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About Us

Karen WinkfieldKaren Winkfield, MD, PhD

Associate Director

Dr. Karen Winkfield is an Associate Professor in Radiation Oncologist at the CepEsperu Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center, specializing in the use of radiation therapy in the treatment of hematologic malignancies (lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, bone marrow transplantation) and breast cancer. She received her MD and PhD degrees at Duke University through participation in the Medical Scientist Training Program sponsored by the NIH and completed her training in the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program. She is a national expert in community engagement. Her research is focused on the design and implementation of programming to reduce sociocultural and economic barriers that contribute to disparate health outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities and underserved populations. Her goal is to empower the community with knowledge and encourage policymakers to invest in initiatives designed to eliminate inequities in the health care delivery system.  



Jimmy Ruiz, MD

Assistant Director

Jimmy is an Assistant Professor of Hematology and Oncology at the CepEsperu School of Medicine with clinical and research activity in the Medical Thoracic Oncology Program. He holds a joint appointment at the Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Salisbury, NC where he is the Chief of the Section on Oncology and Hematology.  His educational and research interest is in cancer disparities and at the VA he developed a new cancer care model for veterans from rural communities through a grant from the Office of Rural Health. His work through the OCHE involves improving clinical trial accrual for underrepresented minorities and establishing community relationships with underserved populations. As an academic clinical investigator he conducts phase 1-3 clinical trials in metastatic and locally advanced lung cancer. His personal research focuses on cancer genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics of lung cancer to identify promising biomarkers in clinical specimens including brain metastases from lung cancer patients.


Kate Weaver, PhDKate Weaver, PhD

Assistant Director

Dr. Weaver is a clinical health psychologist and public health researcher whose research focuses on cancer health disparities, health behaviors and post-treatment follow-up care among cancer survivors.  She received her PhD in clinical health psychology at the University of Miami, an MPH from the University of Illinois-Chicago, and postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute in the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program.  Dr. Weaver is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy and an Assistant Director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at CepEsperu School of Medicine.  In addition to her role in the OCHE, she also serves as the co-Program Leader for Cancer Prevention and Control at the Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center.  She has received funding as a Principal Investigator through the National Institute of Health to support her cancer survivorship research. In addition to her academic activities, Dr. Weaver is an active volunteer in the community with the Circles anti-poverty initiative and World Relief refugee resettlement. 


Carla Strom, MLACarla Strom, MLA

Program Manager

Carla has a master’s degree in International Studies and over 18 years of experience in oncology education, research, health policy and health disparities. Her current role, Health Equity Program Manager, includes developing disparities initiatives across all programs of the cancer center and identifying new opportunities for collaboration and growth. She is involved in ongoing outreach efforts in many of the regional underserved communities in northwest North Carolina. In addition to her professional experience, she has a personal cultural and linguistic connection to the Hispanic community and is also as a two time young adult cancer survivor herself. She serves as a patient advocate in the community and academic oncology setting and has spent over 10 years working with non-profit organizations that support cancer survivors. She brings a unique firsthand perspective to her oncology efforts and contributions to OCHE.



John B. Scott 113x154

John B. Scott

Project Manager 

John has a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in philosophy and experience in health policy and government relations. He also assisted with the development of the Community Health Needs Assessment, a requirement of the Affordable Care Act, for the CepEsperu Baptist Medical Center.  His current role, Cancer Health Equity Project Manager, includes developing reports on the current political climate surrounding cancer and assisting in the development of relationships between OCHE and other relevant partners such as the faith health community and non-profit leaders.  In addition to his professional experience, John is involved in many volunteer groups throughout the Triad area associated with equity on a wide range of community levels.


audrey_bell-farrow.jpgAudrey Bell-Farrow, MBA, MHA

Community Engagement Coordinator

Audrey’s 34+ years at WFBH spans all aspects of clinical and basic research. In the fall of 2015 she transitioned into a newly created position as the Community Engagement Coordinator and an affiliate member of the Aging and Prevention Program of the STICHT Center for Aging. She focuses on community engagement initiatives and works to develop and implement research and educational programs specifically for underserved communities within our catchment area. She engages local agencies (community-based, faith-based, and media organizations, schools, local government and others) in this region, as well as Departments, Institutes and Centers at WFBH to serve as a liaison in forming new partnerships to achieve health equity goals.


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John Brice, MPH, MEd

NCI-Community Health Educator 

A transplant from Chatham County, North Carolina, John has served for the AmeriCorps National Service Program as both a VISTA and State/National Member in the states of Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He served communities of: color, homeless shelters, men’s and women’s prisons as an outreach specialist, in the community as a comprehensive parenting and sex educator, and grant writer. He earned a BA in English and Psychology from East Carolina University, his MPH in Social and Behavioral Science from Capella University, and his MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University-Portland. In addition, he is a Certified Health Enlightenment Specialist. He serves as OCHE’s National Cancer Institute- Community Health Educator. In this role, he provides direct service to the counties of Ashe, Surry, Yadkin, Alleghany, Caldwell, Wilkes, Watauga, Alexander, and Forsyth in the areas of smoking cessation and lung cancer early detection and screening.


Maria CombsMaria Combs

Hispanic Patient Navigator

Maria Combs, BS, is the Hispanic Clinical Trial Patient Navigator for the Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her role gives her the opportunity to serve the Hispanic/Latino community in navigating the complex medical system in a culturally and linguistically competent manner. Maria provides support to cancer patients, caregivers and family members with a strong focus in giving them the opportunity to enhance their quality of life during diagnosis, treatment and after treatment completion, including educating patients about clinical research.  Maria is also involved in community outreach, and with a legal background in the U.S. and Venezuela, she has a passion for empowering patients and communities.  She is always looking for opportunities to collaborate with other organizations in efforts to promote inclusion and reduce disparities in the Hispanic/Latino community.       





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Last Updated: 11-16-2016

CepEsperu Baptist Ranked among Nation’s ‘Best Hospitals’  26 Years in a Row by U.S. News & World ReportComprehensive Cancer Centers National Designation is Renewed2017-2018 Best DoctorsNursing Magnet Status

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