The Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center helps ensure that the nation’s vaccines are safe and effective by conducting research to advance scientific understanding of vaccines at all levels of development.
- We study the safety and effectiveness of vaccines that the pharmaceutical industry is seeking to license.
- We partner with government agencies to monitor the safety and effectiveness of vaccines after they have been licensed.
- We examine the epidemiological factors important to developing and distributing new vaccines.
- We monitor influenza and other respiratory viruses and flu vaccine effectiveness.
Founded in 1985, the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center utilizes the potential of Kaiser Permanente’s large member population for vaccine efficacy and safety studies. Key studies have focused on Haemophilus influenza; pneumococcus; MMR (measles, mumps, rubella); chickenpox; rotavirus; and flu vaccines.
In collaboration with Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research, we coordinate clinical trials of new vaccines at our medical facilities in Northern California. Our studies of new vaccines have led to licensing of vaccines to prevent diseases caused by Haemophilus influenza, pneumococcus, chickenpox, meningitis and flu.
Vaccine Study Center Team
|Nicola P. Klein, MD, PhD, FAAP||Director|
|Ousseny Zerbo, PhD||Research Scientist|
|Karen Jacobson, MD, MPH||Research Scientist|
|Janelle Baires, MSN, RN||Clinical Research Nurse Manager|
|Latisha M. Burun, BSN, RN, CPN||Clinical Trial Research Nurse II|
|Dominique Cabanero||Research Assistant|
|Charlie C. Chao, MA, CCRP||Clinical Trial Research Coordinator III|
|Kristin Goddard, MPH||Project Manager|
|John Hansen, MPH||Project Manager|
|Amber H. Hyman, PhD, MPH||Project Manager|
|Debbie C. Jacobs, CCRC||Clinical Trial Research Coordinator III|
|Evan Layefsky, BA||Research Associate|
|Tia Myagmarjav, BS||Senior Research Assistant|
|Courtney A. Oxandale, RN||CT Research Nurse|
|Lisa Powell, BS, MHA||Senior Research Project Manager|
|Pat Ross, BA||Project Manager|
|Amy Wiesner, RN, BSN, CCRC||CT Administrative Director III|
Nicola P. Klein, MD, PhD, is the director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, which she joined as co-director in 2006. She is also a senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. Her research interests include vaccine safety and efficacy, genetic influences on vaccine responses, and vaccine responses among at-risk populations (premature infants and children with chronic or genetic diseases). She is the principal investigator of numerous vaccine safety studies, and has published widely on vaccine safety and efficacy in children and infants. She received her medical degree and her doctorate in biochemistry, as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program funded by the National Institutes of Health, at New York University School of Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics at the Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital (LPCH) at Stanford University School of Medicine, and subsequently completed a Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Network Vaccine Safety Fellowship, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at Stanford. She is board certified in pediatrics and is a professor in the Department of Health Systems Science at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.
Ousseny Zerbo, PhD, is a Research Scientist in the Vaccine Study Center at Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. His research interest is in maternal vaccination during pregnancy and early childhood health outcomes, vaccine uptake, safety and effectiveness. He is the principal investigator on two NIH-funded projects to investigate the effectiveness of influenza vaccination, COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, and infant risk of influenza and COVID-19. He also studies risk factors associated with autism spectrum disorders. Prior to joining the Vaccine Study Center, he completed post-doctoral training in the Autism Research Program at the Division of Research. He received his PhD in epidemiology from the University of California Davis and his bachelor’s degree in biological science and teaching credential from the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, West Africa.
Dr. Karen Jacobson joined the Vaccine Study Center at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in 2023 as a Research Scientist. She is a board-certified Infectious Diseases physician. Dr. Jacobson obtained a bachelor of arts in Human Biology from Stanford University and a doctor of medicine and master of Public Health from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She completed her residency training in Internal Medicine/HIV Primary Care at the Yale-New Haven Hospital and her fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Stanford. Dr. Jacobson’s research is focused on mitigating sequelae of infectious diseases, particularly SARS-CoV-2. She is co-Investigator of multiple outpatient studies of treatments for acute and convalescent SARS-CoV-2 disease, and her published work has described clinical and immunologic correlations of Long COVID and risk of post-vaccination infection with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.
Latisha ‘Tish’ Burun has been a Clinical Trials Research Nurse with the Vaccine Study Center since 2014. Tish provides regulatory management and study management support for our clinical trials. She began her career with us as a study site clinical research nurse in the Sacramento region. Before joining the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center team, Tish worked as a pediatric urology clinic nurse and a pediatric trauma charge nurse. Tish has a bachelor of science in nursing from California State University, Los Angeles, is licensed as a registered nurse in California, and holds a certification in pediatric nursing.
Dominique Cabanero joined the Vaccine Study Center in 2022 as a research assistant, and she provides support to our clinical trials and to other staff members within the VSC office. She joined the Vaccine Study Center after working for 12 years in the dental field. She currently studies healthcare management at SNHU and hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public health.
Charlie C. Chao, MA, CCRP, has been with us since 2000 as a clinical trial research coordinator III. In this role, he supports Kaiser Permanente’s Principles of Responsibility; ensures compliance with procedures; maintains the security and confidentiality of participants’ data; reviews medical records and test results; and abstracts needed data per protocol requirements. He coordinates and prepares protocol specimens for shipping or storage in accordance with regulations and sponsor shipping guidelines; assists in study closure activities; and coordinates study vaccines storage and shipping. He works on federally funded projects including CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink and Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment and on clinical trial projects. Before joining us, he worked in an outpatient pharmacy at Kaiser Permanente, San Rafael.
Kristin Goddard joined the Vaccine Study Center (VSC) in 2015. Prior to working at the VSC Kristin was a project manager at Permanente Colorado’s Institute for Health Research overseeing the FDA’s Mini-Sentinel drug safety surveillance program and vaccine communication projects focused on how and when people make vaccination decisions. Before joining Kaiser Permanente, she was a vaccine policy fellow with the National Vaccine Program Office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Currently Kristin manages VSC’s federally funded research portfolio which includes the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink, Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment work, and vaccine effectiveness research through the VISION collaboration. She is engaged in all aspects of a project’s lifecycle from grant proposal and budget development to data analysis and manuscript writing. Her professional interests include vaccine safety, infectious disease surveillance, health communication and decision making, as well as evidence-based policymaking. Kristin earned a master of public health in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan and a bachelor of science in agriculture and education from The Ohio State University.
John Hansen, MPH, has been a Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center adverse event coordinator and project manager since 1993. He manages programmers and serves as project manager for post-marketing safety studies, his primary research interest. In his role as a project manager, his responsibilities include planning and coordinating with manufacturers to ensure the safety of vaccines that have been licensed and brought to market. In 2001-2003, he served as a member of the Brighton Collaboration Working Groups on Fever and lntussusception. He earned his bachelor’s in sociology and his master of public health, with a specialty in epidemiology/biostatistics, at the University of California, Berkeley.
Amber H. Hyman, PhD, MPH, joined the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in 2016 as a senior research project manager. Her responsibilities include project management for post-licensure and epidemiological studies. Before joining us, she worked as a research scientist at the International Vaccine Institute, focused on assessing the effectiveness of an oral cholera vaccine given to displaced populations in southern Malawi. She has also worked in academic research on chronic disease modeling and cost-effectiveness analysis of government assistance programs. She earned her bachelor of arts in public health and mass communications at the University of California, Berkeley, her master of public health (health policy) at Columbia University, and a PhD in public health at Technical University of Berlin.
Debbie C. Jacobs, clinical trial research coordinator II, has been with us since 2004 coordinating clinical trial research tasks. She provides research, operational, and administrative support to the Kaiser Permanente Northern California principal investigators, the clinical trials administrative director, and other research staff members conducting multiple Food and Drug Administration-regulated clinical trials. Before joining our staff, she was a medical transcriptionist and medical office manager for a private practice.
Evan Layefsky has been with the Vaccine Study Center since 2021 as a Research Associate II. His role includes managing Dr. Zerbo’s portfolio of research projects, which focus on maternal vaccination effectiveness and safety, as well as sexually transmitted infection studies. He also works closely with the medical record abstraction staff to build chart abstraction and clinical databases. Evan has worked at Kaiser’s Division of Research since graduating from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in public health in 2017.
Tia joined VSC in 2021 as a senior research assistant. Her role includes running daily activities of active studies. She provides administrative and operational support for clinical trials staff and nurses. Before joining the VSC, Tia worked on kidney and cardiovascular studies at the DOR. In the future, she would like to pursue a master’s degree in nursing.
Lisa Powell, BS, started with the Vaccine Study Center in 1991 as a research assistant. Currently, she is a research project manager. In her current role, she is responsible for taking care of the department’s HR needs, such as hiring and training. She also works closely with the administrative director to plan and coordinate the activities of all non-physician personnel nationally. In addition, she is the remote data manager, responsible for the data entry staff. In this role, she ensures that the data entry staff keeps the data entry flowing and completed in a timely manner, and she manages the queries for all the remote data entry studies.
Pat Ross has been with the Vaccine Study Center since 1997. In her initial position as a research assistant she began working with data cleaning vaccine injection logs, and worked extensively with research nurses. She moved on to become a research associate III, and is currently a project manager. Pat has worked extensively with the medical record analyst staff at Division of Research to complete chart review studies. Pat has designed and implemented data collection tools specific to studies’ requirements. She has helped evolve the data collection tools to paper-less Quick Review forms. During the COVID-19 pandemic Pat worked extensively on programming data collection tools in RedCap. Pat continues to apply her RedCap programming skills on non-COVID-19 related studies. Pat graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English literature in 1992.
Roger Paul Baxter, MD, FACP, was co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center from 2006 until his death in late 2016. As principal investigator for many studies of vaccines, biologics, and the epidemiology of infectious diseases, and the author of extensive studies on vaccine safety and effectiveness, he helped to build the reputation of the Vaccine Study Center as a national resource for vaccine research and expertise. Prior to joining the Vaccine Study Center and devoting himself full-time to research, Dr. Baxter practiced internal medicine and infectious diseases at Kaiser Permanente, Oakland for 15 years. Board certified in both internal medicine and infectious diseases, he led the Kaiser Permanente Influenza Vaccination Program, helping to ensure yearly vaccination for more than 1 million members, and directed Kaiser Permanente’s influenza surveillance program for more than 13 years. In 2014, he received the Morris F. Collen Research Award for “answering critical questions about vaccine safety and effectiveness to the benefit of people around the globe.”
DOR Programming and Analytical Staff
|Maqdooda Merchant, MSc||Manager, Data Reporting and Analytics, Biostatistics|
|Bruce Fireman, MA||Biostatistican|
|Sharareh Modaressi, MD, MPH||Data Reporting and Analytics Consultant, Biostatistics|
|Karen C. Valdez Nunley, MS||Data Reporting and Analytics Consultant, Biostatistics|
|Julius Timbol, BS, MS||Data Reporting and Analytics Consultant, Biostatistics|
|Arnold Yee, MBA||Data Reporting and Analytics Consultant, Biostatistics|
|Medical Record Analysts|
Maqdooda Merchant joined us in July 2022 as Manager, Data Reporting and Analytics, Biostatistics. She manages the VSC data and supports the VSC programmers including administrative duties as well as participating in analyst recruitment. Prior to joining us she managed the analysts in DOR’s Bio-Statistical Consulting Unit providing research support from IRB proposal to data extraction, analysis, and publication for the GME Residency Research program as well as Community Health Research. She is Epic-certified in EpicCare Ambulatory and contributed to training materials as well as provided regional training on Clarity, testing of KPBINC custom views as well as the DOR Research Database. Prior to joining DOR, she was a lead analyst for various TPMG clinical guidelines as well as HEDIS and Quality Goal Measures. She has an MA in applied statistics from UCSB and an MSc in probability & statistics from the University of Bombay, India.
Bruce Fireman is a senior biostatistician and research scientist at the Division of Research. His research interests include assessment of the effectiveness and safety of vaccines and drugs, and the costs and outcomes of healthcare delivery systems. He works with population-based data, comparing the effectiveness of alternative treatments and alternative ways of delivering healthcare. He has evaluated disease management programs, web-based care and primary care teams. He has collaborated with Kaiser Permanente clinicians and administrators in efforts to improve health services.
Sharareh Modaressi joined us in 2016 as a senior data consultant with responsibilities for data analysis using SAS software on various platforms: mainframe, PC and UNIX. Before joining us, she spent more than twelve years of data consulting and analytical experience in Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Quality Operation and Support Department. She is the original developer of GYN model and ICD10 tools for Kaiser Permanente. She has a master of public health from the University of California, Berkeley and a MD degree (with a specialty in infectious disease) from the University of Shahid Beheshti in Tehran/Iran.
Karen Nunley joined Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in 2015 as a senior data consultant with responsibilities for data management and programming using SAS software. She joined Kaiser Permanente in 2005 within Management Information and Analysis, where she worked on performance reporting, DxCG risk scores, and utilization datasets. She later joined Charles Schwab as a senior database marketing manager, responsible for retirement participant campaigns. She returned to Kaiser Permanente in Quality and Operations Support and focused on specialty care access reporting and data analytics. Karen holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Ateneo de Manila University, and a master of science in information systems from University of San Francisco.
Julius Timbol joined us in 2010 as a senior data consultant (vaccine programmer/analyst) with responsibilities for data analysis using SAS software on various platforms: mainframe, PC environment, and UNIX. Before joining us, he spent four years doing SAS programming in Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Quality Operation and Support Department and seven years at CTB/McGraw-Hill programming for psychometricians in educational test designs and analyses, incorporating statistical methods found in item response theory. He enjoys programming statistical or mathematical algorithms. Outside of work, his passions include flying airplanes upside down, participating in aerobatic competitions, and scuba diving. He earned a bachelor of science in mathematics from San Diego State University and a master of science in statistics from California State University, Hayward.
Arnold H Yee, MBA, is a consultant who joined us in mid-2010 to assist investigators in the analysis and data management of high profile pediatric and adult vaccine studies. He has more than 30 years of data consulting and analytical experience in such Kaiser Permanente regional departments as Financial Performance, and Quality and Operations Support, in addition to his work at the Vaccine Study Center/Division of Research. He is highly motivated to conduct research on vaccine safety/effectiveness, because of its direct and immediate impact on public health and policy. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree from San Francisco State University.
Sandy Bauska, RHIT
Margarita Magallon RHIT, CPC
VSC Clinical Sub-Investigators
Site Sub-Investigators: Daly City
Sandra Lee, MD
Lauren Blair Fontenot, RN, BSN, CPEN, CCRC
Site Sub-Investigators: Oakland
Katrina Saba, MD
Suresh Rangarajan, MD
Eva Lowe, RN
Lorrie Lowe, RN, BSN
Site Sub-Investigators: Roseville
Kenneth Hempstead, MD
LaVonne Freed, RN, BSN
Ludy Lemus, RN, BSN
Site Sub-Investigators: Sacramento – Point West
David Cooper, MD
Christine Cash, RN, BSN
Site Sub-Investigators: San Jose
Tuan Huynh, MD
Shannon Mullen, RN
Site Sub-Investigators: Santa Clara
Kenneth Purdy, MD
Sally Upadhyaya, RN, CCRC
Douglas Ernst, RN
Site Sub-Investigators: South Sacramento
Nicole Makram, MD
Mary Day, RN, BSN
Site Sub-Investigators: Walnut Creek
Kristen Lum, MD
JoLynne Encarnacion, RN