, MPH

Clinical Research Nurse, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Joanna earned a BA in Modern Languages and Classics at the University of San Francisco in 2005, a BSN at Georgetown University in 2008, and an MPH at Dartmouth College in 2018. Joanna has worked in clinical research and quality improvement in the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center since 2017. Prior to that, Joanna worked as a clinical research nurse and an emergency department nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital, and as a critical care nurse in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Joanna’s international experience includes several projects in Nicaragua, working as a visiting professor on infectious diseases in Mirebalais, Haiti, and she currently serves as co-chair of the medical subcommittee of the Brookline-Quezalguaque (Nicaragua) Sister City. Joanna’s research interests include healthcare access and delivery systems, population health in low resource environments, and healthcare cost savings in the setting of quality improvement.

Duncan
Sarah Duncan, ALB

Clinical Research Coordinator, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Sarah Duncan completed her Bachelor’s in psychology at Harvard Extension School. Sarah is strongly interested in behavioral medicine and addressing disparities in health and healthcare. She is particularly interested in neurology, immunology, and autoimmunity. Sarah is eager to facilitate clinical research at BIDMC to improve interventions, methodologies, and practices in patient care. Sarah is currently attending Simmons University obtaining her Master of Social Work.

Feranil
Mario Feranil, BS

Clinical Research Coordinator, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Mario graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Science in Human Physiology at Boston University. Since April of 2016, he has worked as a research assistant of Dr. Rodrigue helping conduct research projects related to reducing disparities in living kidney donation and improving rates of living donation. His research interests lie in the social aspects of medicine and health disparities. He is currently pursing a Master of Public Health degree at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

Hawthorne
Sarah Hawthorne, BS

Clinical Research Coordinator, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Sarah graduated magna cum laude from Millsaps College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. During her undergraduate career, she discovered her love for research while interning at McLean Hospital. She continued her involvement in research activities in the Genetics and Genomics Division at Boston Children’s Hospital, where her primary role in regulatory affairs supported multiple research and clinical initiatives. Coming to BIDMC, she is excited about using her regulatory knowledge to support a multitude of research efforts.

Liu
Yuchen Liu, BS BA

Clinical Research Assistant, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Yuchen graduated from Boston University with a dual degree in Health Science and International Relations. She is interested in research on the healthcare system and public health policy. Yuchen aims to explore what services can bring effective and affordable treatments to improve the health of patients and the general well-being of their families.

Magrini
Leo Magrini, BS

Clinical Research Coordinator, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Leo graduated from Boston College in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in biology and was working at BWH in their busy Bariatric Surgery program before coming to BIDMC in 2016. He has been taking classes outside of work with a goal of getting into a Physician Assistant (PA) program. He’ll be attending Butler University’s PA Program in the Spring of 2021. He’s looking forward to innovating as an advanced care practitioner and bringing his research experience to the clinical side of things.

Shenkel
Jessica Shenkel, MA

Clinical Research Coordinator, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Jessica graduated from Brandeis University with a joint Master’s degree in Sociology and Women’s Studies. She graduated from Colby-Sawyer College in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in Women’s Studies. During her time at Brandeis, she studied the Sociology of Reproduction, focusing specifically on research in women’s reproductive health. Her Master’s thesis looked at female undergraduate students perceptions of emergency contraception. She remains extremely passionate about research and hopes to build upon her clinical research experience here at BIDMC.

Chen
Angela Chen, BS

Clinical Research Assistant, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Angela received her Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience from Boston College in 2020. As an undergraduate she spent time in a neuroscience lab conducting research designed to understand social and emotional behavior. She is looking forward to learning and broadening her knowledge in the clinical research process here at BIDMC.

Kaul
Sumedh Kaul, MS

Biostatistician, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Sumedh graduated from New York University with a Master of Science in Biostatistics. During his graduation, he worked as a research analyst at NYU Langone Medical Center and Biostatistics teaching assistant at NYU. He collaborated with Larkin Community Hospital, South Miami, FL to work on COVID-19 research projects before joining BIDMC. Continuing his passion, he will be providing study design, data management and analytical support using different statistical programming languages to the research projects at BIDMC.

Nieves
Amber Nieves, BS

Clinical Research Assistant, FIRST Program
Department of Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center




Amber graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and a minor in Computer Science from Bridgewater State University. She has previous experience at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Department of Neurology investigating the personal networks of stroke patients. Her overarching goal is to explore public health research that will assist in improving long-term recovery programs for the chronic disease community. Amber is excited to continue to pursue her passion for research at BIDMC.