Our Community

Students in the Health Policy Ph.D. Program at Vanderbilt have dedicated one-on-one access to their mentors. Mentors will be assigned based on research interests and all primary faculty members are currently accepting new students. They also work closely with their mentor's lab teams, comprised of other faculty, staff, and students. In addition, there is collaboration with institutes and centers associated with the department including the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, the Center for Child Health Policy, LGBT Policy Lab, Emerging Infections Program, among others.

Our PhD students also have the opportunity to take advantage of all Vanderbilt has to offer, including a robust alumni network, exciting events and seminars, career development and networking services, and numerous affinity groups and student associations.

Current Students 

Khrysta Baig

Khrysta Baig

Research Interests: Obesity and Associated Chronic Diseases, High-value Care, Payment Reform, Affordability, Health Policy Communication and Dissemination 

Khrysta Baig is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Health Policy. Her research interests center on ways to align health insurance and care to improve outcomes for individuals with obesity and associated chronic

diseases. She is keenly interested in looking at these topics through the lens of how incentives, affordability, and communication influence the uptake of high-value care.

Khrysta received a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Truman State University and obtained a Master of Science in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She trained through the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center to become a registered dietitian (RD) and is also a certified health education specialist (CHES). Formerly, Khrysta was the director over an approximately $30 million self-funded employer health insurance plan, and she held several leadership positions in community organizations focused on a broad range of public health and health care topics



Dennis Lee

Dennis Lee

Research Interests: healthcare access, costs and delivery, health system quality, vulnerable populations 
Before coming to Vanderbilt, Dennis had collaborated on a variety of research projects at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. First, he joined the HQSS Commission, which culminated in a comprehensive report on healthcare system quality in 134 low- and middle-income

countries. Afterwards, he conducted research at the department of Health Policy and Management, primarily working on  comparing costs, outcomes and quality for Medicaid and heavily-subsidized private health insurance for low-income individuals and buprenorphine policy to tackle the opioid crisis. A unifying theme in Dennis’s work is the use of rigorous research to shed light on healthcare systems and policy on vulnerable populations.

Dennis graduated with a degree in Economics and Statistics from UC Berkeley in 2016 and has since conducted analyses using methods found in epidemiology, biostatistics, econometrics, and machine learning. He has also published in journals such as The Lancet Global Health, Health Affairs, BMJ Open and Health Services Research. For fun (and pre-COVID), Dennis is a martial artist, having competed on UC Berkeley’s Taekwondo sparring team, and training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.



Nathaniel Tran

Nathaniel Tran

Research Interests: LGBTQ health, health disparities/health equity, social change, discrimination, health reform. 

Nathaniel Tran is a PhD student in the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University. They use mixed-methods research methods and community-based research principles to identify and address health inequalities among LGBTQ communities. Specifically, they are interested in the impact of non-discrimination policies on health outcomes among

sexual and gender minority Medicaid beneficiaries.

Previously, they were a research assistant at the Health Equity Research Lab at Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School and a Fulbright Scholar with the Anthropology and Health Program at the University of Buenos Aires. They earned their BA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Spanish from Tufts University. In their free time, they enjoy shopping at farmer’s markets, crossword puzzles, and listening to live music. 


Diversity & Inclusion

There is strength in our diversity. Our program is committed to creating a community of inclusion and support both academically and socially. Below are some of the resources available at Vanderbilt. 

Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

University Counseling Center

Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center

Center for Student Wellbeing

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Life

Robert Penn Warren Center

Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center 

Graduate School Career Development

International Student & Scholar Services

BRET Office of Career Development

Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity

Graduate Student Council

Organization of Black Graduate and Professional Students

Vanderbilt Chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science