Bios

  • Miriam Patanian, MPH

    Miriam Patanian has more than 20 years of public health experience focused on chronic disease prevention and control at both the state and national levels. She is a senior public health consultant at NACDD, leading health system initiatives addressing hypertension, Million Hearts®, and cardiovascular health. Before working as a consultant, Ms. Patanian served as the Director of the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program at the Washington State Department of Health. During this time, she coordinated local and statewide implementation of evidence-based initiatives aimed at increasing hypertension control and reducing the burden of heart disease and stroke in the state. Ms. Patanian began her public health career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Cardiovascular Health Branch (before it became the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention), where she helped to develop the Public Health Action Plan to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke. She received her MPH from the University of Washington.

  • Letitia Presley-Cantrell, PhD

    As chief of the Program Development and Services Branch in the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Dr. Presley-Cantrell provides leadership and strategic engagement with stakeholders at the local, state, and federal levels in the development, implementation, and promotion of community-based public health programs and research aimed at reducing the rates of cardiovascular disease in underserved and priority populations. Recently she served as the Acting Director of the Office on Smoking and Health (OSH), where she led the Division in its complex work of preventing and controlling the use of commercial tobacco products. Dr. Presley-Cantrell assessed OSH’s needs, provided recommendations for development, and served as a bridge between leadership and all branches and offices in the Division. Dr. Presley-Cantrell currently co-chairs the Health Equity Taskforce for the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. As a nationally recognized leader, she provides expertise on racial disparities, social determinants of health, and health equity. Dr. Presley-Cantrell has led public health efforts on various issues, including minority health, sleep, COPD, and mental health. Throughout her career at CDC, she has worked extensively with rural and urban communities at all levels. A focal point of her career has been attempting to reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and related deaths in minority populations, particularly among women. She is a past guest editor of the Preventing Chronic Disease Mental Health Supplement and has authored and co-authored publications on various health care topics.
    Dr. Presley-Cantrell conceptualized, implemented, and currently directs a national internship, fellowship, and faculty development program aimed at minority-serving institutions to prepare the next generation of public health professionals. Over 800 minority public health students have participated in the program, which deploys them to local communities to work collaboratively to address chronic conditions. In recognition of her work, Dr. Presley-Cantrell received the CDC/DHPE David Satcher Award for her exceptional leadership dedicated to improving minority health and preparing the next generation of public health professionals. She received the Health Disparities Champion Award from the National REACH Coalition for her efforts to eliminate health disparities and advance health equity.

  • Lauren Remspecher, MPH

    Lauren Remspecher is Senior Director, Member Engagement & Communications, for the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition (BHC), a nonprofit collaborative supporting over 70 leading employers in their efforts to improve the well-being of employees and enhance the quality and overall value of investments in health benefits. In her role, Ms. Remspecher leads a team to develop turn-key products and services for member organizations, including educational and networking events, health improvement campaigns, communication and engagement tools, and group purchasing opportunities. Through her work with the BHC, Ms. Remspecher also participates in several national initiatives to advance business and community health, serving as an advisor for the Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest; a Think Tank member of the Health Enhancement Research Organization; and co-chair of the Total Person Health steering committee through the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. Ms. Remspecher received her Master of Public Health degree in Behavioral Science and Health Education from Saint Louis University and a Bachelor of Health Science degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist, a Faculty Member of the Wellness Council of America, and a Certified Trainer for the CDC’s Work@Health program.

  • Nar Ramkissoon

    Nar Ramkissoon, MA leads collaborations, programs, and policy efforts to engage a broad set of ecosystem stakeholders to remove barriers for physicians, care teams, and patients and prevent cardiovascular disease prevention. His areas of expertise are in remote monitoring, medical devices and emerging technology, public and private insurance coverage, and payment. Key areas of focus for his team are increasing access to validated blood pressure devices and enabling physicians and patients to adopt self-measured blood pressure monitoring. Nar has a background in healthcare consulting and holds a Master of Public Health from DePaul University.

  • Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH

    Dr. Eduardo Sanchez serves as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Prevention for the American Heart Association (AHA). He is the Principal Investigator of the National Hypertension Control Initiative with the federal Office of Minority Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration. He is the AHA clinical lead on Target: BP (a joint blood pressure control initiative with the American Medical Association) and Know Diabetes by Heart (a joint cardiovascular risk factor control initiative with the American Diabetes Association). He is one of the authors of the AHA Presidential Advisory on Structural Racism and its health effects. Before joining AHA, he served as Vice President and CMO for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, and before that, he served as director of the Institute for Health Policy at the University of Texas School of Public Health. Dr. Sanchez served as Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services from 2004 to 2006 and Commissioner of the Texas Department of Health from 2001 to 2004. He has served on numerous local, state, and national health-related boards and advisory committees. Dr. Sanchez obtained his MD from the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, an MPH from the UT Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, and an MS in biomedical engineering from Duke University. He holds a BS in biomedical engineering and a BA in chemistry from Boston University. Dr. Sanchez is board certified in family medicine.

  • Andrew Suggs

    Live Chair is a leading healthcare services company that helps close the gap in life expectancy and health equity in underserved urban communities. Born in the chair of a barbershop in 2017, Live Chair’s early days were spent convincing African American men to track their vitals while getting a haircut. In that sacred circle of trust between barber, client, and Live Chair, Live Chair has helped thousands of underserved populations overcome a deep-seated resistance to sharing personal information for their well-being. The company has always approached the difficult issues it solves in collaboration with the community. Today Live Chair continues its work in underserved communities, connecting them with the best healthcare services and resources available to promote a healthy and longer life. A successful sales leader for a major sports franchise and a Fortune 100 company, an MBA graduate, an activist, a husband, a father, and a son, Mr. Suggs is the embodiment of a seemingly ordinary man with extraordinary drive who is becoming a modern-day hero in his community.

  • Karol Watson, MD

    Karol E. Watson, MD, Ph.D., is a Professor of Medicine/Cardiology and a board-certified, full-time cardiologist at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She holds the John C. Mazziotta Term Chair in Medicine and was honored to be named Cardiologist of the Year by the California chapter of the American College of Cardiology in 2017. Dr. Watson received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University, her Medical Degree from Harvard Medical School, magna cum laude, and her Ph.D. in Physiology from UCLA. She completed an Internal Medicine residency and a Cardiology fellowship at UCLA. She continued as part of the UCLA Specialty Training and Academic Research program and, later, as Chief Fellow in Cardiovascular Diseases at UCLA. Currently, Dr. Watson is the director of the UCLA Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Health Program at UCLA, the Codirector of the UCLA Program in Preventative Cardiology, and the director of the UCLA Fellowship Program in Cardiovascular Diseases. Dr. Watson is past Vice President for the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC); and immediate past chairperson of the scientific advisory board for Womenheart—the largest national organization for women living with heart disease. The American Society of Hypertension recognizes Dr. Watson as a Specialist in Hypertension; she chairs the Cholesterol committee of the Association of Black Cardiologists and serves on several committees and panels of the National Institutes of Health, including serving on the NIH Expert Panel for the Integrated Clinical Guideline for Cardiovascular Risk Reduction. Dr. Watson’s more than 100 publications and presentations have addressed many subjects, including the prevention of heart disease, vascular calcification, hormone replacement therapy, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and cardiovascular disease in African Americans.

  • Kyu Rhee

  • Nanette Wenger, MD

    Dr. Nanette Wenger is a professor of medicine, Division of Cardiology, Emory University School of Medicine. In a legendary career that spans more than 50 years, Dr. Wenger’s steadfast dedication to reducing women’s disability and death from cardiovascular disease has made her one of the country’s most-respected experts on coronary heart disease in women. In 2009, the women’s health pioneer and renowned cardiologist received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Wenger’s association with the American College of Cardiology spans over half a century. A native of New York City and a graduate of Hunter College and the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Wenger received her medical and cardiology training at Mount Sinai Hospital before coming to Emory University School of Medicine and Grady Memorial Hospital in 1958. Since then, she has been a trailblazer and icon in cardiology as an author and co-author of more than 1,300 scientific and review articles and book chapters. Although Dr. Wenger has earned dozens of awards in her celebrated career, perhaps her greatest professional achievement, and the one that has brought her international recognition, was changing a major paradigm in cardiology: the assumption that heart disease affects only men. A half a century ago, heart disease was thought of as a “man’s disease.” Today, thanks to Dr. Wenger’s pioneering clinical and research efforts, we know that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, accounting for 38 percent of all female deaths, more mortality than all forms of cancers combined. One of the main reasons for the disparity is that heart disease symptoms can present differently in women than in men. Dr. Wenger helped write the 2007 Guidelines for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Women.

  • Janet Wright, MD, MACC

    Dr. Wright was appointed director in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention in July 2021, following a two-year detail in the Office of the Surgeon General as Director of Science and Policy and almost eight years as the inaugural executive director of Million Hearts. She received the 2020 Surgeon General’s Award for Exemplary Service. Before federal service, Dr. Wright led the Science and Quality Division at ACC and practiced cardiology in Northern California for 23 years.

    Dr. Wright received her MD from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center and completed her internal medicine residency at Children’s Hospital and Adult Medical Center and her fellowship in cardiology at San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco.

  • Prentiss Taylor, MD, FACP, FACPM