Lauren Slesur Starnes, MD, MEd


Lauren grew up in Lemont, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She attended Northwestern University, where she double majored in biological sciences and psychology. She then moved south and attended Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. While there, Lauren developed a passion to pursue a career in medical education. She took a year out from medical school to obtain a Master of Education degree at Vanderbilt University Peabody College. During medical school, Lauren met her husband, Joseph Starnes, who is also doing his pediatric residency training at Vanderbilt.  Lauren enjoys cooking and decorating cakes. Joey and Lauren love playing with their dog, Moose, and exploring the restaurant scene in Nashville.

Medical School: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
College: Northwestern University

Joey Starnes, MD, MPH

Starnes, MD, MPH

Joey grew up in Mason, Ohio, a suburb north of Cincinnati. He came to Vanderbilt as an undergrad where he double majored in biology and Spanish. He then stayed at Vanderbilt for medical school where he met his amazing wife, Lauren, who is also a pediatric resident at Vanderbilt. Between his second and third years of medical school, Joey spent a year obtaining a Master of Public Health in global health. Outside of medicine, Joey enjoys traveling, playing guitar, following college football, and spending time with his dog, Moose.

Medical School: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
College: Vanderbilt University

Kelsey Savage, MD


Kelsey grew up in Richmond, Virginia.  She attended James Madison University for her undergraduate studies where she majored in Biology and minored in Math and Anthropology. After graduation, she immediately attended the University of Virginia School of Medicine where she realized her passion for children and underserved care.  Outside of medicine, Kelsey enjoys streaming all types of TV shows and movies, enjoying pastimes of yesteryear such as Jeopardy and BINGO, spending time with friends and family, listening to live music, and visiting wineries and breweries.

Medical School: University of Virginia School of Medicine
College: James Madison University

Mike Santarelli, MD


Mike grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina as the middle child in a large Italian family. He pursued his undergraduate degree at UNCW earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He then studied at Wake Forest University for a Masters in Biomedical Science and continued his medical training at Wake Forest School of Medicine. While a medical student at Wake, Mike developed a passion for pediatrics and was excited to choose it as his specialty.  Prior to medical school, Mike met his now wife, Taylor, as a blind date at a friend’s wedding. Their little family is for now complete with their puppy, Kensie. Outside of medicine, Michael is passionate about running, his family’s tradition of wine making, and the latest trending Netflix series.

Medical School: Wake Forest School of Medicine
College: University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Rachel Rongstad, MD


Rachel was born in Gainesville, Florida, but grew up in Madison, Wisconsin where she was raised as a true Wisconsinite with a love for cheese curds, boating, and the first big thaw of springtime. She moved to Minnesota for her undergrad at St. Olaf College, where she majored in mathematics and played for the women's basketball team. She returned home for medical school, and loved being back close to family and spending free weekends cheering on the Badgers and Packers. Rachel enjoyed spending summers doing public health research on food insecurity as well as serving at a local brewpub.

Medical School: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
College: St. Olaf College

Gabriella Pierce, MD


Gabriella was born in Naples, Italy and moved to her parents’ hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she primarily grew up. She attended the University of Tulsa where she studied Psychology, Music, and English Literature in addition for preparing to enter medical school to pursue her dream of becoming a pediatrician. Gabriella moved to Oklahoma City for medical school at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine where she developed a passion for global medicine and medical humanities. Gabriella loves traveling and takes every opportunity she can to go somewhere new. In addition, she loves reading, playing the cello, and spending time with her very fluffy cat, Rajah.

Medical School: University of Oklahoma College of Medicine
College: University of Tulsa

Ellen Minaldi, MD


Ellen was born and raised in southwest Louisiana where her first summer job was as a medical assistant at a pediatric clinic. She moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU where she majored in Anthropology and Spanish before moving to New Orleans for medical school. Ellen loves all things involving food – grocery shopping, dinner parties, trying a new restaurant – especially when shared with others. She is always ready for a good chat and never turns down a cup of coffee. She collects art from street vendors when she travels somewhere new. Ellen moved to Nashville with her husband Michael, a veterinarian, and their two goofy boxers.

Medical School: Louisiana State University School of Medicine
College: Louisiana State University

Alexa Love, MD


Alexa was born and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. She stayed in L.A. to attend the University of Southern California, where she studied Neuroscience and theatre. For the next few years, she stayed at USC to complete a post-baccalaureate premedical program. She moved a little farther south to Orange County to attend UC Irvine, School of Medicine. As a Southern California native, Alexa is very excited to start a new adventure in Nashville.  In her free time, Alexa enjoys hiking, doing yoga, cooking, and spending time with her boyfriend and pets who are all coming with her to Vanderbilt. She loves to read, and has always had a soft spot in her heart for Harry Potter.

Medical School: University of California, Irvine School of Medicine
College: University of Southern California

Sam Littlejohn, MD


Sam is a North Carolina boy, born in Charlotte and raised in Blowing Rock, the crown of the Blue Ridge.  He studied chemistry at Davidson College where he once saw Steph Curry from across campus. He then moved on to UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill before completing his clinical rotations at the UNC branch campus at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Sam is an Eagle Scout and avid backpacker and hiker. He has visited 25 of the 61 U.S. National Parks and plans to explore the rest once he can afford the plane tickets. At home, he’s an amateur BBQ pitmaster, average athlete, and diehard Atlanta Braves, Carolina Panthers, Davidson, and UNC sports fan.

Medical School: University of North Carolina School of Medicine
College: Davidson College

Marni Krehnbrink, MD


Marni was born in Rocky Mount and grew up in Denver, both which happen to be in North Carolina! She attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for her undergraduate degree in Biology, and decided to stay for medical school (Go Heels!). In her free time, Marni enjoys running, brunching (especially after running, but really anytime), board games, spending time with her family and friends, and playing with her dog, Goose.

Medical School: University of North Carolina School of Medicine
College: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill