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GW Faculty and Staff

Faculty Leadership



Mark Edberg, PhD

Phone: (202) 994-3584

Mark Edberg, PhD, MA is the Center Director and Co-Investigator. He is an applied and academic anthropologist with 25 years’ experience in social and public health research, currently Associate Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health (DPCH) at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, with secondary appointments in the Department of Anthropology and the Elliott School of International Affairs. In addition to directing the Avance Center, Dr. Edberg also heads the global-oriented Center for Social Well-Being and Development (CSWD), with recent projects in South Africa, Indonesia and Jamaica, and conducted prior work with UNICEF’s Latin America-Caribbean Regional Office and UNICEF Belize. Previously, he was PI for the CDC-funded SAFER Latinos program (youth violence prevention) that served as a model for the Adelante intervention, Co-PI (Karen McDonnell, PI) on a CDC-funded research effort related to the etiology of gender violence/gender disparities in the same community, PI on an effort for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families to develop a theoretical framework for program planning/evaluation with their at-risk populations, Co-PI on a CDC national expert panel project to assess linkages between macroeconomic factors and youth violence (with DSG, Inc), and Co-PI on an evaluation project concerning a sexual exploitation and trafficking prevention program in San Francisco (affecting primarily minority and immigrant populations) – as well as project director/PI for other health disparity research and evaluation efforts. In addition, Dr. Edberg worked with UNICEF on the development of adolescent/youth well-being indicators for the Latin America-Caribbean region, was part of an expert panel to assist UNICEF in developing global measures of adolescent social environment and well-being; served as team leader of a country assessment in Belize identifying factors affecting children, youth and families, and led the follow-up implementation effort in Belize.  Dr. Edberg served as Co-Chair for the 2014 International Symposium on Minority Health & Health Disparities (NIMHD). He has published numerous journal articles, four books, and an edited volume.  Dr. Edberg is also a recipient of the 2013 Praxis award for excellence in applied anthropology, a Fulbright Senior Specialist award, a Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology, and an invited panelist for the Salzburg Global Seminar.

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Sean Cleary, PhD, MPH

Phone: (202) 994-5757

Dr. Sean Cleary is the Center’s Co-Investigator and an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, and Director of the MS/PhD Epidemiology Programs. He was Co-PI of the prototype SAFER Latinos intervention  and Adelante research intervention with Dr. Edberg in collaboration with the Latino community. Dr. Cleary was trained in Psychiatric Epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City. He has over 15 years of experience designing, conducting and analyzing applied epidemiological research in a variety of settings (e.g., schools, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, prisons, and the community). He has experience and training in sampling methods, psychometrics, complex survey sampling design and analysis, GIS and spatial analysis, structural equation modeling and latent growth analysis that are utilized in the GW P20 research activities. Dr. Cleary is a ‘06-‘07 recipient of a Senior Scholar Fulbright Award in Nepal. Prior to that he was the project director of a 5-year longitudinal study, Temperament, Self-Control, and Adolescent Substance Use, funded by NIH/NIDA, with primary responsibilities for sampling, data collection (~2,000 students followed for 4 years), tracking, and analysis. He has also been co-investigator on studies funded by Kennedy-Krieger Institute and the Department of Defense, and a statistical consultant for the Institute of Trauma and Violence, National Development and Research Institutes, for studies of the young prison population funded by NIH/NIDA. Dr. Cleary was a Co-I on a CDC funded study of Etiologic Frameworks to Prevent Gender Based Violence Among Immigrant Latinos (PI-McDonnell) and Co-I on NCI funded project on smoking cessation among pregnant women in West Virginia (PI-Windsor). Dr. Cleary has been a consultant with National Minority Quality Forum ( for over 10 years and is PI on numerous projects overseeing all research activities focusing on health disparities in minority populations.


Elizabeth Andrade
Elizabeth Andrade, DrPH
Phone: (202) 994-3577

Elizabeth Andrade is an Avance Center investigator and Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health. Dr. Andrade has worked in the areas of prevention and community health, minority health/health disparities, community-based participatory research, and program planning, implementation, and evaluation. Her work focuses on health disparities experienced by Latinos in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, especially in the areas of substance abuse, interpersonal violence, and risky sexual behavior. In addition to working with immigrant populations in the Washington, DC area, she has also done extensive work in rural communities in Latin America, particularly in the areas of water/sanitation/hygiene and community capacity building. She was the Program Director of a potable water/hygiene education project in Santa Clara, El Salvador in collaboration with Engineers Without Borders-DC, Peace Corps, and other partners (2004-2012), and she was the Principal Investigator of the intervention study, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Community-Based Potable Water and Hygiene Promotion Intervention in Santa Clara, El Salvador.” Dr. Andrade earned her BA in Biology and Spanish from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a certificate from the University of Costa Rica, her Masters of Public Health from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University (GWSPH) in Global Health and her Doctorate in Public Health in Health Behavior from the GWSPH Department of Prevention and Community Health.


Karen McDonnell, PhD
Phone: (202) 944-6823

Dr. Karen McDonnell is an Avance Center investigator and Vice Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health, and Director of its doctoral program. Her work in health disparities and health promotion has taken her around the world. She has been involved in programs, research, and evaluation on issues related to community health and health behavior in Maternal and Child Health. She uses multiple methods in the projects she works to better understand people’s lives and to work from a position of strengths, rather than only risk and needs. Her work has focused on such areas as using games for health, development and evaluation of community based public health programs, culture and gender based violence, children’s safety and injury prevention, and the multiple factors affecting quality of life among women with HIV. She was honored to have her passion for public health teaching and training recognized as the recipient of the 2009 ASPH Early Career in Public Health Teaching Award, ASPH Academy of Distinguished Teachers, and the 2011 GWSPH Excellence in Teaching Award.



W. Doug Evans, PhD
Phone: (202) 944-3632

Dr. Evans is an Avance Center investigator, Professor of Prevention and Community Health, and of Global Health, and Director of the Public Health Communication and Marketing and MPH@GW Programs in the Milken Institute School of Public Health. He has published widely on the effectiveness of social marketing and behavior change interventions in various subject areas and global settings. His current research focuses on the use of branding strategies in public health, and evaluation methods using new and mobile media. In 2008, he published the volume, Public Health Branding, and is currently finishing a second book, Global Social Marketing Research, both from Oxford University Press. Dr. Evans served a 4-year appointment (2007-2011) as a member of the Secretary of Health and Human Service’s National Advisory Committee on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (Healthy People 2020). He is also an expert panel member for the health marketing and health communication review of the Guide to Community Preventive Services. Dr. Evans consults on numerous global health programs, including branding of condom use and condom social marketing programs in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe and former Soviet states in collaboration with USAID and World Bank funded programs.



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Olga Acosta Price, PhD
Phone: (202) 466-3396

Dr. Olga Acosta Price is an Avance Center investigator, an Associate Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health, a clinical/community psychologist, and the Director of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools where she is managing a national program aimed at addressing the mental health needs of children and youth from immigrant and refugee families. Dr. Acosta Price received her Masters and PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she completed a dissertation study on factors that predict resilient outcomes among Latino youth exposed to community violence. She has served as the Director of the School Mental Health Program (SMHP) at the Department of Mental Health in Washington, DC. As Director, Dr. Acosta Price coordinated, implemented, evaluated, and monitored the development of comprehensive school-based mental health programs in over 30 public charter, and DC public schools over six years. Furthermore, in this role Dr. Acosta Price created a city-wide and school-based crisis management and response protocol, identified and implemented evidence-based programs, lead program evaluation and quality assurance activities, and assisted with policy development and strategic planning initiatives involving the development of a system of care for disadvantaged children and youth in the region. Her major research activities have been in the areas of school mental health, prevention, resilience, community violence, cultural competence, program development, and program evaluation. She is licensed to practice psychology in both Maryland and the District of Columbia.


Dr. Uriyoan Colon-Ramos is the Co-Principal Investigator and Nutrition Program Manager of the Avance Center’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant. Dr. Colon-Ramos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. She has worked with Latino populations in both the U.S. and in Latin America and the Caribbean, offering a unique ability to understand the transnational character of the immigrant populations. Her work has contributed to the knowledge of existing dietary disparities among Hispanic subgroups by country of origin, and the social and environmental determinants of dietary behaviors in Latin America. In her current work, Dr. Colón-Ramos examines the interplay between neighborhood and home food environments among underserved families that are also vulnerable to obesity in the U.S. and in Latin America. She seeks to understand how to better engage parents, communities, and policies to affect changes at the neighborhood and home food environments. Dr. Colón-Ramos was named a Leader in Nutrition of Latin America from the United Nations University.

Research Staff


Nicole Barrett, MPH
Phone: (202) 994-2087

Nicole Barrett, MPH is a Senior Research Assistant in the Avance Center. Nicole supported the Adelante intervention’s community engagement and outreach activities, utilizing social media and innovative communications strategies to engage the community. Prior to joining the Center, Nicole worked at Family Health International (FHI) 360 as a Program Officer. At FHI 360, she implemented health communication and social marketing programs for federal government agencies, such as the CDC and NIH, in the areas of violence and injury prevention, maternal and child health, obesity and chronic disease, and immunization.

Nicole has also worked at the Academy for Educational Development (AED) and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, where she provided research and programmatic support in the areas of health disparities, minority populations, and social marketing and behavior change.


Basmah Rahman, MPH
Phone: (202) 994-1406

Basmah Rahman is a Research Associate for the Center. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Rahman worked as a Research Assistant with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Portland, Oregon, specifically looking at the incidence of colon cancer in post-Vietnam era military servicemen and women. She served as a Senior Research Assistant at the Pacific NW Evidence-Based Practice Center conducting systematic comparative effectiveness reviews under contract through AHRQ; and as a Research Associate for the Center for Evidence-Based Research & Policy at the Oregon Health & Sciences University. Her experience in Boston consisted of a role as a Research Analyst with the Center for Connected Health, a telemedicine research center at the Massachusetts General Hospital; a part-time consultant at Innovative Strategic Solutions, LLC to aide small non-profits with organizational development and capacity building; and as an office manager/volunteer coordinator and volunteer healthcare provider aboard the Family Van, a non-profit organization affiliated with Harvard Medical School providing basic healthcare and preventative care education using a mobile health clinic van throughout low income communities in some of Boston’s most disparate neighborhoods.

Ms. Rahman holds an MPH from Boston University where her studies focused on international health, cultural competency, and addressing health disparities in under-served and under-represented communities. Her thesis consisted of a community needs assessment and formulation of guidelines addressing cultural competency, health outcomes, and social issues affecting immigrant Muslim and American-Muslim populations within the U.S. healthcare system.