Racism as a Public Health Crisis

Racism as a Public Health Crisis

Our committee is conducting research on national and state level legislation concerning maternal health, with a focus on racism and health equity. The abstract has been accepted for a special Frontiers research topic, “Racism as a Public Health Crisis”. The committee is co-chaired by Keri Carvalho and Anna Kheyfets. The committee includes Pegah Maleki, Brenna Miller, Siwaar Abouhala, and Eimaan Anwar. 


Anna Kheyfets

Anna Kheyfets is a first-year dual-degree MD/MPH student at the Tufts University School of Medicine. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from the University of Chicago in March of 2019, where she studied Anthropology and Biology. She began studying public health and women’s health at UChicago, where she was part of a lab studying female sexual dysfunction and health disparities. She spent her gap year working as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Women’s Health Research Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her research focused on maternal and child care health disparities and hospital quality, as well as, the impact of racism and discrimination in maternal health care. This experience influenced her decision to pursue an MPH in medical school, with the hope of conducting research in public health and health policy throughout her medical career. She is excited to serve as a co-chair of the research and grants committee and to mentor undergraduate students looking to pursue a career in medicine. She is keenly interested in health equity, racial and reproductive justice, and urban health, and hope to apply the principles she learns from Dr. AO and the rest of the team in her practice as a physician.

Keri Carvalho

Keri Carvalho is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Psychosocial Determinants of Health Lab in the Department of Community Health at Tufts University. Her research primarily uses quantitative methods to examine the role of psychosocial stress (e.g. discrimination, financial strain, relationship strain) on health outcomes, with a particular focus on obesity. Other research interests include the intersectionality of race and weight, and psychosocial factors that contribute to health and racial disparities. She received her PhD from Tufts University in Experimental Psychology and has extensive teaching experience in psychology and community health undergraduate courses. When Keri is not researching or teaching, you can find her exploring her passions for baking, yoga, and running.


Pegah Maleki

Pegah Maleki, MSW is currently a student at the University of Pennsylvania completing her dual graduate masters degree in public health, with the expected graduation date of May 2021. She is a part-time research assistant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PolicyLab focusing on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and an associate board member of Covenant House, Philadelphia. She’s worked in the anti-violence field broadly in multiple capacities, including direct service, crisis response, advocacy and prevention education in the sexual and domestic violence field, human trafficking field, as well as with refugee/immigrant survivors of torture. Her experience and interests are continuing work with marginalized communities, specifically LGBTQI+ survivors and racial and ethnic minorities. She values sex-positivity, health equity, wellness, and intersectionality; she hopes to continue both micro- and macro- work garnered towards decreasing violence, health disparities, and systemic inequality for marginalized populations, while aiding in research and programmatic work to advance policy changes.

Brenna Miller

Brenna Miller is an MPH Candidate at Tufts University School of Medicine and holds a BS in Psychology from Clemson University. Throughout her undergraduate career, she focused extensively on clinical research in the mental health field, starting with the RI State Government Internship Program examining recidivism rates among inmates with mental illness and continuing on the investigate the effect of neurofeedback training on adolescent behavioral disorders. Her primary project was with the ARC (Autism Research at Clemson) Lab, in which she investigated media representations of persons with autism spectrum disorders. After working with Planned Parenthood as a Research Coordinator intern, she became inspired by the maternal and child health field and has since continued to volunteer as a Patient Advocate and to educate and advocate for women’s health care and rights. Her ultimate goal is to use clinical research to help inform reproductive health policy and eliminate inequities within the field. Her dream career is one that combines her clinical passions with her love for social justice work so she can help change the world. Brenna is expected to graduate Spring 2021. In her free time you might find her cruising around Boston on her e-bike.

Eimaan Anwar

Eimaan is a junior at Tufts University majoring in Community Health and Biology. For most of her life she was raised in Bahrain, a small island in the Middle East. Eimaan is passionate about helping underserved communities and addressing racial and ethnic disparities, particularly in maternal health. Her research interests include disparities in pre- and postnatal care, barriers to maternal healthcare services, and the impacts of doula care on birth outcomes.  After graduation, she hopes to go to medical school and use her skills and knowledge in the public health field to help improve access to health care and quality of health education, especially for minority groups. At Tufts, Eimaan is part of Project SHARE, Birthing Project USA, the Shultz Lab and is also currently fighting to target COVID-19 misinformation in rural India. She also volunteers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and enjoys interacting and engaging with patients.  In the past she has also travelled to South East Asia and performed fieldwork to investigate maternal health standards by conducting verbal and social autopsies, assisting in focus group discussions and analyzing qualitative data. Eimaan has also worked at local health centers and interned at governmental hospitals in Karachi, specifically in the OB-GYN department, to provide the utmost help she could.

In her free time Eimaan enjoys baking, reading and hanging out with friends. Eimaan also loves ice cream and tries to go somewhere new every week! Her favorite place so far is Honeycomb Creamery in Porter Square.

Siwaar Abouhala

Hello! My name is Siwaar Abouhala (she/her/hers) and I’m a rising sophomore at Tufts University where I’m studying Arabic, community health, and sociology. I want to explore and further develop culturally and religiously competent healthcare methods for non- Western populations living in the Western world. Most of my current research deals with Arab-Americans, but I would love to expand my research and work to populations across the Arab diaspora, especially in regards to survivors of forced migration. I’m a Refugee Resettlement Intern at the Intensive Case Management (ICM) department of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) where I serve as an Arabic interpreter and help clients access resources within mental health systems, physical healthcare systems, and benefit services. I’m also a Research Intern at the Arab Health Initiative (AHI) under the Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities (IHCD) Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). I survey Arab patients and collect data for two main studies: (1) “Predictors of Receipt of Cervical Cancer screening and HPV Vaccination among a Diverse Sample of Arab Americans in NYC” and (2) “HPV Vaccine Recommendations among Providers serving Arab-American Populations.” I also develop COVID-19 presentations for cancer patients under the Immigrant Breast Health Access (IBHA) program. Additionally, I’ve designed and launched a study titled “Essential Work, Forgotten Perspectives: Arab-Americans in New York’s Food System Amid COVID-19,” which is fully funded by the Tisch Student COVID Response (TSCR) Summer Program under the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts. Lastly, I’ve been involved in grassroots work such as organizing and leading the Tufts + Birthing Project USA (BPUSA) summer working group, so I’m excited to be a part of a research team fully dedicated to addressing maternal health disparities through the MOTHER Lab. Thank you to Dr. AO for putting this incredible group together!