Project Team

Sandy Sufian, PhD, MPH (Project Director)

Sandy Sufian, PhD, MPH is an Associate Professor of Health Humanities and History in the Department of Medical Education in the College of Medicine and Associate Professor of Disability Studies in the College of Applied Health Sciences at University of Illinois at Chicago. She has a courtesy appointment in the History Department. She served as PI on the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Health Humanities Portrait grant project, a Humanities Frontiers grant through UIC’s Institute for the Humanities, and a UIC Creative Activity Dissemination Grant. She also serves as PI on a PCORI Eugene Washington Award and a Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-funded clinical research project. Her research interests include family and disability, chronic illness and sexual and reproductive health, patient-engagement methodology, and best-practices for health humanities education. Dr. Sufian is the co-founder of the Health and Society Working Group within the UIC Institute for the Humanities. She was a Grant Generating Project fellow for the North American Primary Care Research Group, a member of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research patient-engagement advisory panel, and a fellow in an NEH Building Healthcare Collectives grant with Ohio University and Michigan State University. She is currently a Public Voices OpEd Project Fellow. Her book on the history of the adoption of children with disabilities in the US will be published with University of Chicago Press in Fall 2021.

Michael Blackie, PhD (Co-Investigator)

Michael Blackie, PhD is Associate Professor of Health Humanities in the Department of Medical Education in the College of Medicine. He has published widely in health humanities pedagogy and medical education. His scholarly and teaching interests include health humanities, narrative medicine, death studies, and medical education. He co-edited a volume on teaching professionalism in health professions education, From Reading to Healing (2019). Currently, he is the Executive Editor of the journal, Literature and Medicine. Additionally, he was an Associate Editor for The Journal of Medical Humanities (2017-2020) and Senior Editor of the Literature and Medicine book series published by Kent State University Press (2013-2020). He is also a founding member and Treasurer for the Health Humanities Consortium. Before coming to UIC in 2017, Blackie co-directed the Center for Literature and Medicine and chaired the Department of Biomedical Humanities, both at Hiram College, and co-directed the humanities curriculum at Northeast Ohio Medical University.

Joanna Michel, PhD (Co-Investigator)

Joanna Michel, PhD is Director of the Urban Medicine Program (UMed) within the College of Medicine’s Chicago campus, She served as Co-PI on the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Health Humanities Portrait grant, as well as the Humanities Frontiers grant through UIC’s Institute for the Humanities, and the 2019 UIC Creative Activity Dissemination Grant.. Before joining UMed in 2009 Dr. Michel completed her PhD degree from the UIC College of Pharmacy’s Department in medical ethno-pharmacology (‘06) and was a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Postdoctoral Fellow at the UIC School of Public Health( ‘08-’09). Dr. Michel’s research focuses on exploring the influence of cultural beliefs and the use of herbal medicine on health seeking behaviors of immigrant and refugee populations in the US and abroad. She has received two Fulbright Fellowships for her research on women’s health seeking behaviors in Guatemala (06) and Colombia (2017). Other awards including the 2016 UIC Silver Circle Excellence in Teaching Award, and the 2015 Leadership Illinois (for Women) Fellowship In addition to her role as UMed Director Dr. Michel currently serves as Deputy Director of the Illinois Area Health Education Center (IL-AHEC), Clinical Research Assistant Professor in the UIC Department of Medical Education, Affiliate Professor in the School of Public Health, and Research Associate for the Integrative Research Center at the Field Museum of Natural History.

Web Design Team

Mallika Patil

Mallika Patil is a Computer Science major at the University of Illinois at Chicago with a concentration in Software Engineering and minor in Mathematics. Her special interests include Software Engineering, cybersecurity, and machine learning.

Madeline Lee, CMI, MS

Madeline Lee is a website designer for the Health Humanities Portrait Project. She worked on various websites with medical education experts. She is an instructional designer and certified medical illustrator. She received a Master of science in Biomedical Visualization from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her interest is in biomedical visualization and virtual reality in medical education.


Lise Saffran, MPH, MFA

Lise Saffran, MPH, MFA is the former Director of the Master of Public Health Program at the University of Missouri and Co-Chair of the Health Humanities Consortium. Currently an Associate Teaching Professor in Public Health at the University of Missouri, she teaches Storytelling in Public Health and Policy. Her research studied addresses the impact of creative writing on health professions education, perceptions of social and contextual influences on health behavior and authenticity as a cause of trust in science communication. Saffran’s essays on health humanities and creative writing have been published in The Lancet, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Scientific American and elsewhere. She studied public public health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and fiction writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. She has also received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Hedgebrook Community of writers. In addition to her scholarly publications and creative nonfiction, Saffran is the author of a number of short stories and the novel JUNO’S DAUGHTERS (Penguin/Plume 2011).