At Stanford IM HEARs, health equity is at the forefront of what we’re working towards. Our program is designed to train and develop future physician leaders to advocate for the health of underserved populations within the United States, especially in our own local community.

Working Towards a More Equitable Future in Healthcare

Our mission is to develop physicians who are committed to the care of disadvantaged and vulnerable populations within the United States and to train future physicians to have the tools to be leaders and experts in addressing health disparities. There are four main objectives of the program:

  1. Clinical exposure to domestic health inequities and provide tools that will allow the best clinical care for vulnerable patients.
  2. Mentorship by faculty that have careers focused on addressing healthcare disparities. 
  3. Scholarship and research focused on disadvantaged populations. 
  4. Development of leadership and advocacy skills for underserved populations.


Clinical Exposure

Learning from Vulnerable Populations

As participants in the Stanford IM HEARs program, residents will have dedicated clinical rotations devoted to care for underserved populations. They will gain first-hand knowledge of the barriers these patient populations face in obtaining adequate health and learn the resources and tools currently available to overcome them. Example clinical rotations include addiction medicine, VA vulnerable populations, social medicine, and rotations at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. We are also in the process of creating rotations that will include clinical time in prison medicine, LGBTQ+ health, and refugee populations.


Advocacy and Leadership


In addition to facilitating mentorship, the IM HEARs program aims to equip residents with concrete advocacy and leadership skills. Speakers and didactic sessions include training in a variety of advocacy skills. We encourage residents to take on initiatives within our program, hospital, and broader community that build their leadership skills while simultaneously enacting positive change.



Exposure to Leaders in the

Health Equity Field

We believe that exposure to mentors who have made health equity a significant component of their careers is important for fostering future leaders in this field. All participating members are paired with a faculty mentor who is a leader in the health equity field. Mentor pairings are based on residents’ areas of interest and are facilitated by the resident leaders. Events throughout the year bring in speakers to provide another avenue through which participants can meet and learn from leaders in this field.


Research and Scholarly Work

Using Research and Scholarship to

Reduce Health Inequities

Program participants are required to participate in some form of scholarly work that address health disparities. Examples include research, curriculum development, and community projects.

Resident Leadership

Dr. Christine Santiago

Co-Founder, Internal Medicine Chief Resident

Dr. Natasha Steele

Internal Medicine PGY-3

Dr. Nancy Fang Liu

Internal Medicine PGY-3

Dr. Emily Woods

Internal Medicine PGY-3

Faculty Leadership

Dr. Wendy Caceres

Dr. Caceres is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in Primary Care and Population Health at Stanford University. She serves as one of the Associate Program Directors for the Stanford Internal Medicine Residency program and had been the Co-Medical Director of Pacific Free Clinic and Cardinal Free Clinics from 2015-2020. From 2020 she has been one of the Associate Chairs for Diversity and Inclusion for the Department of Medicine.  Her main interests are in diversity in medical education and clinical care of vulnerable populations. Her clinical scholarly activity has been focused on reducing health disparities through quality improvement at the point of care.

Dr. Andrea Jonas

Dr. Jonas is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Stanford University. She serves as one of the Associate Program Directors for the Internal Medicine residency and the PCCM fellowship programs at Stanford. She is a proponent of diversity and inclusion initiatives in academic medicine: she co-founded the Critical Care Diversity Council at Stanford which places an emphasis on DEI education, diverse recruitment and retention, and community outreach endeavors within critical care. She was proud to serve as a LEAD mentor during the 2020-2021 academic year, and is excited to continue partnering with trainees as they embark on DEI initiatives as part of the IM-HEARS team.

Dr. Cybele Renault

Dr. Renault has devoted her career to caring for vulnerable patient populations, both domestically and overseas. She completed her medical school and residency training at the University of Chicago, caring for underserved patients on Chicago's South Side, followed by a Chief Resident year at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, the large public hospital serving the uninsured in Chicago. During her Infectious Diseases fellowship at Stanford, she began her career in global health, caring for patients and doing low-cost HIV diagnostics research in Burkina Faso, and providing clinical service and teaching in Thailand, India, and Zimbabwe as a fellow, and later in Uganda and Rwanda as one of our faculty. Her clinical work is currently focused on our Veteran population, working to empower Veterans to engage in their care, often in the setting of significant mental illness. She is most passionate about medical education and program development for the Internal Medicine residency program, as well as developing collaborations to create sustainable education programs with partners in low-income countries.

Program Participants

Dr. Kelly Hu

Kelly was born and raised in South Florida but has lived all over the country, including Iowa, Missouri, and New York, before settling in California for residency. After spending time in medical school working at a major NYC public hospital, she became interested in learning about the barriers to healthcare incarcerated populations face and how she might tailor her medical education to become a better advocate for a more equitable system.

Dr. Nancy Fang Liu

Nancy grew up across the US from Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and is now excited to pursue her training at Stanford in internal medicine. She started her interest in underserved populations and global health while as a college student studying rural medicine access in India and most recently was able to complete a rotation at the Indian Health Service during medical school. She is excited to tailor her medical training in a way that values cultural understanding and equity in the setting of healthcare.

Dr. Natasha Mehta

Natasha grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and came to California for her undergraduate and graduate studies before going back to Chicago for medical school. While in medical school, she became passionate about learning more and responding to the unique health needs of vulnerable people in Chicago as well as on a global scale. She plans to focus her career on empowering health care systems and clinicians to break down barriers in access to medical care in a local and global context.

Dr. Keon Pearson

Keon Pearson was born and raised in the Midwest to a family that faced discrimination from the medical establishment. None of his male ancestors lived to see the age of 65. This drives KP’s commitment to a career that improves racial and ethnic health disparities, and he is very excited to be part of the inaugural class of Stanford HEARS. KP earned his A.B. at Harvard, an MD and MBA at Stanford, and continued at Stanford for internal medicine residency. He is planning to specialize in cardiology.

Dr. Natasha Steele

Having grown up in a large immigrant family from Morocco, Natasha Steele  is passionate about domestic issues surrounding health literacy and access. She pursued a  masters in public health at the George Washington University before completing medical school at the University of Washington. Now in her first year of internal medicine residency at Stanford, she is excited about building relationships with community health stakeholders in the Bay Area, and helping to create a more just and equitable healthcare system.

Dr. Emily Woods

Emily Woods completed her MD and PhD training at Emory University and entered the Stanford Internal Medicine residency program in 2020. She is planning to specialize in infectious disease. She views advocacy as a critical component of medicine, with a particular interest in healthcare access and addressing the barriers to care that the current US health insurance system creates.

Program Alumni

Since its inaugural year in 2021-2022, graduates of the IM HEARs program include:

  • Mayuri Chandran: 2022, Stanford Hospitalist
  • Gabriela Spencer-Bonilla: 2021, HEARs Co-founder, Chief Resident 2021-2022, Stanford Cardiology Fellow
  • Nivetha Subramanian: 2022, Stanford Nephrology Fellow 


Each participating HEARs resident is matched with a mentor who shares common interests and who can serve as a guide and role model. Current and past mentors include:

  • Dr. Jason Andrews
  • Dr. Cheryl Ho
  • Dr. Yeuen Kim
  • Dr. Fatima Rodriguez

Get Involved

Contact Us

You can contact any of the resident leaders (email addresses above) for inquires about the HEARs program. You can also follow us on Twitter @StanfordIMHEARs.