Meet the TREC fellows

Rachyl Pines, PhD

Rachyl Pines, PhD

Dr. Rachyl Pines is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation for the Transplant Education and Resource Center with over 5 years of healthcare communication research experience. She received both her MA in Communication in 2016, and her PhD in Healthcare Communication in April 2020 from University of California, Santa Barbara. She has served as the lead on several multi-national research projects, helped hospital and health care systems to improve their provider-patient communication, implemented organizational change and trainings on communication best practices, received over $55,000 grant funding, and published more than 11 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Her dissertation focused on training healthcare staff to better communicate with aggressive patients to prevent violence and improve patient experience. At TREC, Rachyl is excited to be leading lines of research on patient storytelling as it relates to transplantation, among other projects.
LaShara Davs

LaShara A. Davis, PhD

Dr. LaShara A. Davis graduated with a degree in Communication from the School of Communication and Information in 2004. She continued her education at Purdue University where she received a MA in 2007 and a PhD in Communication in 2011 with an emphasis in Health Communication and Social Influence. She completed postdoctoral training in racial and ethnic disparities in living donor kidney transplant in 2013 at Washington University School of Medicine. Since then, Dr. Davis has built her career around research on patient-centered care, health education development and reducing racial and ethnic health disparities. Her goal is to deepen the understanding of the creation, implementation, and evaluation of health campaigns with a special focus on health disparities affecting low-income, low-literate, and underserved populations.

Terri Menser, PhD, MBA

Terri Menser, PhD, MBA

Dr. Terri Menser is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Outcomes Research at the Houston Methodist Research Institute and in the Department of Surgery at Houston Methodist Hospital. She also is an Assistant Professor of Population Health Science at Cornell Medical School and holds adjunct appointments at Texas A&M University and St. Thomas University. Dr. Menser has a doctoral degree in health services research from Texas A&M University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Ohio State University. Her research focuses on end stage renal disease in addition to transplant trends and health outcomes. Access to care and patient engagement are the central themes of her research.

Ashley Feinsinger, PhD

Ashley Feinsinger, PhD

Dr. Ashley Feinsinger is faculty in the David Geffen School of Medicine and the Department of Philosophy at UCLA. Her interests lie at the intersection of ethics, philosophy of language, and medicine, and she received her PhD in Philosophy from UCLA. Her current work falls into two areas: (1) the metaphysics of medical dialogue, including what makes some communication “patient-centered”, and (2) evaluations and discussions of societal benefit in research. This second area is pursued in collaboration with the Department of Neurosurgery, through work on invasive non-therapeutic human neuroscience research. This collaboration is currently supported by the NIH BRAIN Initiative.

Wendy Balliet, PhD

Wendy Balliet, PhD

Dr. Wendy Balliet received her PhD in counseling psychology with a concentration in health psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Bio-behavioral Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Balliet serves on several departmental and other hospital wide committees throughout the College of Medicine at MUSC. She specializes in clinical and research work in transplant psychology. She is also the Associate Co-Director of Clinical Operations for the Division of Bio-behavioral Medicine. Dr. Balliet is a supervisor and preceptor for interns in the Behavioral Medicine Clinic for the Charleston Consortium Psychology Internship Program, and supervises postdoctoral fellows and medical students interested in research. Dr. Balliet is currently active in clinical research, training, and providing clinical patient care.

 Jill Scherrey, MSN, RN, NPD-BC

Jill Scherrey, MSN, RN, NPD-BC

Jill Scherrey is the Consumer Education Specialist at the University of California Los Angeles, (UCLA) CENTER for Nursing Excellence. As a registered nurse with over 20 years of clinical experience, Ms. Scherrey has worked with patients of all ages in acute and intensive care settings. As a strong patient advocate, she considers patient education an invaluable part of health care.

Catina O’Leary, PhD, LMSW

Catina O’Leary, PhD, LMSW

As President and CEO, Dr. Catina O’Leary oversees Health Literacy Media’s core activities and works to set and maintain the strategic vision for the organization. She has steered the organization onto the course of becoming a true partner to a broad spectrum of health care organizations around the world. A primary goal is to empower people with health information they can use. Dr. O’Leary believes in the concept of changing health behaviors to improve quality of life. For more than a decade, she led research at Washington University School of Medicine focused on connecting people at-risk for health conditions with medical and social resources aimed at improving health behaviors, preventing illness, and improving health and well-being.

Marciana Laster, MD, MS

Marciana Laster, MD, MS

Dr. Marciana Laster is a Board Certified Pediatrician and Pediatric Nephrologist at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Dr. Laster received her MD degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL after which she completed a pediatric residency at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center. She then matriculated to UCLA for a fellowship in Pediatric Nephrology where she received research training including a Master of Science in Clinical Research. After training, Dr. Laster remained at UCLA as faculty where her research examines the impact of race and ethnicity on the manifestations of pediatric bone disease under research support from the National Institute of Health.

Cristina Farkas-Skiles, MD, FAAP

Cristina Farkas-Skiles, MD, FAAP

Dr. Christina Farkas-Skiles attended UC San Diego earning a B.S. Magna Cum Laude in Psychology in 2010 and graduated medical school at Vanderbilt University in 2015. She completed Pediatric Residency training at UCLA Mattel Children’s hospital and is currently a Fellow in Pediatric Nephrology there. Her primary interests include decreasing barriers to kidney transplant in complex pediatric patients, quality improvement in the inpatient setting, interdisciplinary collaboration and lupus glomerulonephritis in patients who have received a liver transplant.