Luz Cumba Garcia, Ph.D.

Dr. Luz M. Cumba García is a policy advisor for the firm, where she leverages her biomedical research background to bolster issue expertise of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In particular, she conducts research on policy areas and surveys federal funding opportunities in public health and biomedical research of interest to clients. 

Prior to joining Lewis-Burke full time, Luz served as a National Science Policy Network (NSPN) SciPol Scholars-in-Residence (SPSR) Fellow in the firm. Her experiences as a fellow at Lewis-Burke, as well as previous extensive science policy and science diplomacy training, have been fundamental for Luz in understanding and translating to clients the dynamic role of science and technology in decision-making and evidence-based public policies. 

Luz is passionate about advocacy, science communication, and outreach. She is an experienced global public speaker in topics ranging from science communication, science policy, science diplomacy, diversity and inclusion, and professional development. Her efforts to inform the general public, especially Spanish speakers, about COVID-19 throughout the pandemic led to her being awarded the “Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) 2020 Science Defender Award”.

Issue Expertise: Biomedical research, public policy, science policy, science diplomacy, science communication, vaccine research, immunology, regulatory science

Additional Experience: Luz is an advocate for increasing diversity in science, as well as for science diplomacy and science policy, and is a member of the Science Diplomacy Network in Latin America and the Caribbean (DiploCientifica) and the Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network (PR-SPAN). During her Ph.D., Luz received didactic training in science policy and science diplomacy as a fellow of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Advocacy Training Program (ATP), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science Diplomacy and Leadership Workshop, among others. As a fellow in the ASBMB ATP, she worked on vaccine disinformation among the Somali community in Minnesota by informing the leaders and community members about vaccine benefits through workshops. 

Vital Statistics: Luz is a proud Puerto Rican! She earned her Ph.D. in Immunology from Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Rochester, MN. Luz graduated in 2012 from the Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, PR with a Bachelor’s Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology, where she performed studies on HIV epidemiology. She has taught and conducted research in different countries including China, Brazil, Germany with the Nobel Laureate Harald zur Hausen, and Spain at the Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine Lopez Neyra. In 2013, Luz obtained her Master’s Degree from this institution. Luz enjoys traveling (visited five out of seven continents!), shopping, writing on her blog and website, and exercising. 

Joanna Ratigan

Joanna Ratigan assists Lewis-Burke clients by monitoring environmental and public health legislative developments and funding opportunities from federal agencies, most notably, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Joanna’s passion for public health and environmental justice, and her experience in health policy, research, and advocacy, allows her to provide thorough insight to clients that integrates multiple issues.

Issue Expertise: Health, agriculture, environment, nutrition, climate, and biomedical research.

Additional Experience: Joanna’s first exposure to policy work came when she served as a Legislative Intern for Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York. She went on to earn additional experience from internships in health science research and global health advocacy in New York and Washington, DC. Joanna most recently gained expertise in school nutrition policy as an intern at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. While studying abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, she combined her passions for health and environment, while discovering a new interest in agriculture, by completing an independent research project on the impacts of climate change on the nutritional value of rice crops.

Vital Statistics: Joanna is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, and was born in South Africa. She spent the longest amount of time in New Rochelle, New York – which she considers home – but also lived in Maputo, Mozambique twice before finishing high school in Ottawa, Ontario. She graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs, a concentration in International Development, and a minor in Public Health. Joanna is an avid fan of soccer (women’s) and basketball (women’s and men’s), and spends her free time supporting the Portland Thorns, New York Liberty, Portland Trail Blazers, and Toronto Raptors in that order.

Isabella Izquierdo

Isabella supports Lewis-Burke clients by closely tracking and researching federal agency funding opportunities, congressional updates, and legislative activity. At the firm, she focuses on agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the National Science Foundation (NSF), among others. Isabella’s background in biological science and research has provided her with a unique perspective on how scientific research can often influence policy and has allowed her to pursue her passion of bridging the intersection of experimental research and its direct impacts on public health.

Issue Areas: Biomedical research, social determinants, global health, public health, social science, and arts and humanities.

Additional Information: Prior to joining Lewis-Burke Associates, Isabella interned with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) where she spent a summer working on an NIH-funded R01 study focused on maternal health and drug abuse. It was here that she found her passion for public health policy. During her time abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, Isabella joined a public health program where she frequently met with different non-profits, research facilities, and social services working to solve issues such as, but not limited to, homelessness, drug abuse, and mental health. Most recently, Isabella worked with the Florida Department of Health as a Contact Tracer and in the latter half of her time there, as an Epidemiologist, offering testing, medical, and economic resources to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vital Statistics: Isabella was born and raised in Miami, Florida but received her undergraduate degree in neuroscience at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Isabella has always loved giving back to her local community and spent time offering translation services to hospital patients and their families throughout her time in college, something she hopes to continue doing in Washington. Outside of the office, Isabella loves checking out new restaurants, traveling, and admiring the full four seasons that D.C has to offer.

Srinu Sonti

Srinu Sonti is a seasoned health policy and communications professional who provides clients with unique insights into the inner workings of Congress and regulatory agencies. With years of experience on Capitol Hill and in the private sector, Srinu assists clients achieve their goals by listening to their complex issues and developing a strategy for success. His primary focus is on health policy and is passionate about reforming the nation’s delivery system to ensure quality access to care, particularly for vulnerable populations.

Issue Expertise: Policy and regulations impacting academic medical centers, the healthcare workforce, hospitals and hospital systems, federally qualified health centers (FQHC’s), and rural health clinics.  Medicare, Medicaid, and health IT.

Additional Experience: Srinu has worked on and off Capitol Hill for years on a wide range of health policy and regulatory matters, in both the public and private sector. Srinu served for several years as the Research Director for then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), focusing on policy development, messaging and strategy. Srinu was a part of Senator Reid’s team that worked on, and helped pass the Affordable Care Act, the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, as well as other legislation. Srinu also worked at the Center for American Progress where he raised awareness of and coordinated advocacy efforts on health policy and poverty issues. Srinu went on to serve as Health Policy Advisor to Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL). There, he primarily managed the Senator’s health finance portfolio, focusing on the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs. Srinu left Capitol Hill to join the Federation of American Hospitals, where he was part of the government relations team and managed the health IT portfolio. Srinu then went on to work as a consultant for organizations focused on public health prior to joining Lewis-Burke.

Vital Statistics: Srinu earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Wisconsin, and a Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School. Of note, Srinu is also one of the few and proud who were born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area.

Elevating Biomedical Research with Federal Policymakers

Working on behalf of an Association client, Lewis-Burke designed and executed the client’s annual meeting in Washington, DC during a period of protracted political sensitivity on a variety of topics important to research institutions.

In designing a program of federal speakers and policymaker engagement for the meeting, Lewis-Burke surveyed the current landscape of policy issues impacting research institutions and leveraged professional relationships to secure appearances by key federal policymakers and related thought leaders, including the Director of the White House Office of Science Policy, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, a senior official from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and a leading science journalist with NPR, among others.  In addition, Lewis-Burke planned the client’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day, which saw 100+ individuals fanning out over Capitol Hill to conduct more than 60 meetings with their congressional representatives to advocate for the federal policy priorities of the Association.

Lewis-Burke’s efforts in planning and executing the annual meeting ensured that the Association and its leadership were viewed by federal policymakers as key stakeholders in the development of the nation’s biomedical research agenda.

Protecting Teaching Hospitals from the Disproportionate Impact of Cuts

Teaching Hospitals have a unique role.  They not only train the next generation of healthcare providers in the use of cutting-edge technology and treatments, but also provide care to safety-net patients throughout the United States.  Over the last few years, as Congress and the Administration have considered various budget proposals to reduce the federal deficit, they have often proposed cuts without regard to the unique impact on teaching hospitals and the underserved populations these hospitals treat.  Lewis-Burke has worked with clients to ensure that federal agencies, Congress, staff, and other relevant individuals understand the role teaching hospitals play in the healthcare infrastructure, and how proposals often disproportionately and unfairly impact teaching hospitals.  For example, many congressional staffers did not take into consideration that cutting indirect medical education (IME), proposed in several budget measures, unfairly targeted teaching hospitals.  Nor did they fully realize the complexity of this funding as payment for care provided to patients.  Lewis-Burke helped clients develop a strategy to convey this message and helped develop strategies to advocate against other funding reductions such as cuts to outpatient hospital departments.

Protecting Research Infrastructure Costs

Following a government proposal to cap facilities and administrative (F&A) costs on NIH awards at 10 percent, a policy that would have devastating consequences for the research and higher education community, Lewis-Burke pursued an aggressive strategy to prevent any changes in F&A cost reimbursement to universities and research institutions.  Leveraging a coalition approach, Lewis-Burke worked closely with House and Senate Appropriations Committees to ensure that language prohibiting any changes to F&A cost policy was included in all annual appropriations bills funding the NIH.

Elevating Funding in Federal Opioid Research and Response

Lewis-Burke worked with a university client to identify new research funding areas for the Medical School.  Specifically, the firm designed a new product for the dean of the Medical School which provided weekly updates on federal funding progress, accompanied by action items, to help formulate new opportunities.  After three months of careful analysis, Lewis-Burke consultants carved out a strategy for the Medical School in the space of federal response to opioid use, that was also well-aligned with the Medical School’s research capabilities.  Lewis-Burke developed a memorandum for the dean which outlined a detailed strategy to thoughtfully position the Medical School once new federal funding opportunities in opioid research became available.  This strategy was so well received that the University’s Vice President for Research (VPR) requested that Lewis-Burke adapt the strategy, beyond the Medical School, and for the entire Academic Health Center, which includes multiple colleges, schools, centers, and institutes.  Currently, Lewis-Burke’s strategy is being implemented across the Academic Health Center.  Lewis-Burke consultants also continue to serve as advisors for the dean and VPR as it pertains to updates and funding opportunities in opioid research.  Additionally, per the request of the dean of the Medical School, Lewis-Burke continues to send weekly updates to help identify additional emerging areas for funding in biomedical research.

Libby O'Hare, Ph.D.

Dr. Libby O’Hare leads Lewis-Burke’s biomedical research advocacy efforts, advising clients in the areas of federal research policy and health care, with a focus on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and agencies that determine grantmaking policies including the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Leveraging her prior experiences as an academic neuroscientist, congressional staffer, and National Academies study director, Libby taps into her work with researchers and research organizations to develop strategies and approaches to enhance clients’ biomedical research portfolios and protect them from federal proposals that would undermine efforts to advance critical life sciences research.

Libby has an in-depth and practiced understanding of how to work with Congress, the Executive Branch, scientific and health organizations, and other stakeholder partners to achieve results.  Libby is a trusted advisor on research administration and grants policy issues.  Her knowledge of the federal grantmaking process enables her to understand the needs of both faculty and administrators.  Libby brings a passion for science and research to her efforts on behalf of clients and relies on her relationships with key stakeholders across the government to protect policies and programs, create new opportunities, and position clients for success in enhancing and protecting their biomedical research portfolios.

Issue Expertise: Appropriations, biomedical research, research policy and regulatory issues, graduate education and the science and engineering workforce, STEM education, and social and behavioral sciences.

Additional Expertise: Libby got her start in science policy as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Congressional Science Policy Fellow and gained Capitol Hill experience working with New Jersey Representative Rush Holt.  Before joining Lewis-Burke, Libby directed several high-profile studies at the National Academies of Sciences , Engineering and Medicine, designed to inform action on pressing issues in higher education and the science and engineering workforce.  During Libby’s career as an academic neuroscientist, she investigated relationships between brain and cognitive development and her research was supported by awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Association of Women in Science (AWIS), and the University of California.

Vital Statistics: Libby is proud of her New Hampshire roots.  She holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles and an A.B. in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College.  Her favorite brain region is the cerebellum.

Jack Goodman

Jack Goodman leverages his engineering studies and higher education experience to help clients navigate federal interest in STEM education, automation, and the need for an educated workforce.  Jack actively monitors federal policy developments for Lewis-Burke clients with a specific focus on education, immigration, and healthcare issues.

Issue Areas: Higher education policy, workforce development, immigration, social and behavioral science, healthcare delivery.

Additional Experience: Jack gained experience in the office of New York Representative Grace Meng, where he closely supported the legislative staff through policy analysis and research.  Jack also worked at the University of California, Berkeley’s student leadership office as a NASPA (Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education) Undergraduate Fellow, handling projects regarding student government and campus safety.

Vital Statistics: Born and raised in New York, Jack headed to the Midwest to attend Washington University in St. Louis.  There he received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science through the School of Engineering and Applied Science, with a second major in Applied Economics and Business Strategy through the Olin School of Business.  Jack is a black belt in Karate and an avid fan of New York sports teams.