Our Team


Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD
PRC Principal Investigator

Kathleen O’Connor Duffany, PhD
PRC Co-Director

Beth Patton Comerford, MS
PRC Co-Director


Valentine Yanchou Njike, MD, MPH
Assistant Director of PRC Research and Evaluation

Katherine LaMonaca, MPH
Assistant Director of Research and Evaluation for PRC & Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE)

Jaime Foster, PhD, RD
Research Scientist

Amber Homi-Fiedler, PhD, MPH
Research Scientist

Rockiy G. Ayettey, MS, DHSc
PRC Coordinator and Lead Research Associate

Jackson T. Higginbottom, MPH
Lead for Initiative for Strategic Health Communications

Allison Beaulieu, MPH
Program Manager

Meredith Campbell Britton, LMSW  
Research Associate 

Sofia I. Morales, MPH  
Program Manager of PRC Community Advisory Board and Program Manager of Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE)

Summaya Multaney, MBBS  
Research Associate

Andrea Mayer
Vascular Ultrasonographer and Research Associate


Elizabeth Rhodes, PhD, MS
Co-Investigator of Center for Food is Medicine

Marney White, PhD, MS
Scientific Director of Initiative for Strategic Health Communications

Debbie Humphries, Phd, MPH, MA
Assistant Professor of Chronic Disease & Epidemiology


Alycia Santilli, MSW
Director of Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE)


Beth Comerford, MS


Phone: 203-732-1266

As Co-Director, Beth Comerford is responsible for directing all aspects of the Center’s work (fiscal, administrative and research) based out of Griffin Hospital, as well as Center-wide strategic planning.   She works with Griffin Hospital and Yale University’s leadership team, community partners, and other colleagues to develop strategies and policies for successful implementation of Center goals and objectives. She participates on several steering committees and working groups for community-based initiatives including the Community Health Needs Assessment/Valley Indicators and the Community Health Improvement Plan.  

Her research is focused on chronic disease prevention and management, with a focus on lifestyle, health behavior change and food as medicine.   She has a broad background in psychology and public health, with more than 25 years of community-based participatory research. She was instrumental in starting the multi-district school-based obesity prevention VITAHLS initiative, and expanding the center’s Food Is Medicine agenda.



MS, University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport CT.  Psychology/Organizational Psychology. 1986

BA, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Shippensburg PA.  Psychology.  1984


Selected Publications

Katz DL, Nawaz H, Jennings G, Chan W, Ballard J, Comerford B, Spargo K, Walsh J.  Community Health Promotion and the Randomized, Controlled Trial:  Approaches to Finding Common Ground.  Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. 2001; 7(2);33-40. PMID: 12174398

Busse KR, Lemon SC, Comerford BP, Islam NS, Ulin BF, Eriksen MP, Ammerman AS. Prevention Research Centers and COVID-19: Models of a Community-Engaged Response to a Public Health Emergency. Public Health Rep. 2022 Mar-Apr;137(2):226-233. doi: 10.1177/00333549211059491. Epub 2022 Jan 21. PMID: 35060805; PMCID: PMC8900237.

Guarnaccia JB, Khan A, Ayettey R, Treu JA, Comerford B, Njike VY. Patterns of Medical Cannabis Use among Patients Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2021 May;50:102830. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2021.102830. Epub 2021 Feb 10. PMID: 33636612.

Katz DL, Evans M, Chan W, Nawaz H, Comerford B, Hoxley M, Njike V, Sarrel P.  Oats, antioxidants and endothelial function in adults with features of insulin resistance.  J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):397-403. PMID: 15466946

Katz DL, Evans M, Nawaz H, Njike V, Chan W, Comerford B, Hoxley M. Egg consumption & endothelial function in healthy adults:  A randomized controlled crossover trial.  International Journal of Cardiology.  2005 Mar; 99(1): 65-70. PMID: 15721501

Katz, DL, Evans M, Hoxley M, Njike V, Nawaz N, Comerford B, Sarrel P.  Raloxifene, Soy   Phytoestrogens and Endothelial Function in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial.  Climacteric.  Nov 2007; 10:6, 500 – 507.  PMID: 18049943

Njike VY, Treu JA, Kela GCM, Ayettey RG, Comerford BP, Siddiqui WT. Egg Consumption in the Context of Plant-Based Diets and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Adults at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. J Nutr. 2021 Dec 3;151(12):3651-3660. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxab283. PMID: 34494112.

Katz DL, Cushman D, Reynolds J, Njike V, Treu JA, Walker J, Smith E, Katz C. Putting physical activity where it fits in the school day: preliminary results of the ABC (Activity Bursts in the Classroom) for fitness program. Prev Chronic Dis. 2010 Jul;7(4): A82. Epub 2010 Jun 15. PubMed PMID: 20550840; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2901580.

Katz DL, Katz CS, Treu JA, Reynolds J, Njike V, Walker J, Smith E, Michael J. Teaching healthful food choices to elementary school students and their parents: the Nutrition Detectives™ program. J Sch Health. 2011 Jan;81(1):21-8. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2010.00553.x. PubMed PMID: 21158862.
Treu JA, Doughty K, Reynolds JS, Njike VY, Katz DL. Advancing School and Community Engagement Now for Disease Prevention (ASCEND). Am J Health Promot. 2017 Mar;31(2):143-152. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.140820-QUAN-413. Epub 2016 Nov 18. PubMed PMID: 26559709.

Katz DL, Treu JA, Ayettey RG, Kavak Y, Katz CS, Njike V. Testing the effectiveness of an abbreviated version of the Nutrition Detectives program. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014 Apr 10;11:E57. doi: 10.5888/pcd11.130161. PubMed PMID: 24721217; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3984941.

Reynolds JS, Treu JA, Njike V, Walker J, Smith E, Katz CS, Katz DL. The validation of a food label literacy questionnaire for elementary school children. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2012 May-Jun;44(3):262-6. Epub 2012 Mar 9. PubMed PMID: 22406011.

For a list of publications: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=comerford+bp