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

Amity Eliaz, MD

Internal Medicine PGY-2

Maria Hanna, MD

Internal Medicine PGY-2

Hoda Sayegh, MD

Internal Medicine PGY-2

Faculty Leadership

Christine Santiago, MD MPH

Co-founder and Faculty Director

Christine Santiago, M.D., M.P.H., is a dedicated physician and public health advocate based in Stanford, CA, with a deep commitment to improving healthcare access and equity. Dr. Santiago earned her M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School and completed an M.P.H. in Health Policy and Management at the University of California Berkeley. Currently, she serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Stanford University in the division of Hospital Medicine.  More 

Throughout her career, Dr. Santiago has actively engaged in various leadership roles and initiatives, such as co-founding Stanford HEARs, a resident-led program aimed at addressing healthcare disparities. She also had the privilege of serving as Chief Resident, where she supported educational activities and mentored fellow residents. With a strong focus on diversity and inclusion, Dr. Santiago has been involved in multiple professional associations, including the American College of Physicians and the California Medical Association, to promote diversity within healthcare. Additionally, she has contributed to curriculum development, mentorship programs, and research activities, all in the pursuit of advancing healthcare and improving patient outcomes.

Dr. Santiago remains dedicated to her mission of making a more equitable healthcare system for all.


Nancy Fang Liu, MD

Faculty Mentorship Lead

Dr. Liu completed her residency at Stanford. She started her interest in underserved populations and global health while as a college student studying rural medicine access in India and 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.

Natasha Steele, MD

Scholarly Works Faculty Lead

Natasha Steele is Stanford-trained internal medicine physician interested in innovative approaches to health equity,  community partnerships, and complex care delivery. 

Jonathan Shaw, MD, MS

Community Engagement Lead

Dr. Shaw is a family physician who has dedicated his career to working in the ’safety-net’. His clinical and research passion is improving care for historically under-served patient populations. He is a PCP at Ravenswood Clinic, a FQHC serving East Palo Alto, and within Stanford works to develop sustained academic-community partnerships to promote health equity. Since 2022 he has served as inaugural Associate Chair of Community Partnership.  More  He is also a health services researcher within Stanford’s Evaluation Sciences Unit which promotes implementation science and healthcare redesign. His research interests include psycho-social determinants of health, women’s health, and the impact of health policies on historically under-served populations.


Alexandria Blacker, MPH

Community Engagement Lead

Director of the Department of Medicine’s Community Partnership Program. For Stanford Health Care. As a public health professional, Alex has worked in breast cancer behavioral research, primary care redesign, community health, healthcare worker well-being, and program implementation. In her current role, she focuses on building bi-directional, equitable, and sustainable partnerships between the Department of Medicine and community partners to advance local health equity. Alex is currently pursuing her PhD in Translational Health Sciences with research focused on understanding the complexity of interprofessional healthcare teams including teaming behaviors and contextual influences.

Emily Woods, MD, PhD

Faculty Advisor- Research

Emily Woods completed her MD and PhD degrees at Emory University (2012-2020) and Internal Medicine residency at Stanford (2020-2023). She was one of the resident co-leads for the HEARs program in 2022-2023. She is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Bogyo lab at Stanford. She is available as a near-peer resource for HEARs residents doing research during residency and/or interested in research-based careers and can be reached at

Wendy Caceres, MD

Faculty Advisor

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.

Andrea Jonas, MD

Faculty Advisor

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.

Cybele Renault, MD

Faculty Advisor

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  More  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


Ashima Chadha, MD


Steven Doerstling, MD

Steven is from North Carolina and came to Stanford by way of medical school at Duke, where he was behind enemy lines as a committed UNC alum. He is excited to support efforts that make healthcare more welcoming and accessible to everyone in our community.


James Dorroh, MD


Amity Eliaz, MD


Megan Galan, MD


Sophie Lee Gough, MD

Sophie is from the Chicago suburbs, went to medical school in Chicago and came out to California for the first time for IM residency at Stanford. She began her work in healthcare disparities in medical school and incorporated culturally competent education into   More clinical coursework of the medical school curriculum. She is passionate about improving access and use of interpreters especially as it relates to goals of care and patient education with underserved and immigrant populations. She plans on a career in academic internal medicine.



Maria Hanna, MD

Maria grew up in the Chicago suburbs and stayed in the area for medical school at Northwestern before moving out to California for residency. Her interests in medicine lie in combating   More  structural inequalities that lead to healthcare disparities both locally and globally. She plans to focus her career on advocating for vulnerable patients and partnering with communities to drive policy level change.



Alec Hasty, MD

Alec, a Texas native, completed his education and training in his home state before pursuing internal medicine training at Stanford. His passion for understanding the consequences of unjust healthcare grew during his   More  involvement at the on-campus Texas Department for Criminal Justice facility. With continued expansion as a student leader at the clinic for the underserved, where he spearheaded a smoking cessation program. He also served as a student director for healthcare trips to Peru, further solidifying his dedication to addressing healthcare inequities locally and abroad.



Kelly Hu, MD

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  More  healthcare incarcerated populations face and how she might tailor her medical education to become a better advocate for a more equitable system.



Sunil Joshi, MD

Sunil was born and raised in the California Bay area and completed his undergraduate schooling at UC Berkeley where his zest for a career in medicine revealed itself. He went on to complete    More  his MD/PhD training at Oregon Health & Science University with a focus on cancer biology. Sunil has a deep-seated passion for empowering and advocating for patients from underserved and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities through scientific research and education.



Sara King, MD


Rebecca Lewinsohn, MD

Rebecca went to Haverford College, where she majored in Biology and Public Health, and subsequently received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She is interested in examining health disparities within the field of oncology, and has a specific focus on reproductive health and cancer survivorship.


Natasha Mehta, MD

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  More  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.



Marilyn Ndukwe, MD


Quan Tran, MD


Hoda Sayegh, MD


Mike Sheehan (med/anesthesia), MD


Nicole Thomason, MD

Nicole grew up in Houston, which is also where she completed her medical school education. While in medical school working at a county hospital she developed an interest in community outreach and how medical systems interact with the communities they serve.  More  As a current resident in the Stanford Internal Medicine program she hopes to further explore how we can build more equitable health systems and how to use her experience in medicine to further advocate for underserved communities.



Zach Ziheng Xu, MD

Program Alumni

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

  • Mayuri Chandran: 2022, Hospitalist

  • Gabriela Spencer-Bonilla: 2021, HEARs Co-founder, Chief Resident 2021-2022, Stanford Cardiology Fellow

  • Nivetha Subramanian: 2022, Stanford Nephrology Fellow

  • Christine Santiago: 2022, Stanford Hospitalist

  • Nancy Liu: 2023, Stanford Hospitalist

  • Keon Pearson: 2023, Kaiser Hospitalist

  • Emily Woods: 2023, Researcher

  • Natasha Steele: 2023, Stanford Hospitalist

  • Caitlin Parmer-Chow: 2023, Stanford Hospitalist


Participating HEARs residents are matched with mentors who share common interests and serve as career guides. Current mentors include:

  • Dr. Andrea Jonas

  • Dr. Manali Patel

  • Dr. Yeuen Kim

  • Dr. Benji Laniakea

  • Dr. Christine Santiago

  • Dr. Grant Smith

  • Dr. Natasha Steele

  • Dr. Nancy Liu

Sponsorship and Involvement

Stanford HEARs is supported by the Stanford Internal Medicine Residency Program, the Stanford Department of Medicine, the Stanford Community Partnership Program and by individual donors. If you would like to support the Stanford HEARs program please contact the faculty director:

For other ways to get involved or questions about the program please email:

You can also follow us on Twitter @StanfordIMHEARs.