UW Diabetes ECHO Project

The majority of people living with diabetes rely on their primary care provider (PCP) to manage their diabetes and do not have the access to diabetes specialists and endocrinologists.

The University of Washington has partnered with Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) and specialists across the National Capital Area in the greater Washington DC area, as well as specialists in the WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho), in order to bring the diabetes ECHO program to these communities.

The goal is to increase the capacity for PCPs and clinics to safely and effectively manage underserved patients with diabetes who do not receive routine specialty care. In turn, PCPs empower patients to achieve better control over their diabetes and gain confidence in managing their own day-to-day care.

Project ECHO® offers primary care practices a unique training experience – one that is built on the philosophy of “de-monopolizing” the specialized knowledge of caring for complex chronic diseases in academic centers and using technology to enhance, strengthen, and improve the work of care teams in primary care centers, especially in rural and urban underserved communities.

Meet our Team

<p>Nicole Ehrhardt, MD<br><i>Adult Endocrinology</i></p>

Nicole Ehrhardt, MD
Adult Endocrinology

Dr. Nicole Ehrhardt, is the lead for the UW Diabetes ECHO. She has served many roles in the clinical setting: hospitalist, staff endocrinologist, core faculty member of an endocrine training program, 16 years as an army doctor, and over 10 years of experience in diabetes and obesity. A boarded certified endocrinologist and certified diabetes prevention trainer, she has participated in training of health professionals including students, medical residents and fellows, and midlevel practitioners throughout her career. She has been the project lead for a Diabetes ECHO program at George Washington University prior to joining the University of Washington Faculty in July 2020. As well she was an invited panelist for Stanford’s Diabetes in the time of COVID series. Areas of expertise: Diabetes, endocrinology, telehealth services

<p>Savitha Subramanian, MD<br><i>Adult Endocrinology</i></p>

Savitha Subramanian, MD
Adult Endocrinology

Dr. Savitha Subramanian, is a board-certified physician at UWMDI at South Lake Union and the Endocrinology/Diabetes Clinic and Lipid Clinic Northwest at Harborview and a UW assistant professor of Medicine and Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition. Dr. Subramanian cares for patients with endocrine disorders. She firmly believes in establishing close relationships with patients, particularly those with chronic diseases like diabetes and other hormonal disorders, including timely and clear communication, educating patients and listening closely to their concerns. Her primary focus is prevention. Dr. Subramanian was also an invited panelist for Stanford Diabetes in the time of COVID series. Areas of expertise: Diabetes, lipids, endocrinology, telehealth services

<p>Lorena Alacon-Casas Wright, MD, FACE<br><i>Adult Endocrinology</i></p>

Lorena Alacon-Casas Wright, MD, FACE
Adult Endocrinology

Adult Endocrinology

Dr. Lorena Alarcon-Casas Wright, is a board-certified physician with the UWMDI at South Lake Union, the Endocrine/Diabetes Clinic at Harborview and a UW assistant professor of Medicine and Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition. She is also a member of the UW Medicine Diversity Council. She is passionate about decreasing healthcare disparities and increasing awareness on diversity, equity and inclusion in medical education and health care. She is convinced that treatment success is the result of education, motivation, team-work and diligence. Providing care that is culturally sensitive is important to success. Areas of expertise: Diabetes, endocrinology

<p>Kyla Tyler<br><i>Program Coordinator</i></p>

Kyla Tyler
Program Coordinator

Kyla Tyler, MA-P, is a Program Coordinator at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Nutrition. She is located full-time at UW Medicine’s Diabetes Institute where she works closely with Dr. Irl Hirsch’s diabetes research team. She is a student of Healthcare Management at Western Governor’s University.

<p>Yassar Ajabnoor, MB, BS<br><i>Emergency Medicine</i></p>

Yassar Ajabnoor, MB, BS
Emergency Medicine

Yasser Ajbnoor, MD, MB, BS, attended King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia, and is a graduate of the GW Class of 2020 for Emergency Medicine Residents. He is currently a fellow in the emergency medicine telemedicine fellowship, organized through the Department of Emergency Medicine at the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates (MFA).

<p>Tamara Swigert, MSN, RN, CDCES<br><i>Certified Diabetes Educator</i></p>

Tamara Swigert, MSN, RN, CDCES
Certified Diabetes Educator

Children's Hospital Colorado

Tamara (Tammy) Swigert is a registered nurse and Diabetes Care & Education Spe-cialist (formerly, Certified Diabetes Educator). She received her Bachelors and Masters of Science in Nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Cen-ter. She has worked in the field of diabetes for the last 12 years in South Carolina, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, and Washington, DC. She enjoys mentoring other healthcare professionals seeking to obtain certification in Diabetes Education.

<p>Zenia Saliba, MD<br><i>Family Medicine/Psychiatry</i></p>

Zenia Saliba, MD
Family Medicine/Psychiatry

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine (Secondary)
George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates

Dr. Zeina Saliba is triple boarded in psychiatry, addiction, and family medicine and is the UW DM ECHO Project’s mental health specialist. She is an assistant professor at GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences & the Inpatient Medical Director for mental health services at the George Washington University Hospital. Dr Saliba has worked in multiple practice settings, including federally qualified health centers and continues to work in the community and with immigrant populations. She is also part of several Indian Country Substance Use Disorders Echos.

Participating Experts - Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area (National Capital Area)

<p>Richard Katz, MD, FACC<br><i>Cardiology</i></p>

Richard Katz, MD, FACC

Bloedorn Professor of Cardiology
Director, Division of Cardiology
George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Director, GW Heart and Vascular Institute

Dr. Katz received his MD from the New York University School of Medicine. He completed his internal residency at the Bronx Municipal Medical Center/Albert Einstein School of Medicine and the Boston Medical Center and his cardiology fellowship at the Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Katz joined the faculty of the George Washington University in 1979 and has been Director of the Division of Cardiology since 1997. Dr. Katz also has been Director of the GW Heart and Vascular Institute since it was established in 2005. Dr. Katz is an author on over 100 abstracts and over 100 manuscripts. His recent research has focused on diabetes and heart disease, mobile health and chronic disease management, and integration of community health workers into the cardiology medical team. He serves on the editorial board of the British Journal of Cardiology

<p>Michael G. Knight, MD, MSHP<br><i>Medical Weight Management</i></p>

Michael G. Knight, MD, MSHP
Medical Weight Management

Patient Safety Officer
George Washington University Medical
Faculty Associates

Dr. Knight, completed his undergraduate studies at Oakwood University, and obtained his medical degree with special qualifications in biomedical research from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. During medical school, he participated in the yearlong Clinical Research Training Program at the National Institutes of Health, where his research focused on metabolic disease and obesity in women of African descent. He then completed residency in Internal Medicine, with special training in Obesity Medicine, at New York Presbyterian – Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Knight is board certified in Internal Medicine and Obesity Medicine, and practices clinically in the GW Weight Management Clinic and General Internal Medicine Practice. His clinical interests include chronic disease management, minority health, sexual health, and obesity. Dr. Knight is a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, and has been an invited speaker on obesity and its effect on health and wellbeing on radio, in news media, and at various medical and community events internationally and throughout the United States.

<p>Susie Lew, MD, FACP, FASN<br><i>Nephrology</i></p>

Susie Lew, MD, FACP, FASN

Professor of Medicine

George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Director of Clinical Services, GW Medical Faculty Associates
Medical Director, Peritoneal Dialysis, DaVita K Street
Dr. Lew graduated from SUNY Downstate and completed her post graduate training at Brookdale Medical Center in Internal Medi-cine and Mount Sinai Medical Center in Nephrology. Currently, Susie Lew is a faculty nephrologist and Professor of Medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sci-ences. Her primary research interests and clinical practice focuses on improving the lives of patients with chronic kidney disease. As such she promotes peritoneal dialysis and telehealth.

<p>Barbara Onumah, MD<br><i>Adult Endocrinology</i></p>

Barbara Onumah, MD
Adult Endocrinology

Anne Arundel Medical Center

Dr. Onumah is a leading endocrinologist in the greater Annapolis region. She practices general endocrinology with special interest in insulin resistance and diabetes. She collaborates with primary care and other referring providers on comprehensive and integrated treatment for patients with diabetes and endocrine disorders.
Dr. Onumah has extensive teaching background, including prior faculty position at Washington Hospital Center Endocrine Training program. She is a clinical researcher with particular interest in the area of diabetes, working hard to bring today’s most advanced treatments and technologies to her patients. Dr. Onumah actively participates in the scientific organizations in her field, including the Endocrine Society and American Diabetes Association.

<p>Gail Nunlee-Bland, MD, FACE<br><i>Adult Endocrinology</i></p>

Gail Nunlee-Bland, MD, FACE
Adult Endocrinology

Chief of Endocrinology
Director, Diabetes Treatment Center
Howard University

Dr. Nunlee-Bland is Chief of Endocrinology and Director of the Diabetes Treatment Center at Howard University Hospital. She is Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine. Dr. Nunlee-Bland is a graduate of Howard University College of Medicine.
Dr. Nunlee-Bland has received several grants to explore the use of technology to improve diabetes outcomes and patient engagement in underserved minority communities in Washington, DC. She was the recipient of the 2010 American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist – Outstanding Endocrine Service to Minority Communities Award.
Dr. Nunlee-Bland is passionate about improving access to quality diabetes care. This passion has translated into the American Diabetes Association Recognized Diabetes education program. The Diabetes Treatment Center is a resource for patients and practitioners to have access to the expertise of nutritionists, diabetes educators, and diabetes specialists.

<p>Maria Belen Menucci, MD<br><i>Adult Endocrinology</i></p>

Maria Belen Menucci, MD
Adult Endocrinology

Endocrinology, Diabets & Metabolism and Internal Medicine

Maria Menucci, MD is an endocrinologist affiliated with Capital Diabetes and Endocrine Associates; she is board-certified in Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism as well as in Internal Medicine.
She graduated in the top 10% of her class from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina. She completed her Internal Medicine residency from MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in affiliation with Johns Hopkins University and completed an endocrinology fellowship from MedStar Washington Hospital Center/Georgetown University.
Dr. Menucci treats all types of endocrine and metabolic disorders and has a particular interest in diabetes, thyroid disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, osteoporosis, pituitary and adrenal disorders, and calcium metabolism abnormalities.
She is a member of the Endocrine Society and the American Medical Association

<p>Marena Patronas, MD<br><i>Ophthalmology</i></p>

Marena Patronas, MD

Associate Clinical Professor
George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates

Marena Patronas, MD, is board-certified in ophthalmology and an associate clinical professor at The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences specializes in Retina and Vitreous Diseases. Her clinical interests are centered on diagnosing and treating complex retinal disease, such as diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachments, retinal vascular disease and macular degeneration.
Prior to joining the GWU Medical Faculty Associates, she was Assistant Professor for the Depart-ment of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She enjoyed teaching and working closely with ophthalmology residents and medical students. While at the University of Maryland, she was the certified ophthalmologist in the multicenter EDIC (Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications) trial, which was the follow up study for the historic DCCT (Diabetes Control and Complications Trial). Dr. Patronas also participated in several clinical trials at the University, exploring the effect of chemotherapeutic agents on the eye and retina.
Dr. Patronas received her Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from Georgetown University and her Doctor of Medicine from Georgetown University School of Medicine. She completed a transi-tional year internship at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens, NY and an Ophthalmology Residency at St. Vincent Catholic Medical Center-Manhattan, New York Medical College. She also completed a fellowship in Vitreo-retinal surgery at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Dr. Patronas has also previously practiced in Ohio with the Retina Associates in Cleveland and the Retina Group of Columbus.

<p>Michael Stempel, MD<br><i>Podiatry</i></p>

Michael Stempel, MD

Chief, Division of Podiatry
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Director, Podiatry Center
George Washington University Clinical Faculty Associates

Clinical Interests
Diabetic Wound Care and Limb Salvage
Corrective Foot Surgery
Surgical and Nonsurgical Care of Foot Pain Syndromes
Sports Medicine and Biomechanics
Medical School
Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine
Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Roseland Surgical Center, New Jersey
Board Certified
Foot Surgery
American Board of Podiatric Surgery

Participating Experts - Washington State

Xenia Averkiou RDN, CDCES
Xenia Averkiou RDN, CDCES

University of Washington

Xenia Averkiou is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES). She received her Master of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences and completed her Dietetic Internship at the University of Washington with a focus in diabetes. She has worked as a diabetes educator and dietitian for 18 years both in the US and Europe, in inpatient settings, outpatient clinics, and in private practice. She is passionate about diabetes technology and education. She is currently working full time at the University of Washington Diabetes Institute splitting her time between clinical work and research.

Kelley R. Branch, MD, MSc, FACC, FSCCT
Kelley R. Branch, MD, MSc, FACC, FSCCT

University of Washington

Dr. Branch is a Professor in Cardiology at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Dr. Branch is also a clinical general cardiologist with a research focus on clinical trials and advanced cardiac imaging. His research support included the NIH KL2 Mentored Training Grant and is currently supported by grants from the NIH and clinical trials. He is Associate Director of the Clinical Trials Service Unit, which facilitates international clinical trials, and is Director of Cardiovascular Clinical Trials Unit. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Society of Cardiovascular CT and on the Editorial Board of European Radiology. Other awards include the American College of Cardiology/Merck Fellowship Award, the Cardiology Teaching Excellence Award, the University of Washington School of Medicine Outstanding CME Teacher, and the ACC Emerging Faculty Award. Dr. Branch was recently nominated for the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award.

Farah Naz Khan, MD
Farah Naz Khan, MD

University of Washington

Farah Naz Khan, MD, is a board certified physician at the University of Washington School of Medicine's Diabetes Institute and is a UW clinical assistant professor of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition.
Dr. Khan is an accomplished health and science writer and strives to educate both her patients and the general public on important health topics. She earned her M.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Khan also serves on the UW Gender Equity Council. Her focused areas of interest include telemedicine, cystic fibrosis-related endocrinopathies, diabetes in underserved patient populations, and diabetes in the developing world.

Laura Montour, MD
Laura Montour, MD

Clinical Assistant Professor
University of Washington

Laura Montour, MD, is a dual-board certified family physician in both Canada and the USA. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and she is also a Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. She has been a family doctor for almost 13 years, and she is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington. She sees patients at the University of Washington Center for Weight Loss and Metabolic Surgery. Her clinical interests include medical weight management and care of bariatric surgical patients. Dr. Montour is a member of the American Academy of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), and she serves on the ASMBS Washington State Chapter as a member-at-large. She is also a member of the Early Career Committee with The Obesity Society and she serves on the Bariatric Medical-Surgical Committee with the Obesity Medicine Association. Dr. Montour is a First Nations Mohawk woman from the Six Nations Reserve. Growing up in Canada on the Six Nations reserve she has witnessed the impacts of Obesity and Diabetes within her community. It is through these personal experiences that Dr. Montour has now dedicated her career to the prevention and treatment of the disease of Obesity and its comorbidities.

Arthi Thirumalai, MD
Arthi Thirumalai, MD

University of Washington

Arthi Thirumalai, MD, is an assistant professor of endocrinology and a board-certified physician at the Endocrine and Diabetes Care Center. Her clinical care comprises outpatient and inpatient diabetes care, lipid management, and management of patients with fatty liver disease. Dr. Thirumalai’s research interest includes male reproductive health and diabetes. She will be the Section Head of Harborview Endocrinology effective in July 2021.


Project ECHO®— short for Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (link) — is a telementoring project that targets increased workforce capacity to provide best practice specialty care and reduce health disparities. The heart of the ECHO model is its hub-and-spoke knowledge-sharing networks to conduct virtual clinics with community providers.

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Goals and Objectives

Through this initiative, the University of Washington (link) aims to strengthen delivery of diabetes care in ordered to reduce health disparities and improve population health in underserved communities with diabetes. Project ECHO will improve health outcomes and increase access to quality diabetes care for people with Type 2 diabetes in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and also Washington state region

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UW Program Overview

Through 16 sessions over the course of six months, participants learn through short didactics and case-based discussion on how they can approach patients with complex diabetes.

Targeted participants are primary care providers in Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas, Washington state, and surrounding regions of WWAMI.

Early learners” are those who are not yet practicing independently, such as GW and UW internal medicine residents, physician assistant, and nurse practitioner students.

View Tentative Schedule Here

Funding and Partnerships:

UW Diabetes Echo is funded by Educational Grants provided by Novo Nordisk and Merck.


Who We Serve: Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area (National Capital Area)


Unity Healthcare

Unity Healthcare was originally founded in 1985 as the Health Care for the Homeless Project (HCHP). Over the past three decades, Unity has grown into a network of over 20 traditional and non-traditional health centers and a walking medical outreach program providing primary and specialty care to all District residents with the rate of diabetes reaching 19% in certain wards in D.C.

District of Columbia Primary Care Association

(DC Primary Care Association (DCPCA) works to create healthier communities through advocacy and the development of the infrastructure to support a high quality, equitable, integrated health care system that gives every DC resident a fair shot at a full and healthy life.

Mary’s Center

Mary’s Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) community health center serving people of all ages, incomes, and backgrounds in the Washington, DC metro area for over 30 years.

Community of Hope

Community of Hope has worked tirelessly for four decades to impact the future for low-income, homeless and underserved families in Washington, DC. Originally founded as a compassionate ministry of the Church of the Nazarene, Community of Hope was incorporated as an independently-run nonprofit organization in 1980. As the needs of our community grew, we have expanded our services across the city, with the same holistic, compassionate approach that inspired our beginnings.

Strategic Partnerships:



The University of Washington School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The University of Washington School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 24 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.     (Each session is 1.25 credits)

Core Community PCPs will be provided a certificate of Completion for DM ECHO if they complete more than 50% of the sessions and CME credit for all completed sessions once CME survey completed.


Dr. Ehrhardt has received a consulting fee from Novo Nordisk and has investigator initiated grants with Dexcom. All additional planners and faculty have  no relevant financial relationships with ACCME-defined commercial interests for anyone who was in control of the content of this activity  and all content of this activity has been reviewed in advance to ensure no commercial bias is perceived or present.


This CME Series is supported in part by educational grants from Novo Nordisk and Merck.

Claim Credit Instructions

Instructions will be provided at the end of the session with how to access the post assessment and evaluation for CME credits.

Contact Us

UW Diabetes ECHO

750 Republican Street, Building F, 3rd Floor

Seattle, WA 98109