Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Simon Laboratory


Meet the members of the Simon lab below. We welcome requests for information about our work and collaboration opportunities. Please email if interested.

Principal Investigator

Melissa Simon

Melissa Simon, MD MPH
m-simon2( at )
Vice Chair of Clinical Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology
Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology-General/Preventive Medicine and Medical Social Sciences
View Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine faculty profile

Research Staff


Erik Almazan
erik.almazan( at )
Research Study Assistant

Erik’s interests lie in service and research centered on addressing healthcare disparities issues in Chicago. Prior to joining the Simon lab, Erik was involved in the University of Chicago’s Department of Internal Medicine in a project aiming to improve patient education material for patients suffering from chronic kidney disease. He also conducted an independent project at the University of Chicago Center for Endoscopic Research and Therapeutics which looked at the effects of two different endoscopic procedures on weight loss outcomes.


Jen Cooper, MPH
jennifer.cooper( at )
Research Project Manager

Jen joined the Simon Lab in the winter 2016 from the University of Chicago Center for Diabetes Translation Research where she managed a large portfolio of comparative effectiveness research studies. Prior to her time at the University of Chicago, Jen worked both domestically and abroad in pediatric oncology research. Ms. Cooper holds a Master’s Degree in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and a Bachelor’s Degree in Integrative Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Marcie Kirschner, MPH, CHES
marcie.kirschner( at )
Research Project Manager

Marcie completed her MPH at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health focusing in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, and Maternal and Child Health. Before coming to the Simon Lab, she worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) focusing on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. She also worked on the Zika Emergency Response at CDC.

Ivy Leung

Ivy Leung
ivy_leung( at )
Chinatown Patient Navigation Coordinator

Prior to moving to Chicago, Ivy was a medical and court interpreter and a community organizer in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and in Ohio. Through her experiences, she became particularly interested in medicine and health disparities. Joining the Simon Lab enabled her to fulfill her desire and passion for helping limited-English proficiency speakers become acclimated to their new lives in the United States. In addition to her efforts in improving access to healthcare and health education, she is also involved with educating and helping domestic violence survivors.


Samuel Mendez
samuel.mendez( at )
Research Study Assistant

Sam comes to the Simon Lab with a background in filmmaking and community-based participatory research. His primary interest lies in using digital media to address the social determinants of health. His previous work in this vein includes an analysis of community-based organizations’ use of social media, a wheelchair travel web series, and experimental documentary about the food for sale in a local corner store.


Maggie Nava, MPH
magdalena.nava1( at )
Program Administrator

Maggie has an extensive background in community health within the realms of domestic violence, AIDS/HIV, diabetes education, cardiovascular disease and most currently cancer. She obtained her Master’s in Public Health from DePaul University and before joining the Simon Lab she was a Project Coordinator at the Ruth M. Rothstein Core Center. She has dedicated the last 25 years of her career working on making a tiny difference in the health of individuals living in underserved and underrepresented communities.


Catherine O'Brian, MS, PhD
catherine.obrian( at )
Scientific Editor

Catherine O’Brian comes to the Simon Lab with a broad background in scientific research and writing in academic biomedicine, the pharmaceutical medical communications industry, and the nonprofit healthcare sector. In her role as Scientific Editor, she works in conjunction with other Simon Lab team members and collaborators to bring Simon Lab research findings to publication in a timely manner. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago and postdoctoral training from Columbia University in New York.

Shaneah Taylor

Shaneah Taylor, MPH
shaneh.taylor( at )
Research Manager

Shaneah M. Taylor completed her MPH at Benedictine University with a focus on health education. She works primarily on designing and implementing education programs that focus on introducing minority students to the physician scientist pipeline. She has also worked with Dr. Simon by coordinating and implementing her breast and cervical cancer, and gestational diabetes community based participatory research projects. Prior to her role as a Research manager, she completed a postgraduate Global Health Fellowship in Malawi, Africa where she worked with USAID to strengthen the capacity of Community Health Workers as they used drama to inform remote village residents about the spread of disease. She is passionate about innovatively eliminating health disparities among underserved, international and domestic populations through education, patient navigation, performing arts and empowerment.


Laura Tom, MS
laura.tom( at )
Clinical Research Associate

Laura Tom is a Clinical Research Associate who oversees the day-to-day operations of Dr. Simon’s research lab and team. Prior to joining the Simon Lab at Northwestern, she supported research projects in cancer prevention and control at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. Laura received her MS in social and behavioral sciences and BA in sociology from Harvard University.


Fei Wang at )
Research Study Assistant

Fei comes to the Simon Lab with a background in economics, social advocacy, and bio-molecular research. Her main interests lie in exploring how economic and healthcare policies impact medically underserved populations and how policy interventions may be used to ameliorate health disparities. Prior to joining the lab, she conducted research on neural crest signaling pathways and briefly worked in healthcare consulting as an anesthesiology service line specialist.


Ann Yau
Ann.Yau( at )
Chinatown Patient Navigator

Ann has worked at Mercy Hospital Medical Center for over four years as a Patient Navigator. In this role, she helps limited English proficiency speakers when they come to Mercy Hospital. Ann also assists community partners and conducts education sessions to showcase insurance options.

Graduate Students & Postdoctoral Fellows


Lynn Yee, MD, MPH
lynn.yee( at )
Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellow Northwestern University
View Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine faculty profile

Dr. Lynn Yee is as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. She is currently in the NICHD Women’s Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) Career Development Program at Northwestern. She has training in maternal health, behavioral health, research design and epidemiology through completion of an MPH. She is pursuing clinical research in several areas, including diabetes during pregnancy, health literacy, health disparities, health behavior and decision making, patient navigation, perinatal HIV, and obesity/weight gain. Her primary WRHR investigation is on the development, implementation, and assessment of an advanced mobile health technology tool to improve diabetes self-management during pregnancy.