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Faculty and Trainee Bios

Selected faculty and trainees

Esosa Adah, MD (
Dr. Esosa Adah is a Pediatric resident. He is a member of two resident-run committees: Wellness Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Diversity and Inclusion is very important to him because he truly believes that the world would be a better place if we could find ways to celebrate our individual differences that make us unique and special, while being able to realize just how similar we  are despite those differences. He loves soccer, traveling, music festivals and hanging out with his co-residents.

Pablo Aguayo, MD (

Romina Barral, MD MS-CR (
Dr. Barral works in the Division of Adolescent Medicine. She is a physician scientist dedicated to reducing reproductive health disparities among Latinx adolescents and young adults in the U.S. She has participated in mentoring programs for URM both at KU (Juntos) and UMKC (Avanzando). She is leading efforts to increase the representation of Latinos in leadership and academic positions at CMH.

Vickie Blanco, MD (
Dr. Vickie Blanco completed her pediatric residency at Children’s Mercy. She has been involved in the CHiCoS clinic and Global Health track. She was born in Argentina and grew up in a bilingual home, which has helped her become certified as a Qualified Bilingual Staff (QBS) provider.

Ayanda Chakawa, PhD
Dr. Ayanda Chakawa is a Psychologist at Children’s Mercy. Her clinical and research interests include cultural competence in mental health treatment, clinical assessment, and program development and community-based interventions to address barriers to mental health access and treatment seeking.

Susana Chavez-Bueno, MD (
Dr. Chavez-Bueno obtained her medical degree in Mexico and completed residency and fellowship training in the United States. She now works in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Mercy. She directs an active laboratory research program supervising students at various career levels and collaborating with scientists in the fields of microbiology, neonatology and microbial genomics.

JC Cowden, MD, MPH (
Dr. John (JC) Cowden is a general academic pediatrician at Children's Mercy. He has been a Professor of Pediatrics at UMKC, Medical Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity, and now serves as Health Equity Integration Project Lead. He is also founder of the Culture and Language Coaching Program (CLCP), which includes CHiCoS clinic.

July Jean Cuevas, MD, FAAP (
Dr. Jean Cuevas works in the Developmental-Behavioral Sciences division. Her interests include autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, mental health in minority groups and the impact of racism in children and adolescents. She is an active member of the Society of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (SDBP), where she collaborates with other professionals with interest in race, racial identity and racism in pediatric population.

Jamesia Donato, MD (
Dr. Jamesia Donato completed her Medicine/Pediatrics residency at Children’s Mercy/UMKC and is currently a Neonatology Fellow. Her research interests include neonatal pharmacotherapy, periviability and understanding factors that influence infant mortality amongst minority populations.

Hugo Escobar, MD (
Dr. Escobar is a Pediatric Pulmonologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO. He has been highly motivated to participate in research and to further our knowledge of respiratory disorders. His clinical research experience started early in his pediatric residency training and later during his pediatric pulmonary fellowship training he was awarded a small training grant to design and in vitro airway epithelial cell model system to study the effects of gastroesophageal reflux on the airway. During the development of this project, he acquired basic science experience in multiple molecular biology techniques. Now, as faculty at Children’s Mercy Hospital, he has gained significant clinical research experience by participating in research projects studying the effects of viral infections in infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, analyzing exhaled nitric oxide levels in children with tracheostomies, and in clinical trials by participating as the site principal investigator for multiple pharmaceutically sponsored multicenter clinical trials in patients with cystic fibrosis and primary ciliary dyskinesia patients.

Milton Fowler, MD, MBA, FAAP, FACEP (
Dr. Milton Fowler has served as the Senior Medical Director of Outreach and Regional Practices and as the Associate Division Director of the Emergency Department at Children’s Mercy. He plays an integral role in growing relationships in the region, supporting and advocating for the physicians in our regional centers, assessing areas for growth or improvement, and delivering the message to all regional providers that Children’s Mercy is a good faith partner.

Robert Garola, MD (
Dr. Robert E. Garola works in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Children’s Mercy Hospital.  Dr. Garola is a Pediatric Pathologist and the Director of IHC and Dermatopathology Services. He has academic clinical appointments in the University of Missouri School of Medicine and University of Kansas School of Medicine. He has expertise in Renal Pathology, Dermatopathology and Immunohistochemistry.  Dr Garola collaborates on research projects related to understanding the disease process in children with Idiopathic Nephrotic Syndrome and effects of Probiotics on the Intestinal Microbiome and Inflammatory Response to Infection by Bacteremia-Producing Escherichia coli.

Zuri Hudson, DO (
Dr. Zuri Hudson is a Pediatric resident.  Her career plans include involvement in advocacy for underserved populations and Hematology/Oncology fellowship. Her passion for diversity and equity stems from being a URM (Underrepresented Minority) physician herself and initiatives she started at her medical school.  She believes that commitment to a workforce centered on diversity is key to our success as a healthcare workforce. Dr. Hudson is involved in the resident-run Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Uniting Numerous Medical Trainees for Equity and Diversity (UNITED).

Maria Ibarra, MD (
Dr. Maria Ibarra works in the division of Pediatric Rheumatology at Children’s Mercy Hospital.  She has served as a member of the Faculty Trainee-Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee She is the co-chair of the Latino Employee resource group.  She has served as  a mentor for underrepresented students as part of Avanzando program at UMKC.  She is also part of an online mentorship program with the National Hispanic Medical College Health Scholars Program (CHSP) Association.  She is passionate about providing care and advocating for Spanish speaking families of children with rheumatologic disorders.

Bridgette Jones, MD, MSCR (
Dr. Bridgette L. Jones works in the divisions of Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutic Innovation and Allergy/Asthma/Immunology at Children’s Mercy.  She has received funding thru the National Institutes of Health, and other extramural and intramural resources to support her work. She has worked in the Student Affairs office at the University of Missouri- Kansas City as the Assistant Academic Dean, she has served on the Faculty and Trainee Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and has worked in the Office of Equity and Diversity as the Medical Director at Children’s Mercy.  She is passionate about developing and maintaining a pipeline of diverse and successful trainees and physicians in medicine and, overall, achieve health equity for children and families.

Tamorah Lewis, MD, PhD (
Dr. Tamorah Lewis has combined appointments in Neonatology and Clinical Pharmacology. She has been involved in the Faculty and Trainee Diversity Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee and the STAHR mentoring program through UMKC. She is very passionate about recruitment of UIM trainees to Children’s Mercy.

Elise Loughman, MD (
Dr. Elizabeth (“Elise”) Loughman is a Pediatric resident.  She is a member of the Nurse-Resident Council and three resident-run committees (Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Wellness Committee and Research Committee/Journal Club). She has a special interest in nutrition and increasing food security among families living in poverty. She is interested in the Diversity and Inclusion committee because she is passionate about making all voices heard from all walks of life. She is additionally passionate in ensuring the mental health of all healthcare professionals.

April McNeill, MD (
Dr. April McNeill completed her Pediatric residency at Children’s Mercy and is now a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellow. She has participated in the residency Advocacy Track and completed her Advocacy Project InStRuCT, (Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health for At-Risk Teen). Her interests are reduction in health care disparities among vulnerable adolescent populations. Her future plans include academic medicine with a focus on health disparities amongst incarcerated youth.

Naim Mitre, MD (
Dr. Naim Mitre works as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Pediatric Endocrinology Division. He is the director of the Thyroid nodule and Cancer clinic at Children’s Mercy Hospital. He is passionate about clinical care and fellowship education. He has received the Golden Apple Mentor award multiples times over the past few years.  He has great interest in providing care to underserved populations and Spanish speaking families. Dr. Mitre is also very passionate about educating Spanish speaking pediatric providers in other countries about pediatric endocrinology. He advocates to see more underrepresented minorities in leadership positions.

Barbara Pahud, MD, MPH (
Dr. Barbara Pahud works in the division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Mercy.  She received her medical degree from La Salle University, Mexico City, Mexico and completed her residency in pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York.  Dr. Pahud is an internationally recognized expert in the field of vaccine safety, hesitancy, and research. She is enthusiastic about improving health in our communities through vaccination, overcoming vaccine hesitancy, and the impact of clinical trials. She serves on the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV) through the Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency and the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN). CoVPN was formed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the US National Institutes of Health to respond to the global pandemic. Dr. Pahud was asked to be part of the network to use her experience and expertise to address the pressing need for vaccines and antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Liset Olarte, MD (
Dr. Liset Olarte works in the division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Mercy. She is a member of the Faculty and Trainee Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and a co-chair of the Latino Employee Resource Group. She has been involved in the UMKC Avanzando Latino mentoring program. She serves on the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society Inclusion, Diversity, Access and Equity Task Force. Her research interest includes clinical and molecular epidemiology of pneumococcal infections.

Julio Quezada, MD (
Dr. Julio Quezada is a child neurologist and has served on the ethics committee. He has a special interest in Tourette syndrome, conversion disorder and general neurology.

Tyler Smith, MD, MPH, FAAP (
Dr. Tyler Smith works in the division of General Academic Pediatrics and is the Fellowship Director for the Academic General Pediatrics Fellowship Training Program. She also has worked in the UMKC School of Medicine as the Associate Dean of Diversity. She has been involved in the Mercy+Me medical student elective and the STAHR mentoring program through UMKC. Her scholarly interests include health care disparities, underserved communities and populations, mentorship, medical education and physician wellness.

Venkatesh Sampath, MBBS
Dr. Venkatesh Sampath completed his training in India, Australia and the United States. He now works in the Division of Neonatology and has directed the Neonatal Diseases Research Program at CMH and been NIH funded. His interests are neonatal intestinal and lung inflammatory diseases, use of evidence-based medicine, education of neonatal trainees and mentoring physician scientists.

Cintya Schweisberger,DO (
Dr. Cintya Schweisberger completed her Pediatric Residency at Children's Mercy and is currently a Pediatric Endocrinology Fellow. She was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and grew up in a bilingual home. She would like to pursue a career in academic medicine.

Mukta Sharma, MD, MPH, FAAP (
Dr. Mukta Sharma works in the division of Hematology/Oncology at Children’s Mercy and has been the Hematology Stroke Director. She has been involved in the Equity & Diversity Council, the STAHR program through UMKC and the Faculty and Trainee Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Her interests include provider wellness.

Eugenio Taboada, MD, FCAP (
Dr. Eugenio Taboada works in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics where he is the Department Chair, Pathologist-in-Chief, and the CLIA Laboratory Director. He is certified by the American Board of Pathology in Pediatric Pathology and Anatomic Pathology & Neuropathology. Dr. Taboada is a Professor of Pediatric Pathology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Medicine.  He is the Director of Surgical Pathology Residency Rotations, is a faculty member on the Pediatric Neurology Fellowship program, and a member of the Medical Executive Committee. Dr. Taboada is passionate about medical education.

Frances Turcotte Benedict, MD, MPH, FAAP (
Dr. Frances Turcotte is a pediatric emergency medicine physician. She has been involved in the Faculty Training Diversity Equity Inclusion Committee and Gender Equity subcommittee and the STAHR program through UMKC. Her interests are healthcare inequity and their effects on emergency department care, patient experience and satisfaction. 

Lines Vargas Collado, MD (

Gustavo Vilchez, MD (