Skip to main content
Center for Healthcare Policy and Research

Center for Healthcare Policy and Research

Joy Melnikow, M. D., M. P. H. 

Director, Center for Healthcare Policy and Research
Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine  
(916) 734-3160

Joy Melnikow, M.D., M.P.H. is the Director of the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research and Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, Davis. She serves on the executive committee for the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, and was recently appointed to the US Preventive Services Task Force. She received her M.D. from UC San Francisco and her MPH in epidemiology from UC Berkeley. She completed her residency in Family Medicine at the University of Massachusetts, worked for the Indian Health Service, and was on the faculty of MetroHealth Medical Center/Case Western University before coming to UC Davis in 1992.

Her research focuses on cancer prevention, women’s health, particularly in regard to decision making and patient preferences, comparative effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. With funding by private foundations, the American Cancer Society, the California Breast Cancer Research Program, and the National Cancer Institute, she has pursued research on effectiveness, preferences, decision making, and cost-effectiveness of preventive interventions related primarily to breast and cervical cancer.


Rahman Azari, Ph.D.

Department of Statistics
(530) 752-7709

Dr. Rahman Azari joined the Department of Statistics at UC Davis in 1985, and he has been a core faculty member of the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research since its inception. He has actively been involved in more than thirty research projects with the UC Davis Medical School funded by NIH, NIMH, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, California Department of Health Services and other federal and state agencies. He has published in many reputed scientific journals including Journal of the American Statistical Association, Journal of Royal Statistical Society, Journal of Applied Statistics, Journal of Epidemiology, Medical Care, Journal of Family Practice, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Journal of American Geriatric Society. He has contributed to research in different areas of health care including physician patient interaction and health outcomes, patient expectations, medical decision analysis, cost-effectiveness of health services, palliative care, and health services for minority populations.


Klea Bertakis, M.D., M.P.H. 

Professor and Chair
Department of Family and Community Medicine
916) 734-3167

Dr. Bertakis was born and raised in Northern California and received her B.S. degree from UC Davis and M.P.H. from UC Berkeley. She attended medical school and completed her family practice residency at the University of Utah. She joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980 and in 1994 founded the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research, then known as the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care. She became Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine in 1995 and was elected Chair of the Council of Chairs in 2000. In 2007, she once again became Director of the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research, a post that she held for another two years.

Dr. Bertakis' research focuses on doctor-patient interaction and the effects of physician practice style on patient outcomes and health care delivery. She was the youngest recipient of the Curtis G. Hames Research Award in Family Medicine, which is a lifetime achievement award for contributions to family medicine research. She has sat on numerous editorial boards and is currently a member of the British Medical Journal USA. Dr. Bertakis has also served on the National Board of Medical Examiners and Medical Board of California.


Joshua J. Fenton, M.D., M.P.H. 

Associate Professor
Department of Family and Community Medicine
(916) 734-3630 

Dr. Fenton graduated from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and completed his residency at San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Fenton subsequently served as a family physician in a rural practice on the Navajo Indian Reservation at Crownpoint, NM. Before joining the Department in 2005, he served as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Washington. Dr. Fenton conducts research on the accuracy, utilization, and clinical impact of cancer screening. Current research focuses on the dissemination and clinical impact of mammography innovations and colorectal cancer screening tests. Dr. Fenton is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine and is Associate Editor of the Evidence-Based Medicine. Dr. Fenton grew up in Modesto, CA and he is committed to Department’s mission of increasing access to quality primary care in California’s Central Valley.


James F. Holmes, M.D. 

Department of Emergency Medicine
(800) 282-3284 

James F. Holmes Jr. has presented grand rounds in trauma and pregnancy, pediatric abdominal trauma and spinal trauma. He has studied various approaches to improving both cost effectiveness and quality of care in the emergency department, including clarifying the indications for computer tomography of head injuries, and prospectively evaluating the role of laboratory tests in detecting unsuspected intra-abdominal injury in pediatric blunt-trauma patients.


Anthony F. Jerant, M.D. 

Department of Family and Community Medicine
(916) 734-7081 

Dr. Jerant is a Professor of Family and Community Medicine. He received his medical degree from Saint Louis University and completed residency training at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington. He was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar from 2000-2004. Dr. Jerant is a health services researcher with broad interests, commensurate with his family medicine training, encompassing aspects of clinical primary care, behavioral psychology, health policy, and medical education. A particularly strong current interest is developing and evaluating effective and resource-efficient interventions to increase patients' participation in their own care and thereby improve health outcomes. Recent studies in that realm have focused on methods of enhancing patient self-efficacy (confidence in ones ability to accomplish health-related tasks) and other psychological mediators of health behavior.


Richard L. Kravitz, M.D., M.S.P.H.

Professor and Co-vice Chair, Research
Department of Internal Medicine
(916) 734-1248

Richard L. Kravitz directed the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research between 1996 and 2006. He has research interests centering on patient activation and on the causes and consequences of physician behavior. The two-time recipient of AcademyHealth’s Article of the Year Award, Dr. Kravitz has examined the participation of physicians and nurses in strikes and work actions, the effect of managed care on health services utilization and quality, how clinical opinion leaders can be identified, how physicians respond to patients' requests for services, and how direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs influences physician decision making. More recently, he has studied various ways to engage “patients as agents for quality” by supporting them to obtain high quality care for depression and chronic pain. A Fellow of the Association for Health services Research, Dr. Kravitz currently serves as Co-vice Chair for research in the Department of Internal Medicine and as interim Director of the UC Center Sacramento (


J. Paul Leigh, Ph.D. 

Public Health Sciences
(530) 752-3239

J. Paul Leigh received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His fields of expertise are health and labor economics as well as econometrics. In recent years he has written papers on tobit regression, instrumental variables, and attrition bias that attempt to popularize econometric techniques for research physicians and epidemiologists. He has also written papers that estimate the costs of occupational injuries and illnesses as well as costs of hepatitis C. Additional research interests include workers compensation, arthritis, and effects of gasoline prices on highway fatalities.


Lisa Miller, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Human Development
(530) 752-3955

Dr. Miller is interested in examining how knowledge and motivation support cognition in later life, particularly within the areas of language comprehension and memory, information processing, and decision making. She is also interested in health and nutrition literacy and investigates ways to increase effective health information processing and decision making across adulthood.



Debora A. Paterniti, Ph.D. 

Associate Adjunct Professor
Departments of Internal Medicine and Sociology
(916) 734-2367

Debora Paterniti is the Center's Authority on qualitative health services research. Her expertise in qualitative research methods has allowed her to scrutinize aspects of health services otherwise considered inaccessible. Her command of sociological research methodology has informed and broadened a great deal of the health services research undertaken at the Center. Until recently, she also served as Associate Director, and then Deputy Director, of the CHPR.


John A. Robbins, M.D., M.S.H. 

Professor of General Medicine
Department of Internal Medicine, Division of General Medicine
(916) 734-7005

Dr. Robbins is board certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. His interests are in clinical predictors and interventions and their effects on health and morbidity plus their related primary and secondary costs including clinical diseases, interventions, and societal costs.


Patrick S. Romano, M.D., M.P.H. 

Department of Internal Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
(916) 734-7237

Dr. Patrick Romano is Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and senior faculty in the Graduate Groups in Epidemiology, Public Health, Clinical Research, and Nursing Science and Healthcare Leadership at the University of California (UC) Davis. He is a graduate of Princeton University, Georgetown University School of Medicine, and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. He completed training in internal medicine and pediatrics at University Hospitals of Cleveland, followed by fellowship training in health services research at UC San Francisco. His research interests include developing, testing, and validating health care quality measures, using outcomes data to improve the quality and effectiveness of health care, and studying the role of physicians and nurses in optimizing quality and safety. Over the past 22 years, he has written or co-written nearly 150 peer-reviewed papers and provided technical assistance to many agencies involved in measuring or reporting on health care quality, including the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and Office of the Patient Advocate, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He has served on or chaired expert panels for the National Quality Forum, The Joint Commission, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the World Health Organization, the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC), and the American Medical Association's Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement. Effective April 2014, he also serves as co-Editor in Chief of Health Services Research (HSR), an official journal of AcademyHealth.


Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.  

Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing

(916) 734-7488

Mary Lou de Leon Siantz is a professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. She is nationally recognized for her interdisciplinary efforts to prepare health professionals for leadership and policy, and internationally respected for her research in migrant health.

As a professor at the School of Nursing, de Leon Siantz teaches, conducts research and mentors students in leadership policy and population health. Her research most recently focused on the impact of migration on the health and development of Hispanic migrant/immigrant children and families. Her current research, funded through the Office of Minority Health Department of Health and Human Service, focuses on the development of educational strengths of Hispanic immigrant adolescents and the promotion of their reproductive awareness.

De Leon Siantz is the associate director of the Community Engagement and Research Program of the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center. This program connects health researchers with communities of all kinds to ensure discoveries are translated into real-world interventions. She is also an affiliated faculty member with the Migration and Health Research Center, a collaboration between the UC Davis and UC Berkeley campuses that is dedicated to conducting research to improve the health of migrant populations in California and around the globe.

Prior to her arrival at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, de Leon Siantz was the assistant dean of Diversity and Cultural Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, where she collaborated with other faculty to develop an interprofessional development program as well as a multicultural and global health minor that included a focus on national and international migration.

She earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Human Development from the University of Maryland College Park with a minor in bioethics. She earned a Master of Nursing in Child Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing/Community Mental Health from UCLA and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles.

De Leon Siantz’s academic awards and honors include the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Fellowship in Bioethics at Georgetown University, a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellowship, and recognition as a Top Latina in Health and Science, by “Hispanic” magazine. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and an expert panel member for the National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine, Health of Immigrant Children and Immigrant Children’s Health.


Dennis M. Styne, M.D. 

Department of Pediatrics
Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology
Director of the Newborn Screening Program and Childhood Obesity Clinic

Dennis M. Styne is an expert on pediatric endocrine disorders, growth and disorders of puberty, diabetes mellitus in childhood, thyroid disease, and childhood obesity. He played an integral part in establishing a new childhood and adolescent weight management program at UC Davis Medical Center. Styne has been featured in The Best Doctors in America. He is an active leader in the Obesity Affiliation Group, working to foster development of a state-of-the-art, nationally prominent pediatric obesity research and treatment center. He also has a research interest in puberty and fetal and childhood growth.


Daniel J. Tancredi, Ph.D. 

Assistant Professor in-Residence
Department of Pediatrics

Daniel Tancredi joined the Center in 2002, after gaining extensive experience in the design, implementation and analysis of health services and epidemiological research at Rush University Medical Center. Formally trained as a mathematical statistician at the University of Illinois at Chicago, his research interests include effective study designs and analysis plans for observational and experimental studies. He has particular interest in the analysis of correlated data, as arise in clinic-randomized trials, settings with repeated measurements and surveys that use complex probability sampling techniques. In 2007 Daniel Tancredi accepted a faculty appointment in the UC Davis School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics.

L. Elaine Waetjen, M.D.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Elaine Waetjen, M.D. is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of California, Davis. She received her M.D. from Northwestern University, completed her residency at the University of Pittsburgh, and completed a fellowship in clinical research and epidemiology with a special emphasis on urogynecology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Waetjen's research focuses on the health and symptoms of mid-life and menopausal women. With NIH funding she has investigated the relationship between menopause, endogenous and exogenous hormones and urinary incontinence and vaginal symptoms. She has been a co-investigator with the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) since 2001, developing skills in longitudinal data analysis and knowledge in vaginal health as it relates to menopause and aging. Her research includes studying factors that predict treatment seeking behavior for urinary incontinence in mid-life women. In 2011, Dr. Waetjen helped found the UC Fibroid Network, a collaboration between the five UC Obstetrics and Gynecology departments to conduct patient centered research into the outcomes of novel surgical and non-surgical treatments for uterine fibroids.