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Pediatrics / Jill Halterman Lab / Lab Members

Lab Members

The Preventive Care Program for Urban Children with Asthma team has the fortunate opportunity to work closely with the Rochester community while emphasizing the importance of continued learning. The following quotes are reflections on how our experiences have affected us.

Principal Investigator

Jill Halterman, M.D., M.P.H.
– Professor, Pediatrics
– Division Chief, General Pediatrics
– Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research
"In my view, our greatest privilege has been the opportunity to develop the relationships that we have with the community. In particular, the city school district and the nurses have been so supportive of our programs, and have worked diligently to improve care for children with asthma." – Jill Halterman, M.D., M.P.H.

Study Team

Maria Fagnano, M.P.H.
– Associate Director of Clinical Research
– Senior Health Project Coordinator
"I feel very fortunate to work with a wonderful research team that cares about children’s health with great enthusiasm. Our research team always seeks to better understand the families that we work with to ultimately provide better health care to these children." – Maria Fagnano, M.P.H.

Paul Tremblay, R.N. – Project Nurse
"To be in a position to contribute as a nurse within this dynamic research team is both meaningful and rewarding. Our work together leads to a better understanding of significant gaps and disparities in the asthma care of urban underserved children. Thanks to visionary leadership we are in a unique position to test community-based interventions that address children’s relievable suffering and improve quality of life for Rochester families. Many memorable experiences with bright-eyed children, concerned parents, committed school nurses and local pediatric providers have left their impressions. One former elementary school child was particularly enthusiastic. Through meetings with his mom and dad, I heard about their struggles with long-standing smoking habits. He was able to breathe noticeably better when he received his preventive asthma medicine through school and his parents wanted to take steps to eliminate smoke exposure at home. At the end of the school year we asked this child if he would pose for a picture; he could not contain his excitement and performed cart wheels for us on his front lawn. His mother smiled big too, sharing his joy and looking very proud. The upside down image of this excited boy later became part of the logo we designed for our School-Based Preventive Asthma Care Technology (SB-PACT) study. We’re able to make a difference for real people and learn what it takes to make asthma a chronic condition that children can live well and lead full lives with." – Paul Tremblay, R.N.

Susan Blaakman, Ph.D. – Project Nurse
"I have learned a great deal about what it takes to run a major research project while upholding the highest respect both for science and the care of the families who participate. It was my greatest honor to be invited to a home by a family participating in the NICU study pilot and to be introduced to a now healthy and thriving baby who was at birth ‘the smallest baby ever born at Strong Memorial Hospital.’ I’ll never forget being able to hold a miracle (dressed in pink) in my arms that day!" – Susan Blaakman, Ph.D.

Reynaldo Tajon, B.A. – Health Project Coordinator
"Watching our school-based programs evolve into what will potentially be a new model of care for childhood asthma is both challenging and rewarding. In some ways, our approach to asthma care is much like taking apart an outdated vehicle and rebuilding it with more efficient and economical parts. What is very exciting at the moment is that some schools and state health departments across the country are starting to take notice of our approach to school-based asthma care and are trying to implement similar programs! Our overall goal is for these programs to be sustained and disseminated elsewhere, and while we know we have our work cut out, we are looking forward to the challenge. With every study, we are exploring new grounds to provide high-risk children with asthma with the best possible care." – Reynaldo Tajon, B.A.

Amanda Drobnica, M.P.H. – Health Project Coordinator

Derek D’Arcy – Information Analyst
“I consider myself very lucky to be able to work with such caring and driven people on the Asthma Team. The opportunity to help families in the community alongside a wonderful team is something I am extremely grateful for. Although I have only been a member of the Asthma team for a short time, I'm excited to continue to meet and help wonderful families throughout Rochester!” – Derek D’Arcy

Dana Belles – Strong Staffing
"The asthma program is the perfect place for me to combine two of my passions: improving public health, and working with largely underserved members of the Rochester community. It is a joy for me to come to work every day, where I am privileged enough to work with a great, compassionate team, and meet with so many enjoyable families, teens, children, and providers around the city." – Dana Belles

Erin Fleming – Information Analyst
“Watching so many unique minds work together on a project to help the Rochester community is amazing. The energy and passion of our team members is a large piece of what makes the Asthma Studies so successful.  We are able to help children better control their asthma and provide the care necessary to achieve positive outcomes.  I love the family centered aspect of working with the entire household to help a child be well. I leave work feeling satisfied with the things I've done and the children I've encountered.” –Erin Fleming

Brooke Remchuk – Information Analyst
"This team is incredibly hardworking and passionate about the work they do; it is a privilege to work and grow alongside such dedicated individuals. Being a part of the team is also a unique way to encounter the Rochester community and has provided me the opportunity to learn about the research process, asthma, and the barriers too many families have to overcome to manage their children's health. I look forward to continuing our efforts to help improve pediatric asthma!" – Brooke Remchuk

Angela Kluzniak – Information Analyst
"Everyone who is a part of, The Preventive Care Program for Urban Children with Asthma is passionate about improving public health, and being there for the families and teens they work with. It is great to be a part of a team that spreads awareness and strives to reduce the disparity of care for asthma. I enjoy going to work every day because of the positive impact this research has had for families in past years and the continued affect I think it will continue to have on the community.” – Angela Kluzniak

Brennen Caveney – Information Analyst
"Being a part of the Asthma Team is special because it provides the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of families in the Rochester area. Having the chance to help families overcome healthcare barriers and improve asthma symptoms in children and teens is truly rewarding. The team has a great passion for the work they do and is constantly striving to do more for our families. I am happy to come to work each day and contribute to such meaningful research within the community." – Brennen Caveney

Amanda Howell - Research Associate
"Being able to work with a compassionate, hardworking and driven team is a privilege. The experiences here are both challenging and rewarding. Coming to work each day with the goals of helping families overcome healthcare barriers and improving the lives of children and teens in our community is a wonderful and humbling experience. Getting to know the families that we are working with and actively engaging with the community presents new experiences every day and I am thankful for the opportunity to do so!" – Amanda Howell

Ignacio Sanchez - Research Associate

Devan Baijal – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Brentwood, TN
Majors: Environmental Health and Business
Minor: Biology
Personal Interests: Traveling with my family, being active, and not being active at the same time

Gianna Melillo – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Glenmoore, PA
Major: Public Health
Minor: Spanish and Psychology
Personal Interests: Softball, skiing, cooking

Peter Evancho – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Buffalo NY
Majors: Neuroscience and Chemistry
Minor: Spanish
Personal Interests: making lists, talking about movies, hanging out with friends, debating hypotheticals

Jasmine Han – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Major: Molecular Genetics
Minor: Spanish Language and Clinical Psychology
Personal Interests: Dancing, going on campus trips, drawing and working with kids

Julia Fraser – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Andover, MA
Majors: Environmental Health and English (Language, Media and Communications concentration)
Personal Interests: Exploring new places, reading good books, taking long walks with her dog

Annie Ma – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Lexington, MA
Major: Molecular Genetics
Minor: Philosophy
Personal Interests: hiking, kayaking, and camping

Mahima Joshi – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Henderson, NY
Major: Public Health
Personal Interests: swimming and eating food from different cultures

Oleg Demus – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Ukraine
Major: Computational Biology
Personal Interests: listening to music

Joshua Rosario – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2021
Hometown: Hilton, NY
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Personal Interests: swimming, playing guitar and traveling

Leena Khoury – Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Majors: Molecular Genetics and English
Personal Interests: reading, writing and watching movies

Melanie Prinz - Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2019
Hometown: New York State
Major: Environmental Health
Personal Interests: painting, hiking, reading and cooking

Mackenzie Steen - Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2021
Hometown: Rochester, NY
Majors: Biology and Brain and Cognitive Science
Minor: Spanish
Personal Interests: Spending time with family and friends

Syler Blaakman - Undergraduate Research Assistant

Akimi Sasaki - Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2020
Hometown: Dobbs Ferry, NY
Major: Neuroscience
Minors: Epidemiology and Clinical Psychology
Personal Interests: Exercising, designing clothing, creating art and traveling

Jorge Matute - Undergraduate Research Assistant
Class of 2021
Hometown: Honduras
Major: Cell and Developmental Biology
Minors: Psychology and Spanish
Personal Interests: trying new foods, rollerblading, biking and eating candy