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Dr. Jones elected to APHA Executive Board

Resa M. Jones, MPH, PhD, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health was elected to the Executive Board of the American Public Health Association (APHA) during its 142nd Annual Meeting in November. The APHA's mission is to improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status with an ultimate vision of creating the healthiest nation in one generation. The APHA is the only organization that influences federal policy, has a 140-plus year perspective, and brings together >25,000 members from all fields of public health.

Dr. Mezuk interview for the Human Capital Blog

Dr. Mezuk's interview for the Human Capital Blog, “Combating Suicide in the Population Most At Risk: Older, White Men,” is available on the Human Capital Blog; the permanent link to the post is:

Dr. Lu Invited to be guest professor

Dr. LuCongratulations to Dr. Juan Lu, who has again been invited to be a guest professor in the Research Unit at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Oslo, Norway. Dr. Lu will be evaluating PhD projects on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), lecturing about research methods and statistical models in longitudinal studies, collaborating on the development of an intervention and randomized controlled trial, and working with colleagues on a manuscript related to TBI.


Dr. Masho Speaker at National Research Conference

Dr. MashoDr. Saba Masho was an invited speaker at the “Promoting Healthy Communities: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” national research conference presented in April by St. David’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research in Underserved Populations in the School of Nursing at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Masho’s talk on “A Collaborative Approach in Reducing Perinatal Disparities: Experience from the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative,” was one of five sessions given by community engagement professionals from around the US renowned for their work in public health, health disparities, and research-based interventions.

Dr. Chapman Co-Investigator on RWJF Grant

Map imageDr. ChapmanDr. Derek Chapman, Associate Director for Research for the Center on Society and Health (CSH), is a co-investigator with Steve Woolf, MD, MPH, on a $150,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation award for to create life expectancy maps using common landmarks for 20 different cities in the US. The 15-month project was designed to illustrate that different neighborhoods can have different life expectancies, despite being located within the same city. Through this project, the Center will create maps similar to the one below of New Orleans, LA. According to the CSH website, the life expectancy maps “give a clear example of how life expectancy differs from within a small geographic area” and illustrate the fact that how long a person lives can be closely related to where that person lives. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the largest US philanthropy organization devoted to public health.

AAGP Award Winners Announced

Dr. MezukKristen RiceCongratulations to faculty and student members from the Group for Research on the Epidemiology of Mobility, Aging, and Psychiatry, including Dr. Briana Mezuk, PhD candidate Matt Lohman, and MPH student Kristen Rice, for honors and presentations at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) in March. Dr. Mezuk earned “The Barry Lebowitz Early Career Scientist Award” from the AAGP for the “best original research paper submitted by an early career Matt Lohmanscientist”. Dr. Mezuk and Matt Lohman won “Best Early Investigator Poster” for “Depression and Frailty in Late Life: Evidence for a Common Vulnerability”, and Kristen Rice presented "Long-Term Care and Offspring Mental Health: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study”. For More information about AAGP click here:
Annual Meeting Home Page or AAGP 2014 Awards.

Year 2 of “MyCRCS” off to a Great Start

research teamDr. Resa Jones’ research team has begun Year 2 of a five-year, $3.4 million project designed to reach people who do not adhere to colorectal cancer screening (CRCS) recommendations. The project, “An Interactive Preventive Health Record to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening,” known informally as “MyCRCS,” will develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an interactive, web-based tool for patients, integrated with patient electronic medical records. “MyCRCS” is in the formative phase, as team members work to develop the intervention and the web-based, tailored tool that will be completed this year. The project is relevant to the nearly 40% of U.S. adults, ages 50 and older, who are non-adherent to CRCS recommendations. Interventions to increase adherence are less than optimally effective. According to Dr. Jones, few interventions take patient CRCS preference into account and, based on prior research in this area, interventions have not systematically addressed test-specific patient-reported barriers. This project is focused on patient-centered health information technology systems, which have great potential for patient education and activation, enhanced patient and clinician communication, decision support, and reminder systems. The implementation of a web-based CRCS decision tool embedded within the personal health record and addressing patient CRCS preferences and test-specific barriers offers a cost-effective approach to reach many non-adherent people.

Dr. Jones discusses colorectal cancer screening and her current research

Dr. JonesListen to Dr. Resa M. Jones discuss colorectal cancer screening with University of Florida's Bill Latimer of WUFT Public Radio's Public Health Minute. Public Health Minute is a one minute segment devoted to public health topics aired throughout the day with twelve segments rotating throughout a given month. This segment was aired throughout the month of November.

Diabetes and Stress Presentation

Dr. Mezuk and Dr. Concha will present on Diabetes and Stress at the VCU Community Health Education Center on February 5, 2014, from noon to 1 p.m. The Community Health Education Center is located on the ground floor of the Medical Center Gateway Building. Light refreshments will be provided. Space is limited and registration is required. For more information or to register, click here.

Dr. Masho featured in VCU News

Dr. MashoDr. Saba Masho, Associate Professor in the Division of Epidemiology, was recently featured in the VCU News for her work with perinatal disparities. The article talks about the use of community-based participatory research to develop effective programs. The study aims to address disparities in infant mortality. Dr. Masho teamed up Richmond Healthy Start Initiative (Department of Social Services), Richmond Health District, community representatives and other governmental and nonprofit agencies

Click here to read the full press release.


APHA's "Newswise" features Dr. Mezuk

Newswise — The American Journal of Public Health, for the first time, will explore the link between social sciences and genetics in its October supplemental issue. Through new research, editorials and commentaries, the issue highlights the impact of investigating this field in public health. Dr. Mezuk's twin research is featured. To read the announcement, click here. Credentialed members of APHA will have access to the full article, published in the journal.

Dr. Mezuk's Diabetes Research featured on RWJF Website

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is featuring the work of Dr. Briana Mezuk on their Human Capital web page. The article is based on her recent papers, published respectively in Health & Place and The Diabetes Educator. For more information and to read the feature, go to

Dr. Mezuk spent two years as a Health & Society Scholar (2007-2009) with the Foundation. To read more about RWJF click here.

Dr. Anton Kuzel named a Richmond "Top Doc 2013"

Richmond Magazine recently recognized Anton Kuzel, MD, MHPE, Family Medicine and Population Health Department Chair, among its “Top Docs 2013.” Dr. Kuzel was selected for Family Practice/General Practice. Published in the April issue of the magazine, "Top Docs" lists top healthcare providers in the Richmond area in 82 different categories. To compile the list, Richmond Magazine polled area physicians on whom they would recommend in each category, including nominations in six special-honors categories. We would like to offer enthusiastic congratulations to Dr. Kuzel for this accomplishment-- what an honor to be held in high-esteem by one’s professional peers!

The full article with a link to the Top Docs 2013 list can be found at

Dr. Mezuk and students present posters APPA

APPA poster presentationVCU doctoral students Elizabeth Do (MPH alumnus from 2012), Arden Moscati, and Monique Brown, along with Dr. Briana Mezuk, presented their posters at the 2013 American Psychopathological Association annual meeting in New York City in March.

For more information on the American Psychopathological Association,
click here.


Dr. Mezuk presents to NAUDL

Dr. Mezuk S. AndersonDr. Briana Mezuk and Susannah Anderson (MPH alumnus 2012 and current doctoral student at Tulane University) with Linda Linstrom, the Executive Director of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL). Dr. Mezuk and Ms. Anderson presented their research on the relationship between high school debate participation and psychosocial development and college attendance to the NAUDL Board of Directors in Washington DC this month.

For more information on the association click here.

Dr. Lu 1st place winner for publication

Brain Injury has announced that Dr. Juan Lu is the 2012 first place winner of the Henry Stonnington Award for review articles, for her manuscript titled "Randomized Controlled Trials in Adult Traumatic Brain Injury". The awards committee was so impressed with the exceptional quality of her work that their decision was unanimous. As an award winner, Dr. Lu will receive a check for $1,000 and the announcement of her award will be prominently displayed on the Brain Injury web site.

Congratulations to Dr. Lu for her outstanding achievement!

Read the article online   Download pdf version

Brain Injury is the official research journal of the International Brain Injury Association (IBIA).

Dr. Masho receives Medicaid award

HHS Announces 27 Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns Awards Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced 27 recipients of the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns awards. Made possible by the Affordable Care Act, up to $41.4 million will be used by states, prenatal care providers, and others to find new ways to prevent significant, long-term health problems for high-risk pregnant women and newborns enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative is an effort by HHS to reduce preterm births and improve outcomes for newborns and pregnant women. To achieve these goals, the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative consists of two strategies. The first strategy is a public-private partnership and awareness effort to reduce the rate of early elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks for all populations. The second strategy is testing the effectiveness of three enhanced prenatal care approaches to reduce the frequency of premature births among pregnant beneficiaries at high risk for preterm births. The 27 awardees will support enhanced prenatal care through group visits, at birth centers, and at maternity care homes. To learn more about Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative and view the 27 awardees, please visit

Dr. Masho receives Pfizer award

Saba Masho, M.D., MPH, Dr PH, is co- investigator on a project funded by Pfizer, Inc., titled, “The Virginia Women’s Health Prevention Initiative.” Dr. Masho and her colleagues, Drs. Warren Felton, III and Susan Kornstein will be working to improve primary prevention of stroke in women. The project includes plans to incorporate the use of a validated screening tool into electronic health records (EHR). In addition,the investigators anticipate increasing stroke screening among undeserved women through management of modifiable stroke risk factors using violence-based guidelines and to increase awareness of stroke prevention strategies using web-based teaching modules and educational programs. Congratulations, Dr. Masho!

Dr. Jones attends Professional Development Seminar

Resa M. Jones MPH, PhD was selected to attend the AAMC Mid-Career Women Faculty Professional Development Seminar in Austin, Texas from December 1-4, 2012. Dr. Jones is the Graduate Program Director and an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Division of Epidemiology, in the VCU school of medicine. She is an expert in behavioral epidemiology, particularly cancer prevention and control. The program goal of the AAMC Mid-Career Women Faculty Professional Development Seminar is to enhance knowledge and skills needed to support progress along the path to leadership in academic medicine.

Dr. Masho receives Gates Grant

Dr. Saba Masho, M.D., MPH, DrPH, will be participating as a co-principal investigator in a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Masho is an associate professor of epidemiology and community health in the VCU School of Medicine. She is an expert in health disparities and comprehensive care for underserved pregnant women. Dr. Masho will be working with Drs. Patricia Cummins and Daniel Nixon to pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Reducing Harmful Inflammation and Attenuating Immune System Deterioration in HIV-Infected Malian Women.” The grant was funded from a pool of over 3,000 applicants. Congratulations to Dr. Masho! Read the full news article.

Dr. Mezuk's Newsworthy Mentorship

Dr. Moon Choi, Ph.D. from Lexington, Kentucky credits her mentors with making all the difference in the world for her career. She had three key mentors who have walked with her throughout her journey, including Dr. Briana Mezuk of the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health. Click here to read her member spotlight from the Gerentological Society of America.

Dr. Kuzel named Interim Chair

Anton Kuzel, M.D., M.H.P.E.06/13/12 - From the Dean's Office:
I am pleased to announce that Dr. Anton (Tony) Kuzel will assume the role of Interim Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health effective July 1, 2012. He will also retain his role as Chair of the Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Kuzel brings a record of strong academic leadership and a commitment to developing research programs that address both population and community health issues. The research programs of the two departments are fundamentally aligned in this mission. The combined expertise of faculty in the two departments will create a powerful research enterprise that will bring great benefit to the Center for Clinical and Translational Research, particularly in the area of community engaged research, as well as the School of Medicine more broadly because of the closer ties between creative researchers and expert clinicians. Dr. Kate Lapane, who has led the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health for the last 4 years, is enthusiastic about the integration, which will take place during the next year, and strongly endorses it based on her prior experience at Brown. Please join me in thanking Dr. Kuzel for assuming this role, and in thanking Dr. Lapane for her outstanding contributions to the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health and School of Medicine during her tenure as Chair.

Dr. Mezuk's research study in the news

WBUR, Boston's NPR news station published an article entitle "Urban Debate Teams Motivate At-Risk Students to Succeed" highlighting the research of Dr. Brian Mezuk on the impact of participating in a policy debate program on academic achievement in the Greater Chicago area.

Click here to read the article. Click here to read the research paper.

Dr. Saba Masho quoted in NY Times article

Dr. Saba Masho, the lead author of the Virginia study and an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at Virginia Commonwealth University was quoted on the topic of male rape in an article published in the Health section of the New York Times. The article can be read in full on the newspaper's site, or downloaded as a pdf here.


Heather Herrera was initiated into AEL

HerreraCongratulations to MPH student Heather Herrera, BS, RDH for her initiation into the graduate honor society Alpha Epsilon Lambda!

The purpose of AEL is to promote ethics, intellectual achievement, and leadership among graduate students.

Matt Lohman accepts postdoctoral fellowship


Congratulations to Matthew Lohman, MHS, PhD on his May 10 graduation from the VCU PhD in Epidemiology Program. Dr. Lohman will begin a postdoctoral fellowship with the Weill Cornell Medical College, Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry in July

Marion Waller award winner Sylvia Rozario

Congratulations to Sylvia Rozario, MPH student, for receiving the Marion Waller Award from the VCU School of Medicine! This award is given each year to an outstanding female graduate student with children.

MPH Student Brittany Cox's Poster takes 3rd Place

Brittany CoxCongratulations to Brittany Cox, MPH student, for winning third place in the Student Research Poster Contest at the 5th Annual Virginia Public Health Association Career and Internship Fair! Brittany's poster topic was "The Association between Depression and Breastfeeding." Brittany has presented this and other research projects at national, regional and local conferences.


Poster presentations at APA Annual Meeting

Natalie BariesDoctoral student Natalie Bareis and MPH student Julia Foutz presented their research at the American Psychopathological Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting in New York, NY, on March 6-8.

Doctoral Student in Epidemiology Natalie Bareis presented a poster on her most recent research, "Depression, anxiety, and telomere length: Evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey." Natalie's co-authors on the abstract are Dr. Belinda Needham, Dr. Briana Mezuk, and Dr. Elissa Epel.
Natalie and her co-authors reviewed the existing research on relationships between depression/anxiety disorders and leukocyte telomere length (TL). Telomeres are caps at the end of chromosomes that protect them as cells divide. Each time a cell divides, its telomeres shorten until they hit a critical level after which the cell is unable to divide. TL has emerged as a biomarker of aging, but shorter telomeres also lead to increased mortality independent of a person’s age. Telomeres potentially mediate risk of diseases associated with depression/anxiety.

The team then assessed these relationships in the NHANES dataset, by running qPCR (a common genetic measurement tool to determine telomere length) of the telomeres from blood stored from NHANES, and using NHANES measures of past year major depression, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder via the World Health Organization’s Composite International Diagnostic Interview, or CIDI.  Finally, they evaluated moderation in these relationships by race/ethnicity, gender, and use of antidepressants.  Results indicated that overall depression/anxiety has no direct association with TL in young adulthood. However, in women, past-year generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder were associated with shorter TL. Additionally, past-year major depression was associated with shorter TL among those currently using antidepressants, a likely indication of the severity of their depression. Student Julia Foutz presented a poster titled “Advanced paternal age and risk of psychotic-like symptoms in offspring,” co-authored with Dr. Briana Mezuk. The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between parental age and and risk of psychotic-like symptoms in the general population. Data come from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), a nationally representative cross-sectional household survey. Results indicated that older paternal age at birth, but not older maternal age, is associated with offspring report of experiencing one or more psychotic-like symptoms.   

VDHA Rally Day

Students at rallyMPH student Heather Herrera, BSDH, RDH, recently helped to organize “Rally Day”, the Virginia Dental Hygienists’ Association (VDHA) lobby day at the Virginia State Capitol. Over 200 faculty, dental hygiene students and dental hygienists came together at the Capitol Building. Heather is the VDHA co-chair of the Regulation and Practice Committee, and began planning this event with Jen Stevens, BSDH, RDH, in October of 2013. Heather led the efforts to organize the event and volunteers, working with VDHA component legislative chairs as well as VDHA’s lobbyist, Ralston King. View the full article at, page 22-23.

Elise Glaum conducts webinar

MPH student Elise Glaum conducted a webinar on use of social media for professional purposes during National Public Health Week as part of her MPH Practicum work. The webinar, "Incorporating Social Media into Your Professional Life," was the culmination of her second semester MPH Practicum, which she did with the American Public Health Association Health Communication Working Group, working with Social and Behavioral Health Department faculty member Kellie Carlyle, PhD, MPH.

A former Online Communications Associate with the United Nations Foundation, Elise provided tips on overcoming social media challenges by introducing a case study using the Health Communication Working Group's efforts with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Great work, Elise!

MPH Students promote international public health efforts LAST summer

Three of our Master of Public Health students travelled the world to conduct research and implement programs around the world this summer. From Middle America to Africa, our students had a presence in a variety of international settings.

Andrea Lancaster
airport imageSecond year MPH student Andrea Lancaster travelled to Havana, Cuba, and to Honduras this past summer.
Andrea travelled to Cuba for two weeks with the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine to study the Cuban public health system through the Cuban National School of Public Health. Public health efforts in Cuba are incorporated into every level of the state-run medical system, which focuses heavily on community and preventive care. Andrea took classes at the National School of Public Health and visited the Institute of Tropical Medicine, a variety of hospitals and clinics, and some non-government organizations to conduct interviews and research on alternative and complementary medicine in mental health care.student news image
Andrea said that the trip was interesting because medicine and public health in Cuba are extremely different from the United States; Cubans have 99.9% access to free healthcare and public health is a much larger part of the medical system than it is in the US.

Andrea also travelled to Honduras with VCU’s HOMBRE, the Honduras Outreach Medical Brigada Relief Effort, to provide medical services and carry out program evaluation research on a children's dental varnish treatment program. She learned a lot about the extreme barriers to health care access that some people face.  To get to some of the communities where her group held children's health clinics required a 3-hour hike through the mountains from the nearest road.  Andrea said that being thrown into clinic work with no resources was quite a learning experience;  “One of the biggest ‘takeaways’ I have from the trip is a better understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of the role "voluntourism" plays in international development.  The classes I took last year (mostly epidemiology and biostatistics) gave me a solid basis for performing the data collection and analysis for the dental program.”

Bryan Castro:
Second year MPH student Bryan Castro travelled to the Dominican Republic with VCU’s HOMBRE on a medical mission trip. Bryan’s interest in joining the trip was to observe the interaction of the community with the healthcare system.

student news imageBryan said, “This experience will definitely give me a good foundation for my future work with the Latino immigrant community in the United States.” His role on the trip was mainly to interpret for the researcher who was investigating health beliefs regarding diabetes and hypertension.  Bryan was able to participate in all castroaspects of the research project as he translated informed consent documents and research questionnaires, interpreted for interviews, and transcribed some of the recordings.  He also had the opportunity to go the government primary care clinic for a meeting regarding the chronic health conditions of the community where his group was working.

student news image

Carrie Miller

MPH student Carrie Miller spent one month participating in the Building Global Bridges (BGB) program, a community-engaged research and cultural exchange project.  Based in Durban, South Africa, in the under-resourced community of Kenneth Gardens, this project fostered collaboration between international faculty, university and high school students, and community residents.  The group that Carrie worked with used PhotoVoice, a collaborative participatory methodology to teach youth to document the health-related assets and barriers in their environment.  They also conducted semi-structured interviews and health needs assessments with community elders and users of the local homeopathic health clinic. 

Carrie said that as a Master of Public Health student, the most significant experience for her was gaining an enhanced understanding of global health, through cross-cultural, collaborative field work in the Kenneth Gardens community. “I believe this experience will be instrumental in shaping my future career and education plans”, Carrie said. “Ultimately, what I learned about community engagement and resources will be applied to health promotion and prevention initiatives in similar communities.”

An additional unexpected benefit of the BGB program was the building of close relationships with university counterparts, mentees, and people of South Africa.  Carrie said that she did not expect to make such close connections and feel so “at home” in another country.  “I believe the ease in building these relationships was a direct result of this type of service-learning work, when people of various backgrounds join together to reach a shared goal in a supportive environment.”

Carrie said that she was honored to have participated in this program funded by the VCU International Partnership Initiative Award and received the opportunity to conduct community-engaged research and experience the unique shared interests and social networks of people in Durban, South Africa.  Data dissemination activities and her role as a BGB student scholar are ongoing.  For more information, you may follow Carrie’s experience and view the Building Global Bridges blog at

student news imageEpidemiology Doctoral Student News
Epidemiology doctoral student Monique Brown attended the Clinical and Translational Research class at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center this past summer.  She went there to learn more about the facilitators and barriers to translating research from the “bench” to the bedside, or from the results of data analysis to impacted communities.  Some of the sessions included learning about observational and interventional clinical trials design, translational research in drug discovery, ethical considerations in human subjects research, AIDS imaging research, and prostate cancer research. According to Monique, the class was very diverse, with approximately 26 students from a variety of scientific fields including engineering, chemistry, and biology. Monique and her fellow students were able to visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a day, where they learned about translational research also being done at the FDA. 

Monique Brown image“This is a class that any PhD student who is interested in clinical and translational research should apply to. This course has enabled me to see, even more, the importance of translating research into practice so as to impact lives and communities,” said Monique.

In addition to classes for two weeks, Monique was able to have a one-on-one research consultation with Dr. Joe Steiner, who is the Head of the Neurotherapeutic Development Unit in the Translational Neuroscience Branch at the NIH.  Monqiue was able to learn more about Dr. Steiner’s research on the impact of HIV on mental health and the neuroprotective effects of specific antiretrovirals.  Monique had the opportunity to take part in an HIV research group with Dr. Juan Lertora, the course faculty leader and the Director of Clinical Pharmacology at the NIH.

Monique extends a special thanks to Dr. Jan Chlebowski , Associate Dean for Graduate Education in the VCU School of Medicine, and to Dr. Tony Kuzel , Chair of  the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Division of Epidemiology, for their support to attend this class.
More information can be found at


Dr. ConchaDr. Concha is a public health researcher with a specific interest in psychological well being and diabetes prevention in ethnic minority and marginalized populations. She received her PhD in public health from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an MPH from the University of Texas Health Science Center, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso. Dr. Concha’s research interest in psychological well being and diabetes first began after hearing several people with diabetes share similar stories about their struggle with stress and diabetes management. It is because of these stories that Dr. Concha has worked toward studying the impact of psychological distress on diabetes outcomes and the cultural meaning of stress and diabetes in Hispanic and Latino populations. Her previous work experience includes academic quantitative and qualitative research, managing non-profit community oriented diabetes education and prevention efforts, and conducting diabetes community resource and needs assessments. 

Dr. Concha proudly joins Dr. Mezuk’s research team in investigating the socio-cultural, psychological, and behavioral pathways that effectively reduce the burden of type 2 diabetes and promote the integration of mental health services in diabetes prevention and health care.

Kristin Rice receives VDH Service Award

Kristin RiceMPH student Kristen Rice recently received the Unsung Hero award at the Virginia Department of Health service awards. Kristen worked alongside MPH alumna Meaghan Munn, MPH '13, who was also recognized, as an STD Surveillance Network population surveillance interviewer. Kristen has conducted these interviews throughout her MPH graduate studies at VCU. According to Diana Jordan, Director, Division of Disease Prevention (DDP), Kristen has worked very diligently throughout the past year to follow up on individual gonorrhea reports, up to 10 times per case in attempting to complete an interview. These interviews must also be conducted within a 60-day window; otherwise, the interview cannot be counted for population surveillance purposes. In CY2012, Kristen and Meaghan completed a total of 580 gonorrhea interviews within the Richmond metro area, representing a 48% increase in completed interviews compared to CY2011. Thus far in CY2013, a total of 300 interviews have been completed, putting the DDP on pace to meet or exceed 2012 completion rates. Kristen says she was surprised that interns even qualified for the award. "It was very nice to be recognized," she said. "There are so many hardworking "Unsung Heroes" at VDH!"

Congratulations, Kristen and Meaghan!

Matt Lohman receives NRSA F31 Fellowship Award

Congratulations to PhD Candidate, Matt Lohman, who received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award fellowship. The title of Matt's research is "Frailty and depression: A latent trait analysis". Matt's award, from the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, will support his research for the next two years. The study focuses on the evidence that suggests that geriatric conditions such as frailty may signal elevated vulnerability to adverse health outcomes like falls and hospitalization. Matt will look at achieving a better understanding of frailty and how it is related to depression. His project aims to guide clinicians and researchers toward a more accurate definition and identification of frailty, and timely intervention to prevent adverse health events among older adults.

Distinguished Student Poster Award

Jeanne Savage, a student in the Psychiatric, Behavioral & Statistical Genetics (PBSG) doctoral program, received the Distinguished Student Poster from the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology at their May 2013 meeting in Washington DC. Dr. Briana Mezuk was a co-author on this poster, which grew out of Ms. Savage's course paper for Dr. Mezuk's course Epidemiology of Psychiatric & Substance Abuse Disorders.

Monique Brown, MPH will present at APPA

Monique A. BrownDoctoral student Monique Brown, MPH, has had an abstract accepted for the 103rd Annual American Psychopathological Meeting on March 7, 2013. Monique will present a poster titled “Suicidality among Racial/Ethnic Minority Immigrants in the US” and co-authored by Epidemiology and Community Health faculty members Steven A. Cohen, DrPH, MPH and Briana Mezuk, PhD. Monique’s research examines the association between time residing in the US and suicidal ideation/suicide attempts among Afro-Caribbean, Asian and Latino immigrants in the United States. “My research stems from a project in one of my Fall 2012 courses, 'Epidemiology of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders', which was taught by Dr. Briana Mezuk, said Monique. I would like to thank Dr. Mezuk and Dr. Steven A. Cohen for their guidance on this project.” The APPA was founded in 1910 by leaders in American psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience and continues to be at the forefront of integrative scientific thinking about psychopathology. Please visit for more information on the organization.

Susan Cha to present at Women's health, March, 2013

Susan ChaPhD student Susan Cha, MPH, recently had an abstract accepted for Women's Health 2013: The 21st Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

The title is "Intimate Partner Violence and Counseling during Prenatal Care in the U.S., 2004-2008", and co-author is Saba W. Masho, MD, MPH, DrPH, Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, Virginia Commonwealth University.

“I am so excited for the opportunity to share my research on intimate partner violence at the Women's Health Congress. The conference is an excellent forum for giving interesting and innovative updates on a plethora of women's health issues. I learned a lot at last year's conference and look forward to gaining more perspective on enhancing my research capabilities. I am grateful to my mentor Dr. Masho and the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health for their continual support and encouragement for students to take advantage of all career development opportunities.”

Susan’s research assesses whether women who have suffered from partner violence received intimate partner violence education or counseling from their health care providers during prenatal care visits. The conference will be held in Washington, DC from March 22nd to 24th. For more information on the conferences, click here.

Graduate of MPH Program Publishes manuscript

Paul RileyA manuscript titled "Physician Knowledge of Nuclear Medicine Radiation Exposure" written by Paul Riley, MPH, has been accepted for publication in Radiologic Technology, American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT). Paul graduated from the MPH program in May, 2012, and is currently the Clinical Coordinator of Nuclear Medicine at VCU. Congratulations Paul!

PhD Student wins poster award

Monique BrownCongratulations to first year doctoral student Monique Brown for her first-place Outstanding Student Poster award at the 2012 National Conference on Health Statistics in Washington, D.C. Her poster, titled ”Beyond Battering: Intimate Partner Violence and Preventive Screening among Women” was co-authored with Dr. Kate L. Lapane and Dr. Sherry Weitzen. For the competition, Monique presented a 3-5 minute overview of her research and participated in a 3-5 minute period of questions and answers from the judges. At the end of the conference, the top three outstanding student posters were announced, and Monique received first place. Read more >>
Poster presentations >>


Brown and Cha present at John C. Forbes Colloquium

Congratulations to our first-year doctoral students, Monique J. Brown and Susan Cha, on their presentations in the 40th Annual John C. Forbes Colloquium. Monique gave a presentation on "Association between Intimate Partner Violence and Preventive Screening among Women." Susan presented on "Prenatal Contraceptive Counseling and Birth Control Use after Delivery in Virginia, 2007."

For her project, Monique used data from eight states/territories that collected intimate partner violence data in the 2006 or 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. IPV and preventive screening for HIV, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, cholesterol, and breast cancer were determined by self-report. Results showed that approximately one in four women reported a history of IPV, with 1.9% reporting IPV in the past year. Relative to those who did not report a history of IPV, IPV victims were twice as likely to have had an HIV test (aOR: 2.34; 95% CI: 2.06 to 2.66), a cervical cytology test (aOR: 2.05; 95% CI: 1.26 to 3.31) or a breast exam (aOR: 1.76; 95% CI: 1.37 to 2.27), but less likely to ever have had a mammogram (aOR: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.70-1.05). In conclusion, although IPV victims are vigilant about screening practices, steps should be taken to reduce IPV and the impact of IPV.

Susan based her study on data from the 2007 Virginia Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS). This population-based data set is representative of all Virginia women who have had a live birth recently and included 1,236 female participants. Approximately 20% of participants reported not receiving education on birth control methods during any of their prenatal care visits (PNC) from health providers. Overall, 84% of women reported using a contraceptive method following birth. Compared to women who did not receive prenatal contraceptive counseling, those who reported discussions on birth control methods during any PNC visits had 1.9 times the odds of reporting postpartum contraceptive use (COR = 1.9, 95% CI = 0.96-3.78); however, results were not statistically significant. Adjusted estimates yielded similar results. Despite the lack of statistically significant results, there are important clinical implications. Health care professionals should be aware of the importance of prenatal contraceptive counseling and are encouraged to provide family planning education. The “Forbes Day” Colloquium consists of presentations of student research in a “short talk” format. Students participating in the Colloquium are selected on the basis of the quality and clarity of a written description of the research project evaluated by members of the faculty. The presentations are also evaluated on the basis of the effectiveness in communicating the research described.

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