• Contact Us

    Preventive Medicine Residency
    Mail Code: 1864
    1100 W. 49th St.
    Austin, TX 78756

    Phone: 512-776-3686
    Fax: 512-776-2822


Leadership and Program Oversight

Our program has over 30 faculty members with a wide variety of expertise, including but not limited to clinical preventive medicine, public health leadership, infectious disease, and epidemiology.

Lisa Armitige, MD, PhD

Texas Center for Infectious Disease

Portrait of Dr. Lisa Armitige

Dr. Lisa Armitige is a medical consultant at the Heartland National TB Center in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Armitige is also an Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Tyler as well as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at UT Medical School at Houston. She received her BA in Biochemistry from Rice University, and was the 50th graduate of the UT-Houston MD/PhD Program. Dr. Armitige completed a combined residency in internal medicine and pediatrics and a Fellowship in Infectious Diseases at UT-Houston and served on the faculty there for 5 years. Before joining Heartland, Dr. Armitige treated HIV patients at Thomas Street Clinic and tuberculosis patients in a county hospital, both in the Harris County Hospital District, Houston, Texas. She currently cares for TB patients at the San Antonio Metro Health District in San Antonio, Texas.

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Adrian Billings, MD, MPH

Chief Medical Officer, Presidio County Health Services (Alpine, TX)

Portrait of Dr. Adrian Billings

Adrian Billings, MD, is a full-spectrum family and community medicine physician providing medical care for underserved rural and frontier medical communities of Alpine, Marfa, and Presidio, Texas. He currently serves as chief of staff of Big Bend Regional Medical Center, medical director of Student Health Services at Sul Ross State University, medical director of the City of Presidio Emergency Medical Services, associate professor of Family and Community Medicine at Texas Tech University School of Medicine's Permian Basin campus; and supports their rural medical education efforts. He is also a liaison and contributor to all-volunteer organizations such as Frontera de Salud, and a physician advisor for Hard Hats for Little Heads.

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Otto Boneta, MD, MPH

Associate Program Director, Tuberculosis Physician, DSHS (Harlingen, TX)

Portrait of Dr. Boneta

Dr. Otto Boneta is the Tuberculosis & Hansen's Disease Elimination Physician for DSHS Region 11, as well as the Associate Program Director of the Preventive Medicine Residency program. He has over thirty years of military experience with the Army in primary care, aerospace medicine and medical leadership capacities. Dr. Boneta is our former Program Director previously served as the Associate Program Director of the Aerospace Medicine Residency at the Naval Aerospace Medicine Institute from 2000-2003.

Dr. Boneta earned his MD and MPH degrees at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. He is board-certified in aerospace medicine and in undersea & hyperbaric medicine and is a fellow of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Society.

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DeLawnia Comer-Hagans, PhD

Health Equity Policy Analyst
Center for Health Policy and Performance


Portrait of Dr. Comer-Hagans

Dr. DeLawnia Comer-HaGans is a health disparities researcher with expertise in disparities among vulnerable populations. Her current role is as a Health Equity Policy Analyst for the Texas State Department of Health Services where she is developing a health equity vision for the state of Texas.

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Lisa Cornelius, MD, MPH

Hospital Epidemiologist, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System

Portrait of Dr. Cornelius

Dr. Cornelius is the Hospital Epidemiologist and Infectious Disease Physician at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System in Temple.

Previously, she served as Regional Medical Director for DSHS Region 7 in Central Texas and Infectious Diseases Medical Officer for DSHS in Austin. Prior to joining DSHS as a resident in preventive medicine, Cornelius served as senior staff in the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine at Scott and White Healthcare both in Temple and Round Rock, and as the hospital epidemiologist. While there, she served on the antibiotic streamlining committee, P&T committee, and infection control committee. She also served as the Local Health Authority and Medical Director for Bell County Public Health District from 2009-2010 and for Williamson County and Cities Health District from 2016 – 2017.

Cornelius obtained her undergraduate degree in microbiology from University of Texas at Austin, attended medical school at Baylor College of Medicine, and completed her residency in internal medicine in Salt Lake City. After a chief resident year at the University of Hawaii, she completed her infectious disease fellowship at Scott and White and obtained her Master of Public Health degree with honors in epidemiology from the Texas A&M School of Public Health.

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Sandra Delgado, MD, MPH

Preventive Medicine Physician, San Antonio Metro Health

Portrait of Dr. Delgado

As the Chief Medical Officer-TRICARE for Humana Government Business, a subsidiary of Humana, Dr. Delgado oversees population health services for over 3 million TRICARE beneficiaries in the South East United States. TRICARE is the health insurance for active duty, retired military and their dependents. With a population health and Preventive Medicine background, she is focused on improving the health of individuals by addressing health system innovation and modification.

Her medical practice as a physician has been primarily in assessing health care system efficiencies and medical practice assumptions in an executive physician position. Dr. Delgado previously served as the dshs regional medical director in san Antonio.

She is bilingual English-Spanish and sensitive to Hispanic cultural needs which enhances her ability to communicate with various groups on issues of health significance.

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Courtney Dezendorf, MEd

Director, Office of Practice and Learning, DSHS

Portrait of Courtney Dezendorf

Courtney Dezendorf is the Director for the Office of Practice and Learning at the Texas Department of State Health Services. OAA operates a preventive medicine residency program, provides continuing education services, facilitates internship experiences and workforce development, and administers an Institutional Review Board.

Courtney has previously held positions in academia as well as in the public and private healthcare sectors. Her expertise is in managing and developing academic programming, facilitating community and academic partnerships and coordinating public health initiatives. Courtney received a Master of Education from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University.

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Kelly Fegan-Bohm, MD, MPH

Pediatric Endocrinologist, Medical Director, Community Health Improvement Division, DSHS

Portrait of Dr. Fegan-Bohm

Dr. Kelly Fegan-Bohm attended undergraduate school at University of Texas at Austin where she graduated with a degree in Human Biology in 2006. She received her Master's in Exercise Physiology from UT Austin in 2007 while working in the Biology department as an anatomy Teaching Assistant. She attended medical school at UT Health Science Center in San Antonio from 2007-2011 where she graduated with her Medical Degree as well as a Master's in Public Health. She completed her pediatric residency at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, OR in 2014 and her Pediatric Endocrinology Fellowship at Texas Children's Hospital in 2017. She then worked as an Assistant Professor at Texas Children's in the Pediatric Endocrinology Department. Her clinical and research focus was on optimizing patient care for children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes, especially in those of racial/ethnic minorities and of lower socioeconomic status. In March of 2020, she started her position at DSHS as the Medical Director for the Community Health Improvement Division.

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Brad Fitzwater, MD

Substance Use Medical Director, Texas HHSC

Portrait of Dr. Fitzwater

Dr. Fitzwater is the Substance Use Medical Director within the Behavioral Health Services section at the Texas Health & Human Services Commission (HHSC). In this role he provides medical expertise and leadership related to substance use prevention, intervention and treatment for HHSC funded programs. Additionally, he provides knowledge and expertise on substance use to intra- and inter-agency partners. Dr. Fitzwater is the former Medical & Executive Director of the Texas Physician Health Program, a state agency that provides a confidential, non‐disciplinary program for PA's, physicians and certain other licensed healthcare providers to receive assistance and monitoring for conditions that could potentially impair their ability to safely practice. In this role he performed evaluations, coordinated care plans and oversaw monitoring programs for providers with substance‐related and psychiatric conditions, allowing them to maintain confidentiality while receiving the help they need in order to be successful in recovery.

Dr. Fitzwater earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and gained extensive leadership experience while working in operations management for 8 years prior to medical school. He earned his medical degree at Mayo Clinic and is board certified in both Addiction Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology. He has worked in a variety of administrative and clinical settings including private and hospital‐based practices.

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Lewis Foxhall, MD

Vice President for Health Policy, Physician-In-Chief, MD Anderson

Portrait of Dr. Foxhall

Dr. Foxhall is the MD Anderson's vice president for health policy and professor in the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention. His work focuses on community-based cancer prevention and early detection, access and quality of care for low-income populations. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and his clinical background is in family medicine.

Dr. Foxhall supports policy development and outreach programs in collaboration with government agencies, voluntary health organizations and organized medical groups. He is responsible for coordination of MD Anderson's charity care program.

He currently co-leads the Institution's comprehensive cancer control program. He directs the institution's cancer survivorship efforts in policy outreach and education. He is a board member of the Harris County Healthcare Alliance, the Houston Academy of Medicine Texas Medical Center Library and the JP McGovern Museum of Medical Science. He is a member of the American Cancer Society National Board of Directors.

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Manda Hall, MD

Associate Commissioner for Community Health Improvement, DSHS

Portrait of Dr. Hall

Manda Hall, M.D. was named the Title V Maternal and Child Health Medical Director at the Texas Department of State Health Services in March of 2016. Prior to this position, Dr. Hall served as the Title V Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Director for over three years.

Dr. Hall received her medical degree from Texas A&M University Health Science Center and completed her Internal Medicine/Pediatrics residency and an Allergy and Immunology fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Hall graduated in May of 2014 as a fellow in the Maternal and Child Health Public Health Leadership institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Philip Huang, MD, MPH

Director and Health Authority, Dallas County Health and Human Services

Portrait of Dr. Huang

Dr. Huang has been the Director and Health Authority for the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department since February 2019. Prior to this, he served for 11 years as Medical Director and Health Authority for the Austin Public Health department. He received his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Rice University, his MD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and his Master's in Public Health from Harvard with a concentration in Health Policy and Management. While at Harvard, he led the successful movement to divest of their tobacco stocks. Dr. Huang completed his residency training in Family Medicine at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, and was Chief Resident during his final year. He served two years as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assigned to the Illinois Department of Public Health where he conducted epidemiologic studies in chronic disease and infectious disease outbreak investigations. He is currently an Assistant Professor with the University of Texas at Austin, Dell Medical School, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the University Of Texas School Of Public Health, Austin Campus. He has served as Principal Investigator for numerous CDC and State-funded public health cooperative agreements.

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Sharon Huff, MD, MPH

DSHS Regional Medical Director - Region 4/5 North (Tyler, TX)

Portrait of Dr. Huff

Dr. Huff is the Regional Medical Director for Region 4/5N in Tyler, TX. She has been with DSHS in this position since July 1, 2016. Prior to this she was the Associate Program Director of the Occupational Medicine Residency training program and an Assistant Professor of Occupational Health Sciences for 7 years at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler.

She earned her Bachelors of Arts in Biology from The University of Texas at Austin, her Masters of Science in Environmental Science and certificate in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, and her Doctor of Medicine from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. Her post-graduate medical training included Family Medicine at Baylor-Garland and Occupational Medicine at UTHSC Tyler.

Dr. Huff is board certified in Occupational Medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. Past work includes serving as a co-investigator for the National Children's Study Lamar County study center, co-PI and medical director for the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health, investigator and advisory board member for the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Safety, Injury Prevention, and Education and she is published in the areas of flavoring-related lung disease and ATV-related injuries in children.

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Robert Johnson, MD, MPH, MBA

Medical Director, Humana Government Business

Portrait of Dr. Johnson

Dr. Johnson is the Medical Quality and Clinical Innovations Medical Director for Humana Government Business in San Antonio, Texas. He retains an academic position as Clinical Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), School of Medicine and continues in active teaching of Medical Residents.

Prior to joining Humana, Dr. Johnson held positions as the Deputy Director of the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and he was full time faculty at UTMB, where he was the, Program Director of the General Preventive Medicine Residency, the Associate Director of the UTMB/NASA-Johnson Space Center Aerospace Medicine Residency Program, and the Course Director of the Introduction to Aerospace Medicine Residency short course. Dr. Johnson retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2005 with the rank of Colonel and a Chief Flight Surgeon Aeronautical rating.

While serving in the U.S. Air Force, Bob held multiple positions including; the General Preventive Medicine Residency Director at the U. S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, the Director of the DoD Global Medicine Course and the Chief Information Officer, as a member of the Board of Directors, for Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in addition to numerous international deployments.

He is a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine, a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association, the Past President of the American Society of Aerospace Medical Specialist and as a recent Regent on the Board of the American College of Preventive Medicine.

Dr. Johnson received a Medical Doctorate from the Uniformed Services University, School of Medicine, a Master of Public Health with Distinction from the Yale University, and a Master of Business Administration with Honors from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is currently board certified by The American Board of Preventive Medicine in Preventive Medicine and Public Health and in Aerospace Medicine. He is also certified in Medical Quality by the American Board of Medical Quality.

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Jeffrey L. Levin, MD, MSPH, DrPH, FACOEM, FACP

Professor, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences and Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (Tyler, TX)
He is the Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Occupational Health Sciences.

Portrait of Dr. Levin

Dr. Levin has been on faculty at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler for more than 30 years and has served in numerous capacities as founding Program Director of the Occupational Medicine Residency (1994-2017), ACGME Designated Institutional Official or DIO (2014-2017), and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer (2014-2020). Dr. Levin is a graduate of the UT Medical School at San Antonio. He completed his internal medicine training at the University of Missouri and post-graduate training in occupational medicine at the University of Kentucky. He is board-certified in both Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine-Occupational. Dr. Levin is past-President of the Texas Occupational Medical Association, past-Chair of the Texas Medical Association Council on Science and Public Health, Alternate Responsible Official for the Public Health Laboratory of East Texas, and Local Health Authority for Smith County. He is also an officer and member of the American Board of Preventive Medicine. As a native Texan having spent many formative years along the U.S.-Mexico border and in Central Mexico, he is fluent in Spanish.

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Joel Massey, MD, MPH

DSHS Medical Director – Region 2/3 (Arlington, TX)

Portrait of Dr. Massey

Joel G. Massey, MD, MPH, CPH, C-TropMed, is Regional Medical Director for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Public Health Region 2/3. He is a Spring 2019 graduate of the UNT Health Science Center MPH Professional Option degree program.

Dr. Massey began his career as a family physician in the U.S. Air Force. After his military service, he became interested in public health and joined the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service.

He followed up this experience with a preventive medicine residency at the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin, where he concurrently completed his MPH at UNTHSC. That training led Dr. Massey to his current role with the Texas DSHS PHR 2/3 office, based in Arlington.

The Texas DSHS Public Health Region 2/3 includes 49 counties in North Texas. Texas DSHS provides public health services for 37 of these counties that do not have their own local health department.

Dr. Massey directs services in several field offices, overseeing areas like case management for persons with specialized health service needs, epidemiologic surveillance, child and adult immunizations, maternal-child health and safety programs, restaurant sanitation, sexually transmitted infection treatment and prevention, tuberculosis control and tobacco prevention. He also collaborates with stakeholders to build community partnerships and promote a "health-in-all-policies" strategy toward the vision of a healthy Texas.

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Paul McGaha, DO, MPH

Deputy Director of the Northeast Texas Center for Rural Community Health at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (Tyler, TX)

Portrait of Dr. McGaha

Dr. McGaha has had the pleasure of serving the people of East Texas in the field of public health for over 30 years. Holding a specialty in preventive medicine and equipped by a Master of Public Health, his vocational mission is to help improve health outcomes in East Texas and to reduce health disparities in the area. For over 19 years he served as the Regional Medical Director for Public Health Regions 4 and 5 (North) of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in Tyler. The department interfaced closely with nine local health departments/districts and served as the primary public health entity for the remaining 26 counties. Additionally, from 2012 to 2013, he served as Acting Assistant Commissioner for DSHS.

In April of 2015, he joined the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler team in the Northeast Texas Center for Rural Community Health as Deputy Director, later to be named Director. The "Center" was the focal point for 21 Medicaid Transformation Waiver projects with a goal to transform service delivery practices to improve quality, health status, patient experience, coordination and cost effectiveness. In 2016, he was named the inaugural Chair of the Department of Community Health for the School of Community and Rural Health where he directs classroom instruction related to social determinants of health and community engagement. Furthermore, the department oversees several grant-funded projects related to cancer screening, tobacco cessation, and maternal/child health. The department continues to collaborate with communities to further develop initiatives aimed at improving the health status of East Texans, including efforts to curb tobacco use, projects to improve dietary habits, and activities to increase physical exercise and manage obesity.

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Sharon Melville, MD, MPH

DSHS Regional Medical Director - Region 7 (Temple, TX)

Portrait of Dr. Melville

Dr. Melville received her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and an MPH from the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health. She completed a residency in preventive medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.

Dr. Melville has served as the Regional Medical Director for DSHS Health Service Region 7 since June 2013. She previously worked at the DSHS Central Office in Austin as the manager of the TB/HIV/STD Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch for 17 years. Prior to joining DSHS, Dr. Melville was assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, MA.

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Dalia Nessim, MD, MPH, PhD

Occupational and Environmental Health, UT Health Science Center Northeast (Tyler, TX)

Portrait of Dr. Nessim

Dr. Nessim is the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency Program Director at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, TX. She joined the Occupational and Environmental Health Science Department at the UT Health Science Center at Tyler in September 2014 as an assistant professor. She has since participated in resident teaching, and clinical activities in the Occupational Health Clinic (OHC) and Eastman Chemical Company TXO, Longview TX. She was the residency Associate Program Director July 2016-June 2017, and transitioned into the role of Program Director in July 2017. She came from a strong background in Occupational Medicine, as after receiving her M.D. from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, she worked in the field of occupational medicine in Cairo, Egypt for more than 10 years, before arriving to the USA. She completed her occupational medicine residency training and MPH Degree at the UT Health Science Center in Houston, TX in June 2014. Dr. Nessim is board certified in occupational medicine, and is actively engaged as a resident preceptor in the OHC, an AOEC clinic, as well as Eastman Chemical Company. She's also a course instructor in the UTHSCT MPH Program, and supervises and mentors residents and MPH students in their research projects, Capstone and Practicum experiences. Her primary focus is building healthy work environments for rural and vulnerable populations.

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Asma Nuri, MD

Internal Medicine, VA Outpatient Clinic (Austin, TX)

Dr. Asma Nuri serves as a staff physician with the Department of Veteran Affairs and a hospitalist with the Austin Regional Clinic. He holds has held several academic appointments including with the Dell Medical School at UT-Austin. He conducts informal lectures and mini clinical evaluation exercises for residents while also performing and teaching out-patient procedures.

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Ketki Patel, MD, PHD, MPH

Acting Manager, DSHS Environmental Surveillance and Toxicology Branch

Portrait of Dr. Patel

Dr. Ketki Patel is a Senior Epidemiologist in the DSHS Environmental Surveillance and Toxicology Branch. She has over ten years of combined experience working in public health in the U.S. and India. Prior to DSHS, she has worked with Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and the Central States Center for Agriculture Safety and Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health.

She obtained her medical degree from Vitebsk State Medical University, Republic of Belarus and practiced clinical medicine at a tertiary-care teaching hospital in India and worked extensively on occupational health and chronic disease prevention projects. She received her Master of Public Health in Environmental, Occupational and Agricultural Health, and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Epidemiology both from University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health. Her interests include environmental and occupational health, disaster epidemiology, public health surveillance and informatics, and health equity.

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Desiree Pendergrass, MD, MPH

Field Representative, ACGME

Portrait of Dr. Desiree Pendergrass

Desiree B. Pendergrass, MD, MPH is currently an Accreditation Field Representative for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education ACGME). She is board certified in both pediatrics and preventive medicine.

Dr. Pendergrass earned a BA in chemistry from Texas Christian University and her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. She completed her pediatric internship at the University of Missouri at Columbia and her pediatric residency at the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. After several years in private practice she completed a general preventive medicine and public health residency at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health earning a Master of Public Health with concentration in maternal child health.

Her experience in GME incudes serving as Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) (2017 – 2019) and as core faculty for the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock's pediatric residency program (2007-2017).

Previously, Dr. Pendergrass worked at the Texas Department of State Health Services/Texas Department of Health developing medical policy for the Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) program and the Medicaid Comprehensive Care Program. She has also worked as clinical coordinator for the Texas Medical Foundation, providing expertise in the area of population-based medical quality improvement


Her interests include residency education, quality improvement, policy development, the care of special populations, and issues surrounding immunization coverage.

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Peter Pendergrass, MD, MPH

Program Director, DSHS Preventive Medicine Residency

Portrait of Dr. Peter Pendergrass

Dr. Peter W. Pendergrass serves as the Residency Director for the Public Health and General Preventive Medicine Residency at the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Prior to rejoining DSHS in 2019, he served as an Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Mississippi where he developed and launched a new preventive medicine residency program. Also, he served as an expert consultant to the State Epidemiologist at the Mississippi State Department of Health focusing on healthcare acquired infection prevention.

Prior to UMMC, Dr. Pendergrass served as the Coordinator of the Bureau of Family Health Services at San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, the Bureau Chief for Communicable Disease for Texas Department of Health, and the DSHS Regional Medical Director for Region 1 in Lubbock, Texas. He gained considerable expertise in health policy, emergency preparedness and the medical care of persons with tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases.

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Carlos Plasencia, MD, MPH

DSHS Regional Medical Direction – Region 6/5S (Houston, TX)

Portrait of Dr. Plasencia

Dr. Plasencia brings almost 30 years of experience in primary care and public health. Graduating from the University of Colorado with a combined Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) degree, he completed his residency in Family Practice in the Rio Grande Valley. Afterwards he entered the U.S. Public Health Service as a Commissioned Officer serving in places as diverse as Alaska and Puerto Rico. Assignments included the Alaska Native Health Service, flight surgeon with the U.S. Coast Guard and community health centers in Texas. As a senior officer he was stationed in the DC area where he worked in policy development under the Assistant Secretary for Health and supported the Department of Defense electronic health information system. After retiring from active service, he worked with the Veteran's Administration and most recently with Harris County Public Health. Dr. Plasencia is deeply committed to the health and well-being of the people of Texas. He is particularly interested in assisting the underserved, especially marginalized and rural populations, and in mitigating impacts from natural disasters, emerging diseases and bioterrorism.

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Stephen Pont, MD, MPH

Medical Director, DSHS Office of Science and Population Health

Portrait of Dr. Pont

Dr. Pont co-founded and served as the founding medical director for Dell Children's Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity, which strives to empower families and communities to lead healthy, happy lives through a bilingual interdisciplinary weight management clinic, individual and group family-based programs, and other education, advocacy and research initiatives. Through Dr. Pont and his team's work Dell Children's became the first Seton facility to have a vegetable garden, an associate gym, and associate fitness classes. Dr. Pont and team also worked with It's Time Texas to create and launch the novel Choose Healthier app and website.

Dr. Pont also previously served as the medical director for Austin ISD Student Health Services and as the medical director for children's health for the Community Care Collaborative. Dr. Pont is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics with UT Austin Dell Medical School, and UT-Austin Departments of Advertising and Nutrition, and a Clinical Associate Professor with Texas A&M Health Science Center.

Dr. Pont joined the Texas Department of State Health Services in November 2017 to lead the newly formed Office on Science and Population Health.

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Emilie Prot, DO, MPH

DSHS Regional Medical Director - Region 11 (Harlingen, TX)

Portrait of Dr. Prot

Dr. Emilie Prot attended medical school at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens, Ohio and completed her preliminary year in Internal Medicine at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Prot completed her residency training in preventive medicine at Texas Department of State Health Services. She received her Master of Public Health from UT Health Science Center School of Public Health. She is passionate about global health, advocacy, and health equity and strives to care for populations in Texas with particular attention to the Texas-Mexico border region.

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Lillian Ringsdorf, MD, MPH

DSHS Regional Medical Director - Region 8 (San Antonio, TX)

Dr. Ringsdorf is currently the Regional Medical Director of Texas Department of State Health Services Region 8 in San Antonio, TX. She obtained her medical degree at the University of Alabama School of Medicine and her Ophthalmology Residency at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute of the Vanderbilt University Medical center, Nashville, Tennessee.

She completed her Master in Public Health at UTHSSA in 2011. One of her many duties, Dr. Ringsdorf manages medical issues during infectious disease outbreaks and is member of the Rapid Assessment Team which is a deployable resource for the agency during public health emergencies.

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Rishi Sawhney, MD

HHSC Medical Director, Behavioral Health Services

Portrait of Dr. Sawhney

Rishi Sawhney MD has served as the Community Behavioral Health Medical Director for Behavioral Health Services in the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) since 2018 where he helps oversee state funded behavioral health services. Prior to his current role, he worked at the Office of Mental Health in New York in the Managed Care Division and a permanent supportive housing residence called The Brook in the Bronx, New York.

Rishi completed his undergraduate degree in Finance at the University of Texas in Austin and graduated from Baylor College of Medicine for medical school where he completed the Care of the Underserved Track. He completed his adult psychiatry residency at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a public psychiatry fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center.

Rishi currently serves as a member of the HHSC Institutional Review Board 2, HHSC Psychiatric Executive Formulary Committee, Early-Career Psychiatrist Advisory Committee for the journal Psychiatric Services, and is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at Dell Medical School.

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Barbara Seaworth, MD

Medical Director, Heartland National TB Center

Portrait of Dr. Seaworth

Dr. Barbara Seaworth is the Medical Director for the Heartland National Tuberculosis Center of Excellence in San Antonio, Texas. Heartland is one of four CDC-sponsored centers devoted to education and medical consultation for health professionals treating patients with tuberculosis. She received her medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis and completed a fellowship in Infectious Disease at Duke University. She is board certified in Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine and is an expert in treating tuberculosis and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. She serves as an expert tuberculosis consultant to DSHS and the Binational Projects along the Texas border with Mexico. She is the Co-Medical Director for San Antonio Metropolitan Health District TB Clinic, Co-Chair of the Community Research Advisory Group for the CDC sponsored TB Trial Consortium, is a Professor of Medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center, Tyler, and is a Fellow of Infectious Disease Society of America.

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Jennifer Shuford, MD, MPH

DSHS Infectious Disease Medical Officer

Portrait of Dr. Shuford

Dr. Jennifer Shuford, MD MPH is the Infectious Disease Medical Officer at DSHS. She attended University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. She completed her fellowship in Infectious Diseases at the Mayo Clinic and received her Master of Public Health degree from Harvard School of Public Health. She is currently practicing infectious diseases in Austin, Texas, enjoying the year-round warm weather. A few of her favorite things include: her husband Clark, her two beautiful kids, running, reading mystery books, and playing the string bass.

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Jeffrey Taylor, MPH

Epidemiology Manager, Austin Public Health

Jeff Taylor earned a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. He has been an infectious disease epidemiologist with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the City of Austin for over 37 years. He is currently a manager of the Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit of Austin Public Health. This Unit is responsible for infectious disease surveillance and rare disease or outbreak investigations within Travis County.

While working at the Texas Department of State Health Services from 1981 through 2013, he served as the Manager or Director of various branches or groups involved in the surveillance of infectious diseases. During his career, he has directed numerous investigations of common source and community outbreaks involving tuberculosis, respiratory and zoonotic diseases and foodborne and waterborne diseases. He was the principal investigator for several grants and cooperative agreements funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He was the secondary supervisor for seven CDC Epidemic Intelligence Officers (EIS) and assisted in the development of a public health internship program with the University of Texas at Austin.

Jeff is the author on over 50 publications in peer-review journals on infectious disease topics including murine typhus, tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, foodborne diseases, brucellosis and tuberculosis. His three most recent publications involve articles addressing the West Nile virus epidemic in Texas in 2012, a murine typhus cluster in Austin, and the burden of falls in persons aged 65 years or older in Travis County.

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Leonel Vela, MD, MPH

Dean, UTRGV College of Medicine

Portrait of Dr. Vela

Dr. Vela received his undergraduate degree in Medical Microbiology from Stanford University and his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine. He completed post-graduate studies at Harvard University where he received a Masters of Public Health Degree; he also completed post-graduate training in Preventive Medicine. While at Harvard he was the recipient of a Kellogg Fellowship in Health Policy and Management. Vela received additional training in epidemiology at the CDC in Atlanta, and a fellowship in Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He is board-certified in Preventive Medicine and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Preventive Medicine. Prior to his current appointment at UTHSCSA, Vela was the Vice President for Rural and Community Health at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). At TTUHSC, he was the first holder of the Marie Hall Endowed Chair in Rural and Community Health. Additionally, Vela was the Medical Director for Telemedicine and Editor of the Texas Journal of Rural Health.

Vela has served on several state, national and international committees addressing tuberculosis, diabetes, migrant health, border health and telemedicine. He has been involved in publications and professional presentations addressing these topics, including public health and emerging infections on the border. He has participated in several professional organizations and previously chaired the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health for the U.S. Secretary of Health.

Vela has received various awards and was honored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Migrant Head Start Branch, as recipient of the Plate of Bounty Award. He also served as Chair of the Group on Regional Medical Campuses for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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Last updated January 8, 2021