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SUNY Downstate PRIDE Summer Institute

Program to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research (PRIDE)

SUNY PRIDE Scholars

Cohort I – 2011
Program to Increase Diversity in Cardiovascular Health Disparities Research


photo of Thembi Conner-Garcia

Thembi Conner-Garcia, MD: Dr. Conner-Garcia is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and has been in that position since October 2007. She was born in Poughkeepsie, New York and raised in Peoria, Illinois where she currently resides. Dr. Conner-Garcia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. She recently completed the requirements for a Masters in Public Health degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in August 2010. Dr. Conner-Garcia serves on multiple committees at the College of Medicine and is very involved in the community. This past fall, Dr. Conner-Garcia was named to the InterBusiness Central Illinois 2010 class of 40 Leaders Under Forty.


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Brian Curry, MD: Dr. Curry is interested in investigating normal and abnormal diastolic function parameters in patients of African descent as they relate to mortality in hypertensive and normotensive patients and compare the differences with the general population. He is also interested in the use of advanced cardiac imaging in different populations with similar clinical presentations. The use of newer diagnostic tools is often geared towards certain populations regardless of insurance status and with emerging data on the utility of modalities such as cardiac CT scanning and cardiac MRI I would like to investigate whether this is the case and if there are barriers to access.


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Natasha Williams EdD: Dr. Williams is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health in the College of Health Professions and Social Work at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. Dr. Williams earned both her doctorate degree and MPH from Columbia University. She is the recipient of several fellowships and awards including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. She was an NIMH pre-doctoral recipient and investigated the measurement of prejudice and discrimination at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. The scope of her work includes HIV/AIDS, the impact of prejudice and discrimination on physical and mental health, and racial/ethnic health disparities. Since working at Temple University she secured internal funding and is the Principal Investigator of "uGO: A community-based participatory approach to promoting physical activity and healthy eating". Dr. Williams' overall research and career goal is to investigate the role of CBPR to address health disparities and achieve health equity.


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Jemima Frimpong, PhD: Dr. Frimpong is Assistant Professor of Population and Family Health and Faculty of the Columbia Population and Research Center. She joined the faculty of the Mailman School of Public Health in 2009 after receiving her PhD in Health Services Research from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business. Prior to pursuing a career in academia, Professor Frimpong worked at United Healthcare and Veterans Affairs Health System. Dr. Frimpong has conducted research on provider factors and uptake of immunizations, impact of hospital competition on variations in patient health outcomes, and geographic variation in the need and use of mental health services. The goal of her research is to develop methods, tools, and interventions that would adequately address structural and social conditions that adversely impact patient health outcomes, especially for underserved populations. Dr. Frimpong is committed to the translation of research into practice and policy-making, and the application of knowledge gained from practice in informing research on health and health care.


photo of Alethea Hill

Alethea Hill, PhD: Dr. Hill has been a registered nurse for 14 years, and has spent the past 10 years as Adult Nurse Practitioner in Internal Medicine. In addition, she has been a full time nurse educator for 8 years teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Dr. Hill is an Early Stage Investigator that will begin her postdoctoral career in September 2011 with recent funding received from the University of Michigan from the Center of Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities (CIAHD). Her desire is to begin a career that explores insulin resistance, a diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk equivalent, perceived discrimination, and its' role in the development of cardiovascular disease with allostatic load as the conceptual framework.


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Cheryl Lynch, MD, MPH: Dr. Lynch is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics and a core investigator with the Center for Health Disparities Research at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). She also works as a staff physician at the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and is an investigator at the Center for Disease Prevention and Health Interventions in Diverse Populations. In addition to her clinical work at MUSC and the VA, Dr. Lynch has broad research interests in the areas of cardiovascular disease risk reduction among populations with diabetes and/or obesity, particularly as it relates to racial/ethnic, geographic and socioeconomic disparities of health. From her clinical and research experiences, Dr. Lynch has focused on building interventions that have a positive impact on disparities in health among vulnerable populations through changing individual health behaviors, improving lifestyle skills, and facilitating access to health services.


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Amani Nuru-Jeter, PhD: Dr. Nuru-Jeter is Assistant Professor in the Divisions of Community Health and Human Development; and Epidemiology at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, School of Public Health. She is also Faculty Affiliate of the UC Berkeley Population Center and the Population Health Track of the Division of Health Policy and Management; and Research Affiliate with the Center on Social Disparities in Health at UC San Francisco. Dr. Nuru-Jeter received a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Neurophysiology from the University of Maryland at College Park, a Master's of Public Health (M.P.H.) in Maternal and Child Health from The George Washington University, her Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and was in Cohort 1 of the RWJ Health and Society Scholars Program at UC San Francisco and Berkeley where she received additional training in social epidemiology and population health. Before returning to graduate school, Dr. Nuru-Jeter was Research Associate at the Jerusalem Ministry of Health; Health Policy Coordinator for DC Action for Children, a non-profit children's advocacy organization in Washington, DC; and Manager of the Primary Care Office at the DC Department of Health.


photo of Ronica Rooks

Ronica Rooks, PhD: Dr. Rooks is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD). At UCD she teaches a graduate course on social epidemiology, as well as undergraduate courses in Health Disparities/Ethnicity, Health and Social Justice, the Social Determinants of Health, and Health, Culture, and Society. Prior to her current position she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Kent State University in Ohio. She also completed a W. K. Kellogg postdoctoral fellowship in health disparities at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan and a postdoctoral fellowship In geriatric epidemiology, in the intramural Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry at the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Rooks graduated from the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland at College Park with concentrations in demography and social stratification. She received her bachelor's degree in economics and sociology/ anthropology from St. Mary's College of Maryland.


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Antoine Trammell, MD: Dr. Trammell's interests in the field of cardiovascularrelated research are the outcomes of cardiac arrest and cardiovascular disease among medically underserved populations. He is dedicated to the improvement of advanced cardiac life support training for healthcare providers serving indigent patients. This particular population has poorer states of disease control due to health illiteracy, which may decrease survival and long-term functional outcomes after the event. He believes the continued education and reeducation of healthcare providers in this area will contribute to improvement of patient outcomes. In addition to cardiovascular and cardiac arrest outcomes, Dr. Trammell is interested in improving the rates of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the southeastern United States. Factors that contribute to these rates include a deficiency in public education on the sufficiency of compression -only resuscitation. It is challenging to bring awareness to this topic with low literacy rates, lower education levels, and decreased access to the healthcare system. Dr. Trammell's professional goals are to remain in the academic medicine setting, complete the program of formal research training including study design and data analysis, and expand my research interests with the procurement of funding to impact lives for generations to come.


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Nketi Forbang, MD: Dr. Forbang's primary interests are in peripheral arterial disease (PAD), its progression, and its disproportionate affects in Blacks. His current research investigates factors associated with the progression of the ankle brachial index ABI), a nonVinvasive measure of PAD. He is also studying what unique role diabetes an important risk factor for PAD, which also affects Blacks in a disproportionate manner] might play in the progression of the ABI. Age related structural changes in the human vasculature, partially responsible for increased risk of CVD in older persons, are a secondary interest. Two projects thus far, one currently being reviewed for publication; investigate associations with the position of the aortic bifurcation where the abdominal aorta divides into right and left common iliac arteries). The position of the bifurcation, more caudally located along the lower spine with age, is an important consideration for spine surgeons large body of literature on the benefits of aerobic exercise on CVH. However, very few studies have investigated the relationship between resistance training predominantly anaerobic exercise) and CVH. For example, in PAD patients, low body aerobic exercise improves morbidity. It is possible that lower limb resistance


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David Smith, MD: Dr. Smith's research focus is to continue unraveling vascular and genetic mysteries germane to the delivery of quality scientifically grounded, evidence-based medicine. His goal is to champion the elimination of healthcare disparities among all underserved groups. His specific charge will be the performance and creation of high quality, meaningful research to identify, dissect, and eradicate barriers to healthcare equity. Dr. Smith's interests in vascular biology and the disparities are numerous. I am currently investigating the inequity in African American versus non; African American outcomes in percutaneous intervention and therapies devised to prevent post procedural stent thrombosis. Consistent with his training and his desire to develop a robust compilation of applicable data, he expects to write protocols to study macrovascular inflammation and prospective in outcomes in high-risk patients. This will be accomplished by using commercially available products based on my previous benchwork.



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