AHA News Staff

American Heart Association News is produced by a team of journalists who publish a weekday news report covering heart disease, stroke, health and related issues. Stories are reviewed by science and medicine experts for accuracy. It is a free news service developed and published by staff of the American Heart Association. In addition to this website, AHA News stories are published by news outlets worldwide.

Staff developing AHA News stories follow these editorial guidelines and the AHA’s ethics policies. Financial information about the American Heart Association, including industry sponsorships and donations, can be found here. The American Heart Association is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations and sponsorships. AHA News does not cover specific medical or health products or promote sponsors of the American Heart Association. For more information, contact editor@heart.org.

John McFarland, Vice President of News, Content and Editorial, has led American Heart Association News since its launch in 2013. Before joining the AHA in 2010, he was an editor and reporter at The Associated Press and an editor at The Dallas Morning News. He holds a journalism degree from the University of North Texas.

Melissa Weber, News Editor, joined the AHA News staff in 2014. She is an award-winning health and science journalist who served as managing editor of CURE, the nation's largest consumer magazine for people with cancer. She is a former contributor to Cancer Today magazine, LIVESTRONG Quarterly and the American Cancer Society. She holds a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Lucy Soto, Assistant News Editor, joined AHA News in 2015. Before then, her journalism career spanned 25 years, as a freelance writer and a decade as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, covering everything from sprawl and state government to writing a weekly investigative column. She began her career at The Associated Press and earned a journalism degree from The University of South Carolina.

Jaime Aron, Senior Writer and Editor, has been part of AHA News since its launch in 2013. He oversees the weekly survivor series "Stories From the Heart" among other duties. He previously spent 20 years with The Associated Press, the last 13 as Texas Sports Editor. He's the author or co-author of seven books. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Michael Merschel, Staff Writer, joined AHA News in 2019. Previously, he worked for The Dallas Morning News, where he edited the Healthy Living section, books coverage and more. He won the Texas Institute of Letters' award for best middle-grade book and graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism.

Kayla Jackson, Production Editor, joined the American Heart Association News staff in 2019. She previously trained biomedical scientists in professional development at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She earned her Master of Healthcare Administration from Texas Woman's University.

Science and Medicine Advisers

Radhika Rajgopal Singh, Ph.D., Vice President, Science, Medicine and Health and Professional Membership, oversees science and medicine review at the American Heart Association. She joined the AHA in 2017. She has over two decades of experience in strategic planning, operations and performance management with diverse academic, public and nonprofit organizations, including Southern Methodist University and the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.

Anne Leonard, M.P.H, R.N., CCRC, FAHA, Senior Science and Medicine Advisor, joined the AHA in 2007. Previously, she spent 25 years as a neuroscience research nurse at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She earned her bachelor's degree from UT Health Science Center-San Antonio, and her master's from the UT Houston School of Public Health.

Paul St. Laurent, D.N.P., R.N., Senior Science and Medicine Advisor, joined the AHA in 2016. He has over 25 years of experience as an advanced practice nurse in clinical cardiovascular care. He has a doctorate of nursing practice degree from Chatham University as well as bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from the University of Southern Indiana.

Sally S. Wong, Ph.D., R.D., CDN, FAHA, Senior Science and Medicine Advisor, joined the AHA in 2013 after a decade as clinical nutrition manager at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She also was a public health officer for the Nutrition and Dietetics Board in New York and provided nutrition consultation for the state's Office of Minority Health. She earned her nutrition master's and doctorate degrees from New York University.

Cammie Marti, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., Science and Medicine Advisor, joined the AHA in 2014. She has worked more than 20 years in public health. She has served as a state and national expert for health systems preparedness and emerging infectious diseases, including SARS, H1N1 and COVID-19. Her Ph.D. is in policy, with a focus on wellness and obesity prevention.

Prashant Nedungadi, B.Pharm, Ph.D., Director of AHA Stroke Guidelines, joined AHA in 2015. He has more than 15 years of academic research experience and has authored several peer-reviewed publications. He is a pharmacist and holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology/neuroscience. He previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and as research/teaching faculty at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

Johanna A. Sharp, M.S.N., R.N., Science and Medicine Advisor, joined AHA in 2018. She has over 25 years of experience in acute care nursing in specialties from neonatal to adult ICU, stroke, and clinical research. She earned undergraduate degrees from Texas A&M University and Baylor University with a master's degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Katherine A. Sheehan, Ph.D., Science and Medicine Advisor, joined AHA in 2014. Her Ph.D. is in cell and molecular physiology. She has over 20 years of experience in basic cardiovascular research focused on the molecular mechanisms that regulate cellular level contractility of the heart. She has published peer-reviewed research papers and taught undergraduate courses.

Barbara Entl, M.D., Science and Medicine Advisor. Before joining the AHA in 2020 she worked as a primary care physician, epidemiologist and tribal health policy analyst. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and her medical degree from St. George's University School of Medicine.

Advisers for Science and Health Advancement

Comilla Sasson, M.D., Ph.D., Vice President for Science & Innovation for Emergency Cardiovascular Care, oversees science and medicine review at the American Heart Association. She also works in a Colorado emergency department and maintains appointments in the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado School of Medicine and as the Special Advisor to the Medical Advisory Panel for the Veterans Health Administration.

Amber Hoover, R.N., M.S.N., Advisor for Science and Health Advancement, joined AHA in 2016 and moved to the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science Team in 2019. She has over 20 years of clinical experience in emergency, trauma, cardiac cath lab and quality nursing with a strong focus on process improvement and cardiac systems of care.

Becky Lehotzky, Ph.D., Advisor for Science and Health Advancement, first joined the AHA in 2013. She has more than 10 years of experience in medical writing and consulting on topics such as cardiovascular health and disease, oncology and basic science. She earned her doctoral degree in biological chemistry from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Melissa Mahgoub, Ph.D., Advisor for Science and Health Advancement, joined the AHA Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science Team in 2019. She holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience and has over 10 years of experience in academia as a preclinical researcher and scientific writer. She has worked as a postdoctoral researcher and served as a scientific mentor to graduate students at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Amber Rodriguez, Ph.D., Advisor for Science and Health Advancement, joined the AHA Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science Team in 2014. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in neuroscience from the University of Texas at Austin, and her postdoctoral work was at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas in the Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics.

Contributing Writers and Editors

Genaro C. Armas; Leslie Barker; Deborah Lynn Blumberg; Thor Christensen; Diane Daniel; Mary Dunklin; Maria Elena Fernandez; Tate Gunnerson; Karina Ioffee; Stefani Kopenec; Suzanne Marta; Michael Precker; Will Pry; Mati Vargas-Gibson; Laura Williamson