Four CPHR Students Receive F Awards

Date Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2018

In the last academic year, four CPHR students received F30/31 awards.

MD/PhD student C’s F30 entitled “TRENDS, PREDICTORS, AND CONSEQUENCES OF CHILD UNDERNUTRITION” was funded by the EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CHILD HEALTH & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT. Mentored by Dr. Jeroan Allison, Apurv Soni’s investigation will define the heterogeneity in the burden of child undernutrition and its association with a variety of predictors across different regions of India. Moreover, it will elucidate the magnitude of its consequences on child development within the Indian context. Thus, this study will establish a foundation for addressing this humanitarian and economic crisis by identifying effective entry points for existing intervention. Before his F30 was funded, Apurv was a TL1 trainee funded by the UMass Center on Clinical and Translational Science.

Jacob Hunnicutt, MPH, received F31 funding from the National Institute on Aging. His grant is entitled “OPIOID USE AND SAFETY IN US NURSING HOMES”. Jake is mentored by Dr. Kate Lapane. Nationwide use of prescription opioids quadrupled to more than 240 million prescriptions per year between 1999 to 2010. This increase has been accompanied by an alarming rise in opioid misuse and abuse, addiction, and fatal and nonfatal overdoses. In response to this growing national epidemic, the Department of Health and Human Services has called for the creation of clear opioid prescribing guidelines and further developing the evidence base to guide opioid prescribing for the management of pain. To date, guidelines have largely focused on opioid use in younger adults despite the unique issues facing older adults (≥65 years old) including a large burden of pain, extensive analgesics use, and recent increase in drug overdose-related deaths in the elderly population. Prior guidelines have provided no direction regarding appropriate opioid use to treat pain in nursing home residents. This is problematic due to the high prevalence of chronic pain in nursing home residents as well as age-related vulnerability to adverse drug events due to changes in pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics and higher prevalence of multiple comorbidities and polypharmacy in this population as compared to noninstitutionalized older adults. Jake’s work provides much needed evidence for nursing home residents. Before his F31 was funded, Jacob Hunnicutt was a TL1 trainee funded by the UMass Center on Clinical and Translational Science. Jake successfully defended his dissertation on March 29, 2018. He also won a National Travel Award from the American Geriatrics Society for his outstanding abstract emanating from the F30. sHe is heading to the University of Pittsburg/Veterans Affairs for his post-doctoral fellowship.

NHLBI has funded Christina Haughton Griecci MPH’s F30 entitled “HOME AND ENVIRONMENT FACTORS INFLUENCING TEEN SUGAR SWEETENED BEVERAGE CONSUMPTION”. Adolescence is an important developmental period to address obesogenic behaviors that often persist into adulthood, particularly sugar sweetened beverage consumption (SSB). SSB consumption has increased by 300% in the past 20 years, and is estimated at 224 kcal/day (10%-15% of total calories) among youth. There are gaps in the literature of examining multiple levels of influences from the adolescent’s perspective particularly among views of access and availability. Understanding factors that influence the rampant SSB consumption among adolescents is important for addressing the obesity and heart disease public health issue. Her research explores how multiple levels of influence impact adolescent sugar sweetened beverage consumption, specifically assessing the roles of availability in the community environment, household environment, and parental influences. Christina is mentored by Dr. Stephenie Lemon. Previously, she was funded on the Cardiovascular disease clinical and translational T32 award. She successfully defended her dissertation on March 30, 2018. She has accepted a post-doctoral fellowship position at Tufts University.

Meera Sreedhara, MPH, PhD candidate received funding from NHLBI for her F31 award entitled “EVIDENCE-BASED PUBLIC HEALTH APPROACHES TO PROMOTE CARDIOMETABOLIC HEALTH: A MIXED METHODS STUDY OF COMMUNITY HEALTH IMPROVEMENT PLANS”. She is mentored by Dr. Stephenie Lemon. Few U.S. adults and children meet established healthy eating and physical activity recommendations despite strong scientific evidence concluding these behaviors can prevent cardiometabolic conditions. Reducing the burden of cardiometabolic conditions will require innovative prevention efforts outside of the clinical arena. Policy-based public health initiatives are a promising approach, yet the implementation of public health policies into practice lags. Local health departments are uniquely poised to improve community health due to their awareness of local health needs and resources, but for instance only one quarter of LHDs report participating in urban design or land use policy processes. Community health improvement plans (CHIPs) represent a data-driven, collaborative, community engaged method for LHDs to identify evidence-based policies and programs, delineate resource allocations and evaluate impact in a standardized method. This emerging strategic approach is endorsed by multiple national organizations, required for public health accreditation, represents an opportunity to implement effective strategies to promote cardiometabolic health, and catalyzes cross-sector collaboration. However, the proportion and quality of local evidence-based healthy eating and physical activity policies included in CHIPs and subsequent implementation processes is understudied. A better understanding of these aspects can inform future implementation science efforts. Meera’s research identifies the need for novel methodologies for implementation research that explore uptake of research findings into approaches, programs, and policies.