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Jacob Basham, M.D.

Jacob Basham, M.D.

Medical School: University of tennessee health Science Center (UTHSC), Memphis
College: Middle Tennessee State University
Hometown: Portland, Tennessee

Jacob was born and raised in Portland, Tennessee, a small town about 45 minutes north of Nashville. He attended Middle Tennessee State University where he obtained bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and General Science. He remained in Tennessee for his medical education attending the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Medicine in Memphis. Always very interested in science, Jacob conducted two years of independent laboratory research on the immune system and leukemia at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in between his 2nd and 3rd years of medical school under the support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and their Medical Research Fellows program. He is currently interested in pursuing a physician-scientist’s career as a pediatric hematologist/oncologist.   Outside of medicine and science, Jacob is an avid player of his beloved guitars. Even more than the guitars, however, he enjoys watching his daughter grow and spending time with her mother, his fiancé. After 11 years away, Jacob is happy to be home to serve the children of this wonderful area.

Ryan Bolotte, M.D.Ryan Bolotte, M.D.

Medical School: Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans
College: Louisiana State University
Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana

Ryan was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and spent his high school years in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, a small town 45 minutes north of New Orleans. Ryan was frequently spotted at the Ponchatoula Sonic Drive-in, because this is where he worked as a carhop, bringing tater tots and slushies to eager customers. Ryan went to LSU for undergrad and majored in Biological Sciences. Outside of the classroom, Ryan spent the majority of his time as an orientation leader, tour guide, and tutor which led him to discover passions for both leadership and education. Ryan returned to New Orleans for medical school at LSU. As a medical student, Ryan gained a huge appreciation for medical education, and he hopes to incorporate academic medicine into his future career. The most important things in Ryan’s life are (in no particular order) his friends and family, breakfast, LSU sports, pop music, volleyball, exercising, and sleep. This is Ryan’s first time living outside of Louisiana, so he is ecstatic to explore a new city and state for his pediatric residency training.

Ferdinand Cacho, M.D.Ferdinand Cacho, M.D.

Medical School: Creighton University School of Medicine
College: University of California, Berkeley
Hometown: Salida, California

Ferdinand was born in Quezon City, Philippines before his family moved to El Paso, Texas where they lived for 10 years. His family eventually settled in Salida, California where he still visits whenever he can. Ferdinand attended UC Berkeley where he earned a degree in Microbial Biology. After college, he spent a year with AmeriCorps working with underserved communities throughout California’s Central Valley. His pursuit of a career in medicine brought him to Omaha, Nebraska where he found his passion for pediatrics and is proud to be a Creighton-trained physician.  Outside of medicine, Ferdinand enjoys the outdoors, making delicious baked goods, and keeping up with the latest superhero movies. He is beyond excited to start this next chapter in Nashville with his partner, a postdoctoral research fellow at Vanderbilt, and their two pets. Ferdinand is honored to be part of the Vanderbilt Pediatrics family and the Nashville community.

Kristina Chung, M.D.Kristina Chung, M.D.

Medical School: Florida International University College of Medicine
College: University of Miami
Hometown: Davie, Florida

Kristina was born and raised in South Florida with her two younger brothers, although her family is from the beautiful island of Jamaica. She attended the University of Miami where she majored in Neuroscience, minored in Exercise Physiology and Chemistry, and studied abroad for a semester in Hong Kong. She then attended medical school at FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Miami. Kristina loves to travel and frequently visits family and friends in Jamaica and Sint Maarten in the Caribbean. She adores animals and has two rescue golden retrievers and two parrots who reside with her family in “SoFlo.” She loves to try anything new and especially enjoys rock climbing, going to the beach, diving, reading, and listening to a wide genre music. Kristina is thrilled be at Vanderbilt for her pediatric residency training.

James Clegg, D.O.James Clegg, D.O.

Medical School: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine - Bradenton
College: University of Utah
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

James was born and raised in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from the University of Utah. James married his wife, Chelsey, during their undergraduate studies. In between undergraduate and medical school, James did breast cancer research at Huntsman Cancer Institute.  He and his wife then traded the white snow mountains of northern Utah for the white sand beaches of southern Florida while James attended medical school at LECOM-Bradenton.  Outside of medicine, James enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, playing soccer, running, being involved in his church, and doing crossword puzzles. James is currently interested in specializing in hematology/oncology, and is excited to be part of the Vanderbilt pediatrics family.

Kimberly Ferguson, M.D.Kimberly "Kimmie" Ferguson, M.D.

Medical School: University of Florida College of Medicine
College: University of Alabama
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

Kimberly "Kimmie" Ferguson was born in Iowa, but grew up in Jacksonville, Florida with her parents and three siblings. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!!) before returning to Florida to complete medical school at the University of Florida (Go Gators, too!).  Outside of medicine, Kimmie's greatest interests include singing praise and worship music, eating good food, jogging, Alabama football, and tracking down the perfect chocolate chip cookie. She loves doing anything and everything with her husband, Tyler, an electrical engineer. Kimmie is thrilled to continue her tour of the SEC at Vanderbilt and honored to serve children and families at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Carol Marie Fraley, M.D.Carol Marie Fraley, M.D.

Medical School: Florida International University College of Medicine
College: University of Florida
Hometown: Tampa, Florida

Carol Marie was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She attended the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and majored in Microbiology. Then, Carol Marie ventured further south to attend medical school at Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Miami. In her free time, she enjoys tennis, watching Marvel superhero movies, eating her Puerto Rican grandmother’s pernil, and re-reading her favorite Jane Austen books. She is patiently waiting for the Gators to win another football national championship. Carol Marie is excited to live outside of Florida for the first time although she has no idea how to dress for cold weather.

Deidre Higareda, M.D.Deidre "Didi" Higareda, M.D.

Medical School: University of Texas School of Medicine, San Antonio
College: Texas A&M University
Hometown: Brownsville, Texas

Didi was born and raised in the culturally-enriched Mexican-American border town Brownsville, Texas. She attended Texas A&M University where she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering. Following undergraduate school, she attended the University of Texas Health at San Antonio’s Lozano Long School of Medicine. Throughout her undergraduate and medical school career, she has contributed to multiple initiatives dedicated to providing equitable healthcare for all, particularly those with lower income and those who identify as LGBTQ. She chose to move to Nashville after witnessing the camaraderie, joy, and commitment to healthcare expressed by Vanderbilt residents and employees when she visited during residency interviews.  When she’s not serving her patients, Didi loves spending time with her two adopted “fur-babies”, Bambi and Lily, as well as exploring local parks and enjoying Zumba.

Olivia Kammegne Simo, M.D.Olivia Kammegne Simo, M.D.

Medical School: Indiana University School of Medicine
College: East Tennessee State University
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee

Olivia was born and raised in Cameroon. She moved to the United States, specifically Nashville, during her junior year of high school. She then attended East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee where she earned a degree in Biomedical Engineering Technology. After college, Olivia returned to Nashville to work for Saint Thomas Health as a Biomedical Engineering Technician. About three years later, she moved to Indianapolis, Indiana to attend medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine where she developed an interest in pediatrics.

During her spare time, Olivia enjoys running, watching comedy shows, writing and reading, attending her younger cousins’ hockey games, and spending time with family (including her twin sister) and friends. She has made good memories in Indy and is excited to return to Nashville for her Pediatric Residency training at Vanderbilt.

Emily Kleiman, MDEmily Kleiman, M.D.

Medical School: Indiana University School of Medicine
College: Indiana University
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana

Emily was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. She received her undergraduate degree from Indiana University and loved the town of Bloomington, Indiana so much that she chose to spend her first two years of medical school there on the Bloomington campus. During the summer between her first and second years, Emily worked at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, which not only allowed her to live with her sister/BFF and brother-in-law, but it also showed her the incredible family and learning environment that exists within the Vanderbilt Pediatric Residency Program. She was hooked from the start.

In her spare time, Emily loves to run and bike, practice yoga, watch Parks and Recreation, sweat/cry from exhaustion in OrangeTheory classes, play with her dog Luna, cook/eat Thai and Indian food, and try out new breweries with friends. She enjoys live country music and lazy Sunday mornings. Emily is unbelievably excited to bring Luna (whom she adopted from a rescue in Nashville) “back home,” and is excited to learn, work, and grow with an incredible team of pediatricians and co-residents at Vanderbilt.

Marni Krehnbrink, M.D.Marni Krehnbrink, M.D.

Medical School: University of North Carolina School of Medicine
College: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Hometown: Denver, North Carolina

Marni was born in Rocky Mount and grew up in Denver, both which happen to be in North Carolina! She attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for her undergraduate degree in Biology, and decided to stay for medical school (Go Heels!). In her free time, Marni enjoys running, brunching (especially after running, but really anytime), board games, spending time with her family and friends, and playing with her dog, Goose. Marni is thrilled to come to Vanderbilt for her Pediatrics training and looks forward to finding all the best brunch places in Nashville. 

Samuel Littlejohn, M.D.Sam Littlejohn, M.D.

Medical School: University of North Carolina School of Medicine
College: Davidson College
Hometown: Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Sam is a North Carolina boy, born in Charlotte and raised in Blowing Rock, the crown of the Blue Ridge.  He studied chemistry at Davidson College where he once saw Steph Curry from across campus. He then moved on to UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill before completing his clinical rotations at the UNC branch campus at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Sam is an Eagle Scout and avid backpacker and hiker. He has visited 25 of the 61 U.S. National Parks and plans to explore the rest once he can afford the plane tickets. At home, he’s an amateur BBQ pitmaster, average athlete, and diehard Atlanta Braves, Carolina Panthers, Davidson, and UNC sports fan. He is honored and excited to migrate out West to Tennessee for his pediatric residency training at Vanderbilt.

Alexa Love, M.D.Alexa Love, M.D.

Medical School: University of California, Irvine School of Medicine
College: University of Southern California
Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Alexa was born and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. She stayed in L.A. to attend the University of Southern California, where she studied Neuroscience and theatre. For the next few years, she stayed at USC to complete a post-baccalaureate premedical program. She moved a little farther south to Orange County to attend UC Irvine, School of Medicine. As a Southern California native, Alexa is very excited to start a new adventure in Nashville.  In her free time, Alexa enjoys hiking, doing yoga, cooking, and spending time with her boyfriend and pets who are all coming with her to Vanderbilt. She loves to read, and has always had a soft spot in her heart for Harry Potter. Alexa is so excited to be a part of the Vanderbilt Pediatrics family and to call Nashville her new home.

Ellen Minaldi, M.D.Ellen Minaldi, M.D.

Medical School: Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans
College: Louisiana State University
Hometown: Lake Charles, Louisiana

Ellen was born and raised in southwest Louisiana where her first summer job was as a medical assistant at a pediatric clinic. She moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU where she majored in Anthropology and Spanish before moving to New Orleans for medical school. Ellen loves all things involving food – grocery shopping, dinner parties, trying a new restaurant – especially when shared with others. She is always ready for a good chat and never turns down a cup of coffee. She collects art from street vendors when she travels somewhere new.  Ellen moved to Nashville with her husband Michael, a veterinarian, and their two goofy boxers. She is thrilled to be at Vanderbilt for her pediatric residency training.

Gabrielle Pierce, M.D.Gabriella Pierce, M.D.

Medical School: University of Oklahoma College of Medicine
College: University of Tulsa
Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Gabriella was born in Naples, Italy and moved to her parents’ hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she primarily grew up. She attended the University of Tulsa where she studied Psychology, Music, and English Literature in addition for preparing to enter medical school to pursue her dream of becoming a pediatrician. Gabriella moved to Oklahoma City for medical school at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine where she developed a passion for global medicine and medical humanities. Gabriella loves traveling and takes every opportunity she can to go somewhere new. In addition, she loves reading, playing the cello, and spending time with her very fluffy cat, Rajah. She is so excited to explore Nashville and be part of the Vanderbilt community.

Rachel Rongstad, M.D.Rachel Rongstad, M.D.

Medical School: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
College: St. Olaf College
Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin

Rachel was born in Gainesville, Florida, but grew up in Madison, Wisconsin where she was raised as a true Wisconsinite with a love for cheese curds, boating, and the first big thaw of springtime. She moved to Minnesota for her undergrad at St. Olaf College, where she majored in mathematics and played for the women's basketball team. She returned home for medical school, and loved being back close to family and spending free weekends cheering on the Badgers and Packers. Rachel enjoyed spending summers doing public health research on food insecurity as well as serving at a local brewpub. She is so excited to be part of the Vanderbilt Pediatric Residency Program and to call Nashville home! She can't wait to explore all that Tennessee has to offer, especially the music, hiking, hot chicken, and some southern sunshine.

Mike Santarelli, M.D.Mike Santarelli, M.D.

Medical School: Wake Forest School of Medicine
College: University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Mike grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina as the middle child in a large Italian family. He pursued his undergraduate degree at UNCW earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He then studied at Wake Forest University for a Masters in Biomedical Science and continued his medical training at Wake Forest School of Medicine. While a medical student at Wake, Mike developed a passion for pediatrics and was excited to choose it as his specialty.  Prior to medical school, Mike met his now wife, Taylor, as a blind date at a friend’s wedding. Their little family is for now complete with their puppy Kensie. Outside of medicine, Michael is passionate about running, his family’s tradition of wine making, and the latest trending Netflix series. 

Mike is excited to be part of the Pediatrics family at Vanderbilt, and he and Taylor are excited to explore Music City and make Nashville their home.

Kelsey Savage, M.D.Kelsey Savage, M.D.

Medical School: University of Virginia School of Medicine
College: James Madison University
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

Kelsey grew up in Richmond, Virginia.  She attended James Madison University for her undergraduate studies where she majored in Biology and minored in Math and Anthropology. After graduation, she immediately attended the University of Virginia School of Medicine where she realized her passion for children and underserved care.  Outside of medicine, Kelsey enjoys streaming all types of TV shows and movies, enjoying pastimes of yesteryear such as Jeopardy and BINGO, spending time with friends and family, listening to live music, and visiting wineries and breweries. Kelsey is thrilled to be at Vanderbilt for her pediatric residency training, and she is excited to explore outside of her home state of Virginia.

Joseph Starnes, M.D.Joey Starnes, M.D., M.P.H

Medical School: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
College: Vanderbilt University
Hometown: Mason, Ohio

Joey grew up in Mason, Ohio, a suburb north of Cincinnati. He came to Vanderbilt as an undergrad where he double majored in biology and Spanish. He then stayed at Vanderbilt for medical school where he met his amazing wife, Lauren, who is also a pediatric resident at Vanderbilt. Between his second and third years of medical school, Joey spent a year obtaining a Master of Public Health in global health. Outside of medicine, Joey enjoys traveling, playing guitar, following college football, and spending time with his dog, Moose. He is excited to continue his training here at Vanderbilt and to start married life in Nashville.

Lauren Slesur Starnes, M.D.Lauren Slesur Starnes, M.D., M.Ed.

Medical School: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
College: Northwestern University
Hometown: Lemont, Illinois

Lauren grew up in Lemont, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She attended Northwestern University, where she double majored in biological sciences and psychology. She then moved south and attended Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. While there, Lauren developed a passion to pursue a career in medical education. She took a year out from medical school to obtain a Master of Education degree at Vanderbilt University Peabody College. During medical school, Lauren met her husband, Joseph Starnes, who is also doing his pediatric residency training at Vanderbilt.  Lauren enjoys cooking and decorating cakes. Joey and Lauren love playing with their dog, Moose, and exploring the restaurant scene in Nashville. They are excited to complete their training together and be a part of Vanderbilt Pediatrics. 

Isabel Vallecillo-Viejo, M.D., Ph.D.Isabel Vallecillo-Viejo, M.D., Ph.D.

Medical School: University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine
College: Tufts University
Hometown: Guaynabo, Puerto Rico

Isabel was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She attended Tufts University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biopsychology and Community Health. After graduation, she moved back home to pursue an MD/PhD at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. There, she became passionate for both pediatrics and research. Her research interests include developing small molecule therapeutics for childhood illnesses. Isabel’s ultimate goal is to become a Physician-Scientist.  Outside of medicine and the lab, Isabel enjoys cooking, trying out new restaurants, listening to music, going on road trips, anything related to the beach, and spending time with her family (including her Puerto Rican sato “Adenina”). She is beyond excited to be part of the Vanderbilt Pediatrics community and is looking forward to this new journey in “Music City.”

Wendi Wang, M.D.

Wendi Wang, M.D.

Medical School: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
College: Vanderbilt University
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Wendi was born in Houston, Texas, grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and later spent most of her teenage life in Cleveland, Ohio where she calls home. She then ventured back down south, where she attended undergrad at Vanderbilt University and double majored in Psychology and Medicine, Health, and Society.  In her free time, Wendi enjoys outdoor activities of all sorts, including hiking, biking, and running. She also loves trying new foods and new bars and can be regularly found on Yelp, scouting for new places to visit. Nashville has introduced her to the world of country music and she is excited to enjoy all the live music and amazing food “Music City” has to offer. Her family means the world to her and she could not have made it to this point without them.

Rachel Werk, M.D.Rachel Werk, M.D.

Medical School: Thomas Jefferson University
College: University of Florida
Hometown: Lake Mary, Florida

Rachel was born in New York and grew up in Lake Mary, Florida. She attended the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and majored in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience and minored in English. She graduated from the UF Honors Program and then bought a winter coat and moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to attend Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. There, Rachel visited the Liberty Bell, ate pretzels, and learned how to become a doctor. She is extremely passionate about working with kids, especially Hematology/Oncology patients.  In her free time, Rachel enjoys painting and drawing, hosting potlucks, and staying active – from representing the Gators on the water polo team to dancing in Zumba classes and competing in the occasional run. Most of all, she loves to spend time with family and friends and is excited and honored to be at Vanderbilt for her pediatric residency training.

Julie Wittwer, M.D.Julie Wittwer, M.D.

Medical School: Wayne State University School of Medicine
College: DePauw University
Hometown: Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan

Julie grew up in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, just outside the city of Detroit. She attended DePauw University where she majored in Biochemistry and competed on the tennis team. She then moved back home for medical school at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. During medical school, Julie was an active leader for FitKids 360 Detroit, a family-centered healthy lifestyle program. She is very passionate about encouraging children and their families to make healthy choices.  In her free time, she loves outdoor activities, especially tennis, running, and hiking. She also loves spending time with family and friends and listening to live music. Julie is so excited to be a part of the Vanderbilt Pediatrics family.

Amelia Wong, M.D.Amelia Wong, M.D.

Medical School: Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine
College: University of Florida
Hometown: Safety Harbor, Florida

Amelia grew up in Safety Harbor, located on the western shore of Tampa Bay, just ten minutes from Clearwater Beach. She attended the University of Florida, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Upon graduating, Amelia returned to her hometown as a substitute teacher, and taught high school math. She attended Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine for medical school. After graduating from medical school, she married Michael, her high school sweetheart.  Outside of medicine, Amelia likes to spend as much time as she can outdoors. She enjoys running, playing soccer, and taking her dog, Dempsey, to the beach.  Amelia, Michael, and Dempsey couldn't be more excited to be in Nashville and to be part of the Vanderbilt family