Benjamin Cook, MPH, PhD

Director, Health Equity Research Lab

Benjamin Cook, Ph.D., M.P.H. is the Director of the Health Equity Research Lab and the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research, Director of Research in the Department of Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance, and an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. His research interests are in improving methods for measuring disparities, and applying these methods to understanding the mechanisms underlying mental health and substance abuse treatment disparities, the association between acculturation and mental health, and geographic differences in mental health service use disparities. He received a Ph.D. in Health Policy at Harvard University concentrating in Evaluative Science and Statistics, an MPH from UNC-Chapel Hill in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, and a BA in psychology from Swarthmore College.

Email:     Phone: 617-806-8741​​      Curriculum Vitae      LinkedIn

Alex McDowell RN, MSN, MPH 

​Alex joined the lab to contribute with her expertise in research related with gender minorities, especially on transgender and gender non-conforming populations. She participated in the development and evaluation of the Transgender Curriculum Integration Project at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and has dedicated her work to understand the impact of health care policy and delivery system changes on health of gender minorities. She is currently a Ph.D student of Health Policy at Harvard University, but finished her previous studies at John Hopkins and Georgetown University. 

Email:     LinkedIn 


Nicholas Carson, MD, FRCPC
Clinical Research Associate 

Nicholas Carson, M.D., FRCPC is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a Clinical Research Associate at the Health Equity Research Lab and the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research. He is also Associate Program Director for the child psychiatry fellowship program at the Cambridge Health Alliance, where he teaches clinical scholarship and psychopharmacology to child psychiatry fellows. Dr. Carson studies the quality of mental health services for multicultural communities, particularly among youth. He participates in intervention research to reduce mental health disparities through improvements in self-management and patient-provider communication. He is also interested in the impact of mass media and technology on youth development. Dr. Carson received his BA and MD from McGill University, completed his Psychiatry residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and completed his fellowship training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry the Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School.

Email:     Phone: 617-575-5269    Curriculum Vitae     LinkedIn  

Ana Progovac, PhD
Senior Scientist ​

Ana Progovac, PhD is Instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Senior Scientist at the Health Equity Research Lab. Her research focuses on improving the quality of mental health care in the U.S., with a focus on reducing disparities by race/ethnicity, gender identity, and socioeconomic status. Dr. Progovac’s projects use a variety of research methods, including quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods research, implementation research methods, and community-engaged research. She is interested in approaches to improve mental health that span across systems, and therefore enjoys collaborating with students, community members, other researchers, clinicians, administrators, and policy advocates. She is currently the Primary Investigator on an NIMHD R03 award and a Harvard Catalyst Health Disparities Pilot Award which both focus on measuring and reducing mental health care disparities for gender minority individuals in the United States. She was also recently awarded a Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry Kaplen Fellowship to conduct a mixed-methods analysis of an implementation of a behavioral health home for patients with serious mental illness, as well as its potential for dissemination to additional sites within Cambridge Health Alliance

Email:     Phone: 617-806-8738     Curriculum Vitae     LinkedIn 

Our lab alumni have gone on to do great things! Read about them here

James Barrett, PhD

​James is a nationally-recognized expert in child and adolescent mental health, school safety and juvenile justice.  He is a licensed psychologist and Counselor from Boston College, as well as a consultant, evaluator, psychotherapist, speaker and author. He is an Instructor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and practices at Cambridge Health Alliance. James developed the Cambridge Safety Net Collaborative on prevention, intervention and diversion at CHA. Additionally, James collaborated with the Project RISE for Boys and Men of Color, specifically with the analysis of the intersection of the Criminal Justice, Education, and Mental Healthcare Systems.  

Email:     Curriculum Vitae    LinkedIn     

Dharma Cortes, PhD
Senior Scientist

Dharma recently joined the lab as a Co-Investigator. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, a Doctorate degree in Sociology from Fordham University, and completed her post-doctoral training in Medical Anthropology at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Social Medicine. For more than twenty years Dr. Cortés has been conducting community-based research with Latinos in the U.S., focusing on acculturation, health, mental health, and access to healthcare. She has contributed as principal investigator, co-investigator and consultant to studies funded by the NIH, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Robert Wood-Johnson Foundation.

 Email:     LinkedIn

Esther Lee
Research Coordinator

Esther is a Research Coordinator at the Health Equity Research Lab. She recently completed her Bachelor at Wellesley College majoring in Women's and Gender Studies with a Global Health Concentration. Her research experience includes rotations at the Kenya Medical Research Institute as well as at the MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. She is interested in doing research related with gender and race/ethnicity health access. 


Angela Orangio
Office Manager 

​Angela Orangio is the new Operations Manager of the Health Equity Research Lab.  She has her BA in Business Administration from Boston College, and her varied past work experiences include:  birth doula, childbirth educator; breastfeeding counselor; and long term natural gas supply contracting. For the past 12 years she was the Community Health Worker at CHA’s Cambridge/Somerville Healthcare for the Homeless team. She is excited to continue to support work on a team that will give voice to underserved populations.​


Health Equity Research Lab

1035 Cambridge Street, 2nd Floor

Cambridge, MA 02141

phone: 617-806-8741

fax: 617-806-8740

Michael Flores, MPH, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow 

Michael Flores is a postdoctoral Fellow at the Health Equity Research Lab. He is a recent graduate of the doctoral program in Health Services Research at the Brown University School of Public Health. His dissertation evaluated the impact of access and utilization of health services among Medicaid beneficiaries with serious mental illness of Rhode Island’s Medicaid Health Home through the use of quasi-experimental methods and longitudinal administrative claims data, His research interests include access and utilization of health services by populations with mental illness, healthcare integration, implementation science, social determinants of health, racial/ethnic disparities, community-based interventions, and patient-provider communication. Michael received his BA in Spanish Literature and Latin American Iberian Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MPH in Health Policy from Fresno State. He is fluent in English and Spanish. 

Email:     Curriculum Vitae

Andrea Ault-Brutus, MPA, PhD
Visiting Scholar 

Andrea Ault-Brutus is rejoining the Health Equity Research Lab as a Visiting Scholar. Dr. Ault-Brutus previously served as the Associate Director of the HER Lab and was the Senior Director of the Mental Health Innovation Lab at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She completed her BBA at the University of Miami, her MPA in Health Policy and Management at New York University, and her PhD in Health Policy and her Postdoctoral training at Harvard University/Harvard Medical School. 

Email:   Curriculum Vitae 


Brian Mullin
Senior Data Analyst

Brian Mullin is a Senior Data Analyst at the Cambridge Health Alliance and the Health Equity Research Lab. He specializes in quantitative analysis and uses his expertise to answer questions, concerning health policy, using raw data. Brian graduated Boise State University with a degree in Economics. His previous work experience includes Senior Research Analyst for the state of Idaho. He also worked as a Senior Programmer for Abt Associates, a Senior Data Analyst for Neighborhood Health Plan, and a Senior Data Analyst for the Mental Health Services Program for Youth in the Greater Boston Area. Most recently, Brian worked as a Senior Medical Economics Analyst for the Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan/Well Sense Health Plan. 

Email:     Linkedin

Frederick Lu 
Research Assistant

Fred is a Research Assistant at the Health Equity Research Lab. He received his BS in Biology from Tufts University and is a two time former summer research intern at the HER Lab. As an undergrad, he also did research in the Tufts Department of Biology and Department of Community Health. He also has work experience in EMS and in a local emergency department. His research interests include systemic health disparities, healthcare delivery, mental health, and emergency care. 

Email:     LinkedIn