New Staff Feature: Irina Kolobova Joins the Center of Excellence for Integrated Care

IrinaIn May, Irina Kolobova joined the Foundation as a technical assistant for the Center of Excellence for Integrated Care (COE). With years of experience and a passion for improving health, she will help to provide technical assistance for integrated care program development to a variety of medical practice settings across North Carolina. We asked Irina a few questions to get to know her better.

Q: Where are you from and how did you end up in North Carolina?

A: I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and grew up on the west coast, spending 6-8 years each in San Diego, Seattle, and Portland. I moved to North Carolina to pursue my doctoral studies in 2013. When I finished my PhD this May, I decided to stay and call North Carolina my new ‘home’.

Q: What drew you to the Foundation?

 A: Working for the Foundation with the Center of Excellence for Integrated Care provides me an opportunity to apply everything I learned through my educational training while also being true to my passion of supporting marginalized communities and increasing access to high quality healthcare. Working alongside the multiple programs within the Foundation, I get the opportunity to be part of the systemic approach to improve the health of our community.

Q: What types of organizations have you worked for in the past?

A: A significant portion of my work history has been in research, starting with my earliest experiences at the University of Washington. During college, I was a research assistant for Drs. John Gottman and Jessica Sommerville. Following my love for research, after college I worked as a research assistant for a NIDA Clinical Trials Network protocol that evaluated a manualized 12-step program at an outpatient treatment center in Portland, Oregon. Later and until I moved to North Carolina, I worked as a research coordinator in the department of Endocrinology at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). In the position, I managed a large NIH-funded randomized-controlled study that looked at the effects of thyroid function on metabolism and cognition. During my doctoral studies, I worked as behavioral health provider at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Eastern North Carolina. Beyond these longer work experiences, I’ve also worked with a variety of other organizations including Cascade AIDS Projects, The Parry Center for Children, the Knight Cancer Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Psychosocial Program, and the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.

Q: What are you most excited for in this position?

 A: I get to show people how to integrate physical health and behavioral health and why this is important to improving population health. I enjoy getting them exciting about the work!

 Q: What do you like to do for fun/in your free time?

 A: As my colleagues would say, I have a life-long case of ‘wanderlust’. I love to travel near and far and do so with just about every minute of my free time. I enjoy exploring different cultures, trying new foods, finding treasures, and embracing different ways of being. I also enjoy nearly all outdoor activities including hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and snowboarding.