Department of Surgery and J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center


Amy Waterman, PhD, FAST

Dr. Amy D. Waterman is a national innovator, a Full Professor, and the Director of Patient Engagement, Diversity, and Education, representing both J.C. Walter Transplant Center at Houston Methodist Hospital and the Houston Methodist Research Institute. As a Health Services Researcher and Social Psychologist, Dr. Waterman conducts research in areas including how best to expand access to optimal treatments, reduce racial disparities, ensure informed decision-making, ensure patient-centered care, and improve health outcomes. She has published over 125 journal articles encompassing many components of clinical and translational research, including patient-oriented research, clinical trials, behavioral and multilevel interventional studies, development of new educational technologies, outcomes and health services research and implementation of best practices. She has designed and tested the efficacy of a suite of innovative educational resources including mobile decision aid applications, a digital storytelling application, and texting interventions about living donation. She has been the Principal Investigator on over 10 grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  Her award-winning educational resources have been translated into multiple languages and delivered to patients in thousands of clinical settings in the United States, Canada and online. Her research has been supported by almost $30 million in grants and, in 2019, she received the American Society of Transplantation Clinician of Distinction Award for national influence in transplantation by a non-physician. Prior to joining the faculty at Houston Methodist Research Institute, she was a faculty member at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine in Nephrology and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in General Medical Sciences.  Fundamentally, she is a Patient Advocate.

LaShara A. Davis, PhD

Dr. LaShara A. Davis is an Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences in Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Professor of Outcomes Research in Surgery at HMAI/HMRI. She graduated with a degree in Communication from the School of Communication and Information in 2004. She continued her education at Purdue University where she received a MA in 2007 and a PhD in Communication in 2011 with an emphasis in Health Communication and Social Influence. She completed postdoctoral training in racial and ethnic disparities in living donor kidney transplant in 2013 at Washington University School of Medicine. Since then, Dr. Davis has built her career around research on patient-centered care, health education development and reducing racial and ethnic health disparities. As an independent Scientist with the Patient Engagement & Research Lab at Houston Methodist Hospital, her goal is to deepen the understanding of the creation, implementation, and evaluation of health campaigns with a special focus on health disparities affecting low-income, low-literate, and underserved populations.


Catherine Pulicken, MHA

Catherine Pulicken is responsible for business and research operations for The Patient Engagement, Disparities & Research Lab implementation at Houston Methodist through the management of research associates and federally funded grant projects. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Health Education in 2014 and completed a Master of Health Administration (MHA) in 2017 from the University of Houston. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, pursuing a public health degree with emphasis on health promotion and behavioral sciences. Catherine is an advocate for health promotion, chronic disease prevention and management, and reducing health disparities through public health initiatives, clinical and research efforts. Previous projects include improving the quality and delivery of chronic disease management and care within community health centers to improve both patient and provider outcomes. She hopes to inspire others and create a meaningful difference within the progressive world of public health.

Victoria Cassell, MS

Victoria Cassell graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology in 2018 and obtained her M.S. in Psychology in 2021. Her focus in academics is Social Psychology, specifically gender, diversity, and inclusion, and the relationship between identity and motivational factors/experiences of fear. She is currently working as the Clinical Research Data Coordinator for the Patient Engagement & Research Lab at Houston Methodist’s Academic Institute, where she hopes to contribute to research addressing disparities in healthcare and access to health education affecting individuals based upon their gender identity, race/ethnicity, and/or socioeconomic status.

Imory Jefferson James, MPH

Imory Jefferson James graduated with a degree in Psychology from Wake Forest University in 2010. She continued her education in 2016 at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston where she earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) with an emphasis on health promotion and behavioral science. Imory has diverse experience in planning and executing global clinical research in neurological outcomes, SARS-CoV-2, surgical oncology, and pediatric general surgery. She is passionate about disease prevention and empowering people to take ownership of their wellness journey. As a Senior Research Coordinator for the Patient Engagement & Research Lab at Houston Methodist Hospital, she hopes to improve the quality of patient care by optimizing the use of research as a tool to increase health literacy and help individuals from underserved populations navigate the healthcare system.

Aisha Matin

Aisha Matin graduated from the University of Houston in 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Finance. She decided to pursue her passion for healthcare and began working on Houston Methodist’s Surgery-Transplant Research Team in 2020. Her experience in clinical research sparked her curiosity and awareness around the health disparities within her own community. She is currently a Research Coordinator in the Patient Engagement & Research Lab and hopes to contribute to initiatives that empower patient advocacy and educate underfunded communities about the importance of preventative health measures. Aisha is particularly passionate about researching and addressing factors that contribute to unequal healthcare access. She is excited to pursue a Master’s in Public Health in the near future to advance her passion and interests.

Department of Medicine


Solaf Al Awadhi, MBBS, MSc.

Solaf Al Awadhi is a Doctor of Medicine since 2015 and obtained her M.S. in Public Health and Comparative Effectiveness Research in 2020. Her focus in academics is chronic kidney disease patients, kidney transplantation, risk assessment and prediction models.  She is currently working as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Houston Methodist Research Institute and the Department of Medicine, Division of Kidney Diseases, Hypertension & Transplantation, where she hopes to contribute to research addressing a better evaluation of kidney functions and a stratification of patients according to their risk factors to improve clinical practices.