• AAFP NRN Staff & Committees

    AAFP NRN Staff

    The National Research Network is part of the Research, Science and Health of the Public Division.

    Joseph LeMaster, MD, MPH – National Research Network Director
    Dr. LeMaster serves as the AAFP National Research Network Director and assists with investigator activities on various studies. He is also a tenured Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Family Medicine. His clinical focus is on preventive health, refugee healthcare, and adolescent medicine while his research interests include community-based participatory research, management of chronic pain, implementation of screening tests in primary care, and all of that among populations with limited English proficiency.

    Christina M. Hester, PhD, MPH – Practice-based Research, Innovation, and Evaluation Division Director
    1-800-274-2237, ext 6147
    Christina M. Hester, PhD, MPH serves as the Director of the Practice-based Research, Innovation, and Evaluation Division and is responsible for the conduct, overall supervision, staffing, and budgeting of studies fielded within the Practice-based Research, Innovation, and Evaluation Division and AAFP National Research Network. Christina has her PhD in microbiology with postdoctoral fellowship training in public health and family medicine research.  She has developed a research program with the goal of improving primary care and addressing health disparities. Her work focuses on identifying solutions for primary care through research in real-world practice settings and supporting primary care teams in adopting innovation derived from research.

    Brian K. Manning, MPH – Practice-based Research, Innovation, and Evaluation Division Research Director
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6151
    Brian became involved in research in 1999 following a brief stint in the NFL. He began his research career in community-based research at University of Kansas Medial Center (KUMC). While at KUMC he obtained his Master’s in Public Health.  Brian joined the AAFP NRN in 2004 as a Senior Research Associate.  He currently serves as Research Director.  Responsibilities include hiring and supervising staff, helping to manage daily operations in the division, and serving as site principal investigator and co-investigator for many studies.  Brian has extensive experience with scientific research methods, designing and implementing large-scale multi-site clinical trials, and carrying out research projects in busy primary care settings.  His research interests include improving healthy lifestyles, asthma management and treatment, health disparities, and Motivational Interviewing.

    Jill Alai, MPH – Research Project Manager
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6348
    Jill joined the AAFP National Research Network in July 2020. She has experience working with rural local health departments, conducting community-based participatory research, and policy and program evaluation. Jill received her Master of Public Health in health policy and management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2020.

    Alicia Brooks-Greisen – Bilingual Research Coordinator
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6155
    Alicia joined the PeRson EmPowered Asthma RElief study (PREPARE) asthma study team in December 2018 to serve as bi-lingual coordinator for Spanish speaking study participants. Prior to this, Alicia worked as a Project Director of community-based participatory research projects at KU Medical Center and has also been a Spanish teacher before that. Additionally, she is a yoga teacher, specializing in prenatal, trauma/anxiety and chronic pain.

    Elisabeth Callen, PhD, GStat – Senior Data Scientist
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6145
    Dr. Callen is the Senior Data Scientist at the American Academy of Family Physicians National Research Network where she focuses on providing data management and analysis to a variety of practice-based patient-centered research studies. Specifically, she has experience with compiling, organizing, cleaning, analyzing, and interpreting data from a variety of topic areas including patient- and practice-centered outcomes research. Dr. Callen also has expertise in data science, statistics, and biostatistics including expertise with quantitative and qualitative data, Electronic Health Record (EHR) data, Bayesian and Frequentist methods, data analysis, and practice-based outcomes research. She has Bachelor’s degrees in Astronomy and Mathematics and a Masters of Science in Atmospheric Science from the University of Kansas. Her doctorate is in Meteorology with a minor in Statistics from Iowa State University.

    Tarin Clay, BA – Data Coordinator
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6224
    Tarin is the Data Coordinator at the American Academy of Family Physicians National Research Network where she supports the Senior Data Scientist in data management and analysis for a range of practice-based research studies. As a part of the data team, she has experience analyzing, cleaning, compiling, and interpreting data from a variety of sources, including smaller-scale patient-centered outcomes research and Electronic Health Record (EHR) big data projects. She received her Bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of Kansas, where she engaged in undergraduate research exploring the experiences of undocumented persons navigating the health care, financial, and education systems in the US.

    Miriam Dickinson, PhD – Senior Scientist - Biostatistician
    Dr. Dickinson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Miriam’s areas of research and teaching interest include practice-based research, health services research, research methods, and multilevel modeling.

    Melissa K. Filippi, PhD, MPH – Research Investigator
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6384
    Dr. Filippi is a Research Investigator at the AAFP National Research Network and has over 20 years of health care research experience. She has a PhD in Anthropology with an emphasis in Medical Anthropology from the University of Kansas and an MPH from the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC). Dr. Filippi has held faculty positions at KUMC in the Departments of Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine and Public Health, and she has worked in industry as well. Her research interests include health disparities, community engagement, and public health. Dr. Filippi has managed several projects focusing on clinicians and the promotion of healthy lifestyles, and has directed the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data for numerous projects. Her multidisciplinary background provides a solid foundation for conducting qualitative research and understanding socio-cultural and behavioral factors that relate to lifestyle interventions.

    Daijah Jones, BA – Research Coordinator
    1-800-274-2337, ext. 5038
    Daijah joined the AAFP NRN in June 2022 after graduating from Kansas State University with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Daijah’s areas of research have been in expressions of prejudice and prosocial and antisocial behavior, as well as examining risk and resilience predictors of mental health symptoms in college students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Angie Lanigan, MPA, RDN, LD – Senior Research Project Manager
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6382
    Angie worked for the AAFP NRN from 2006-2011 and returned in 2018. She currently serves as a Senior Research Project Manager and oversees study management, data collection, site facilitation, and dissemination. During her time away from the AAFP NRN, she became a Registered Dietitian and has worked in direct patient care in acute care settings, community education, and nutrition program development. Angie is passionate about research in nutrition therapy and lifestyle modifications. She received a Master of Public Administration from the University of Missouri..

    Cory Lutgen, BS – Senior Program Strategist
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6150
    Cory joined the AAFP NRN in 2017 and serves as a strategist for NRN programming and strategy and also serves as a project manager responsible for overall study management and team leadership, communication, budget, study design and implementation, site facilitation, dissemination, and personnel management. Prior to joining the NRN, he spent 9 years working in Biopharmaceutical R&D and advancement. Cory received a BS in Microbiology from the University of Kansas and is currently obtaining an MHA from the University of Cincinnati.

    Natabhona M. Mabachi PhD, MPH – Director of Evaluation and Research Investigator
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6067
    Dr. Mabachi serves as the Director of Evaluation for the AAFP National Research Network. She is responsible for leading high quality research projects and evaluation activities. She was formerly an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She employs Health Equity and Social Justice frameworks to her work and uses her expertise in Health Communication, Evaluation and Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), to address a variety of topics including Prevention of mother to child HIV transmission (PMTCT), improving Cervical and Breast Cancer screening and treatment rates and Community level Sexual Assault Prevention and Policy change. She also conducts medical education research designed to address health inequities arising from structural racism and implicit biases in care provision and decision making. Her work spans both the US and East Africa.  

    Elise Robertson, MA – Research Project Manager
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6383
    Elise is a research project manager for the AAFP NRN. She has experience in qualitative research, research coordination, and communication with both practices and patients. She earned her Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and has specific research interests in social determinants of health, health policy, and cultural attitudes toward health.

    Joel Shields, MA – Research Project Manager
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6152
    Joel joined the AAFP National Research Network in August 2016. He is involved with project management, research design, data collection, supporting research sites, human subjects protection, IRBs, and practice and subject recruitment. Prior to his work with the NRN, Mr. Shields worked as a quantitative and qualitative research in the Marketing Division at the American Academy of Family Physicians from 2006-2016. Mr. Shields completed his Master of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Missouri – Kansas City in 2007 and his Bachelor of Science in sociology from Missouri State University in 2000.

    Elizabeth W. Staton, MSTC – Writer
    Elizabeth works on improving written, graphic, and electronic communication and usability. She writes and edits grant applications, papers, and other materials. She is also an Instructor in the Department of Family Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine.

    Kaari Van Auken – Senior Program Specialist
    1-800-274-2237, ext. 6153
    Kaari performs and/or coordinates administrative activities for the AAFP National Research Network, is responsible for maintaining the research network membership, coordinates meetings and conference calls for various NRN staff and senior scientists, manages the NRN’s Advisory Group, and performs contract or project work as assigned.

    Advisory Group Members

    Follow the link to learn more about the AAFP NRN Advisory Group, and apply for open position(s).  

    Current Advisory Group Members

    Edward Bujold, MD, FAAFP
    AG Role: Historian

    Haley Coleman
    AG role: Resident/Fellow

    Kari Beth Watts
    AG Role Residency clinician

    Yalda Jabbarpour, MD
    AG Role: Robert Graham Center

    Charlie Jose
    AG Role: New physician

    Ambar Kulshreshtha
    AG Role: Family Medicine Clinician researcher

    Wilfredo Morales
    AG Role: patient

    Wael Mourad
    AG Role: CHPS

    Margaret Turner
    AG Role:

    Tom Vansaghi 
    AG Role: NAPCRG

    Ann Wade
    AG Role: Community member


    Contact us at nrn@aafp.org or 1-800-274-2237 x6153.