Key Staff

The National Center for Health Research (NCHR) is a nonprofit think tank that conducts, analyzes, and scrutinizes research on a range of health issues.  We focus on the safety of medical products and consumer products, as well as the prevention strategies and treatments that are most effective for which types of patients and consumers. We do not accept funding from companies that make products that are the subject of our work.  The key staff of the National Center for Health Research also work with NCHR’s largest program, which is the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund.

Diana Zuckerman, PhD, President

Diana Zuckerman received her Ph.D. in psychology from Ohio State University and was a post-doctoral fellow in epidemiology and public health at Yale Medical School. She started her career on the faculty of Vassar College and Yale University.

After a post-doctoral training at Yale Medical School, she took a position at Harvard directing a groundbreaking research study of college students. Dr. Zuckerman left her academic career to come to Washington, D.C. as a Congressional Science Fellow in a program run by the American Association of the Advancement of Science. After spending the year as a staff member in the House of Representatives, she spent the next ten years working as a Congressional staffer in the House and Senate and at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working to improve federal health programs and policies for adults and children. She initiated highly influential Congressional hearings on a wide range of health issues, including cancer prevention and treatment and the safety of medical products.

Dr. Zuckerman served as a senior policy advisor in the Clinton White House, working for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. She subsequently served in leadership positions at numerous nonprofit organizations and has been in her current position at NCHR since 1999.  She has testified before Congress, the Canadian Parliament, and numerous U.S. federal agencies, and been an invited speaker at national medical, public health, and legal conferences.

While in her current position, Dr. Zuckerman was a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics for several years. She is currently on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA. She was previously on the Board of the Congressionally mandated Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA, and the chair of the Maryland Women’s Health Promotion Council, appointed by the Governor of Maryland.  She was the first non-physician to be elected to the Women in Medicine International Hall of Fame.

Dr. Zuckerman is the author of five books, several book chapters, dozens of articles in medical and academic journals, and in newspapers across the country. Her policy work has resulted in news coverage on all the major TV networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, public television, “60 Minutes,” “20/20,” “Voice of America,” National Public Radio, and in major U.S. print media such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, USA Today, Detroit Free Press, New York Daily News, Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, Family Circle, New Yorker, Glamour, Self, as well as many other newspapers, magazines, and radio programs.  She has also been interviewed on numerous documentaries in the U.S. and abroad, and two U.S. movies were based on her investigations.

Laura Lytle, Health Policy Director

Laura Lytle is our Health Policy Director. She works with Members of Congress and their staff by serving as a resource on the impact of federal health policies on the quality of care for all patients and consumers. Laura is our main point of contact for Capitol Hill as well as public health agencies such as FDA, CMS, and NIH.

Laura brings 25 years of non-partisan experience as a Congressional staff member, working in the Senate and House of Representatives.  Most recently, she served as the Director of the Senate Press Gallery, a unique office that interacts with Senate leadership, personal staff, and committee staff as well as the journalists covering Congress. Laura previously served as the Director of Advocacy and Outreach for the Parkinson’s Action Network (Currently the Michael J. Fox Foundation) working on behalf of the Parkinson’s patient community on appropriations, NIH funding, and regenerative medical research. Laura is a graduate of Virginia Tech. She can be reached at

Jessica Copeland, MD, MPH, Senior Fellow

Jessica Copeland, MD, MPH is a Senior Fellow working on a broad range of health issues, with particular expertise in cardiovascular and lung health.  Training as a cardiothoracic surgeon, she received her MD from University of Washington and MPH from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Copeland has a key role scrutinizing research that has important implications for health policy and public health, working with NCHR research and policy staff.  Prior to her current position, Dr. Copeland conducted studies on lung cancer screening, health disparities in lung cancer, and the application of novel technology in surgical treatment. She received competitive funding for her research and has been a key speaker at several national conferences. Dr. Copeland also helped to establish several community public health programs in an effort to increase access to healthcare and reduce healthcare disparities. In addition, she has worked with the Red Cross in conjunction with the Global Health Department at the University of Washington to establish a practical and sustainable trauma response initiative appropriate for a resource limited setting in Pitágoras, Peru. She can be contacted at

Sophia Phillips, MS, Health Policy Associate

Sophia Phillips is our Health Policy Associate. She is focused on supporting our health policy work by serving as a resource to Members of Congress and Congressional staff on a range of policy issues. Sophia is responsible for monitoring, tracking, and analyzing active legislation and regulatory changes within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including public health agencies such as the FDA, NIH, and CMS.

Sophia previously interned at Public Citizen in their Access to Medicines Program, where she was actively engaged in policy work on drug pricing and COVID-19 vaccine recipe sharing. She was also a research assistant with PharmedOut, a Georgetown University Medical Center project that works to educate healthcare professionals and the public on pharmaceutical marketing practices and their impact on public health. She received her Master’s of Science in Health and the Public Interest from Georgetown University, where she was trained in health advocacy. Sophia earned her B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Geneseo. She can be contacted at

  Taelyr Blehm, Special Assistant to the President

Taelyr Blehm is the Special Assistant to the President. She focuses on supporting the NCHR’s efforts to communicate the most-up-to date, evidence-based health information and health policy strategies on a range of topics of importance to patients, the media, policymakers, and the public. She writes and updates articles for our websites, as well as our two monthly Digests and biennial reports. She also has a key role in initiating and managing social media to educate the public about the safety and effectiveness of various medical and consumer products and works with NCHR staff to respond to Helpline inquiries and other requests from the public for information on numerous healthcare and medical topics.

Taelyr graduated from the University of Kansas Honors Program in 2021 with degrees in International Studies and American Studies and a minor in Spanish. She is currently enrolled in the George Washington University Master’s in Public Health program. Her research focus is Preventative Healthcare practices in rural communities. Taelyr can be contacted at

Tayyiaba Farooq, MS, Public Health Fellow

Tayyiaba Farooq, MS is our Public Health Fellow, focusing on a wide range of issues including tracking and analyzing federal policies, guidelines, and rules of agencies such as the FDA, EPA, and CMS.  She also works with patients harmed by implanted medical devices, helping them to navigate the health insurance system and receive necessary medical care.

Prior to joining NCHR, Tayyiaba interned with Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines group in 2019, working on issues such as single-payer healthcare and insulin affordability. In 2020, she served as a project manager for the “Free the Vaccine Campaign,” which served to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine in lower and middle-income countries through creative action. Tayyiaba also has worked with the nonprofit Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) since early 2020, an organization dedicated to making licensing policies around health technologies more socially equitable. She has served as a lead on their “Take Back Our Medicines Campaign,” helping students across North America advocate at their universities for lower drug prices internationally. Tayyiaba currently serves as a member of UAEM’s North American Coordinating Committee and will help NCHR partner with those efforts.

Tayyiaba recently completed a Master’s of Science in Medical Sciences from Boston University, with her research thesis focusing on diagnostic methods used for kidney transplant patients.  She previously earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a B.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park. Tayyiaba can be contacted at

Summer 2023 Interns

  • Jenny Niwa (University of Rochester, Jack Mitchell Policy Intern)
  • Andrea Sun (University of Pennsylvania, Omega Logan Silva Intern)
  • Avery Nork (Georgetown University, Janice Bilden Cancer Prevention Intern)

Fall 2022 Interns

  • Belinda Gorsuch (Claremont McKenna College)
  • Kobi Khong (Johns Hopkins University)

Summer 2022 Interns

  • Shahmir Ali (Johns Hopkins University, Janice Bilden Cancer Prevention Intern)
  • James S. Castro Argueta (George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Jack Mitchell Policy Intern)
  • Angelica Estrada (UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Marcy Gross Intern)

Spring 2022 Interns

  • Avni Patel (Cornell University, MPH, Omega Logan Silva Intern)
  • Jackie Liu (University of Maryland, Research Communications, and Policy Intern)

Fall 2021 Interns

  • Anna Adler (The George Washington University, Class of ’23, Majoring in Public Health)
  • Annika Schmid (The George Washington University, Class of ’22, Majoring in Biophysics)

Summer 2021 Interns

  • Edyth Dwyer (Brown University, MPA/MPH student concentrating in Global Health)
  • Sophia Lee (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center ’24, MD Candidate)
  • Alea Sabry (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Class of ’22, Majoring in Molecular & Cell Biology and Political Science)

Spring 2021 Interns

  • Mariah Baker (The George Washington University, MPH student with a focus on Health Policy)
  • Reagan Beyer (University of Wisconsin- Madison, Class of ’21, Majoring in Biochemistry and Political Science, with a certificate in Global Health)
  • Katerina Kerska (University of Michigan, MPH student with a focus on Health Behavior and Health Education)
  • Sasha Milbeck (University of Miami, Class of ’22, Majoring in Global Health, minors in Chemistry and Psychology)

Fall 2020 Interns

  • Amanda Chu (Georgetown University, Class of ‘22, Majoring in Science, Technology, and International Affairs, minors in Spanish and Creative Writing)
  • Carly West (The George Washington University, MPH student with a focus on Epidemiology and Disease Control)
  • Cindy Min (University of Florida, MPH student with a focus on Epidemiology)
  • Sasha Milbeck (University of Miami, Class of ’22, Majoring in Global Health, minors in Chemistry and Psychology)

Summer 2020 Interns

  • Amanda Bisnath (University of Virginia ’21, Public Policy and Leadership, minor in Bioethics)
  • Megan Peterson (Cornell University ‘21, Biology and Society, minoring in Health Policy and Law & Society)
  • Elizabeth Sack (Duke University ’21, Global Health and International Comparative Studies, minor in Chemistry)

Spring 2020 Interns

  • Nana Addo (George Washington University ’19, International Affairs, concentration in Global Public Health)
  • Shaina Desai (University of California, Berkeley ’20, Public Health, concentration in Epidemiology)
  • Seungyeon Lee (Konyang University ’19, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology)
  • Ellen Pil (University of Notre Dame, ’21, Political Science, Pre-Health track)

Summer 2019 Interns

  • Mackenzie Flynn (George Washington University ’21, Political Science, minors in Public Health and Sustainability)
  • Emily Hong (University of California Irvine ’20, Public Health Policy, minor in Medical Anthropology)

Fall 2019 Interns

  • Anupama Dinesh (Brown University ’20, Health & Human Biology and Anthropology)
  • Reena Jasani (UT Southwestern Medical School ’22, MD/MPH)
  • Claire Viscione (George Washington University ’20, Public Health, minor in Business Administration)

Spring 2019 Interns

  • Silvana Barbosa  (Providence College ’19, Health Policy & Managements)
  • Kaitlyn Freels (University of Maryland College Park ’19, Neurobiology & Physiology)