Key Personnel

Principal Investigators

David R. Flum, MD, MPH, University of Washington

David Talan, MD, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center

Director, Data Coordinating Center

Patrick Heagerty, PhD, University of Washington

Director, Clinical Coordinating Center

Giana H. Davidson, MD, MPH, University of Washington

Director, Stakeholder Coordinating Center

Danielle Lavallee, PhD, PharmD, University of Washington

Project Manager

Erin Carney, University of Washington

Project Manager, California

Anusha Krishnadasan, PhD

Patient Advisory Group

We have established a Patient Advisory Group that guides us in the design and implementation of the study. The Patient Advisory Group incorporates the “patient voice” and ensures that our study addresses issues that are meaningful to our appendicitis patients.

Bonnie Bizzell

Kimberly Deeney

Kimberly has 13 years of experience in human resources; her responsibilities include recruitment, managing the family and medical leave process, and advising managers and employees on policies and procedures. Prior to her HR career, she worked for 10 years in the commercial real estate industry and earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from Clark University.

Kimberly is a Boston sports fan who loves spending the day at the beach with a great book and visiting U.S. National Parks.

What inspires my work on the CODA Patient Advisory Group: Patients aren’t numbers or statistics; we’re people. Working with scientists who recognize this fact and actively solicit the patient perspective in their research motivates me to be a part of the process.

My favorite quote to live by: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

Mary Guiden

Miriam Hernandez 

Miriam works as a manager of training and development for the Latino Health Promoter Program at Providence Health & Services in Southern California. Her duties include designing curriculums that health promoters use to teach community members to prevent diseases.

Prior to joining Providence Heath & Services, Miriam worked in Tijuana, Mexico for 10 years as a general physician in low income communities. During this time, she had the opportunity to combine the clinical component of her profession with education and prevention. She also implemented and designed health promotion programs and trained health promoters. Miriam’s work history also includes three years teaching at the Nursing School of the Universidad Iberoamericana in Tijuana, Mexico, where she was the Director of the Health Unit of the Community Center.

Miriam lives in Palmdale, California, with two little dogs. In her free time, she likes to walk, enjoy nature, take yoga classes, and do meditation exercises.

What inspires my work on the CODA Patient Advisory Group: Representing the point of view of the patients.

My favorite quote to live by: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Elliott Skopin

Elliott Skopin has spent much of his career working in the environmental conservation field, having lead youth conservation corps and, most recently, managed a volunteer trail work program in Seattle. He is currently traveling and working in Asia.

Elliott earned his bachelor’s degree in studio art & environmental science from Wesleyan University. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, hiking, and biking.

What inspires my work on the CODA Patient Advisory Group: Having had my own experience with appendicitis, I’m inspired to help improve the treatment process, particularly regarding communication with patients. I’m also interested in learning more about the process of conducting a medical research study.

My favorite quote to live by: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” ~Lilla Watson

Meridith A. Weiss

Meridith Weiss, MPH, joined the CODA Patient Advisory Group in October 2016. She works as a program manager for the UW Medicine Accountable Care Network. She also serves as a practice consultant fo rthe UW Medicine/WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) Practice Transformation Network under the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative award. In both these roles, Meridith supports care transformation work to strengthen the quality of patient care and spend health care dollars more wisely and ensures timely production of contract and grant deliverables.

Meridith graduated from Haverford College with a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology and holds a Master of Public Health in health policy and management from Columbia University. Her past work experience spans health policy and management, health care consulting, and legal services. Meridith previously worked at the Advisory Board Company in Washington, D.C., where she conducted research and consulted on providers' population health challenges.

Meridith and her husband are new Seattle transplants from the East Coast. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, running, yoga, cooking, and reading fiction.

What inspires my work on the CODA Patient Advisory Group: My public health background, along with my personal experience with appendectomy and being diagnosed with a rare form of appendiceal cancer. I believe this study will help make it easier for patients to make an informed decision about which treatment option is best for them. It will also help guide clinical practice and enhance the decision-making process for patients and providers.

Heather VanDusen Wilson

National Advisory Group

Our National Advisory Group is made up of leaders from public and private payers, national employers, research policy and clinical organizations, and surgical quality improvement collaborative groups. National advisors help disseminate study results and ensure they are accessible to broad audiences.

Keith Abernathy
Managing Director, Human Capital Operations
Alaska Airlines

Keith Abernathy leads human capital operations for Alaska Airlines and is responsible for employee health and retirement benefits, HR compliance and drug abatement programs, HR analytics and technology, and employee onboarding. Mr. Abernathy is also leading the HR integration process for the planned acquisition of Virgin America for all HR operational areas of Alaska.

Mr. Abernathy has held various HR leadership roles over his 20 year career within the aviation, telecommunications and accounting industries. He holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as well as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification from the HR Certification Institute.

Mr. Abernathy brings an employer perspective to the CODA National Stakeholder Advisory Group as a plan sponsor for health and well-being at Alaska.

Emily E. Anderson, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics

Emily E. Anderson, PhD, MPH, is assistant professor in the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics. Her areas of interest and expertise include ethical issues in research with vulnerable populations; research ethics and institutional review board (IRB) policy; ethical issues related to emerging biotechnologies; ethical issues in public health and health disparities; and the application of qualitative research techniques to the study of research ethics.

Dr. Anderson has published articles in the American Journal of Bioethics, Ethics and Behavior, Journal of Law Medicine and Ethics, Academic Medicine, Accountability in Research, and the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics (JERHRE). She is a member of the editorial board of JERHRE and associate editor for research articles for the journal Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics.

Dr. Anderson has five years of experience serving on an IRB and is a member of the faculty of Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R). She is a co-investigator on several federally-funded research and educational projects.


Karl Y Bilimoria, MD, MS
John B. Murphy Professor of Surgery
Director, Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center
Vice Chair for Quality, Department of Surgery
Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Karl Y Bilimoria, MD, MS, is a surgical oncologist and health services and quality improvement researcher at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the Vice Chair for Quality in the Department of Surgery. His clinical practice focuses on melanoma and sarcoma.

Dr. Bilimoria is also the Director of the Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center of Northwestern University (SOQIC), a center of 30 faculty and staff focused on national, regional, and local quality improvement research and practical initiatives. SOQIC has been focused on improving approaches for measuring and improving hospital quality and safety, particularly in surgical oncology. The group also focuses on improving approaches for public reporting and pay-for-performance initiatives.

Dr. Bilimoria is the Director of the Illinois Surgical Quality Improvement Collaborative (ISQIC) and Principal Investigator of the FIRST Trial. He is also a Faculty Scholar at the American College of Surgeons and directs the Northwestern Institute for Comparative Effectiveness Research in Oncology (NICER-Onc). He was recently listed by Becker’s as one of the “Top 50 Experts Leading the Field of Patient Safety” in the U.S.

Dr. Bilimoria has published more than 200 scientific articles, including multiple recent studies in JAMA, JNCI, JCO, and Annals of Surgical Oncology. He is a member of the Commission on Cancer and serves on the AJCC Executive Committee.


Michael L. Callaham, MD
Editor-in-Chief, Annals of Emergency Medicine
American College of Emergency Physicians

Michael L. Callaham, MD, is a specialist in emergency medicine and one of the first doctors to pursue a career specializing in this field. In November 2007, Callaham was named the first chair of the newly formed Department of Emergency Medicine at University of California, San Francisco. In his research, he studies ways to improve emergency medical care and was instrumental in developing new guidelines for treating heart attack patients.

Dr. Callaham is a member of the editorial board of the Annals of Emergency Medicine and has served as editor-in-chief since 2002. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors in medicine, and was recognized for his service to San Francisco in 2004, when he was awarded the San Francisco Department of Public Health Raymond Lim Excellence in Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Award for leadership.

Dr. Callaham earned a medical degree at UCSF and completed a residency in emergency medicine at the University of Southern California and an internship at Highland Hospital in Oakland.


Darrell A Campbell, Jr, MD
Chief Medical Officer
University of Michigan Health System

Darrell A. Campbell, Jr, MD, is Chief Medical Officer at the University of Michigan Health System. He is also Henry King Ransom Professor of Surgery in the Department of Surgery and has specialized in solid organ transplantation for many years, particularly kidney, liver, and pancreas. As Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Campbell is responsible for the overall quality of care delivered at the University of Michigan Health System and has a special interest in patient safety.

In recent years, Dr. Campbell has become interested in the related subjects of patient safety and quality of care. He has worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to develop a surgical quality improvement program in 52 Michigan hospitals, and he has been active in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. In addition, Dr. Campbell has been selected to participate in the National Quality Forum’s National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Patient Safety project and has been appointed as a member and chairperson of the Technical Advisory Panel for this project focusing on Healthcare-Associated Infections. 


Fergal Fleming, MD, FRCS
Assistant Professor of Surgery and Oncology
University of Rochester Medical Center

Fergal Fleming, MD, FRCS, is a colorectal surgeon and an Assistant Professor of Surgery and Oncology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He has an academic interest in health services research. 

Dr. Fleming’s research is mainly focused around optimizing outcomes in patients with both benign and malignant gastrointestinal diseases. He is Clinical Director for Surgical Health Outcomes and Research Enterprise (SHORE), a surgically focused health outcomes group. He is actively involved in the Consortium for Optimizing the Surgical Treatment of Rectal Cancer (OSTRiCh); serves on the steering group for the Commission on Cancer (CoC) National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC); and chairs the Data Committee of OSTRiCh.


David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS
Executive Director
American College of Surgeons

David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS is executive director of the American College of Surgeons. Prior to this appointment, he served as executive vice-dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine; chairman of the Department of Surgery; and the John E. Connolly Professor of Surgery at the University of California, Irvine. He now holds the title of professor emeritus at that University.

Dr. Hoyt received a BA degree with honors from Amherst College, followed by an MD degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1976. From 1976-1984, Dr. Hoyt was a Surgical Resident and Research Fellow at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Scripps Immunology Institute. He joined the faculty at UCSD and immediately became involved in their Trauma Service, where his role as Director lasted from 1989 – 2006. In 1995 he was appointed professor of surgery and was awarded The Monroe E. Trout Professorship in Surgery at UCSD (1996).

Dr. Hoyt is a member of the American Surgical Association, Surgical Biology Club, Western Surgical Association, and Society of University Surgeons and holds membership in other prestigious surgical organizations.  He is a past president of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, Past President of the Society of General Surgeons of San Diego, past president of the Shock Society, past chairman of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, and past medical director of trauma at the American College of Surgeons.


SreyRam Kuy, MD, MHS, FACS
Chief Medical Officer
Louisiana Medicaid

SreyRam Kuy, MD, MHS, FACS, is Chief Medical Officer for Louisiana Medicaid, where she works to improve healthcare quality for the state of Louisiana. She also cares for veterans as a surgeon and Director of the Center for Innovations in Quality, Outcomes and Patient Safety at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center.

Dr. Kuy teaches and conducts health services research as an Assistant Professor of Surgery at LSU – Shreveport. She is a writer whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, The Independent, the Huffington Post, and Salon.


Daniel Lessler, MD, MHA, FACP
Chief Medical Officer
Washington State Health Care Authority

Daniel Lesser, MD, MHA, FACP, is Chief Medical Officer for the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA), which administers the state’s Medicaid program and Public Employees Benefits. Prior to joining the HCA in May 2013, Dr. Lessler was Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Senior Associate Medical Director at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Dr. Lessler has been a leader in efforts to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of health care statewide. He served as a member of the founding board of the Puget Sound Health Alliance (PSHA), a nonprofit organization where the people who get, provide and pay for health care come together to improve health care quality and affordability in a five-county region. Subsequently, Dr. Lessler served five years on the PSHA’s Quality Improvement Committee. He was founding Chair of the Washington State Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and helped found King County Care Partners, a nationally recognized community-based partnership dedicated to the clinical management of medically complex Medicaid clients.

Dr. Lessler’s research and administrative interests have focused on the design and operation of programs that promote high quality, cost-effective medical care. He has a particular interest in improving preventive and chronic illness care for underserved and vulnerable populations, and applying Health Information Technology to achieve that improvement. Prior to joining HCA, Dr. Lessler also maintained an active primary care practice and served as an attending physician at Harborview Medical Center. 

Alison Rein, MS
Senior Director, Evidence Generation and Translation

Alison Rein, MS, directs projects that investigate how new sources of data and expanded stakeholder engagement are helping to transform health, care and research. She leads the Community Health Peer (CHP) Learning Program, a partnership to establish a national peer learning collaborative for 15 competitively awarded communities to address population health management challenges through increased sharing and use of electronic data. The CHP program builds on the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program, which Ms. Rein helped to support by identifying, documenting, and disseminating results and lessons learned from these community-based initiatives. 

Ms. Rein is the principal investigator of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Pilot Projects Learning Network, which actively manages and facilitates collaboration among 50 pilot projects to advance the field of patient-centered outcomes research. She also leads the AcademyHealth Consumer Patient Research (CPR) Roundtable and contributes to several projects that focus on building the data and human infrastructure needed to support patient-centered learning health systems.

Ms. Rein has expertise in health IT and exchange policy, stakeholder engagement, comparative effectiveness research, information management and governance, and community-based improvement. With nearly 20 years of experience in the healthcare field, she brings a range of skills to her work, including technical assistance design and execution, collaborative network development, research design and policy analysis.

Prior to joining AcademyHealth, Ms. Rein was assistant director of food and health policy at the National Consumers League. Ms. Rein holds a master's degree in public policy analysis from the University of Rochester.


Mark T. Steele, MD
Chief Medical Officer and Chief Operating Officer
Truman Medical Centers

Mark T. Steele, MD, attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine’s combined 6-year medical program and received his BA/MD degrees in 1980. He then pursued a career in emergency medicine, completing his residency at Truman Medical Centers (TMC)/UMKC School of Medicine’s (SOM) Department of Emergency Medicine in 1983. He became a faculty member in the department, serving a stent as the Program Director for the Emergency Medicine residency program, and eventually was named chair of the department in 1997.

Dr. Steele currently serves as TMCs’ Chief Medical Officer (2000) and Chief Operating Officer (2015) as well as a UMKC SOM Associate Dean for TMC Programs. Academically, Dr. Steele has over 100 publications and he has held the rank of professor since 2000 at the SOM. His interests have been in the areas of infectious disease, wound care, and circadian rhythms and shift work. He is an original member of the EMERGEncy ID NET, an emergency department-based emerging infections sentinel network that has been in existence for over 20 years and is sponsored by the CDC.

 Dr. Steele is a member of a number of professional societies. He was elected as a member of the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) in 2003 and then served as ABEM’s president in 2011. He has served as an oral examiner for ABEM since 1988 and continues to serve in this role. Dr. Steele also continues to work clinically in TMC’s Emergency Department.

Emeritus Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics
University of Florida College of Medicine–Jacksonville

Joseph J. Tepas III, MD, FACS, FAAP, is Emeritus Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville and is certified by the American Board of Surgery in pediatric surgery and surgical critical care. He is a member of numerous scientific journal editorial boards and has authored 172 peer-reviewed publications, 30 book chapters, and 232 national and international presentations.

Dr. Tepas was Principal Investigator for the Florida Emergency Medical Services for Children federal demonstration project and has served on national committees for the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Pediatric Surgical Association. Research activities include an NIH-funded investigation of acute brain injury biomarkers and a multi-institutional investigation of the role of metabolic derangement biomarkers in driving timing and technique of surgical intervention in infants with necrotizing enterocolitis.

As the first physician member of the Florida Medicaid Waiver Low Income Pool (LIP) council and as APSA representative to the Surgical Quality Alliance, Dr. Tepas has been actively involved in health policy development on both the state and national levels. He is a member of the American College of Surgeons Health Policy Advisory Group and a leader of the NSQIP Florida Surgical Quality Collaborative. As chair of the ACS electronic medical record (EMR) committee, Dr. Tepas is working with other surgical leaders to establish more effective advocacy for clinician directed development of electronic clinical data management systems that facilitate provision of surgical care while generating real time data driven clinical decision support.


Richard W. Whitten, MD, MBA, FACP
Medicare Contractor Medical Director
VP Medical Policy
Noridian Health Solutions

Richard W. Whitten, MD, MBA, FACP, is Medicare Contractor Medical Director and VP of Medical Policy at Noridian Administrative Services based in Washington State. He is also Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at University of Washington and remains a practicing general internist at Harborview Medical Center after a prior 18 years in critical care.

Dr. Whitten previously served as Vice Chair of the American Medical Association’s Relative Values System Update Committee and Chair of the Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee. He was on the CPT Assistant Editorial Panel from 2006-2011. Dr. Whitten also served as Medical Director for Washington Health Care Authority and Washington Basic Health Plan for 12 years before joining Noridian Administrative Services in 2000.

Dr. Whitten graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, worked in Chicago, then went to Harvard Business School and received a Master of Business Administration with distinction before attending medical school at Northwestern University. He did his internship and residency in internal medicine followed by two years as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Washington, where he remains an Associate Clinical Professor.