- Director, Program for LGBTI Health
Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, is a professor of anesthesiology, surgery, biomedical informatics, and health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He is the Secretary of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. Dr. Ehrenfeld divides his time among clinical practice, teaching and research. He serves as associate director of the Vanderbilt Anesthesiology & Perioperative Informatics Research Division, a multi-disciplinary group of physicians, engineers, developers, analysts and researchers who develop systems to improve anesthetic and surgical outcomes. Dr. Ehrenfeld also has an appointment as an adjunct professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD.
Dr. Ehrenfeld’s research, which focuses on understanding how information technology can improve surgical safety and patient outcomes, has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, and Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research. His work has led to the presentation of more than 200 abstracts, as well as the publication of more than 150 peer-reviewed manuscripts. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Systems and has co-authored 15 clinical textbooks. He was a 2016 Emmy Nominee.
Born in Wilmington, Del., Dr. Ehrenfeld is a graduate of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and the Harvard School of Public Health. He completed an internship in internal medicine, a residency in anesthesiology and an informatics fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital. A combat veteran who deployed to Afghanistan during both Operation Enduring Freedom and Resolute Support Mission, Dr. Ehrenfeld continues to serve as a commander in the United States Navy Reserve. He lives in Nashville, Tenn., with his husband, Judd Taback.
- LGBTI Health Research Faculty
Lea K. Davis, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Genetic Medicine/Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. During the past fifteen years, Dr. Davis has researched complex behavioral phenotypes and earned degrees in both psychology (BS) and human genetics (PhD). As a postdoctoral fellow, she trained with Dr. Nancy Cox at the University of Chicago where she mastered statistical and computational approaches to large complex data sets. As a postdoctoral fellow, then as a research assistant professor funded by a KL2 career development award at the University of Chicago, she organized and lead several multi-center analytic efforts on behalf of three neuropsychiatric consortia in TS, OCD, and ASD. Her findings are informing subsequent polygenic analyses, pathway analyses, and rare variant analyses and have significantly impacted the field.
When she is not working, Dr. Davis enjoys cooking, knitting, hiking, yoga, and, most importantly, advocating on issues of social justice including LGBTI health disparities.
- Program Manager
Del Ray Zimmerman is our full-time LGBTI Health Program Manager and is the main point of contact for most day-to-day issues. Del Ray will be managing many of the operations functions of the LGBTI Health Program as well as helping administer our Trans Buddy program and train volunteers. He comes to us with over 20 years of experience in non-profit management. Much of that experience has been gained with local Nashville LGBT-focused organizations including: Nashville Cares, GLSEN, and OutCentral Cultural Center. Del Ray received his B.S. in Communications from University of Tennessee Knoxville and is originally from Winchester, Tennessee.
- Graduate Assistant
Robles (RJ) is our part-time student worker and is also active as a research assistant, youth advocate, and campus leader. They received a B.A. in Gender & Women's Studies/Applied Psychology/Religious Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity in Queer & Trans Theology from Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Robles: "I believe that my purpose in life is to work on trans activism through a study of theology, and to continue my work with trans youth. This passion stems from experiencing multiple forms of oppression throughout my life and struggling through those realities. I am interested in interdisciplinary studies of: religion/gender/sexuality, liberation/feminist/queer theology, and queer theory. I have a passion & a knack for working with youth. I hope to be an inspiration for many but most importantly that I may have the opportunity of continuing my ardent passion for rights of LGBTQ youth."
- Program Assistant
Barry is responsible for ongoing maintenance of the program website, provides administrative support, and is also our photographer for various special projects. His function as Webmaster/Program Assistant is an extension of his duties as Program Assistant for the Office for Diversity Affairs, where he has been since 2011. Barry is an art and commercial photographer outside of Vanderbilt and his husband is a professional commercial and fine artist.
- Former Director of LGBTI Research
In July 2017, Lauren began an appointment as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Northwestern University-The Feinberg School of Medicine.
In July 2015, Lauren B. Beach, JD/PhD began an appointment as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Vanderbilt University in the research group of Dr. Kerri Cavanaugh. An alumna of the University of Minnesota's Joint Degree Program in Law, Science and Technology, Lauren completed her Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology & Genetics.
While developing her academic career, Lauren has also dedicated herself to progressive student and community leadership, with an emphasis on serving and advocating for LGBTQIA and bisexual communities. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, Lauren held multiple student leadership roles dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion on campus, including serving as President of the Alliance of LGBTQA Students and working as a student diversity programming employee at MSU's Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. Upon her arrival to Minnesota, Lauren not only continued her work with LGBTQIA student groups, but also expanded into serving the community at large. From 2010-2013, Lauren led the 501(c)(3) organization Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP) as Chairperson, transforming it from a largely Twin Cities focused organization into a regionally, nationally and internationally recognized non-profit. From 2009-2014, Lauren also served as a core organizer of BOP's annual BECAUSE Conference on bisexuality. Additionally, Lauren has served on the boards of the 501(c)(3) organizations the Queer Student Cultural Center, the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance, China AIDS Orphan Fund and currently serves on the board of the Zambian child health non-profit Healthy Kids: Brighter Future.
- Past Co-Director
After receiving his PhD in Neuroscience from Vanderbilt University in Fall 2015, Kale accepted a postdoctoral scholarship in Dr. Fei Wang's lab at China Medical University in Shenyang, where he is using network-based neuroimaging techniques to study first-episode psychosis.
Kale Edmiston is a PhD in Neuroscience at Vanderbilt University, where he studies the neuroendocrine system, stress, and social behavior. As part of his dissertation work, he has helped run a musical theatre camp for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Kale is the first out transgender graduate student at Vanderbilt University and in 2014 was elected president of the Neuroscience Student Organization.
Kale has a longstanding interest in improving health care access for transgender people. He has provided transgender health care trainings to providers across the country since 2004. He is also active in a number of organizing projects related to primary care access for transgender people as part of The Program for LGBTI Health. Kale was a plenary speaker at the 2013 Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Annual Meeting, where he spoke about his role in improving transgender patient care as part of LGBTI health program at VUMC.
- Founding Co-Director
Kristen Eckstrand, MD, PhD is a co-Founder and past co-Director of the Program for LGBTI Health at Vanderbilt. After receiving her dual degree from Vanderbilt, Kristen pursued her residency program in Psychiatry at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Medical Education.
Kristen L. Eckstrand holds her MD and a PhD in neuroscience from Vanderbilt University. Throughout her career, Dr. Eckstrand has advocated for the needs of LGBT individuals. Dr. Eckstrand has been working on LGBT medical education since 2008 when she initiated curriculum reform at Vanderbilt, which culminated in the foundation of the Vanderbilt Program for LGBTI Health in 2012--the second program in the country housed within an academic medical center.
Dr. Eckstrand is nationally recognized for her work as the founding chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Sex Development, co-editing and authoring the ground-breaking text Implementing Curricular and Institutional Climate Changes to Improve Health Care for Individuals Who Are LGBT, Gender Nonconforming, or Born with DSD: A Resource for Medical Educators. She also serves as the Vice President of Education for the board of directors of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality and as a member of the American Medical Association’s LGBT Advisory Committee. She has over 50 peer-reviewed publications and presentations related to LGBT health and education, and has been recognized for her commitment to diversity through numerous awards including the 2011 Vanderbilt Levi Watkins Jr. Award, the 2013 American Medical Association’s Foundation in Excellence Leadership Award, the 2013 AMSA/GLMA Health Achievement Award for leadership in LGBT health.