David Lakey, MD
Associate Vice Chancellor

Nagla Elerian, MS
Director of Population Health Strategic Initiatives 

Dorothy Mandell, PhD
Assistant Professor

Divya Patel, PhD
Assistant Professor

Ella Puga, MPH
Program Manager


David Lakey, MD

Associate Vice Chancellor for Population Health and Chief Medical Officer
The University of Texas System
Senior Vice President for Population Health, Isadore Roosth Distinguished Professor, and Dean of the School of Community Health and Health Professions
UT Health Northeast

David Lakey is Associate Vice Chancellor for Population Health and Chief Medical Officer for The University of Texas System. He is also Senior Vice President for Population Health, Isadore Roosth Distinguished Professor, and Dean of the School of Community Health and Health Professions with UT Health Northeast. He serves on a federal public health advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Defense Health Board.

Dr. Lakey served as Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services from January 2007 to February 2015. As Commissioner, Dr. Lakey led one of the state’s largest agencies with a staff of 12,000 and an annual budget of $3.3 billion and oversaw programs such as disease prevention and disaster preparedness, family and community health services, environmental and consumer safety, regulatory programs and mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. During his tenure as Commissioner, Dr. Lakey served as president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) in 2011‐2012, and received several national awards including the AMCHP President’s Award, the March of Dimes President’s Public Health Leadership Award, and the Arthur T. McCormack Award. 

As ASTHO president, Dr. Lakey issued ASTHO's 2012 Healthy Babies President's Challenge focused on reducing infant mortality and prematurity in the United States. Dr. Lakey was awarded the 2015 HHS Innovates award as part of a collaboration that also included ASTHO, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, CityMatCH, March of Dimes, HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau, CDC, and CMS for their partnership on the CoIIN to Reduce Infant Mortality. In 2015, Dr. Lakey was elected by the March of Dimes to a five‐year term on its board of trustees.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, graduating with high honors from Rose‐Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, and received his medical degree with honors from Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Lakey was a resident in internal medicine and pediatric medicine and completed a fellowship in adult and pediatric infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.


Nagla Elerian, MS

Director of Population Health Strategic Initiatives
University of Texas System
Email: nelerian@utsystem.edu

Nagla Elerian is the Director of Population Health Strategic Initiatives at the Office of Health Affairs at UT System.  Prior to joining the UT System, Elerian was the Director of the Center for Health Statistics at the Department of State Health Services. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology and a Master of Science in Health Statistics with a minor in Geography.  She has 25 years of work experience in public health, health statistics and program management.  Elerian worked in the areas of maternal and child health, birth defects, mental health and substance abuse, Medicaid managed care, and healthcare quality.  In 1995, Elerian established the first electronic Birth Defects registry in Texas. In 1998, she established an evaluation program for Medicaid managed care where she initiated many improvements to the Medicaid managed care data and reporting.  In 2000, she joined the NorthSTAR program where she initiated many reporting mechanisms to allow the use and sharing of data for program improvements.  In 2007, Elerian joined the Decision Support unit at the Mental Health and Substance Abuse, where she developed through a multi-stakeholder collaboration the risk assessment tools to allow the state to evaluate and manage mental health centers and substance abuse providers using financial, access, quality and outcome indicators.  She provided information and recommendations to the Texas Resiliency Disease Management workgroup for migration of the mental health assessment tool and worked with various stakeholders as she developed the algorithms for placement of eligible children into mental health services using the newly adopted Children and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS). 


Dorothy Mandell, PhD

Assistant Professor
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
Safe Babies Research Initiative
UT Health Northeast
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email: dmandell@utsystem.edu

Dr. Mandell received her PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle in Developmental Psychology and her BA from The University of Texas at Austin. She also served as a post-doctoral fellow at the Wake Forest School of Medicine and the University of Amsterdam. Her research has spanned multiple topics in maternal and child health including understanding long-term effects of a variety of perinatal and post-natal insults and intergenerational transfer of traits. She has also conducted analyses and research on a variety of public health topics, including work that has supported the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force, Healthy Texas Babies, and the strategic plan to align prevention resources between the Department of Family Protective Services and the Department of State Health Services in Texas. She served as the primary investigator for the Texas Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) and is currently a research consultant for Texas PRAMS. She is currently an Assistant Professor at UT Health Northeast and supports the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies and is the Primary Investigator for the Safe Babies project in Population Health.


Divya Patel, PhD

Assistant Professor
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Northeast
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email: dpatel@utsystem.edu

Divya Patel joined the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies (TCHMB) in November 2015 as Assistant Professor.  She is an epidemiologist (Ph.D., 2003, University of Michigan) with a broad interest in women’s health research.  Previously, she served on the faculty in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan (2004-2010) and in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University (2010-2012).  She received a 5-year career development award from the National Cancer Institute for her research focused on the prevention and early detection of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers in women.  She has also worked at the Texas Department of State Health Services and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on population-level maternal and child health projects.  Dr. Patel holds an adjunct position at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston - Austin Regional Campus, has taught several graduate-level courses in Epidemiology, and has provided research mentorship to students ranging from undergraduates to medical residents and fellows.


Ella Puga, MPH

Program Manager
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Northeast
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
Email: epuga@utsystem.edu

Ella Puga joined the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies (TCHMB) in November 2015 as Program Manager.  Ella earned both her BS in Biology and her MPH in Hospital and Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Michigan.  She is an epidemiologist who previously worked in public health practice at both the local and state government levels.  At the City of Austin Health and Human Services Department (2004-2012), Ella served as team lead for epidemiology and public health preparedness.  At the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), she worked as an epidemiologist for the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Office of Minority Health, and most recently, the Texas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System at the Center for Health Statistics (2012-2015).  For DSHS and its sister Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, Ella also co-coordinated the Analytics User Group, a bi-monthly forum for HHS employees to present and discuss software tools and techniques used in data analysis and analytics for their projects.  Her research experience includes work in both infectious disease and women’s health.  Throughout her career, Ella has mentored undergraduate and graduate students completing public health practice internships.