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Optum Evidence Engine


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Meet our experts

Jill Hagenkord, MD

Dr. Jill Hagenkord is a board-certified pathologist with subspecialty boards in molecular genetic pathology and an additional fellowship in pathology/oncology informatics. She specializes in the development, validation and implementation of novel health technologies, as well as coding, coverage and reimbursement issues for novel tests.

Prior to joining Optum, she was the chief medical officer of several Silicon Valley genomic companies, including Invitae and 23andMe. She began her career as the director of molecular pathology and assistant professor of pathology at Creighton University School of Medicine. Jill has been active in the College of American Pathologists, the Association for Molecular Pathology, the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, and the National Academy of Medicine Roundtable on Genomics and Precision Health. 


Stacey Brown

Stacey Brown leads market access and evidence strategy for Optum Genomics, overseeing all related engagements with diagnostic company clients.​ Stacey has decades of payer relations and market access experience in the molecular diagnostics space.

Prior to joining Optum, she worked at Myriad Genetics in roles with increasing responsibility for securing coverage and reimbursement with regional, national and government-sponsored payers. ​Stacey spent many years at Foundation Medicine, where she led market access and played a large role in the company successfully completing the FDA and CMS parallel review of the first comprehensive genomic profiling companion diagnostic assay.​ Stacey has also spent time at Sera Prognostics and GeneDx. She graduated from the University of Montana with a BS in microbiology.


Taryn Hall, PhD, MPH

Dr. Taryn Hall leads the solutions architecture team for Optum Genomics, which bridges the clinical, data and product teams to design and develop models, tools, programs and human subjects study protocols to help clients reach their goals. She is an interdisciplinary scientist trained in genetic epidemiology, statistical genetics, bioethics and policy. After completing her PhD in public health genetics from the University of Washington, she was a National Library of Medicine fellow in bioinformatics. ​

​Prior to joining Optum Genomics, she was a director of research in omics at Optum Labs (the research and development arm of UnitedHealth Group), following an academic career as a researcher with the eMERGE consortium and doing translational research as the diabetes epidemiologist for the state of Montana.


Sarah Kurley, PhD

Dr. Sarah Kurley oversees molecular diagnostics evidence reviews for Optum Genomics. Sarah has garnered extensive experience in molecular oncology, test development and validation, and evidence generation for product commercialization. She is the author of numerous scientific publications in the field of oncology and is the co-inventor of several precision medicine tools.​

Sarah received her BA in biological sciences from Northwestern University, where she graduated with honors. She obtained her PhD in cancer biology from Vanderbilt University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine.


Laura Simmer, MD

Dr. Laura Simmer joined Optum Genomics in 2022 and leads market access engagements with diagnostic company clients. Laura has led projects in multiple areas, including early cancer detection, women’s health and rare genetic disease. ​She has experience in the evaluation of novel health care technology from an investment perspective, including a year as vice president at Redmile Group, a health care-focused hedge fund, and four years at TD Cowen, an investment bank, where she conducted scientific diligence on biotechnology companies. ​

Laura earned an MD from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and a BA from Williams College, where she graduated cum laude. Prior to medical school, she oversaw clinical oncology research at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.​


Shanna Gustafson, MPH, LGC

Shanna Gustafson is a licensed genetic counselor with over 18 years of experience in clinical genetics. She joined Optum Genomics in 2023 and leads market access engagements with diagnostic company clients. She has special interest in finding novel ways to quantify the value to the health care system of increasing access to personalized medicine diagnostics and expertise. ​

Prior to joining UnitedHealth Group, Shanna worked at InformedDNA, where she built a utilization management and genomic expertise program supporting national and regional health plans. She has also spent time at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and the University of Michigan supporting pediatrics and oncology clinics and whole-genome sequencing protocols. ​Shanna earned her dual MPH and MS in genetics and genetic counseling from the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.


Stacey Dacosta Byfield, PhD, MPH

Dr. Stacey DaCosta Byfield leads the Optum Genomics HEOR team, focused on conducting observational research studies using administrative claims, electronic health records/medical records and other data sources. In 2009, Stacey joined UnitedHealth Group in the Optum Insight Life Sciences HEOR group as a senior researcher focused on oncology studies. She later served as vice president of research of the Life Sciences HEOR group before joining Optum Labs, where she led the data scientist team and most recently the oncology focus area research team. ​

Stacey previously worked as a pharmacoeconomics research specialist in the Department of Drug Use Policy and Pharmacoeconomics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She holds a PhD in tumor biology from Georgetown University and completed a basic science fellowship at the National Cancer Institute where her work focused on identifying targets of pharmaceutical intervention for metastatic breast cancer. Stacey also received her MPH with a concentration in clinical effectiveness from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.​


Karen Stockl, PharmD, MS

Dr. Karen Stockl has over 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and health care industries specializing in HEOR, observational and real-world studies, clinical program evaluation, scientific communications, clinical research and development, pharmacy benefits management and managed care.

In her role as a senior director of HEOR, she provides scientific leadership for evidence generation studies using administrative claims, electronic health records/medical records and other data sources.

Prior to joining Optum Genomics, she worked for more than 10 years at UnitedHealth Group in HEOR director roles at Optum Life Sciences and Optum Rx. She has also held roles in HEOR, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs at consulting and pharmaceutical companies and worked as an inpatient clinical pharmacist at the University of California–San Diego Medical Center.​ Karen received her PharmD from the University of Southern California and her MS in pharmaceutical outcomes and policy and pharmacoeconomics from the University of Florida. She has authored or co-authored over 50 publications and scientific congress presentations covering a broad variety of therapeutic areas.


Brady DeHart, PhD

Dr. Brady DeHart is a director of HEOR on the Optum Genomics Evidence Generation team. Brady has extensive experience as a health outcomes researcher and has expertise in health economics and outcomes research, behavioral health, substance abuse, retrospective and prospective studies, randomized control trials, methodology and statistical methods.

In his current role, Brady is responsible for conducting observational research studies using administrative claims, electronic health records/medical records and other data sources. He oversees the creation of proposals and protocols and final deliverables and ensures that the methods and results address the needs of our clients.

Before joining Optum, Brady was a director of research for HCA Healthcare, where he supervised the research activities of over 200 medical residents along the East Coast. Brady received his PhD in experimental psychology from Utah State University and completed his postdoctoral work at Virginia Tech at the Addiction Recovery and Research Center. ​Brady has authored or co-authored over 90 publications and presentations, and his work has received popular press recognition, including coverage in the Wall Street Journal. He has also served on multiple academic journal editorial boards and as an associate editor.