Boston RISE Study Team

Boston RISE Study Staff
Laura Griffith, Jonathan Bean, Courtney Opalenik & Nicole Holt

Study Staff

Jonathan F. Bean, MD, MS, MPH

Dr. Bean and a Study Participant

Dr. Bean is the Principal Investigator for Boston RISE. The goal of Dr. Bean’s work is to develop evidenced-based assessments and treatments for mobility problems in older adults. Dr. Bean has conducted rehabilitative intervention studies, identifying the most effective of means of enhancing mobility, by identifying risk factors underlying mobility decline. His work has focused on the importance of muscle power impairments. Building upon this knowledge, he has conducted numerous rehabilitative intervention studies, identifying the most effective of means of enhancing mobility, focusing upon older adults in general and also stroke survivors. In 2004, Dr. Bean became the medical director at the Spaulding Cambridge Outpatient Center, providing consultation in the management of neuromusculoskeletal and rehabilitative problems. Dr. Bean is the Director of Research Training and Education for the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation for Harvard Medical School, additionally he directs the Research Center for Lifelong Health and Fitness, through which our research, teaching and academic accomplishments are disseminated.

Nicole Holt, MPH

Nicole Holt, MPH, is the Research Coordinator for Boston RISE and the Lab Manager for the Spaulding Center for Lifelong Health and Fitness. Nicole received her Bachelors degree from Brown University where she studied both Psychology and History. She earned her Masters of Public Health at Oregon State University, and her graduate studies focused on health promotion, gerontology and chronic disease. Nicole has previously worked as a Research Assistant at the Weill Cornell Institute for Geriatric Psychiatry and at the Oregon Center for Applied Science.

Laura Griffith

Laura Griffith is a Research Assistant for Boston RISE and the Spaulding Center for Lifelong Health and Fitness. Ms. Griffith received her Bachelors degree from Bates College, where she majored in Psychology. She spent four years working with the Massachusetts General Hospital Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorders Center. In addition to her experience there as a clinical research coordinator, she also organized many educational events for persons with Parkinson’s disease and their support networks as well as health care providers in the surrounding communities.


Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD, FAPTA

Currently, Dr. Jette serves as Professor of Health Policy & Management at Boston University’s School of Public Health and directs Boston University’s Health & Disability Research Institute. He is Research Director for the New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center based at Boston University Medical Center and serves as Director of the Boston University Post Doctoral Research Fellowship in Rehabilitation Outcomes and Effectiveness Research, funded by NIDRR. Dr. Jette received a BS in Physical Therapy from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1973 and his MPH (1975) and Ph.D. (1979) in Public Health from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Jette’s current work in rehabilitation focuses on the development and dissemination of contemporary outcome measurement instruments to evaluate the quality of health care. He has developed numerous instruments that assess function and disability and has published numerous articles on these topics in the rehabilitation, gerontology, and public health literature. From 2005-2007 Dr. Jette chaired the Institute of Medicine’s Study, The Future of Disability in America. Building on the 1991 landmark IOM report, Disability in America, the IOM Panel’s report highlights future disability priorities for the nation.

Nancy Latham, PhD, PT

Dr. Latham is a Research Assistant Professor at the Health and Disability Research Institute and at Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Boston University. She is a physical therapist who has specialized in evaluating the effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions for older people and people with chronic disabling conditions. She is currently involved in research projects examining the patterns of functional change during hip fracture and stroke rehabilitation, and developing a measure to evaluate people with mobility impairment’s satisfaction with their health care services.

Pengsheng Ni, MD, MPH

Pengsheng Ni has a medical degree from Shanghai Medical University, worked on the genetic epidemiology of complex traits in humans, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, pathological myopia. He brings with him from his training in genetics a strong mathematical, biostatistical and computer science background to the development of contemporary patient-reported outcomes technology for health care. His current work focuses on applying different Item Response Theory (IRT) models to practical health care assessment issues, building unidimensional and multidimensional computerized adaptive testing (CAT) models and providing statistical consultation. He has been involved in multiple health care outcome assessments development process (such as Activity Measure for Post-acute Care (AM-PAC), Late Life Function and Disability Instrument, etc.), which included the data collection program development, item bank construct, CAT program development and evaluation. He is skillful in various statistical software packages and programming languages.

Suzanne Leveille, PhD

Suzanne G. Leveille is a Professor of Nursing at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, UMass Boston, and a Lecturer at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Leveille is an epidemiologist with an extensive background in geriatric nursing. Her research areas include primary care interventions to improve chronic illness care and epidemiology of aging with an emphasis on chronic pain and disability. Working with a team of investigators based at Hebrew SeniorLife, Dr. Leveille is currently leading a population-based study of pain and falls in elders living in the Boston area. Dr. Leveille continues to investigate new approaches to enhance self-management of chronic conditions among patients in primary care through use of the patient-doctor internet portal. Dr. Leveille currently serves as a member of the Mayor’s Disability Commission for the City of Boston. The purpose of the Commission is to advise the City on implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act through promoting universal access.

Sanja Percac-Lima, MD, PhD

Dr Percac-Lima is a primary care physician, geriatrician and clinical investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Dr. Percac-Lima’s clinical practice is based at the MGH Chelsea Health Center, which serves a predominately low income, ethnically diverse population that includes a significant number of refugees and immigrants. She is an active member of the Disparities Solutions Center at MGH. Her current research focuses on decreasing disparities in medical care provided to different ethnic and racial groups—mainly the Latino community and non-English speaking immigrants. Her areas of expertise relate to the delivery of care, recruitment and retention of a culturally diverse elderly population.

Elisa Friedman, MS

Elisa Friedman is Director of Evaluation at the Institute for Community Health (ICH) and also works in the Cambridge Health Alliance’s Department of Community Affairs. Her areas of interest and expertise include program evaluation planning and implementation, logic model development, instrument design, facilitation of participatory evaluation and qualitative research. Ms. Friedman’s past and present work ranges from outcome evaluations of community-based programs to clinic-based studies focusing on diverse populations Ms. Friedman is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish and has worked in Mozambique, Angola, Brazil, El Salvador and Honduras.