Key Staff

The Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund is the important program of the National Center for Health Research, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research, education and advocacy organization that promotes the health and safety of adults and children. The key staff of the National Center for Health Research also manage the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund.


Diana ZDiana Zuckerman, Ph.D., President

Diana Zuckerman received her Ph.D. in psychology from Ohio State University and was a post-doctoral fellow in epidemiology and public health at Yale Medical School. She started her career on the faculty of Vassar College and then directed a research project on children as a faculty member at Yale University.

After a post-doctoral fellowship in epidemiology and public health at Yale Medical School, she went to Harvard to direct a groundbreaking research study of college students. Dr. Zuckerman left her academic career in 1983, to come to Washington, D.C. as a Congressional Science Fellow in the program run by the American Association of the Advancement of Science. After spending the year as a staff member in the House of Representatives, she spent the next ten years working as a Congressional staffer in the House and Senate, and at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working to improve federal health programs and policies for adults and children. She initiated highly influential Congressional hearings on a wide range of health issues, including cancer prevention and treatment and the safety of medical products.

In 1995, Dr. Zuckerman served as a senior policy advisor in the White House, working for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Since 1996, she has served in leadership positions at nonprofit organizations, and has been in her current position since 1999.

In addition, Dr. Zuckerman was a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics until the Center recently closed. She is currently on the Board of Directors of two nonprofit organizations, the Congressionally mandated Reagan Udall Foundation and the Alliance for a Stronger FDA. She was previously the chair of the Women’s Health Promotion Council appointed by the Governor of Maryland.

Dr. Zuckerman is the author of five books, several book chapters, and dozens of articles in medical and academic journals, and in newspapers across the country. Her policy work has resulted in news coverage on all the major TV networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, public television, 60 Minutes, 20/20, National Public Radio, and in major U.S. print media such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, USA Today, Detroit Free Press, New York Daily News, Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Report, Family Circle, New Yorker, Glamour, Self, as well as many other newspapers, magazines, and radio programs.

She is the proud mother of two children.  Dr. Diana Zuckerman can be reached at dz@center4research.org

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJack Mitchell, Director of Health Policy

Jack Mitchell is responsible for health policy issues of importance to the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund, particularly regarding the quality of medical care.  He provides research-based information regarding health policy issues to nonprofit organizations representing patients, consumers, and providers, and to legislators and their staff.  He represents CPTF at meetings with officials and staff from agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He also works with the media and coordinates the health policy activities of the Patient and Consumer Coalition.

Prior to joining CPTF in 2016, Jack has had a broad range of experience working on behalf of public health and science policy, Congressional oversight, and journalism.  At FDA, he directed the Commissioner’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), which had a key role in the agency’s landmark efforts to regulate the tobacco industry.  At HHS, Jack held a senior legislative position in the Office of the Secretary whose responsibilities included managing all Departmental oversight responses to Congress.  At the National Science Foundation (NSF), he was as the Director’s Senior Advisor and chief inter-agency liaison whose duties included serving as Executive Secretary of the White House Committee on Science.  For more than a decade, Mitchell was chief investigator for two Senate Committees, the Governmental Affairs Committee and the Special Committee on Aging.  His Congressional oversight work on health and medical issues laid the foundation for the “Physician Payments Sunshine Act” transparency regulation, as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Prior to his government work, he was an on-air CNN Washington correspondent and has authored two books on presidential and electoral history.

Jack is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. He can be reached at jm@center4research.org.

Stephanie Fox-Rawlings, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

Stephanie Fox-Rawlings is a senior fellow, focusing on health and policy issues related to brain development and function across the lifespan. Prior to joining CPTF, she conducted basic and early translational research on developmental neuroscience.

Dr. Fox-Rawlings received her Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Neurosciences, where her work focused on the genes regulating the maturation of serotonergic neurons. During her postdoctoral work at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, she studied how the brain repairs itself following injury in a model of very preterm birth. She earned her B.S. degree at Kansas State University in Biology and Psychology. She can be reached at sfr@center4research.org.

megan-polanin_website-professional-photo2Megan Polanin, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

As a Senior Fellow, Dr. Polanin works on NCHR’s Patient Advocate Training Project and manages the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Project. Her work focuses on empowering and training patients so that they have the information they need to improve the quality of their health care and mental health care. Prior to joining NCHR in 2016, Dr. Polanin worked with children and families as a therapist, assessor, behavioral health consultant, and preventionist within the mental health field. She specializes in evidence-based mental health interventions, school- and community-based prevention programming, and multicultural education.

Dr. Polanin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Washington, D.C. She received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and M.A. in Community Counseling from Loyola University Chicago and B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from Butler University. She completed her postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She may be reached at mp@center4research.org.

Danielle Shapiro, MD, MPH, Senior Fellow

Dr. Danielle Shapiro is a senior fellow, focusing on primary care, preventive health, and public health and policy issues related to women’s health, elder care, and pediatrics. Prior to joining the NCHR, she trained in primary care medicine and public health, with a research focus on maternal health and obesity.

Dr. Danielle Shapiro received her dual MD and MPH from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) National Medical Honors Society for her exemplary academic and service work. Dr. Shapiro was a recipient of the William Goldman Foundation Scholarship which instilled within her the mission to promote the health and wellness of Pennsylvanians.Carrying out this mission, Dr. Shapiro continued post-graduate training in primary care in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A native Washingtonian, Dr. Shapiro has returned home and is excited to bring her passions and energies back to Washington. She can be reached at ds@center4research.org.

farzanaFarzana Akkas, BSC, MSC, Research and Public Health Fellow

Farzana Akkas is a research and public health fellow, focusing mainly on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) project, assisting with the health hotline, and also working on our survey of Essure patients. Prior to joining CPTF, she was an intern at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, supporting the international grants team. She has an MSc in Health Promotion and Public Health and a BSc. in Biomedical Science from universities in London, where she also interned and worked for the largest voluntary sector provider of HIV and sexual health services in the UK, the Terrence Higgins Trust.

 

Alex Pew, B.S., Special Assistant to the President

Alex Pew is the Special Assistant to the President at NCHR. She is responsible for gathering research; writing articles for our websites and newsletters; and managing NCHR’s social media presence, digital outreach, and general program support. Prior to joining NCHR, Alex received her Bachelors of Science in Biology of Global Health with a minor in Government from Georgetown University. While at Georgetown, she worked as a legislative and health policy intern at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), served as a Teaching Assistant for global health courses, and was the president of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Georgetown University.


In Memoriam

Gwendolyn Lewis, a former sociology professor with important positions in the National Research Council, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, was a professional photographer who volunteered her time as our photographer since our founding in 1999 until she died from cancer in 2012.

As our photographer and friend, Gwen is responsible for the many memorable color photographs of the exceptional women who received our Foremother awards, as well as capturing many other important people and moments through the years.  As an artist, however, she specialized in black-and-white photography, with an emphasis on architectural subjects. Her work was exhibited in more than 100 shows in the Washington area and won many awards.