ECHO Program Staff

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NIHKidsandEnvironment@od.nih.gov
301-435-5236

ECHO Program Leadership

Matthew W. Gillman, M.D, S.M.

ECHO Director

Email: Matthew.gillman@nih.gov

Phone: 301-435-5236

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Dr. Matt Gillman joined the National Institutes of Health in 2016 as the inaugural director of the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program in the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH). He joined NIH from Harvard Medical School where he was a professor of population medicine; he was also professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Gillman has a background in the fields of epidemiology, pediatrics, and internal medicine. He came to NIH with experience in leading or collaborating on cohort studies and clinical trials. Dr. Gillman received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, earned a medical degree from Duke University, completed a med/peds residency at North Carolina Memorial Hospital, and received a master’s degree in epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health.

Carol Blaisdell, M.D, M.Ed.

Senior Program Official

Email: carol.blaisdell@nih.gov

Phone: 301-435-5606

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Dr. Carol Blaisdell joined the Office of the Director in 2016 and serves as a Senior Program Officer for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. She works closely with the Director of ECHO to oversee the development, implementation, and oversight of the IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN) and the ECHO Cohorts research activities.

Dr. Blaisdell earned her BA at Stanford University, MEd at U. of Illinois, Champaign, her MD at the University of California, San Francisco, and residency/pediatric pulmonary fellowship at Johns Hopkins. She had a faculty appointment at Johns Hopkins and then Division Chief of Pulmonary/Allergy at the University of Maryland. She was program director in the Division of Lung Diseases, National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute (NHLBI), NIH from 2007-2016, where she developed programs to improve pediatric lung health and development. As a member of the NIH Office of the Director ECHO working group since its inception, Dr. Blaisdell has helped in the development and implementation of the ECHO Program. She manages a portfolio of grants which include Cohorts with indigenous populations, the Coordinating Center, Data Analysis Center, and PRO Core and oversees the program teams for the Cohorts and ISPCTN.

Erin Luetkemeier, Ph.D.

Chief of Staff

Email: erin.luetkemeier@nih.gov

Phone: 301-402-9073

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Dr. Erin Luetkemeier serves as the Chief of staff for the ECHO program, NIH Office of the Director. She develops policies and reports and is ECHO’s legislative liaison. She is responsible for the budget, communications, and operations, and she identifies and interprets policy issues being considered, specifically related to data sharing, clinical trials, and human subject research.

Dr. Luetkemeier was funded by an Agriculture Genomic Sciences and Public Policy fellowship from the University of Illinois where she earned her PhD. Following graduate school, she held a postdoctoral fellowship position at the NIH in the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). In additional to her postdoctoral position, Dr. Luetkemeier worked at the American Institute of Biological Sciences in their public policy office. She has authored articles in the areas of genetics and immunology and has presented and lectured on topics in those fields.

ECHO Program Staff

S. Sonia Arteaga, Ph.D.

Program Officer, ECHO Cohorts

Email: sonia.arteaga@nih.gov

Phone: 301-435-1033

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Dr. S. Sonia Arteaga serves as a Program Officer for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. She joined ECHO in 2019 and manages a diverse portfolio of grants focusing on obesity and environmental influences on children’s health. Prior to joining ECHO, she was at the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) where she led several research initiatives, including the Healthy Communities Study, a large observational study in 130 diverse communities and over 5000 children and their families to assess the characteristics of programs and policies and their associations with body mass index (BMI), diet, and physical activity in children.

Dr. Arteaga is a member of the Senior Leadership Group of the NIH Obesity Research Task Force and provides leadership on the development and coordination of obesity research efforts across the NIH. Dr. Arteaga received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Linda Fu, M.D.

Medical Officer, ECHO ISPCTN

Email: linda.fu@nih.gov

Phone: 301-451-4353

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Dr. Linda Fu joined the National Institutes of Health in January 2021 and serves as a medical officer and project scientist for the IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN) for the ECHO program, NIH Office of the Director. She is responsible for ensuring scientific rigor and impact of the research conducted in the IPSCTN, working closely with investigators within the network to develop and implement trials, as well as report results.

Dr. Fu spent 15 years as a general pediatrician and clinical researcher focused on community-based interventions to promote the health and well-being of children, especially those living in underserved or impoverished areas, prior to joining the ECHO ISPCTN team. Her research examined the interplay of social networks, the health care system and community characteristics on child health. She also oversaw research and created programs to support the academic development of community-based pediatric faculty members in the teaching hospital where she worked.

Manjit Hanspal, Ph.D.

Program Officer, ECHO Cohorts

Email: manjit.hanspal@nih.gov

Phone: 301-435-5008

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Dr. Manjit Hanspal serves as Program Officer for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Sydney University, Australia, and did her postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. Dr. Hanspal then joined St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, where she spent the next two decades studying molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating terminal erythroid differentiation; erythropoiesis; and vascular dysfunction in malaria pathogenesis. During her academic career, she held significant leadership positions including Director of the Center for Cell Biology and Chair of the Institutional Biohazard Committee at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, research Associate Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, and Principal Investigator on NIH-funded studies.

Dr. Hanspal joined NIH in December 2007 where she worked at the Center for Scientific Review, and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Ashley Jenkins, B.A.

Operations Coordinator

Email: ashley.jenkins@nih.gov

Phone: 301-827-7399

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Ms. Ashley Jenkins serves as an operations coordinator for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. She manages numerous ECHO administrative programs activities whilst assisting the program director, Dr. Mathew Gillman.

Ms. Jenkins earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from George Mason University in 2009. She provides the ECHO program with over 14 years of administrative professional experience.

Susan Laessig, Ph.D.

Program Officer, ECHO Cohorts

Email: susan.laessig@nih.gov

Phone: 301-435-1035

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Dr. Susan Laessig serves as a Health Scientist Administrator Program Official for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. Dr. Laessig has over 17 years of experience as a toxicologist working on environmental science policy and the impacts of chemical exposures on human and ecological health. At ECHO, Dr. Laessig manages a portfolio of grants and serves on the Chemical Exposures Work Group and as the NIH liaison to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource (HHEAR) program, which provides analytical services to the ECHO program. She brings important perspectives on environmental exposures, chemical risk assessment, and environmental health policy to her unique role in ECHO research.

Dr. Laessig previously worked as a toxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 15 years in scientific positions and management of large projects and staff. Dr. Laessig also worked as a consultant at Sciences International, Inc. analyzing federal and state regulations and performing risk assessments and technical reviews. Dr. Laessig completed a PhD and MS at the University of Maryland, Baltimore in Toxicology where she performed research on the effects of environmental contaminants on prenatal development.  Since joining ECHO as Program Office in 2019, her grant portfolio includes those with a focus on chemical exposures, and she leads coordination of HHEAR resources for ECHO proposals.

Christina Park, Ph.D.

Program Officer, ECHO Cohorts

Email: christina.park@nih.gov

Phone: 301-435-4013

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Dr. Christina Park serves as Program Officer for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. In addition to overseeing several cohort grants, she serves as a data lead within the ECHO program office and contribute to several program areas including protocol development, implementation, and evaluation, data collection and management, and promotion of team science practices. Prior to joining the ECHO program in the fall of 2016, she contributed to the development and implementation of the National Children’s Study (NCS) Vanguard Study at NICHD since 2008.

Dr. Park’s previous professional experiences includes conducting national health surveys at the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, and performing epidemiologic research and program administration at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration. Dr. Park has an MHS and PhD in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and her research interests include maternal and child health outcomes and health services research, especially relating to health disparity issues.

Tonse Raju, M.D.

Program Officer, ECHO ISPCTN

Email: Tonse.raju@nih.gov

Phone: 301-435-4013

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Dr. Tonse Raju serves as the Program Officer for the IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN) for the ECHO program, NIH Office of the Director. He is responsible for overseeing the administration of the ECHO ISPCTN grants and support other relevant ECHO Activities.

Dr. Raju is a pediatrician specialized in neonatal-perinatal medicine. He previously served in academia before joining NICHD in 2002, where he became the Chief of Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch—where he worked there for 17 years. Dr. Raju has several awards, including NIH Lifetime Achievement Award from NICHD in 2018. Dr. Raju has a publication list of about 250, with a relevant recent paper entitled: Reflections on a career at the National Institutes of Health Pediatric Research 2019 Sep;86(3):408-410.

Alan Simon, M.D.

Medical Officer, ECHO ISPCTN

Email: alan.simon@nih.gov

Phone: 301-435-2840

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Dr. Alan Simon serves as a medical officer and project scientist for the IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN) for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. He is responsible for ensuring scientific rigor and impact of the research conducted in the IPSCTN, working closely with investigators within the network to develop and implement trials, as well as report results. Prior to coming to ECHO, he worked in the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.  His work encompassed a variety of areas within women and girls’ health, including sports team participation in girls and opioid misuse.

Dr. Simon previously worked in the Office on Women’s Health, as a medical officer at the National Center for Health Statistics, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for ten years.  As a part of the Infant, Children, and Women’s Health Statistics Branch, he authored over 45 publications in the areas of both adult and child health services and epidemiology, worked closely with the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality on the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities report, and was a key member of a teams to design and implement health care surveys. He received a BA in Economics from Cornell University and an MD degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Leslie Thompson, Ph.D.

Health Science Policy Analyst

Email: leslie.thompson@nih.gov

Phone: 301-435-5239

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Dr. Leslie Thompson is a Health Science Policy Analyst in the ECHO Program Office, NIH Office of the Director. He coordinates the Office’s strategic planning and operational assessment process and conducts policy analyses. Dr. Thompson also collaborates with the leading Science of Team Science experts at NIH to identify strategies to enhance how ECHO researchers cooperate in a large national program. He reports his analyses to the ECHO Director, Chief-of-Staff, Senior Program Official, and the rest of the Program Team so they can make evidence-based decisions to help ensure ECHO returns exceptional value to the United States public.

Dr. Thompson earned his Ph.D. in Physiology at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, in 2014. He joined ECHO in November of 2019, after completing an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Science & Technology Policy Fellowship in the Program Office. Prior to working in ECHO, he completed nearly 5 years of postdoctoral training at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment. During that time, Dr. Thompson held an EPA Pathfinder Innovation Project Award and helped produce over 25 research publications dating back to his graduate training.

Fatmata Williams, MPH

Operations Coordinator

Email: fatmata.williams@nih.gov

Phone: 301-451-7095

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Ms. Fatmata Williams serves as an operations coordinator for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. She creates and assists with work assignments, tracks progress and develops progress reports, and supports ECHO communications activities.

Ms. Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore as well as a Master of Science in Public and Community Health from Trinity Washington University. She previously worked as an office manager, for the National Institutes of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) from 2017-2020. She joined the NIH in 2016 as an administrative assistant for the Office of Research Services (ORS), Division of Veterinary Resources (DVR).

Rebekah Yeager, M.A.

Communications Specialist

Email: rebekah.yeager@nih.gov

Phone: 301-827-3575

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Ms. Rebekah Yeager serves as the communications specialist for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. She oversees ECHO’s activities in internal and external communications, including strategic planning, science writing for professional and lay audiences, stakeholder outreach and engagement, and media relations.

Ms. Yeager received her M.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins University, and her B.A. in English from Millsaps College. Prior to joining ECHO in 2019, she was a Vice President at Ketchum Public Relations, where she directed national health communications campaigns for a variety of government agencies.

This page last reviewed on May 10, 2021