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.
Dr. S. Sonia Arteaga serves as the Acting Deputy Director for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. She previously served as Cohort Lead/Program Officer. 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 PhD in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Dr. Erin Luetkemeier serves as the Director of Policy, Communications, and Legislative Affairs 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.
Dr. Preetha Abraham serves as a Project Scientist for the ECHO IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN) for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. She joined the office in March 2023 and is responsible for ensuring the scientific rigor of the research conducted in ECHO ISPCTN. Dr. Abraham works closely with investigators within the clinical trials network to develop and implement clinical research trials.
Dr. Abraham holds a doctoral degree in organizational leadership and a master's degree in applied psychology. Her previous appointment was with the Uniformed Services University, where she served as Director of Research and Research Assistant Professor for the Consortium for Health and Military Performance, Department of Military and Emergency Medicine. She has over 19 years of scientific experience in advancing biomedical research related to stress, health, and well-being; she has a solid peer-reviewed publication list in her research area.
Dr. Linda Fu joined the National Institutes of Health in January 2021 and serves as the Lead and Project Scientist for the ECHO 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 ECHO ISPCTN, 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.
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.
Dr. Susan Laessig serves as a Program Officer for the ECHO Program in the NIH Office of the Director. Dr. Laessig has over 20 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 is on the ECHO Cohort team and manages grant awards related to biospecimen collection, assays, and health outcomes chemical exposures. . She brings important perspectives on environmental exposures, chemical risk assessment, and environmental health policy to her unique role in ECHO Cohort research.
Dr. Laessig is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology and previously worked for 15 years as a toxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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 in toxicology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore where she performed research on the effects of prenatal exposure to environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals on brain development and behavior.
Dr. Clay Mash serves as a Program Officer for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. He joined the ECHO office in February 2022 and his work involves sustaining progress in the observational research of the ECHO Cohort. He previously served at the NICHD Division of Intramural Research where he was a principal investigator on several clinical protocols, investigating the early development of visual perception, attention, memory, movement, and cognition, and some of the many factors that influence development. More recently, he moved to the NICHD Division of Extramural Research, where he was involved with administration of disability research and ran the Biobehavioral and Behavioral Sciences study section. He has previously served on the editorial boards of Child Development, The Journal of Genetic Psychology, and Infancy.
Dr. Mash received his PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Massachusetts. He has spent his entire career focused on efforts to better understand how children develop and the factors that influence those outcomes. It is something that he has been interested in and committed to since he was in college.
Ms. Janice Owens-Cobblah serves as the Operations Manager for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. She provides day to day oversight of the administrative support for the program. She is also responsible for assisting with budget, communications, operations, and policy interpretation.
Ms. Owens-Cobblah has over 21 years of federal service providing award winning oversight responsibilities in administration, program management, policy development, implementation, and operations. In addition, she had previously served as a liaison for congressional, interagency, and presidential administration support as well as international governments with includes summits and conferences.
Dr. Christina Park serves as Acting ECHO Cohort Lead for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. In addition to overseeing several ECHO Cohort grants, she serves as a data lead within the ECHO Program Office and contributes to several program areas including protocol development, implementation, and evaluation; data collection and management; and promotion of team science practices. Prior to joining ECHO in the fall of 2016, she contributed to the development and implementation of the National Children’s Study (NCS) Vanguard Study at NICHD from 2008.
Dr. Park’s previous professional experiences include 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 University School of Public Health and her research interests include maternal and child health outcomes and health services research, especially relating to health disparity issues.
Dr. Tonse Raju serves as the Program Officer for the ECHO IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network (ISPCTN) for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. He is responsible for overseeing the administration of ECHO ISPCTN grants and supports other relevant ECHO activities.
Dr. Raju is a pediatrician specializing in neonatal-perinatal medicine. He previously served in academia before joining NICHD in 2002, where he became the Chief of Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch and worked for 17 years. Dr. Raju has won several awards, including an 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.
Mr. Jonathan Talbot serves as Communications Specialist for the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. He joined the office in April 2023 and supports ECHO’s activities in internal and external communications, including strategic communications planning, science writing for professional and lay audiences, stakeholder outreach and engagement, and media relations.
Mr. Talbot received his MS in science and medical journalism from the Knight Center for Science and Medical Journalism at Boston University, and his BA in science & technology studies from Cornell University. Prior to joining ECHO in 2023, he worked for more than 15 years in strategic communications and marketing for a variety of institutions, including three different international multi-sector networks, on topics including air and water quality, environmental law, federal policy and regulatory processes, gender, international development statistics including indicators of health, and participatory decision-making. For five years, he led communications for the award-winning nonprofit Social Progress Imperative. He has collaborated on communications projects with organizations in more than 50 countries.
Dr. Mabel Terminel is a Health Science Policy Analyst in the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. She joined the office in August 2021 and is responsible for coordinating science policy and legislative affairs for the ECHO Program. Dr Terminel also supports internal and external communication activities, including federal stakeholder engagement and science writing for lay audiences.
Dr. Terminel earned her PhD in neuroscience from The College of Medicine at Texas A&M University in 2020, and her MS in Experimental Psychology from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2015. She is an alumnus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowship and of the University of Southern California’s Interdisciplinary Research Training Institute on Hispanic Substance Abuse.
Dr. Leslie Thompson is a Health Science Policy Analyst in the ECHO Program, NIH Office of the Director. He coordinates the program’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 ECHO leadership 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 PhD 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 ECHO Program Office. Prior to working for ECHO, he completed nearly five years of postdoctoral training at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment. During his time in research, Dr. Thompson held an EPA Pathfinder Innovation Project Award and collaborated on nearly 30 research papers.
Ms. Rebekah Yeager serves as the Communications Director 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 MA in writing from Johns Hopkins University, and her BA 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.
Dr. Melissa Zajdel joined the office in August 2023 as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow. Within the office, she supports ECHO’s strategic planning, evaluation activities, and several trans-NIH efforts.
Dr. Zajdel earned a PhD in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University, a MS in child and family health in the global community from Syracuse University, and a BA in psychology from Princeton University. Her research focused on the ways stress, coping, and interpersonal influences can impact health outcomes, and she recently finished a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) within the Social and Behavioral Research Branch. She has published over 20 papers from her work and supported the management of numerous large-scale studies focused on the ways social and environmental exposures can impact health outcomes.