Boston, Mass., March 25, 2011 – The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), a leading academic comparative effectiveness research group based at the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute for Technology Assessment, today announced the inaugural members of the New England Comparative Effectiveness Public Advisory Council (CEPAC). The 17 members of CEPAC represent a wide variety of backgrounds, specialties and perspectives, and come from all six New England states. CEPAC consists of practicing physicians with experience in evaluating and using evidence in the practice of healthcare, as well as patient/public members with experience in health policy, patient advocacy and public health.

“The caliber and stature of this group is a testament to the importance of addressing issues of effectiveness and quality in the healthcare delivered across New England,” stated Steven D. Pearson, MD, MSc, President of ICER. “We look forward to working with this distinguished council to produce actionable, relevant information for patients, providers and policymakers in New England.”

CEPAC is a new regional body whose goal is to provide objective, independent guidance on the application of medical evidence to clinical practice and payer policy decisions across New England. Supported by a federal grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and with backing from a consortium of New England state health policy leaders, CEPAC will hold public meetings to consider evidence reviews of medical tests and treatments and provide judgments regarding how the evidence can best be used across New England to improve the quality and value of health care services. ICER is managing the day-to-day operations of CEPAC as part of its federally funded RAPiD (Regional Adaptation for Payer Policy Decisions) initiative meant to develop and test new ways to adapt federal evidence reviews to improve their usefulness for patients, clinicians, and payers.

“The opportunity to lead the first session of this innovative committee is exciting, both personally and professionally, as every day I deal with issues of how best to use evidence to deliver quality care to our patients ,” stated Dr. Richard Lopez, MD, Chief Physician Executive at Atrius Health and Chair of CEPAC. “By reviewing and disseminating adaptations of federally-produced comparative effectiveness information for use by state policymakers and New England’s healthcare providers, CEPAC has the opportunity to support improved quality and value in the system as a whole.”

The first public meeting of CEPAC will be held in June and members of the public are invited to attend. More details will be available in the coming weeks on the ICER website ( and on the CEPAC website (

Council Members
Ellen Andrews, PhD
Ellen Andrews has been Executive Director of the Connecticut Health Policy Project ( from its inception in 1999. The Project is a non-partisan, non-profit organization working to improve affordable, quality health care for every Connecticut resident. The Project publishes regular policymaker issue briefs, conducts research on Connecticut health policy needs, hosts issue briefings at the Capitol and webinars with health care experts, coordinates a multi-state Health Policy Steering Committee for the Council of State Governments/Eastern Region, publishes Connecticut Health Notes, a bi-weekly electronic newsletter of timely health care issues in Connecticut, and the Connecticut Health Notes blog with updates on state health policy ( The Project also hosts the Consumer Health Action Network (, providing a statewide toll-free helpline assisting any Connecticut consumer with difficulty getting needed health care services or coverage. Ms. Andrews serves on over a dozen regional, state and local health policy committees, councils and boards. Ms. Andrews’ prior experience includes positions as Connecticut state legislative staff on health policy, non-profit health care advocacy, prenatal educator at a New Haven community health center, and academic teaching and research. She holds a PhD in Human Genetics from Yale University where she is on the faculty in the School of Nursing.

Robert H. Aseltine, Jr., PhD
Robert H. Aseltine, Jr., PhD is Professor in the Division of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Deputy Director of the Center for Public Health and Health Policy and Director of the Institute for Public Health Research at the University of Connecticut. He is also the founding Director of the Connecticut Health Information Network, a federated network linking disparate health and human services databases maintained by Connecticut’s state agencies. Dr. Aseltine is a medical sociologist whose diverse research interests include adolescent mental health and social development, community-based risk prevention, and the development of innovative public health and medical information systems. He has expertise in quantitative research methods and statistics, particularly in designing large-scale population surveys and program evaluations. Over the past 20 years Dr. Aseltine has lead a number of studies investigating mental health and substance abuse funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the Connecticut Health Foundation. Dr. Aseltine received his BA from Wesleyan University and his PhD from the University of Michigan.

R. William Corwin, MD
Dr. Corwin is currently working as the Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at the Miriam Hospital in Providence Rhode Island. He returned to this clinical/administrative role in December, 2007 after four years at Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare where he was the Medical Director for Medical Management and Clinical Policy for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (the insurer). Prior to returning to HPHC, he managed a start up Hospitalist program for three years with a 60 physician group in Rhode Island.

Dr. Corwin was born, raised, and educated in Ohio, graduating from Heidelberg College and The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1973. His Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Training occurred at Rhode Island Hospital (Brown University Program) and included two years of Infectious Diseases at Emory University. He tried academics for a short six year period of time (at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center) at which time he realized that research at the basic science level was not his forte and abandoned it for a staff model pulmonary practice in Rhode Island at Rhode Island Group Health (RIGHA). In the late 80’s and early 90’s his career morphed into a management and administrative role as Rhode Island Group Health Association merged with Harvard Community Health Plan (staff and group model delivery system) which merged with Pilgrim Health Care (IPA model delivery system) to form Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. In 1999 HPHC closed its Rhode Island delivery system. In 2000 he briefly left the HPHC organization to return to full time practice as the Director of a Hospitalist program before rejoining HPHC in 2003. He continues to work as a Hospitalist at The Miriam Hospital on as needed basis.

Michael Deren, MD, FACS, FCCP
Michael M. Deren, MD is in the private practice of thoracic surgery in Southeastern Connecticut. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, followed by a general surgical residency at Hartford Hospital, Hartford, Hartford, CT and a cardiothoracic fellowship at Yale New Haven Hospital, New Haven, CT. Dr. Deren is the former long-time Chair, Department of Surgery at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, CT. He has held numerous committee memberships on his medical staff including committees on quality improvement and the Joint Commission. Dr. Deren has been active in organized medicine as the President of the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS) and as the society’s current Chair of the Board of Trustees. As an active member of the CSMS Committee on Quality as well as his state’s representative on the AMA-convened Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, Dr. Deren has a depth of experience in quality and performance measures.

He holds several positions in the American Medical Association and is the vice chair of its Council on Constitution and Bylaws, vice chair of the New England Delegation to the AMA. and the Chair of Connecticut’s AMA Delegation. Dr. Deren has been active in his specialty society on the state being on the Council of the Connecticut Chapter of the American College of Surgery and on the national level as member of the executive committee of the Surgical Caucus of the AMA. Dr. Deren was a long-time member of the national board of the American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians, a past president of the Connecticut Division of the American Cancer Society, the President of the New England State Medical Societies and Chair of the CSMS Charitable Trust. He is board certified in surgery and thoracic surgery. Dr. Deren lives in New London, CT with his wife Anne Marie. His interests include photography, music, chess and hiking.

Charles B. Eaton, MD, MS
Charles Eaton, MD, MS is Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (Epidemiology) at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He also directs the Center for Primary Care and Prevention at Brown and the Heart Disease Prevention Center at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island. Dr. Eaton has been continuously funded for the past 18 years as principal investigator on a variety of epidemiologic, translational research and clinical trials related to chronic diseases, cardiovascular risk factor reduction and quality improvement in primary care practice. He has published over 100 peer reviewed articles related to chronic disease epidemiology, primary and secondary prevention, quality improvement, e-health and evidence-based medicine. He is presently principal investigator of the NHLBI funded Women’s Health Initiative, NIAMS funded Osteoarthritis Initiative, NIA funded New England Family Study- Fifty Year Post-Perinatal Follow-up for Life Course, NIDDK funded Tailored Lifestyle Intervention in Obese Adults within Primary Care Practice, and the AHRQ funded eHealth BP Control Program. Dr Eaton’s 30 years of clinical experience and background in primary care, twenty year experience in epidemiology and quality improvement and 10 year experience in e-health and its application to a patient centered medical home should help provide an important perspective for CEPAC’s proceedings.

Teresa Fama, MD, MS
Dr. Teresa Fama is a practicing rheumatologist at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, Vermont. Prior to completing her medical training, Dr. Fama was a health policy analyst and consultant in Washington, DC. She worked in private consulting at Abt Associates and Lewin/ICF, for the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission, and most recently as Deputy Director of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “Chronic Care Initiatives in HMOs” program. Dr. Fama completed her medical training at the University of Vermont including residency and fellowship training at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont. She completed undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York with a BA in Political Science and MS in Public Policy Analysis.

Sandra Fritsch, MD
Dr. Fritsch is trained in pediatrics, psychiatry, and child psychiatry and currently is the training director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry residency program and the Post Pediatric Psychiatry Portal program at Maine Medical Center in Portland Maine. Her career has focused on the interface of pediatrics and child psychiatry. Dr. Fritsch is the principle investigator on a three year grant piloting collaborative models between pediatricians and child psychiatry, “Child Psychiatry Access Project”, funded by the Maine Health Access Foundation (MEHAF). This grant involves educating primary care clinicians around screening for and treating mental health concerns in the primary care office and providing telephone and face-to-face consultations for the clinicians enrolled in the project.

She is an appointed member of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry’s “Consumer Issues Committee”. In addition she is involved with the Tufts University School of Medicine Maine Track Medical School curriculum committee, and is enrolled in University of New England’s Master of Medical Education and Leadership program. Dr. Fritsch’s professional interests include innovations in medical education, collaborative care models between primary care and mental health providers, and the interplay of physical health concerns and mental health needs. A graduate of Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in 1985, Dr. Fritsch completed her post-graduate training at Brown University. Dr. Fritsch is board certified in pediatrics, psychiatry, and child psychiatry.

Deidre Spelliscy Gifford, MD, MPH
Dr. Gifford is the founder of Health Progress, a healthcare quality improvement consulting organization based in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. An Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Dr. Gifford holds a Clinical Faculty appointment in Community Health at Brown Medical School, and was the Director of Healthcare Policy and Programs for the Rhode Island QIO until 2008. Her area of focus is ambulatory care quality improvement, and for the last 3 years Dr. Gifford has served as Project Director for the Rhode Island Chronic Care Sustainability Initiative, a multi-payer demonstration of the Patient-Centered Medical Home. In addition to the Medical Home, Dr. Gifford’s work in Ambulatory Care has focused on information technology, and the intersection between IT and quality improvement.

Dr. Gifford is a graduate of Cornell University Medical College, and trained in Ob/Gyn at University Hospitals of Cleveland and the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center. She holds a master’s degree in Public Health (Epidemiology) from the UCLA School of Public Health, and did post-graduate study in Health Service Research at UCLA prior to moving to Rhode Island.

Claudia B. Gruss, MD, FACP, FACG, CNSP (Vice Chair)
Dr. Claudia Gruss is a gastroenterologist and internist and a partner in a multispecialty private practice group in Connecticut. She has an undergraduate degree and medical degree from Brown University. She did her internal medical residency and gastroenterology fellowship at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. She is board-certified in both internal medicine and gastroenterology and is a certified nutrition support physician. She is a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. In her practice, she is responsible for the managed care and government quality improvement incentive programs. She also is a clinical educator for the Yale-affiliated gastroenterology fellowship program at Norwalk Hospital. Her other hospital administrative functions include Chair of the Gastro-intestinal Patient Care Evaluation Committee and Chair of the Nutrition and Diet Committee. Her roles in organized medicine include Chair of the Connecticut State Medical Society Quality of Care Committee and Secretary of the Connecticut State Medical Society. She is an alternate to the AMA Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement.

Felix Hernandez, MD, MMM
Felix Hernandez, MD, MMM is a cardiothoracic surgeon and Chief of Surgery at Eastern Maine Medical Center. He is a graduate of Fairfield University and the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He completed his residency in General Surgery at Wayne State University and did his Cardiothoracic Residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He received his Masters in Medical Management from the Heinz School of Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the University of Vermont School of Medicine and the University of New England School of Osteopathic Medicine. He is a founding member of the Northern New England Cardiovascular Study Group and has been involved in outcomes research in cardiovascular medicine and surgery with that group for over 20 years.

William Cyrus Jordan, MD, MPH
Dr. Jordan has recently been appointed the Medical Director of the Vermont Medical Society’s Foundation for Research and Education, a public-benefit corporation that promotes public good through research, education and quality improvement in the field of health. Dr. Jordan’s principal initial goals are to: 1) design solutions and recruit resources that solve problems identified by Vermont’s rural health care practitioners and their communities; and 2) promote value and science driven health care by facilitating the availability of premier analytic and evaluative resources to public policy decision makers at both the state and local levels. Dr. Jordan assumed his position at the Foundation after serving as the Medical Director of the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care, Inc. for 17 years.

Dr. Jordan is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine. He completed both a residency in family medicine at the University of Vermont and a pediatric residency at Boston University. He received his Masters in Public Health from Harvard University. Prior to his career in quality measurement and improvement, Dr. Jordan practiced family medicine and pediatrics for a decade in inner city Boston and rural Vermont. Dr. Jordan served as chair of the board of directors of the Vermont Information Technology Leaders, Vermont’s HITECH Regional Extension Center from 2007-2009. He currently serves on the board of the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center, a federal and state partnership to promote production and service efficiencies in both the private and public sectors including state government, education and health care.

Jekkie Kim, MD, JD, MBA, LLM
Dr. Jekkie Kim is a licensed attorney specializing in health care regulations and transactions. She is currently a Ropes & Gray fellow and the Legal/Policy Analyst at Health Care For All (HCFA), the leading health care consumer advocacy organization in Massachusetts. HCFA is recognized by government officials, system stakeholders, and the broader public as the champion, master convener and coordinator of consumer interests in all forums where health care policy is made. At HCFA, Dr. Kim works on issues involving payment reform, the private insurance market, and pharmaceutical and device manufacturers. She works closely with various stakeholders, including consumer groups, providers, payers, and government officials and Massachusetts legislative offices.

Thomas H. Lee, MD, MSc
Thomas H. Lee, MD, is an internist and cardiologist, and is Network President for Partners Healthcare System, the integrated delivery system founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Chief Executive Officer for Partners Community HealthCare. He is a graduate of Harvard College, Cornell University Medical College, and Harvard School of Public Health. He is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Lee is a member of the Massachusetts Health Care Quality and Cost Council, the Board of Directors of Geisinger Health System, and the Panel of Health Advisors of the Congressional Budget Office. With James J. Mongan, MD, he is the author of Chaos and Organization in Health Care (MIT Press, 2009). He is an Associate Editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Richard Lopez, MD (Chair)
Dr. Rick Lopez is Chief Physician Executive for Atrius Health. In this role, he is responsible for a wide range of activities including clinical program, regional project development, clinical aspects of payer/provider contracting, clinical informatics, medical management, and safety and quality.

Rick is a 25-year veteran of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates who has made many significant contributions to the organization. Key achievements have included senior physician leadership of the initial implementation of EpicCare at HVMA from 1997-2000 resulting in national recognition for HVMA with the Nicholas E. Davies Award for excellence in implementation of an EMR. He spearheaded the implementation of an open referral system for HVMA specialties in the late 1990’s, and has had a key role in developing the quality program at HVMA in the past decade. Rick received his MD from Boston University School of Medicine, and completed his residency and internship at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston. He has a BA summa cum laude from Boston University and is a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School. As a Board-Certified Internist, Rick has continued to practice primary care internal medicine which he has done since 1982. He is a member of the American College of Physicians and American College of Physician Executives.

Lori Nerbonne, RN, BSN
Lori began her work in patient safety in 2005 with her sister Kelly Grasso after their mother’s death in 2004 from hospital-acquired conditions and medical errors. In 2010, she co-founded NH Patient Voices ( She is a member of the NH Healthcare Associated Infection Advisory Committee, works collaboratively with Consumers Union Safe Patient Project as an advocate at the state and national level and has served on patient safety committees at the CDC and DHHS Office of Healthcare Quality. She has submitted proposals for and testified in support of several state patient safety laws, three of which have passed since 2006. Prior to her advocacy work, she was a maternal-child health nurse and educator in hospital and community health settings for sixteen years.

Keith A. Stahl, MD, FACP
A community-based internist for nearly 20 years, Dr. Stahl is the Medical Director for 10 hospital-owned Primary Care Practices in New Hampshire. Dr. Stahl is a full-time primary care internist and is currently piloting a Medical Home model initiative in his office. After completing his Internal Medicine residency at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital, Dr. Stahl joined the U.S. Air Force. After receiving his commission as a Captain, he served as a Staff Internist for the 380th Medical Group and received the Air Force Commendation Medal for developing a comprehensive Diabetic Education Clinic. Since joining the staff at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH, Dr. Stahl has served in a number of medical staff roles including Chief of Internal Medicine, Chairman of Credentials, and Medical Staff President, and has had hospital-appointed positions including Physician Advisor for Medical Management and currently serves on the hospital Board of Directors, Corporate Compliance Committee and Quality Management Committee. In 2007, Dr. Stahl was inducted into the Fellowship in the American College of Physicians. Residing in Bedford, NH, with his wife, Suzanne, and three children, Dr. Stahl enjoys biking, hiking, camping and skiing.

William Taylor, MD
Dr. William Taylor is Associate Professor of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, where he directs the Residency Program in Primary Care and Population Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. Dr. Taylor has practiced and taught for more than three decades in the hospital-based primary care practice at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). He serves as associate master of one of HMS’s academic societies.

Dr. Taylor earned his B.A. from Yale, and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his residency in internal medicine and primary care at Boston City Hospital. With responsibility for the prevention component, he helped implement HMS’s curriculum revision in the 1980s. He later served in numerous teaching roles at HMS, including developer and initial director of the course in Clinical Epidemiology, and acting course director for Preventive Medicine and Nutrition. He co-directed the Fellow-as-Educator program in Harvard’s general medicine and general pediatrics fellowship programs, and served for 25 years as associate director of HMS’s continuing medical education course in primary care. He has been an associate firm chief, preceptor for primary care residents, inpatient attending physician, and teacher of third-year students in office practice at BIDMC, and attends on the inpatient medical service at BWH.

Dr. Taylor served on the Internal Medicine Certifying Examination Writing Committee of the American Board of Internal Medicine. He was a Kellogg National Fellow, a Rabkin Fellow in Medical Education at BIDMC, and an associate editor of Journal Watch. He earned the “Humanism in Medicine” award from HMS and served as Harvard’s LCME faculty fellow for medical school accreditation. Dr. Taylor has written about medical education, clinical epidemiology, medical interviewing, decision analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, tuberculosis prevention, cancer screening, cholesterol reduction, and the periodic health examination. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Preventive Medicine.

About ICER
The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), based at the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute for Technology Assessment (ITA) and an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, provides independent evaluation of the clinical effectiveness and comparative value of new and emerging technologies. Structured as a fully transparent organization, ICER seeks to achieve its ultimate mission of informing public policy and spurring innovation in the use of evidence to improve the value of health care for all. For more information, please visit