Assistant Research Professor
Saint Louis University, School of Medicine
Immediately after graduating with my doctoral degree, I accepted an appointment as a research assistant professor of psychology that focused on health outcomes at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. As the project director on that multimillion dollar Department of Defense grant, I oversaw all aspects of that community health initiative designed to decrease smoking and improve the health of military personnel across the United States. I moved from that position into the larger public health domain, as the lead MCH epidemiologist for the state of Missouri. I worked with several partners and undertook a number of initiatives designed to combat the unacceptably high infant mortality rate in Missouri and related indicators such as maternal health and infant care. While in this role, I secured funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate racial disparity in infant mortality as well as was awarded a two year health disparity scholarship through the National Institutes of Health. Currently, I am an assistant research professor at St. Louis University, where I continue to focus my research efforts on improving the health of women, children, and families and to reduce health disparities among minority populations. I have received grants in the areas of prenatal and preconception health, focusing on behavioral and behavioral change. It is my plan to better understand the prevalence and incidence of disease among women, children and families so that we can better inform and educate our citizens, practitioners and policy makers. Further, it is my hope that these findings, being grounded in scientific methodology, will help me to be respected among my peers as well as a better educator to students.
It was hypothesized that behavioral risk factors will vary between pregnant and non-pregnant women, with significant racial/ethnic and immigrant disparities. It is further hypothesized that the prevalence of health behaviors will be modified by a host of social and economic variables.
My New Connections Experience
In this age of unprecedented health prosperity, the United States ranks as one of the worst among major industrialized nations for its infant mortality rate. The persistently high and disparate infant mortality rate, along with a host of other birth outcome disparities (e.g., preterm birth rate, low birth weight births, timely initiation of prenatal care) are simply unacceptable. With preconception health and wellness a new priority, a better understanding of racial and ethnic disparities in preconception health is an important first step. This proposal reflects the Foundation’s goal of improving the health and health care of all Americans, by focusing on disparities in health behaviors of women of reproductive age and their future children. Specifically, this proposal is in response to the Public Health Teams research question regarding assessing and addressing health disparities through the determination and testing of social indicators as they affect preconception health equity. In turn, as the effect of social indicators are assessed in terms of their impact upon preconception health, public health priorities and resources can be more tightly targeted to the needs of the community.
Being part of New Connections has allowed my career to advance in the area of preconception heath as well as segue into the area of disparities in immigrant health. In addition, it has offered resources to ease that career advancement and a supportive cadre of like-minded social scientists.
My research interests focus on the health of women and children, with special attention on racial, ethnic and immigrant disparities. In fact, it was during my tenure as the lead maternal and child health (MCH) epidemiologist at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MODHSS) that I solidified this research passion. During my time at MODHSS, my applied studies of women’s health issues was enhanced through a two year health disparity scholarship through the National Institutes of Health and funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate racial disparities in infant mortality. I continue this line of research at Saint Louis University, where my research efforts focus on improving the health of women, children, and families and reducing health disparities among minority populations. In fact, I was awarded two MCH related grants last year, one a community grant from the local chapter of the March of Dimes, and the other, a grant from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF). I received a second, three-year grant from The March of Dimes (January 09- December 11), a $206,000 grant used to provide information, training, and implementation of a novel approach to prental care for clinicians that serve pregnant women throughout the state. The RWJF grant was secondary analysis of national data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data set, a final manuscript of which is currently be completed.
- New Connections Status: Junior Investigator,
- Award Year: 2008
- RWJF Team/Portfolio: Public Health
- Project Name: Immigrant and Racial Disparities in Reproductive Health.