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Educating health professionals to work toward health equity.

Our Board

Michael Aylward, MD - President

Dr. Michael Aylward went to Boston College and graduated from New York University School of Medicine.  He completed his internal medicine and pediatric residency training at the University of Minnesota, and was chief resident at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System where he oversaw residents and ran teaching conferences. He currently is the Program Director for the Internal Medicine/Pediatrics residency program, and President-Elect of the Medicine-Pediatric Program Directors Association.  He sees patients at the Community University Health Care Center, a safety-net clinic that serves the Phillips Neighborhood in Minneapolis.

Email: president@mdheq.org

Aarti Bhatt, MD - Community Engagement Committee Co-Chair

Dr. Aarti Bhatt is Internal Medicine and Pediatrics trained physician at the University of Minnesota. She is the daughter of Indian immigrants from Kenya and grew up in small town Wisconsin. She attended college at Marquette University, where she was introduced to ideas of social justice and liberation theology. After residency she completed a chief resident year in Global Health doing work in Tanzania and participating in Global health education for medical students and residents. She is an active member of the Social Medicine Consortium and has a particular interest in Narrative Medicine and dismantling systemic racism as a social force which drives health inequity. Currently she is working as a primary care doc in the Community University Health Care Center in Minneapolis.

Email: rtbhatt@gmail.com

Nathan Chomilo, MD - Community Engagement Committee Co-Chair

Dr. Nathan T. Chomilo is Medical Director for the State of Minnesota’s Medicaid & MinnesotaCare programs and practices as a General Pediatrician and an Internal Medicine Hospitalist with Park Nicollet Health Services/HealthPartners. He received a Zoology degree from Miami University (Oxford, OH) and graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School. He completed his combined residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota and was the Pediatric Chief Resident at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital. His advocacy work has included the impact early childhood intervention and healthcare access have on the long-term prospects of our children and how physicians and health systems can address racial & health equity. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Early Childhood and Section on Minority Health, Equity & Inclusion, is one of the Early Childhood Champions for the MN chapter of the AAP, is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School, helped start the organization Minnesota Doctors for Health Equity (MDHEQ), was formerly appointed to the Minnesota Governor’s Early Learning Council and previously served as the Medical Director of Reach Out and Read Minnesota. His advocacy work with Reach Out and Read MN & MDHEQ has been recognized by Mpls.St Paul Magazine in their 2018 Top Doctors: Rising Stars edition, by Reach Out and Read National which awarded him the 2018 Medical Champion Achievement Award, and by the City of Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights which recognized him as a 2019 History Maker at Home recipient.

Email: chomilomd@gmail.com

Malini DeSilva, MD, MPH - Membership Engagement Committee Chair

Dr. Malini DeSilva is a physician in the HealthPartners Travel & Tropical Medicine department and research associate at HealthPartners Institute. Her research areas of interest include vaccine preventable diseases, refugee health care, chronic disease care improvement, and integration of public health and clinical medicine. She is also a physician at the St. Paul-Ramsey County Tuberculosis Clinic caring for patients with active tuberculosis as well as latent tuberculosis infection. She received her M.D. from Mayo Medical School and her Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota. Her master's thesis focused on the return on investment of a housing first program for chronically homeless, single adults. She completed a combined residency in Internal Medicine & Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota during which she was a participant in the University of Minnesota’s Global Health Pathway. After residency, she moved to Portland, Oregon to work as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) office for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Email: malinibdesilva@gmail.com

Susan Leppke, MPH - Health Professional Member

Susan N. Leppke has over 15 years of experience in health care access policy, reimbursement, and stakeholder engagement.  She knows that effective strategies focus on collaboration with a multitude of stakeholders including community partners, policymakers, and patients.  Ms. Leppke’s most recent role was as the Director of Public and Payer Policy at Be The Match where she led and developed strategies focused on improving access to cellular therapies for patients with blood cancers and other blood disorders.  She led the government affairs and policy teams to drive change in the legislative, regulatory, and payer reimbursement settings. By actively serving on a number of boards and projects, Ms. Leppke has been able to leave and drive results that have improved the lives of those in her community.  Ms. Leppke has her Master’s degree in Public Health Administration and Policy from the University of Minnesota.

Email: susan.leppke@gmail.com

Ryan Kelly, MD

Dr. Ryan Kelly is a University of Minnesota Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, general medicine hospitalist, and medicine and pediatrics primary care physician at the Community and University Health Care Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center, in Minneapolis. There he provides medical care to a diverse group of pediatric and adult patients with varied acute and chronic illnesses including opioid dependence/opioid use disorder.  He received his medical training at the Wayne State School of Medicine, and did his residency in Internal Medicine-Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. He also was honored to serve as a Chief Resident in Internal Medicine at the University of Minnesota, VA site. His primary research interests include quality improvement and improving health equity in both the inpatient and outpatient realms, as well as in education, especially in mentorship and coaching graduate and undergraduate medical education. He also is interested in improving health disparities locally and globally.

Email: kelly847@umn.edu

Sakina Naqvi, MD

Dr. Sakina Naqvi grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and attended Dow Medical College. Her interest in health outreach stemmed in her childhood when she regularly accompanied her father, also a physician, to rural areas to screen for chronic diseases and subsequently collect baseline data to establish a national registry. She moved to the United States after her medical education and worked at the Chronic Disease Research Group at Hennepin County Medical Center where she was a junior investigator and looked at specific Cardiovascular diseases in End Stage Renal Disease through the lens of Medicare population. She completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center and was a Chief resident upon completion of her residency. She then pursued a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of Minnesota and joined the HealthEast Care System, now M Health Fairview, upon graduation. She currently serves as the Pulmonary Service Line Director at M Health Fairview and is also an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Recently, she was appointed the Minnesota Department of Health’s point person, in the Vaping Induced Lung Injury in adults. She remains strongly connected to her roots in Pakistan and is currently involved in helping set up a hospital that will focus on renal diseases in conjunction with the Karachi University in Karachi, Pakistan.

Email: Naqvi.sakina@gmail.com

Mark Paller, MD, MS

Dr. Mark Paller is Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of Minnesota.  He received a management degree at the University of Wisconsin and his medical degree at Northwestern University, completed an internal medicine residency at Case Western Reserve University and a nephrology fellowship at the University of Colorado. A nephrologist, he joined the faculty in 1982 and served in many roles. Always a clinician and teacher, he focused the first half of his career on research of the cell biology of acute kidney injury and the second half on administration and leadership. He served as Assistant Vice President for Research in the Academic Health Center; Interim Department Head, Senior Associate Dean, and Executive Vice Dean of the Medical School; and Senior Associate Vice President for Health Sciences.

Email: palle001@umn.edu

Deepti Pandita, MD, FACP, FAMIA

Dr. Pandita trained in Internal Medicine from the University of North Dakota where she was Chief Resident. She subsequently worked in rural Minnesota at the Mahnomen Indian Health Reservation where she got interested in equity in health care and tailoring healthcare for unique populations. Currently she is the Chief Health Information Officer and an Internal Medicine Faculty at Hennepin Healthcare. She is also trained in clinical Informatics and was in the first batch in the USA to be board certified in this Medical Sub specialty. Her interests are driving value in care for Medicaid populations by using technology and process improvement based solution. She is part of the MN e-health committee which is run by the MN department of Health and was a key stakeholder in the taskforce that developed guidelines to develop a foundational HIE (Health Information Exchange) linking all the state residents’ Medical information to drive effective care at a lower cost. She also was part of a team that created a homelessness indicator in the Electronic Medical record which could these patients to local resources.

Email: deepti.pandita@hcmed.org

Cuong Pham, MD - Treasurer, Finance Committee Chair

Dr. Cuong Pham is internal medicine and pediatrics trained. He was born in Vietnam and escaped as a refugee at an early age. He was raised in Little Canada, Minnesota and is a proud life-long Golden Gopher from his undergraduate education to residency training. Currently he splits his time doing inpatient medicine at the University of Minnesota and primary care at the Community University Health Care Center.  He is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Minnesota and is the Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee for Graduate Medical Education. He has a focus on immigrant health and has worked abroad from South Africa to Vietnam. He is a licensed Buprenorphine provider, treating patients with opiate addiction. He is also interested in further understanding the impact of opiates on our marginalized populations.

Email: pham0079@umn.edu

Elizabeth Rogers, MD, MAS - Secretary

Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Rogers is an Assistant Professor in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota (UMN). She works as a primary care physician at the Community University Health Care Center, a safety-net clinic in Minneapolis. She also conducts research as part of the UMN Program in Health Disparities Research. Her research focuses on improving primary care systems to support patients with social vulnerability and complex chronic diseases, particularly diabetes. She has studied models such as peer coaches and community health workers, and enjoys projects done in collaboration with community and other stakeholders. She has worked with communities domestically and in Central America and Mexico, and served as a board member of Doctors for Global Health for nine years. Beth is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine. After finishing her combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency training at the Harvard Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Boston Children’s Hospital program, she completed the Primary Care Research Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. 

Email: docelizabethrogers@gmail.com

Tom Schmidt, MD, MHS - Medical Student/Resident Member

Tom Schmidt is starting his residency at University of Minnesota in Internal Medicine, with the goal of pursuing a fellowship in Infectious Diseases. Tom is the new Student/Resident board member at MDHEQ. Additionally, he is currently a Twin Cities Medical Society Advocacy Fellow working to improve syringe exchange services in Minnesota.

Having worked in Baltimore conducting HIV/HCV testing before medical school and working  at the syringe exchange within the Red Door Clinic, Tom has become a passionate advocate for harm reduction in the context of infectious diseases. While in medical school, Tom has been actively engaged in advocacy to improve immunization rates in Minnesota, improve Minnesota’s response to the opioid crisis, and harm reduction associated with injection drug use. His advocacy has been within the medical school to change the curriculum regarding pain management and opioids to working with legislators at the State Capitol to pass legislation on opioids. 

Email: schm1619@umn.edu


Educating health professionals to work toward health equity


Health Professionals will use their voice, knowledge, and influence to eliminate the inequities that exist in health and healthcare, while working effectively with their patients, health systems, communities, and decision makers to address health equity wherever they live, work, learn, and play.

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