Adjunct Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice


Brief Bio

Professor Assaf is a pharmacoepidemiologist who is currently a Senior Director and Enterprise Benefit Risk Medical Director in Pfizer Inc's Chief Medical Office.  In this role, she partners to evolve the science and practice of Benefit Risk to inform better drug development, healthcare decisions, and outcomes for patients. A focus of her work is on quality benefit risk communication and improving health literacy and patient-centered medication prescribing so that patients can make informed shared decisions about their treatment with their healthcare providers, use their medications safely and appropriately, and improve value outcomes. She also is the founder and mentor of the Pfizer/Brown pre-doctoral fellowship in Epidemiology.

Dr. Assaf served as principal investigator of the Vanguard Clinical Center for Clinical Trails and Observational Study of the Women's Health Initiative-East. This $628 million, 40-site clinical trial is testing the effectiveness of measures to prevent heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. Dr. Assaf also serves as Director of Community Health Research at the Brown Center for Primary Care and Prevention at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island and has been instrumental in brining in over 55 million dollars in research grants and contracts.

Funded by the National Institute of Health, 160,000 women throughout the United States are taking part the trials, which represent the largest federal study ever conducted on women's health. The three main components of the 15-year study consist of a controlled clinical trial, an observational study, and a community study. Assaf's site has recruited more study participants than any other Vanguard site, with more than 6,000 women from Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts participating in the study.

In a related study, Professor Assaf was an investigator on a memory study (WHI-MS), looking at whether hormone replacement therapy can delay the onset of dementia-related diseases in postmenopausal women ages 50 to 70. In the course of her career she has also led numerous studies looking at heart disease prevention. She served as the Director of Evaluation for the Pawtucket Heart Health Program from 1984-1996, as well as co-principal investigator and assistant program director. Other past projects include serving as PI for National Evaluation of Project LEAN, funded by the Kaiser Family Foundation, co-investigator on "Minimal Contact Education for Cholesterol Change, funded by the NHLBI, and as a key investigator on several other heart health related studies.

Assaf has taught the medical student clerkship at Brown and courses in the MPH program. She routinely lectures at medical conferences worldwide. She was a US scientific exchange fellow with the former Federal Republic of Germany. She has been or is currently a member of several professional societies including: the American College of Epidemiology, the Society for Epidemiologic Research, the International Society of Pharmacoepidemiology, the Cardiovascular Health Advisory Council, the Leadership Committee of the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention; the International Society of Pharmacoepidemiology; ISPOR, and the Women and Heart Disease Task Force.

Research Areas