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Clinical and Population Health Research

 

Program Highlights

  • Careful mentor matching, individualized career development planning, and rigorous academic training necessary to ensure success as an independent and collaborative investigator 
  • Designed for students with an advanced degree and/or relevant clinical research experience, the program provides opportunities for students to be directly involved in research from the first day. 
  • Competency-based, transdisciplinary research training program focused on translating research into effective clinical practice and policy 
  • Rigorous training in theory, ethics, epidemiologic methods, biostatistics, health services research, outcome measurement, and behavioral science 
  • Train with the innovators in clinical and health services research 
  • Supportive educational environment 
  • Average time-to-degree of 4 years
  • Excellent track record of placing our graduates in competitive post-doctoral fellowships, faculty positions, and public and private research careers 

Program Objectives

The overarching objectives of our doctoral training program are:

  1. To deliver a transdisciplinary research training program focused on epidemiology, biostatistics, and health services research geared toward translating research into effective disease prevention programs, clinical practice and policy 
  2. To recruit pre-doctoral trainees resulting in a diverse trainee pool with respect to socio-demographic characteristics, clinical background, and disciplinary perspective 
  3. To provide trainees with individual mentoring, academic training, and technical skills necessary to ensure their success as independent investigators as well as contributors to team science 
  4. To provide “hands on” research experience that builds on the strengths of the current environment of linkages between UMass Chan Departments, Centers, and Institutes 

CURRICULUM AND SCHEDULE

To achieve the objectives of the Biomedical Sciences PhD degree in the Clinical and Population Health Research Program, students must gain competency in the following areas: 1) theory and context, 2) study design, 3) analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data, 4) ethics, 5) information and data acquisition and management, 6) measurement, 7) effective communication, 8) professionalism and 9) critical appraisal. Our proposed educational model not only provides formal instruction in each of the areas noted, but also integrates and reinforces these concepts throughout the curriculum.
Learn more about specific competencies

Students develop a curriculum tailored to meet their needs based on previous accomplishments, their research interests, and their educational goals. Students are required to successfully complete:

  • CTS602A, CTS602B Epidemiology (6 credits)
  • CTS603A, CTS603B Biostatistics (8 credits)
  • CTS702 Ethics (2 credits)
  • CTS875 Proposal Development(3 credits)
  • 4 credits of theory (selected based on research interests)
  • 6 credits substantive electives (selected based on research interests)
  • 8 credits of methods electives (selected based on research interests)

View all Clinical and Population Health Research course offerings

In addition to formal coursework, students complete research assistantships (~20 hours per week); participate in research methods seminars, journal club, research in progress meetings, and workshops; and must serve as a teaching assistant for a minimum of one term.

A comprehensive project is conducted in the summer between year 1 and 2. Written qualifying exams are conducted in January of year 2. Students then develop and defend their dissertation proposal (by summer of Year 2). Students then complete their dissertation research which takes the form of 3 publishable manuscripts.
Learn more about evaluation milestones

OUR LEADERSHIP AND FACULTY

Associate Dean

Kate Lapane, PhD
Professor, Quantitative Health Sciences
Associate Dean of Clinical and Population Health Research
email Dr. Lapane

FACULTY

Our faculty and students conduct science that makes a difference in several areas of excellence, including:

Aging

The “graying” of the population makes research into the determinants and effects of aging on health a priority. In collaboration with the Division of Geriatric Medicine and the Meyers Health Care Institute, both led by Jerry Gurwitz, MD, aging research initiatives at UMass Chan aim to promote health, prevent functional decline, and improve quality of life among older adults.

Kate Lapane, PhDJen Tjia MD, and Jerry Gurwitz MD conduct studies of older adults.

CPHR students involved in aging research include Camilla Pimentel, MPH, who evaluated analgesic medication patterns among U.S. nursing home residents with cancer, and Alexandra Hajduk, MPH, who examined cognitive status as a predictor of secondary preventive lifestyle change in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

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Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of Americans, and several faculty and students in the CPHR program are committed to finding ways to better diagnose and treat diseases like myocardial infarction and heart failure. Cardiovascular disease research is supported in CPHR program through collaboration with the Transitions, Risks and Actions in Coronary Events (TRACE-CORE) study, led by and the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences.

Select faculty engaged in cardiovascular disease research include Catarina Kiefe, MD, PhD, PI of the TRACE-CORE study and Chair of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, who, examines outcomes in ischemic cardiovascular disease, and Robert Goldberg, PhD, a nationally recognized PI of several CVD surveillance studies such as the 3 three-decades-long Worcester Heart Attack Community Surveillance Study.

Dr. Goldberg mentored Han-Yang Chen, MS, who used TRACE-CORE data and data form the Worcester Heart Attack Study.

Health Disparities

Health disparities research targets health improvement in populations disproportionately affected by disease, injury and disability. Active collaborations with the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences and the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

Select faculty members involved in health disparities research include Milagros Rosal, PhD, Sarah Forrester, PhD, and Jeroan Allison, MD, MScEpi.

Health Promotion & Disease Prevention

Health promotion and disease prevention research aims to enable people to increase control over their health and its determinants, and thereby improve their health. It explores the behavioral, social and environmental influences on health and develops interventions to minimize disease and maximize wellbeing. Active collaborations among the CPHR program and the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine led by Stephenie Lemon, PhD, the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, and the Worcester Country Prevention Research Center contribute to this effort.

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Health Services Research

Health services research is a multidisciplinary field focused on the organization, financing, delivery and outcomes of health care. This research aims to support higher quality, more efficient and less expensive medical care to populations. Active interdisciplinary collaborations with the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences and Meyers Health Care Institute .

Select faculty members involved in health services research include Arlene Ash, PhD, whose work focuses on how best to measure and improve the value of U.S. health care spending, and Matthew Alcusky, PhD, PharmD, MS, who analyzes treatment patterns and costs for mental illness and substance use disorders in underserved populations.

CPHR students involved in health services research include Lisa Lines, MPH, mentored by Arlene Ash, whose AHRQ-funded predictive modeling of emergency department visits may identify patients at risk of future emergency department use.

Pharmacoepidemiology

Faculty at UMass Chan Medical School are dedicated to advancing the health of pharmacoepidemiology, including such areas as drug utilization research, comparative effectiveness, and comparative safety. The International Society of Pharmacoepidemiology defines pharmacoepidemiology as “the science that applies epidemiologic approaches to studying the use, effectiveness, value and safety of pharmaceuticals”. Select faculty engaged in pharmacoepidemiology research include Anthony Nunes, PhD, Matthew Aclusky, PhD, PharmD, MS, Kate Lapane, PhD, and Jen Tjia, MD. MSCE.

View the Affiliated faculty listing for the Clinical and Population Health Research Program.

OUR STUDENTS

OUR CURRENT STUDENTS

For more detailed information about our current students, including their previous educational and professional experience, please visit this page.

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Ariel Beccia, BS, MS

Ariel is mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD and her research interests include, the social epidemiology of eating disorders and bridging quantitative epidemiological methods with social and feminist theories, with a focus on intersectionality theory.

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Esther Boama-Nyarko, BS, MPH

Esther is mentored by Nancy Byatt, DO, MS, MBA, and her primary research interests are under the umbrellas of health equity, mental health, and community-based research. 

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Qiaoxi (Tracy) Chen, BS, MPH

Qiaoxi is mentored by Mathew Alcusky, PhD, PharmD, MS and is currently working on anticoagulants-related pharmacoepidemiology studies.

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Zachary Dyer, AB, MPH

Zach is mentored by Jay Himmelstein, MD, MPH and Arlene Ash, PhD and his research interests center on improving social determinants and reducing health disparities through broad, high-level systems change including payment reform and innovative risk adjustment modeling.

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Oluwabunmi Emidio, MD, MPH

Bunmi is mentored by Stephenie Lemon, PhD and her research interests include public health research and implementation science research with a focus on promoting and evaluating the uptake of empirically supported interventions, innovations, and policies in routine practice settings.

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Katarina Ferrucci, BA, MS

Katarina is mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD and William Jesdale, PhD and her research interests include sexual and gender minority health, community-based health behavior intervention, health policy, and preventative healthcare. 

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Melissa Goulding, BS, MS

Melissa is mentored by Stephenie Lemon, PhD and her research interests include chronic disease prevention and health promotion in children with an emphasis on health equity.  

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Carly Herbert, BA

Carly is mentored by Apurv Soni, PhD.

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Julie Hugunin, BS

Julie is mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD and her research focuses on primary healthcare utilization in transition age youth (16-25 years) with serious mental illness.

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Clevanne Julce, BS, MPH

Clevanne is mentored by Nancy Byatt, DO, MS, MBA and her primary research focus seeks to use a mixed-methods approach to investigate the intersection between the use of technology, preconception care delivery, and the growing field of implementation science.

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Stephane Labossiere, BS, MSc, MS

Stephane is mentored by Stephenie Lemon, PhD and aspires to become a public health scientist in the areas of cardiovascular disease prevention, health disparities, mixed methods, community-participatory research, and aging.

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Pryce Michener, BS, BA

Pryce is mentored by Peter Friedmann, MD, MPH, DFASAM, FACP and is interested in health disparities and social epidemiology research particularly in people who use drugs or are experiencing homelessness.

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Arvis Mortimer, BSc, MPH/MPH

Arivis is mentored by Bo Wang, PhD and is passionate about public health research and using data to evaluate and/or facilitate the implementation of interventions that could potentially improve population health and reduce disparities in outcomes.

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Catherine Nagawa, BS, MS

Catherine is mentored by Rajani Sadasivam, PhD and her research interests include application of behavior change theory and use of mHealth technology to improve health.

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Syed Naqvi, BS

Syed is mentored by Anthony Nunes, PhD and is currently working on diabetes epidemiology.

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Laël Nethania Ngangmeni, BA, MBS

Laël is mentored by Kristin Mattocks, PhD, MPH and her research interests include infant and maternal health, health disparities—especially with regards to race and religion, immigrant and refugee health, and mental health. 

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Seun Osundolire, MD

Seun is mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD and has research interests in the field of pharmacoepidemiology and working with vulnerable populations.

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Atinuke Oyinbo, BSc, MPH

Atinuke is mentored by Mara Epstein, ScD, ScM and Kate Lapane, PhD and her research interests lie broadly in the field of cancer epidemiology, particularly in biomarkers, survivorship, comorbidities, polypharmacy and cancer disparities.

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Meagan Sabatino, BA, MSL

Meagan is mentored by Mathew Alcusky, PhD, PharmD, MS  and her research interests include studying the creation, validation, and use of patient-reported outcomes, identifying the impact of treatment on health-related quality of life, predicting long-term treatment outcomes, and health policy research.

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Divya Shridharmurthy, MBBS, MPH

Divya is mentored by Shao-Hsien Liu, PhD and her research interest is in pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics including developing methods to optimize use of therapeutics, cost-effectiveness of prescription drugs and medical devices, as well as the development and evaluation of policies to improve their use. 

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Yiyang Yuan, MS, MPH

Yiyang is mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD and is passionate about leveraging longitudinal data from administrative databases, national surveys, and other patient-reported measures to disentangle the development of age-related conditions arising from physical, cognitive, and psychosocial processes.

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Danni Zhao, MS

Danni is mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD and has a passion for epidemiology and statistical programming, and she is interested in utilizing large healthcare datasets to study drug use and drug effects in the population.

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Peng "Billy" Zhou, MS

Billy is mentored by Chan Zhou, PhD and is currently interested in computational methods development of integrating multiple big data (high-throughput sequencing genomics, transcriptomics and clinical health record) to explore noncoding RNAs and epigenomics for personalized medicine.

OUR STUDENTS IN THE NEWS

Getting Results…
  • UMass Chan student trustee focused on diversity, equity and inclusion
    Education News

    UMass Chan student trustee focused on diversity, equity and inclusion

    UMass Chan Medical School MD/PhD student Zach Dyer is serving as a student trustee on the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees and is focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

    Read more
  • Apurv Soni, ‘29 Who Shine’ honoree, focused on health equity in U.S. and abroad
    Education News, Media

    Apurv Soni, 29 Who Shine honoree, focused on health equity in U.S. and abroad

    The Massachusetts Department of Education has named MD/PhD candidate Apurv Soni the UMass Medical School “29 Who Shine” honoree for 2021.

    Read more
  • PhD student Catherine Nagawa examining link between social networks, smoking cessation with new NIH award
    Research News

    PhD student Catherine Nagawa examining link between social networks, smoking cessation with new NIH award

    PhD student Catherine Nagawa received a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research.

    Read more
  • PhD candidate receives predoctoral grant for study of eating disorders and social groups
    Research News

    PhD candidate receives predoctoral grant for study of eating disorders and social groups

    Ariel Beccia, a PhD candidate in the Clinical & Population Health Research program, recently received a $98,000, three-year Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health to study the social epidemiology of eating disorders by gender, sexual orientation and weight status.

    Read more
  • GSBS student Deborah Mack recognized for geriatrics research
    Research News

    GSBS student Deborah Mack recognized for geriatrics research

    Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student Deborah Mack is being recognized by the American Geriatrics Society for her research into statin use among nursing home residents with life-limiting illnesses.

    Read more

EXTERNAL AWARDS FOR RESEARCH TRAINING (CURRENT)

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    The Influence of Spatial Proximity to Sterile Syringe Sources and Secondary Syringe Exchange on HCV Risk Among Rural People Who Inject Drugs

    The current U.S. opioid epidemic has fueled an increase in injection drug use and, in turn, an alarming surge in new hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Between 2010 and 2015, the incidence of HCV increased by 294% nationally, driven primarily by a rise in injection drug use and risky injection behavior – namely syringe sharing. This growing epidemic has disproportionately affected young people who inject drugs (PWID) in rural communities. There is an urgent need to implement tailored and effective harm reduction strategies to rural PWID who are disproportionately impacted by HCV. Although research has shown that syringe services and pharmacy syringe sales (i.e sterile syringe sources) are associated with a reduction in injection-mediated risks and HIV transmission, the evidence for whether these services reduce HCV risk among PWID remains mixed. This proposal will applying the risk environment model to evaluate the influence of sterile syringe sources on the HCV risk environment. Specifically, this proposal will evaluate whether spatial proximity to sterile syringe sources and receptive secondary syringe exchange are associated with HCV serostatus among rural PWID. The aims are: (1) To evaluate the association between road network distance to the nearest sterile syringe source (SSP or pharmacy that sells nonprescription syringes) and HCV serostatus; (2) To use egocentric social network analysis to evaluate the association between receptive secondary syringe exchange and HCV serostatus; (3) to explore and unpack rural PWIDs’ perceptions of and experiences with syringe acquisition and syringe sharing practices through in-depth interviews. These findings could help inform the development of future harm reduction interventions in rural New England, a region of the country that has been particularly hard hit by the opioid epidemic and related HCV infections.

    Read more
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    Intersectionality of Sexual Orientation, Gender Expression, and Weight Status on Risk of Disordered Eating Behaviors

    A glaring sexual orientation-related disparity is in the prevalence of disordered eating behaviors (DEBs), including severe calorie restriction, self-induced vomiting, laxative and diet pill use, and binge-eating. One in three sexual minority young people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and other non-heterosexual individuals) engage in DEBs, a seven-fold higher odds than their heterosexual peers. There are considerable health consequences associated with these behaviors, such as metabolic and reproductive health issues, substance use, depression, and suicidality. However, research on DEBs lags behind that on other sexual orientation-related health disparities, with critical gaps including failing to consider both within-group diversity in risk and the upstream social determinants of the observed disparities. Importantly, experiencing multiple forms of social disadvantage has been shown to increase risk of eating-related pathologies, including DEBs. Gender nonconforming and higher-weight (i.e., overweight/obese) statuses are especially relevant dimensions of disadvantage to consider, as these groups experience high levels of appearance-based discrimination and may use DEBs as dangerous body-modification practices to cope. Sexual minorities who experience further marginalization through membership in these groups may encounter unique and/or compounding social stressors that exacerbate risk. Examining the intersectionality of sexual orientation, gender expression, and weight status is thus critical to addressing these research gaps. Using the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS), a national longitudinal cohort study of over 27,000 participants (~20% of whom are sexual minorities), the aims of this proposal are to: 1) Quantify the intersectional effects of sexual orientation, gender expression, and weight status on risk of DEBs among young adults; 2) Quantify the effects of interpersonal-level determinants (bullying victimization, weight-based harassment) on risk of DEBs by sexual orientation, and evaluate differences by gender expression and/or weight-status; and 3) Quantify the effects of structural-level determinants (discriminatory social conditions, state policies) on risk of DEBs by sexual orientation, and evaluate differences by gender expression and/or weight-status. The National Academy of Medicine’s 2011 landmark report on sexual minority health stressed the importance of adopting an intersectional framework for disparities research to inform the development of inclusive health equity efforts. Applying this lens through leveraging novel statistical methods will further understanding of a critically understudied sexual minority health issue and help identify high-risk subgroups and modifiable contextual risk factors. A tailored training plan accompanies this proposal and outlines the steps required to advance the Applicant’s career as an independent researcher focused on intersectional health disparities research.

    Read more
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    Feasibility of Smartwatches for Atrial Fibrillation Detection in Older Adults

    Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a cardiac rhythm abnormality that currently affects over 6 million Americans. This statistic is expected to double over the next decade given the increasing prevalence of AF risk factors such as advanced age and obesity. Atrial fibrillation confers a 5-fold risk of ischemic stroke, but can be treated effectively with anticoagulation therapy. Despite the efficacy of available treatment options, 1 in 5 patients with AF present with stroke as their initial manifestation of the arrhythmia. This is attributable to the significant challenge in diagnosing AF due to its episodic and sometimes asymptomatic nature. Existing AF monitoring strategies are burdensome or costly and invasive, and thus have low patient adherence and satisfaction. Recently, commercially available wrist-based wearable devices, or smartwatches, have shown to be accurate for AF detection, and may represent a promising tool for identifying AF. However, commercial devices are not primarily designed for use by older adults for arrhythmia detection, and there is a significant research gap in the feasibility of using smartwatches for arrhythmia detection in this population. Furthermore, no previous research has investigated the potential for implementation and integration of smartwatches into the healthcare system and infrastructure. Using data collected from the in-house randomized control trial Pulsewatch, and by conducting qualitative assessments in usability and implementation, this proposal addresses the evidence gap in the feasibility of smartwatches for AF detection with three specific aims: 1) to evaluate individual-level factors associated with adherence of using a smartwatch for AF detection, 2) to explore patient characteristics associated with acceptability of smartwatches and identify specific usability challenges and nuances for older adults, and3) to identify barriers and facilitators of implementing smartwatches for use in a clinical setting. We approach the problem with a user-centered focus and apply rigorous and systematic scientific methods in completing these aims. Knowledge generated from this proposal will provide future researchers and stakeholders with practical evidence in the potential use of smartwatches for detection of AF.

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    Concurrent trajectories of physical frailty and cognitive impairment among nursing home residents and community-dwelling older adults

    Physical frailty, characterized by decreased physiologic reserve and increased vulnerability to stressors, and cognitive impairment, ranging from mild impairment to dementia, often co-occur in older adults. Both are associated with considerable adverse health outcomes, high healthcare costs, and substantial caregiver burden, and are highly prevalent in U.S. community-dwelling older adults. However, for older adults receiving long-term care in nursing homes, data is scarce on the prevalence of the two conditions over their stay. Community-based studies suggest the heterogeneous clinical presentation of physical frailty, which may have implications for its management. It is unknown if such heterogeneity is similar in older nursing home residents and if it is influenced by cognitive impairment. Further, physical frailty and cognitive impairment share risk factors and predict the future onset of one another but the mechanism of this complex interplay remains unclear. Lastly, depression is strongly correlated with both conditions, yet findings regarding the impact of antidepressants on the progression of physical frailty and cognitive impairment are inconsistent. This proposed F99/K00 project seeks to address these gaps by two specific aims with population, longitudinal data, and advanced statistical methods. Aim 1 (dissertation research) focuses on older nursing home residents and will describe the prevalence of physical frailty and cognitive impairment; identify subgroups of physical frailty and examine the variation of subgroups by cognitive impairment levels, and delineate the developmental trajectories of physical frailty and cognitive impairment and examine the correlations between trajectories. Aim2 (post-doctoral research) expands to older adults in the community and will assess the reciprocal association between physical frailty and cognitive impairment; quantify the impact of cumulative exposure to antidepressants on trajectories of physical frailty, cognitive impairment, and depressive symptoms; and examine the effect of depressive symptoms as a mediator of physical frailty on cognitive impairment with causal mediation analysis. Methodological innovations include the use of latent class analysis, group-based trajectory models, structural equation models (autoregressive cross-lagged panel analysis; autoregressive latent trajectory model), and causal mediation. This proposal is directly relevant to the growing aging population in the U.S., including those residing in the nursing homes and those living in the community, since it uses the national nursing home database Minimum Data Set 3.0 (Aim 1) and the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study linked to Medicare Part D Drug Event Files and the Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol (Aim 2). This project will shed light on the concurrent progression of age-related physical and cognitive conditions. Results will inform future work to develop diagnostic tools and prediction models to facilitate timely identification of older adults at risk for accelerated functional decline and implement care tailored to older adults’ needs to effectively delay the onset of negative health outcomes, enhance the quality of life, and foster healthy longevity.

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    Smoking Cessation in Persons with Mental Health Conditions: Exploring the Role of Family and Friends

    Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (Parent F31-Diversity). Smokers with mental health conditions (MHC) have increased risk of dying from lung and cardiovascular disease. The smoking rate among people with MHC greatly exceeds the rate in the general adult population. Although, these smokers are interested in quitting, their quit rates are much lower than the general population. Factors that act as quitting barriers for these smokers, include pro-smoking social norms and attitudes/behaviors of social network members, underuse of pharmacotherapies and behavioral strategies, and inconsistent treatment of tobacco dependency of mental health providers. Thus, leading researchers have called for innovative approaches to address smoking disparities in people with MHC. Family/peer-based behavioral interventions can be an innovative and effective approach to target smokers with MHC for several reasons. Family/peers influence smoking behaviors, and their importance in health behavior change is well-established. Families/peers are often a principal resource for persons with MHC in seeking and accessing health services. A small but consistent body of literature suggests that family/peers may influence the cessation behavior of smokers with MHC. Family /peers could augment other cessation interventions such as adoption of pharmacotherapies. However, interventions that attempt to harness family/peer support for long-term smoking cessation have underperformed. Knowledge gaps exist in our understanding of the mechanisms through which family/peers affect smoking behaviors, as well as how to involve family/peers in smokers’ cessation efforts. Guided by the social influence domain, as outlined in the Theoretical Domains Framework, my dissertation will address these knowlegde gaps. My specific aims are to: 1) prospectively examine the effect of family/peer influences on smoking cessation among smokers with MHC using data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH study), a nationally representative survey of US non-institutionalized individuals in which participants are interviewed annually, 2) evaluate relationships between smokers’ characteristics, family/peer influences, and smoking cessation among smokers with MHC using Structural Equation Models, and 3) qualitatively explore social and clinical barriers and facilitators to smoking cessation and inclusion of family/peer support among smokers with MHC and mental health care providers. This work in combination with the proposed training will facilitate my development into an independent research scientist committed to conducting research focused on tobacco prevention and control. I will be supported by an outstanding mentoring team with expertise in all the relevant areas: smoking cessation, mental health, implementation science, and biostatistics. My research directly addresses NHLBI’s objective of better understanding the causes of population health differences and identifying strategies to effectively address these differences.

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EXTERNAL AWARDS FOR RESEARCH TRAINING (PAST)

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    Trends, Predictors, and Consequences of Child Undernutrition

    One out of every three children under the age of five in India are undernourished (48 million); to address this crisis, Indian government established a national program from 2005-2012. This study will apply advanced geospatial and multilevel methods to investigate 1) the changes in child undernutrition in India from 2005 to 2012, 2) individual, household, and community level predictors of child undernutrition, and 3) consequences of undernutrition on development during pre-adolescent (8-11) years. Results from this study can guide effective policymaking and implementation of intervention programs.

    Read more
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    Patient and Social Determinants of Health Trajectories Following Coronary Events

    About 1.2 million Americans are hospitalized annually with acute coronary syndrome (ACS), and most are discharged alive. Although post-ACS mortality and clinical morbidity have been improving patients may be living longer but not better. In fact, many patients suffer substantial declines in quality of life and functional status after discharge with ACS. Because of critical gaps in our understanding how health status evolves over time for ACS patients, important opportunities for prevention and intervention are potentially being missed. The proposed research takes a systematic approach to examining the association of demographic, psychosocial, clinical, and neighborhood factors on trajectories of health-related quality of life after discharge for ACS. Our study will leverage the availability of rich data already collected for the NHLBI-funded TRACE- CORE, a longitudinal prospective cohort study of 2,183 patients hospitalized with ACS. This study includes data from interview, medical record abstraction, linked administrative databases, and geo-coded census tracks. Specific aims are to: (1) Determine associations between individual level socio-economic, clinical, in- hospital and psychosocial factors and trajectories of patient health status post-ACS discharge, both generic (SF-36) and disease specific (Seattle Angina Questionnaire with domains of physical limitations, angina stability, angina frequency, treatment satisfaction and angina specific quality of life); (2) Determine how neighborhood deprivation is associated with trajectories of patient health status; and (3) Identify the extent to which trajectories of generic quality of life and disease-specific quality of life at baseline, one month, 3 months and 6 months predict mortality or readmission 6 months to 1 year post-ACS discharge. This pre-doctoral fellowship proposal also includes a carefully training plan for me to become an independent physician scientist able to fully exploit the potential of patient-reported outcomes to improve the lives of patients with cardiovascular disease.

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    Functional Health Predictors of Other Cause Mortality Risk in Prostate Cancer

    This proposal has two primary aims: (1) to improve the understanding of the association between patient- reported functional health, comorbidity, and sociodemographic factors and other cause mortality in older men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer; (2) to develop a prototype tool for calculating individualized risk of other cause mortality in this population. Prostate cancer is the most common non-cutaneous cancer in American men and primarily afflicts those age 65 and older. However, most men are diagnosed at early stages with tumors that most often have an indolent course. Guidelines recommend that patients only pursue aggressive treatment if they have >10 year overall life expectancy. Within 5 years of diagnosis, only 11% of American men die due to their prostate cancer, while the majority of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer die of other causes. While validated calculation tools have been developed for clinical use in predicting prostate cancer related mortality, no validated tool has been developed from existing models that identify variables associated with the risk of dying of other causes (OCM). As men in the U.S. live longer and the population above age 65 is rapidly growing, individualized predictions of life expectancy are necessary given the substantial heterogeneity in individual health status. Nearly three quarters of this aging population may have multiple comorbid conditions. Previous work has shown that decrements in patient-reported functional health may be more strongly associated with OCM than the presence of most individual comorbidities. These findings have promise for improving the approach to accounting for the impact of multiple conditions. This predoctoral research training proposal seeks funding to explore the generalizability of prior work demonstrating the association of patient-reported functional health and OCM. The proposed work will help to identify the variables most strongly associated with OCM in older men with prostate cancer, utilizing data from 4,510 subjects in the linked Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results- Medicare Health Outcomes Study (SEER-MHOS) database. This database contains detailed information on cancer characteristics, treatment, cause of death, baseline comorbidities, sociodemographic information, and functional health measures. This proposal will evaluate and improve upon the performance of other cause mortality prediction models through modern statistical techniques to assess predictive model performance. After identifying key predictors of OCM, we propose to develop a prototype clinical risk-calculation tool that estimates personalized risk of 10-year OCM, adapting validated techniques for developing risk calculators. This study will help to establish the utility of patient- reported functional health measures in improving the accuracy of OCM risk estimation in older men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and will make progress towards a clinically useful OCM risk estimation tool. Completion of this work will help to better identify older patients who would most likely benefit from aggressive treatment vs. those who may not, as they may be more likely to die of other causes.

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POST-DEGREE CAREERS

HAWA O. ABU, MD, PHD, MPH

2019 Graduate
Mentored by Catarina Kiefe, PhD, MD and Robert Goldberg, PhD

POST-DOCTORAL ASSOCIATE
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Department of Internal Medicine
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA

Dissertation: Religiosity and Patient Activation and Health Outcomes among Hospital Survivors of an Acute Coronary Syndrome

MATTHEW ALCUSKY, PHARMD, PHD

2019 Graduate
Mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Division of Epidemiology
Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA

Dissertation: Anticoagulant Use, Safety, and Effectiveness for Ischemic Stroke Prevention in Nursing Home Residents with Atrial Fibrillation

DANIEL AMANTE, PHD

2016 Graduate
Mentored by David Harlan, MD

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA

Dissertation: Evaluating Acceptability, Feasibility and Efficacy of a Diabetes Care Support Program Facilitated by Cellular-Enabled Glucose Meters

GANGA BEY, PHD, MPH

2019 Graduate
Mentored by Sharina Person, PhD and Catarina Kiefe, PhD, MD

POST-DOCTORAL FELLOW
Gillings School of Public Health
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dissertation: Gendered Race, Interpersonal Discrimination, and Cardiovascular Disease Disparities: Application of the Emerging Identity Pathology Model

MAIRA CASTAÑEDA-AVILA, PHD

2021 Graduate
Mentored by Mara Epstein, ScD, ScM

POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
Department of Population and Qualitative Health Science
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA

Dissertation: The Role of a Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance Diagnosis in Healthcare Utilization

HAN-YANG CHEN, PHD

2015 Graduate
Mentored by Robert Goldberg, PhD

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Dissertation: Hospital Treatment Practices, 30-Day Hospital Readmissions, and Long-Term Prognosis in Patients Hospitalized with Acute Myocardial Infarction: A Dissertation

YONG CHEN, PHD

2011 Graduate
Mentored by Becky Briesacher, PhD

SENIOR DIRECTOR, REAL WORLD EVIDENCE, RARE DISEASE
Pfizer, Philadelphia, PA

Dissertation: Comparative Effectiveness of Alendronate and Risedronate on the Risk of Non-Vertebral Fractures in Older Women: An Instrumental Variables Approach

YENDELELA CUFFEE, PHD

2012 Graduate
Mentored by Jeroan Allison, MD, MS

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
University of Delaware

Dissertation: Exploring the Psychosocial and Behavioral Determinants of Medication Adherence Among African Americans with Hypertension

CAROL CURTIN, PHD

2015 Graduate
Mentored by Eric Mick, ScD

PROFESSOR
Family Medicine and Community Health and Psychiatry
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester MA

DIRECTOR
Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program and University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities
E.K. Shriver Center
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester MA

Dissertation: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Screen Time, Physical Activity, and Diet Quality

ERIC DING, PHD

2021 Graduate
Mentored by David McManus, MD

MEDICAL TRAINEE
UMass Chan Medical School MD/PhD program

Dissertation: Feasibility of Smartwatch-based Atrial Fibrillation Detection Among Older Adults After Stroke

HONGLIU DING, PHD

2008 Graduate
Mentored by Terry Field, PhD

COMMISSIONER'S FELLOW
US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

EPIDEMIOLOGIST
National Center for Food Safety and Technology, Division of Food Processing Science and Technology

Dissertation: Bone Health and Coronary Heart Disease in Postmenopausal Women with Breast Cancer Treated with Tamoxifen 

NATHANIEL ERSKINE, MD, PHD

2019 Graduate
Mentored by Catarina Kiefe, PhD, MD and Robert Goldberg, PhD

ASSOCIATE, LIFE SCIENCES CONSULTANT AND ADVISOR
Destum Partners, Inc, Charlotte, NC

Dissertation: Barriers to Healthcare Access and Patient Outcomes after a Hospitalization for an Acute Coronary Syndrome and other Acute Conditions

LAUREN GELLAR, PHD, MED, MCHES

2011 Graduate
Mentored by Lori Pbert, PhD

DIRECTOR UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Healthcare Studies
Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC

Dissertation: The Effect of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load on Glucose Control, Lipid Profiles and Anthropometrics among Low-Income Latinos with Type 2 Diabetes

ALEXANDRA HAJDUK, PHD

2014 Graduate
Mentored by Jane Saczynski, PhD

RESEARCH SCIENTIST
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT

Dissertation: Cognitive Status and Initiation of Lifestyle Changes Following Acute Coronary Syndrome

AIMEE KROLL-DESROSIERS, PHD, MS

2019 Graduate
Mentored by Kristin Mattocks, PhD, MPH

RESEARCH HEALTH SCIENTIST
VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System, Leeds, MA

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA

Dissertation: Understanding the Experience and Evaluating the Occurrence of Depression in a Sample of Pregnant Veterans

NIEN CHEN LI (ANNY), PHD

2021 Graduate
Mentored by Arlene Ash, PhD

SENIOR CORPORATE BIOSTATISTICIAN
Dialysis Clinic, Inc., Nashville, TN

Dissertation: Assessing and Modeling Quality Measures for Healthcare Systems

LISA LINES, PHD

2014 Graduate
Mentored by Arlene Ash, PhD

SENIOR HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCHER
RTI International, Waltham, MA

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA

Dissertation: Outpatient Emergency Department Utilization: Measurement and Prediction

SHAO-HSIEN LIU, PHD

2017 Graduate
Mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester MA

Dissertation: Impact of Intra-Articular Injection Use on Patient-Reported Outcomes Among Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis

ANDREA LOPEZ-CEPERO, PHD, MHSN

2019 Graduate
Mentor: Milagros Rosal, PhD

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Rollins School of Public Health
Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Dissertation: Physiological and psychological stressors associated with glucose metabolism in the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study

DEBORAH MACK, MPH, PHD

2020 Graduate
Mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD

TL1 POST-DOCTORAL FELLOW
Division of Epidemiology
Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA

Dissertation: Statin Pharmacotherapy in US Nursing Homes

GRACE MASTERS, PHD

2021 Graduate
Mentored by Nancy Byatt, DO, MS, MBA

MEDICAL TRAINEE
UMass Chan Medical School MD/PhD Program

Dissertation: Bipolar Disorder in the Perinatal Period: Understanding Gaps in Care to Improve Access and Patient Outcomes

CAMILLA PIMENTEL, PHD

2015 Graduate
Mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD

CORE INVESTIGATOR
Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration
Bedford VA Medical Center, Bedford, MA

Dissertation: Use of Opioids for Pain Management in Nursing Homes

HILARY PLACZEK, PHD

2012 Graduate
Mentored by Lawrence Madoff, MD

VICE PRESIDENT, MEDICAL ECONOMICS AND OUTCOMES
Ontrak, Santa Monica, CA

Dissertation: A Population-Based Epidemiological Description of Socio-Demographic Characteristics and Predictors of Severity Among Hospitalized H1N1 Cases in Massachusetts

ALAN RATHBUN, PHD

2014 Graduate
Mentored by George Reed, PhD

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Epidemiology & Public Health
University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

Dissertation: Depression in Rheumatoid Arthritis and an Estimation of the Bi-Directional Association of Depression and Disease Burden

APURV SONI, PHD

2021 Graduate
Mentored by Jeroan Allison, MD, MS

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Population and Qualitative Health Sciences
UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA

Dissertation: Trends, Predictors, and Consequences of child undernutrition in India

MEERA SREEDHARA, PHD, MPH

2020 Graduate
Mentored by Stephenie Lemon, PhD

EVALUATION FELLOW
Applied Research and Evaluation Branch
Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

Dissertation: A Mixed Methods Study of Local Policy, Systems, and Environmental Approaches Supportive of Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

CHRISTINE ULBRICHT, PHD

2015 graduate
Mentored by Kate Lapane, PhD

PROGRAM OFFICER
National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD

Dissertation: Latent Variable Approaches for Understanding Heterogeneity in Depression: A Dissertation

W.W. SANOURI URSPRUNG, PHD

2013 Graduate
Mentored by Joseph DiFranza, MD

DIRECTOR
Office of Statistics and Evaluation
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA

Dissertation: Developing Three New Pathophysiologically Based Measures of Nicotine Dependence: A Dissertation

MOLLIE WOOD, PHD

2015 Graduate
Mentored by Jean Frazier, MD

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Department of Epidemiology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dissertation: Causal Inference Methods for Assessing Neurodevelopment in Children Following Prenatal Exposure to Triptan Medications

RUI (SHERRY) XIAO, PHD

2015 Graduate
Mentored by Molly Waring, PhD

DIRECTOR
Global Medical Epidemiology
Pfizer, Cambridge, MA

Dissertation: Diet Quality and Evening Snacking In Relation To Sleep Duration And Quality Among Women With Young Children