principal investigator


Dr. Dana Dabelea, MD, PhD Conrad M. Riley Professor of Epidemiology and Pediatrics; 

Director, Lifecourse Epidemiology of Adiposity and Diabetes (LEAD) Center, 

Colorado School of Public Health





Katherine A. Sauder, PhD


Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Section of Nutrition and Healthy Start Researcher


Dr. Sauder received her BA in Psychology (Millersville University of Pennsylvania), her MS and PhD in Biobehavioral Health (Penn State University) and completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship in Nutrition (University of Colorado). Her Healthy Start research focuses on dietary supplement use in pregnancy, micro-nutrient intake in pregnancy, and maternal-child health, maternal diet and physical activity practives, infant feeding (breast milk, formula, solid foods), and infant growth. 

Allie S.jpg

Allison L. Shapiro, MPH, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Colorado School of Public Health

Allie's biggest accomplishment while working with the Healthy Start Study is she established the Baby Biology of Intra-Uterine Metabolic Programming (BabyBUMP) project, the mechanistic arm of the Healthy Start I study. In one component of this project, she collected and cultured over 160 unique umbilical cord progenitor cell lines, which are used to study the impact of nutritional and metabolic exposures on fat and muscle development in-vitro. Her current area of study is maternal metabolism and nutrition in pregnancy and neurodevelopment. She is specifically interested in how exposure to diabetes during pregnancy impacts the brain response of an infant and/or child to eating or drinking sugar.


Anne P. Starling, PhD


Postdoctoral Fellow, Colorado School of Public Health


Dr. Starling received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her current research interests are environmental exposures and maternal and child health, epigenetics and molecular epidemiology. She is currently using Healthy Start data to determine how chemicals and air pollution during pregnancy may influence and infant's size, body composition, and growth. 


Brianna F. Moore, PhD


Postdoctoral Fellow, Colorado School of Public Health


Dr. Moore received both her BS and MS in Health Sciences from the University of Texas at Tyler. She then received her PhD in Environment Health, Epidemiology Specialization from Colorado State University in 2015. Her research examines the impact of early-life exposures on childhood obesity, specifically identifying whether children who are exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy or in the first years of life are at an increased risk for obesity. 

Brandy Ringham, PhD


Data Manager Analyst, Colorado School of Public Health


Dr. Ringham is a data manager and analyst for the LEAD Center in the Colorado School of Public Health.  She completed her PhD in Biostatistics from the University of Colorado Denver in 2013. Dr. Ringham assists with analyses for LEAD center projects. She also publishes methodological research pertinent to study design and analytic issues in health sciences observational studies. Her current research focuses on improving the accuracy of power and sample size calculations for mixed models with missing data.

Study staff

Mercedes Martinez, MPH, CHES


Study Coordinator


Mercedes received her both her BS and MPH from San Jose University. She is the Study coordinator for both the Healthy Start and the Exploring Perinatal Outcomes in Children (EPOCH 2) studies. Mercedes has worked in the health field for over 36 years and in research for 15 years. She is passionate about exploring how lifestyles during pregnancy influence a child's later outcomes in life, specifically risk for developing Diabetes and Heart Disease.

Ali Stamatoiu, MSBS


Professional Research Assistant


Ali received her BA in Biology from Kenyon College and her MS in Biomedical Sciences from Regis University. She has been working as a Professional Research Assistant with Healthy Start since 2014.  More specifically, she has been working with Dr. Kate Sauder to study the impact of Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy on child growth. She is planning on applying to medical schools this summer and hopes to one day specialize in Pediatrics and Child Development. 

Cindy Zavala, BS


Professional Research Assistant


Cindy received her BS in Biology from the University of Colorado Denver. Her future education goal is to study Immunology. Her main focus during Healthy Start I was performing PeaPod visits with moms and babies. Her current role for Healthy Start II is scheduling Healthy Start II visits. She loves seeing how big the kids have gotten and how fun they are at this age! One time, a little girl taught her how to dance to the song "watch me whip/nae nae" (the little girl was a much better dancer)!  

Alie Banning, BS


Professional Research Assistant


Alie received her BS in Health and Exercise Science from Colorado State University. She plans on attending Occupational Therapy school in the future to work with children in elementary schools. Alie currently performs study visits for Healthy Start II. Her favorite part of working with Healthy Start is seeing kids go in the BodPod "spaceship". She loves working with 4, 5, and 6 year-olds because they constantly surprise her with their intelligence and humor.

Sean Nilan, BS


Professional Research Assistant


Sean graduated from Penn State University in 2013 with a BS in Biology, BA in Spanish, and a minor in Psychology. He spent one year living/studying in Madrid Spain. He is also part time with another research study, The Diabetes Prevention Program. Sean performs Healthy Start II visits and collects data from the kids.  What he enjoys most is showing them that not all health appointments need to be scary, and trying to have fun during the procedures. 

Kay Maldonado-Olivas


Phlebotomist, Lab Manager


Kay has been a phlebotomist for 8 years and loves her job very much. She is currently attending Metropolitan State University of Denver, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Her future goals are to apply to graduate school to become a Physician Assistant and specialize in either Pediatrics or Trauma. She loves working with the kids in the Healthy Start Study. "I am proud to be a part of the hard working team that makes up the Healthy Start Study."