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March 22, 2023

By Gary A. Puckrein, PhD


WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 22, 2023) — National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF), a nonprofit research and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring high-risk racial and ethnic populations receive optimal healthcare, shared its renewed approach to research with a roster of accomplished epidemiologists working toward highlighting inequities across the healthcare continuum.

Epidemiologists serve a critical role in public health, they investigate outbreaks and diseases, such as COVID-19 and influenza. 

NMQF hosts a comprehensive database of 5 billion patient records, these data include Medicare, Medicaid and other private datasets.

“We saw the necessity to hire epidemiologists who would have the scope and capability to develop research ideas, coordinate, conduct and communicate high quality, scientific research related to these data,” said Dr. Gary Puckrein, President and Chief Executive Officer at National Minority Quality Forum.

With a team of four epidemiologists, NMQF has furthered its capacity to do research and analyze data to support the organization’s mission. 

NMQF Epidemiology Team

Joining NMQF as Lead Epidemiologist is Dora Il’yasova, PhD, a chronic disease epidemiologist. Her area of concentration is biomarker-based epidemiology, and she is especially interested in individual differences in disease susceptibility and response to chemicals, which include environmental toxicants and drugs. Before NMQF, Dr. Il’yasova had a 20-year career in academia, starting as an Assistant Professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine and continuing her research as an Assistant and then Associate Professor at Duke University School of Medicine and later at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, including several book chapters and editorials. 

Jennifer Matas, MPH, has been hired by NMQF as a Research Lead Epidemiologist. Her educational background is in epidemiology, biostatistics, and data science. Prior to joining NMQF, Jennifer worked in the department of Family and Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, Texas for seven and a half years. During her time at BCM, she worked on various projects in the fields of maternal and child health, substance abuse, infectious diseases, and helped develop and teach clinical research methods courses to clinicians. Jennifer has a passion for health equity and hopes to contribute to research aiming to reduce healthcare disparities. She will be working under the direction of Dr. Liou Xu, Vice President and Senior Principal Statistician, and focusing on research projects using Medicare and Medicaid claims data. 

Shantoy Hansel-Kidney, MPH, first joined NMQF as a Research Intern and has been promoted to Research Associate. Her new role includes performing data analysis to support Dr. Xu on all research projects, working with the team to construct and maintain databases, and assist with journal publications. Shantoy has several years of data analysis experience and enjoys looking at large datasets and will apply those skills and experiences to her new role. 

Makella S. Coudray, PhD, MPH, CPH, is an infectious disease epidemiologist and a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Central Florida. As part of her work, Dr. Coudray explores the impact of social and structural determinants of health on COVID-19 outcomes. In her role at NMQF, Dr. Coudray is tasked with ensuring participant retention for the Minority and Rural Coronavirus Insights Study (MRCIS). In this capacity, she is responsible for the development and ongoing management of the MRCIS study Community Advisory Board (CAB), liaising with site research coordinators, assessing and adapting study instruments, overseeing the administration of the study survey via REDCap and training study personnel in REDCap use. Dr. Coudray is also involved in the preparation of manuscripts to present the study’s findings. 

For more information on how you can get involved, please email NMQF Vice President of Communications & Public Affairs Adjoa Kyerematen at



About the National Minority Quality Forum
The National Minority Quality Forum assists health care providers, professionals, administrators, researchers, policymakers, and community and faith-based organizations in delivering appropriate health care to minority communities. This assistance is based on providing the evidence in the form of science, research, and analysis that will lead to the effective organization and management of system resources to improve the quality and safety of health care for the entire population of the U.S., including minorities. For more information, please visit

Media Contact
Adjoa Kyerematen