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Melissa McPheeters RTI Expert Headshot

Melissa McPheeters

Senior Director for Analytics


PhD, Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
MPH, Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
BA, English, University of Wisconsin - Madison


Melissa McPheeters is an epidemiologist and public health informatician with more than two decades of experience in health services research, clinical and public health informatics, and data science. Her expertise includes building multidisciplinary teams to address complex problems across health and public health and modernizing data systems and processes. She leads multiple large projects that include the development of real-world evidence related to COVID, data strategy implementation across opioid studies, and leadership of patient and community engagement in multicenter studies. This project experience has been in partnership with federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), along with other state and local departments.

Dr. McPheeters’ recent work has focused on building and leading new informatics initiatives, with particular emphasis on the appropriate collection, integration, and use of complex data to track and respond to health issues. She currently serves as the Project Director for CBER Protocol Development and Epidemiology Support, an initiative funded by the FDA to provide epidemiologic and analytic support to CBER’s Office of Biostatistics and Pharmacovigilance. Dr. McPheeters is also an investigator on multiple projects in collaboration with the NIH. As a part of the NIH HEAL Initiative®, she is an investigator on the NIH HEAL Data Stewardship team, aiding in the development of the infrastructure needed to collect, store, archive, index, and manage HEAL data to support research addressing the opioid and pain management health crisis. In addition, she is an Investigator and Engagement Lead for the NIH RECOVER Initiative, where she is leading efforts across the initiative in patient and community engagement, while providing content expertise for educational and communication materials.

She has led development of methods for evidence-informed medicine, including appropriate use and interpretation of data, with over 100 peer-reviewed publications, multiple book chapters, and many presentations. Dr. McPheeters has published on methods for stakeholder engagement and patient-centered outcomes research. She was a founding director at Vanderbilt’s AHRQ-funded Evidence Based Practice Center, which she led for a decade. 

Prior to joining RTI, Dr. McPheeters served as the inaugural Director of the Tennessee Department of Health Office of Informatics and Analytics where she developed a program to synergize informatics efforts across the department, including developing programs related to surveillance, interoperability, advanced analytics and visualization and data governance. She then led the design and implementation of a program to ensure genomically appropriate care at the front lines of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center health system. During her time at Vanderbilt, her expertise in communicating complex public health and medical information was utilized in response to their COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, where she also participated on the public health advisory committee that advised state and local leaders and internal hospital operations.

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