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GAO Makes Appointments to PCORI Governing Board

WASHINGTON, DC (September 24, 2018) — Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), today announced the appointment of seven new members to the Governing Board of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  Dodaro also appointed a vice chair.

“These highly regarded professionals will assist the PCORI Governing Board as it continues to fund and evaluate patient-centered research aimed at helping patients make better health-care decisions,” Dodaro said.  “Their diversity of experiences and perspectives should prove very helpful as PCORI moves forward with its mission.”

The newly appointed members are Kara Ayers, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Associate Director of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Cincinnati; Jennifer DeVoe, MD, DPhil, Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University; Christopher Friese, PhD, RN, Professor of Nursing at the University of Michigan; Trent Haywood, MD, JD, Senior Vice President in the Office of Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association; Michael Herndon, DO, Chief Medical Officer for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority; Michelle McMurry-Heath, MD, PhD, Worldwide Vice President for Global Regulatory Affairs, International Clinical Evidence, and Strategic Operations for the Medical Device Companies of Johnson & Johnson; and Janet Woodcock, MD, Director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration

In addition, Dodaro named Christine Goertz, DC, PhD to a three-year term as vice chair. The seven new members are each appointed for a six-year term through September 2024. Brief biographies of the seven new members follow:

Dr. Kara Ayers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati. As the Associate Director of the University of Cincinnati Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Dr. Ayers applies her professional knowledge, research experience, and personal perspective to make systemic changes to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Her areas of interest and research include disability policy, parenting with a disability, self-advocacy, psychosocial development with a disability, and disability in the media. Her dissertation focused on the psychosocial development of children and adolescents with osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. Dr. Ayers is the co-founder of the Disabled Parenting Project, a peer-to-peer support network for parents with disabilities. She has served for the past 5 years on the boards of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation and The Association of Successful Parenting.  Dr. Ayers received her PhD in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University.

Dr. Jennifer DeVoe is Professor and Chair in the Department of Family Medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), overseeing nearly 200 faculty, 72 resident physicians, and several of OHSU’s outpatient clinics across Oregon. She is also a practicing family physician and health services researcher. She was the first Chief Research Officer at the OCHIN Community Health Information Network and the Executive Director of OCHIN’s practice-based research network, where she led the development of a unique community laboratory to build a robust safety net research database using aggregated electronic health record data from more than 400 community health center clinics in multiple states.  Dr. DeVoe is the principal investigator or a co-investigator on several large federally-funded research studies. Her research interests include access to health care, disparities in care, and how policy changes and transformations in primary care affect patients’ health outcomes. She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (previously the Institute of Medicine) in 2014. Dr. DeVoe received her MD from Harvard Medical School and her DPhil in Economic and Social History from the University of Oxford.

Dr. Christopher Friese, the Elizabeth Tone Hosmer Professor of Nursing at the University of Michigan, is a practicing oncology nurse and researcher who leads an interdisciplinary team of researchers focused on measuring and improving the quality and safety of cancer care. Dr. Friese directs the Center for Improving Patient and Population Health at the University of Michigan. He is also a faculty investigator at the University’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation and is a core member of the Rogel Cancer Center. He has practiced as a staff nurse at leading cancer centers, including the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the University of Michigan. Since 2003, Dr. Friese has been funded continuously for patient-centered research in cancer as a principal investigator or co-investigator and has authored more than 70 peer-reviewed publications. His research findings were among the first to establish a significant relationship between favorable nurse practice environments and lower surgical mortality, in addition to a significant, and independent, relationship between increased nursing education and lower mortality. Dr. Friese received his PhD in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Harvard University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Dr. Trent Haywood is Senior Vice President in the Office of Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Association, where he represents the BCBS system on clinical matters affecting more than 106 million BCBS members. He leads the development of medical policy, technology platforms, and clinical programs for BCBS plans.  He also oversees the National Council of Physician Executives, which consists of chief medical officers and chief pharmacy executives that guide the clinical direction across BCBS companies.  He also founded and serves as the President of the BCBS Institute, which utilizes business practices and strategic business collaborations to address social determinants of health.  Dr. Haywood previously held positions at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, including as Deputy Chief Medical Officer. In that role, he led quality public reporting and pay-for-performance initiatives. He currently serves as a member of the board for YMCA. Dr. Haywood received his MD from the University of Illinois in Chicago and his JD from Northwestern University.

Dr. Michael Herndon serves as Chief Medical Officer for the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority, where he is responsible for the design and implementation of key initiatives in the Oklahoma Medicaid Program. He has nearly 30 years of experience in family medicine and implemented the SoonerCare Health Management Program, a full-scope care management program designed to provide an innovative case management strategy for high-risk Oklahoma Medicaid members. He also initiated the SoonerCare Pain Management Program to help address the opioid crisis and is focused on the development of a prescriber toolkit and implementing standards of care in chronic pain management. He founded and volunteers at an intercity free health clinic—the Lighthouse Medical Clinic—in Oklahoma City.  Dr. Herndon received his DO from the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath is Worldwide Vice President for Global Regulatory Affairs, International Clinical Evidence, and Strategic Operations for the Medical Device Companies of Johnson & Johnson, where she leads a team that generates clinical and preclinical studies and executes approval strategies for a wide range of medical devices in countries around the world.  She also serves as the Chair of the National Evaluation System for Health Technology (NEST) Governing Committee, a public-private partnership between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, patients, private payers, leading epidemiologists, and device companies. NEST seeks to strengthen the real world evidence infrastructure for medical device studies. Dr. McMurry-Heath formerly served as Associate Center Director for Science in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the FDA, where her team drove regulatory science innovation. This included the refinement and use of formal patient preference studies in regulatory decisions and the founding of the Medical Device Innovation Consortium, a partnership between FDA, medical technology companies, and the patient advocacy community to address common challenges in regulatory science. After completing her undergraduate studies at Harvard University, she received an MD and PhD in immunology from Duke University.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is the nation’s foremost expert on drug development and regulatory science and has pioneered some of the most important policy advances undertaken by the FDA.  During her more than 30-year career at FDA, Dr. Woodcock has led numerous policy advances, including the creation of a platform for the development of biosimilar programs, the development of principles to govern pharmaceutical quality, and the advancement of frameworks for drug evaluation.  She currently serves as the Acting Director of the Office of New Drugs and leads the New Drugs Regulatory Program modernization effort to enable FDA to lead and respond to advances in science, technology, and patient engagement that characterize new drug development.  She has served in numerous roles at the FDA, including as Deputy Commissioner, Chief Medical Officer, and Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Woodcock received her MD from Northwestern University.

For more information, contact Rashmi Agarwal on GAO's Health Care team at (202) 512-4077, or Chuck Young in GAO's Office of Public Affairs at (202) 512-4800, or visit the GAO Health Care Advisory Committees web page at


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