Community/Urban Health Directors

Meet the Directors

Kofi D. Essel, MD ’11, MPH ’17,

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Scholarly Concentration Director

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Kofi D. Essel, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a board-certified community pediatrician at Children’s National
Hospital in Washington, D.C. and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences with over a decade of experience in nutrition and obesity education. As an alumnus of the GW School of Medicine, Dr. Essel initially trained in the Community/Urban Health Scholarly Concentration. Since then, he has spent the last several years working closely with a variety of community organizations throughout Washington, D.C., on a diverse set of health initiatives. He has dedicated his career to advocacy and research around healthcare training, health disparities, and community engagement, with a special interest and national recognition in the areas of addressing obesity and food insecurity in families.

Dr. Essel serves as the Director of the GWU Community/Urban Health Scholarly Concentration. He also serves as the Director of the innovative GW Culinary Medicine Program, in addition to being the Director of the GW Clinical Public Health Summit on Obesity, “How Physicians Can Engage Obesity with Tools of Health Equity & Empathy in Washington, D.C.” He was nationally recognized by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for helping to create an innovative curriculum to enhance pediatric resident trainee skills on obesity management.  He also co-authored a national toolkit for pediatric providers to better identify and screen for food insecurity in their clinical settings with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). He is the Principal Investigator for a large family centered community-clinical collaboration focused on addressing nutrition related chronic diseases in marginalized settings in Washington, D.C. Also, Dr. Essel sits on the National Academy of Sciences Roundtable on Obesity Solutions Lived Experience Innovation Collaborative.

Dr. Essel serves on several local and national committees including sitting on the Board of Directors for FRAC. He is actively engaged in improving the pipeline for the recruitment and maintenance of
underrepresented minorities into varying fields of medicine.

Dr. Essel grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and attended the infamous Little Rock Central High School. He earned a BS from Emory University with a focus on Human Biology/Anthropology. While there he was named to the College Hall of Fame, received the Universities Humanitarian Award, and later was recognized as one of the top 20 champions of health promotion in the last two decades. Dr. Essel earned his MD and MPH in Epidemiology from the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and was inducted into the Golden Humanism Honor Society, and bestowed with the Benjamin Manchester Humanitarian Award and Leonard Humanism in Medicine Award. He completed pediatric residency training in a select community advocacy track and completed further academic training in a specialized General Academic Pediatric fellowship at Children’s National Hospital. Dr. Essel has received numerous local and national awards for his professional practice, most recently being selected for the Top 40 Under 40 Leaders in Health Award by the National Minority Quality Forum.

In his free time, you can find Dr. Essel with his family and friends, cooking flavorful meals, playing on the basketball court, or volunteering and mentoring in his church and community. He is happily married to his wonderful and beautiful wife, Candace, and has 2 young children that keep him very active and busy.


Lawrence Deyton

Lawrence R. Deyton, M.S.P.H., M.D.

Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Public Health
Murdock Head Professor of Medicine and Health Policy
Professor of Medicine
Professor of Health Policy and Management (Secondary)
Scholarly Concentration Faculty Advisor

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Dr. Deyton is Professor of Medicine and Health Policy and Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Public Health at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr. Deyton returned to GW in March 2013 after 31 years in leadership research and clinical positions in several federal health and public health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health, the U.S.Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of the Surgeon General and Assistant Secretary for Health. Dr. Deyton also served as a Congressional aide. During that career, Dr. Deyton gained extensive experience establishing and overseeing high profile health and public health research, education and clinical programs, particularly working with front-line providers, administrators, and researchers.

From 2009-2013, Dr. Deyton oversaw the implementation and enforcement of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Described by FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg as “the rare combination of public health expert, administrative leader, scientist, and clinician,” Dr. Deyton became the Center for Tobacco Product’s first director on August 19, 2009, where he rapidly established and enforced the FDA’s new authorities to regulate tobacco products.

Prior to joining the FDA, Dr. Deyton was Chief Public Health and Environmental Hazards Officer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. His responsibilities included oversight of all public health programs for the National VA health care system. Previously, Dr. Deyton served for 11 years in clinical research and leadership positions in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he was Chief of the Antiretroviral Treatment Branch. He oversaw the development and approval of drug treatment strategies including the first trials of combination therapies, which are the cornerstone of current HIV treatments.

Dr. Deyton was a founder in 1978 of Washington DC’s Whitman Walker Clinic, a community-based service organization specializing in LGBT and now HIV care in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Deyton’s post-doctorate medical training in medicine was at the University of Southern California/Los Angeles County Medical Center and in infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health. He has published over 130 scientific articles in peer-reviewed literature. Dr. Deyton continues to care for patients on a regular basis at the Washington, DC VA Medical Center.

In 2011, Dr. Deyton was a finalist for the prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for his career of government service and outstanding contributions to the health, safety, and well-being of Americans – 20 finalists are chosen from 4.8 million Federal employees nation-wide. 


Karla S. Bartholomew, PhD., J.D., M.P.H., P.A.

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies
Scholarly Concentration Faculty Advisor

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Dr. Bartholomew is the Program and Development Officer for Clinical Public Health at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies.  Dr. Bartholomew began her career as a Physician Assistant, working clinically in a variety of settings for underserved populations ranging from urban hospital to uninsured clinic to migrant farmworker camps.  She transitioned to public health, working in remote Southwest Alaska where she taught and then served as Director of a blended primary care/public health program that provided care to Yup’ik Eskimo residents via Community Health Aides in 50 village clinics.  Recognizing the scope and impact of policy on health, she pursued her Ph.D. in health policy and JD in health law at Vanderbilt University where she explored the relationship between law/policy and health.  She later joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Public Health, teaching public health fundamentals and public health policy as well as researching and publishing on the impact of policy on health, particularly surrounding tobacco-smoking policy.  Dr. Bartholomew joined GW’s Clinical Public Health program in 2015 given its innovative approach to integrating public health and population health principles in medical education and clinical care.


Jillian Catalanotti, MD, MPH, FACP

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management (Secondary)
Scholarly Concentration Faculty Advisor

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Dr. Jillian Catalanotti is an Internal Medicine primary care physician and director of GW’s Internal Medicine residency program.  She joined the faculty of The George Washington University in 2008 with dual appointments in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Health Policy Management.  In her time at GW, Dr. Catalanotti has designed and taught two public health courses for college students, taught in the medical school’s Practice of Medicine course, served as Assistant Director of the Primary Care clerkship, and served as the Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) Course Director.  She has dedicated the majority of her career to training Internal Medicine residents, including co-designing GW’s Underserved Medicine and Public Health (UMPH) concentration before becoming the Internal Medicine residency program director in 2013.  Dr. Catalanotti serves on several Graduate Medical Education committees at GW, as a reviewer for public health curricula on the AAMC’s MedEd Portal, and on the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine’s Education Committee, for which she chairs the Service versus Education subcommittee. 

Dr. Catalanotti was born and raised on Long Island, New York.  She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from Yale University. She subsequently obtained her medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard University School of Public Health with a concentration in Family and Community Health.  Dr. Catalanotti’s passion for teaching and for working with the underserved was inspired by her mother, an inner-city science teacher, and grew throughout college, medical and public health school. Dr. Catalanotti received the Harvard School of Public Health Student Recognition Award for designing and implementing an after-school health education program for children living in a public housing development in Roxbury, Massachusetts.  Dr. Catalanotti completed her Internal Medicine residency training in the primary care track at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where she cared for patients at Dimock Community Health Center and was awarded the Elmer Hinton Award and the Katherine Swan Ginsburg Award for delivering compassionate patient care. She was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society by GW medical students in 2013, was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha in 2015, and has been selected as a Washingtonian Top Doctor three times. 

Dr. Catalanotti considers it her professional mission to train physicians who deliver high-quality, systems-based care to patients with an understanding of and reflection on public health principles.  In her free time, Dr. Catalanotti enjoys dancing, playing the flute and ukulele, and jogging with her husband.