MEET THE SCHOLARS
Dr. Sara M. St. George received her PhD in clinical community psychology from the University of South Carolina and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. She is currently Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, where she directs the Health eLifestyles Lab and MS in Prevention Science and Community Health degree program.
Her research focuses on developing and evaluating family-based digital lifestyle interventions for Hispanics which integrate multiple generations (e.g., grandparents, parents, children) to prevent obesity, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Dr. Brittany Smalls is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Health Services Research and Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky. Before coming to CHSR, she was Senior Project Manager at Brigham and Women's Hospital's Center for Surgery and Public Health and a member of faculty at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Dr. Smalls' research interests include health disparities, global health, and social determinants of health within the confines of complex chronic illnesses. Her work has included the assessment of social determinants of health on type 2 diabetes health outcomes, specifically community and neighborhood characteristics. Currently, Dr. Smalls is redirecting her research to focus on the burden of complex chronic illness in the older population, the impact of social determinants, and the development of patient-centered interventions to alleviate identified burdens.
Dr. Charisse Madlock-Brown is a faculty member in Health Informatics and Information Management at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She received her Master’s in Library Science and Ph.D. in Health Informatics from the University of Iowa. She has expertise in data management, data mining, and visualization. She has a broad background in health informatics, with a current focus on obesity trends and multimorbidity.
Dr. Charisse Madlock-Brown's other areas of interest are network analysis and emerging topic detection in biomedicine. She has authored several book chapters and journal articles and continues to keep up-to-date on data integration, data architecture, database management, and analytic methods. She runs the UTHSC Research Pipelines labs, which provide online interfaces for distributed computing and storage systems. Her lab can manage projects from data extraction and transformation to modeling and visualization for small-scale and big data projects.
Dr. Debora Kamin Mukaz is a postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory for Clinical Biochemistry Research at the University of Vermont. She holds a fellowship from the American Heart Association to examine residential segregation and hypertension risk in the NIH-funded Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. She also holds an Early Career Investigator Award from the Collaborative Cohort of Cohorts for COVID-19 Research (C4R) to examine COVID-19 risk and resilience.
Dr. Kamin Mukaz aims to make science accessible to groups that have been historically excluded from academic research. She is a co-founder of Black In Cardio, an organization to celebrate Black people in cardiovascular fields and raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases in Black communities.
Dr. Andrea López-Cepero is a population health researcher focusing on prevention of cardiometabolic conditions among Latinxs, particularly obesity and type 2 diabetes. She uses a biopsychosocial approach to understand how stress influences health through behavioral and physiological adaptations, with the ultimate goal of identifying novel interventions targets to improve Latinx health. Her current research documents stress-related eating behaviors (i.e., emotional and uncontrolled eating) in US Latinx adults and in Puerto Rico, and evaluates their association with stressors and cardiometabolic markers.
Additionally, Dr. Andrea López-Cepero's research explores novel resilience factors and how these may buffer the effect of stress on eating behaviors and health. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. López-Cepero is leading studies in Puerto Rico that aim to document how the pandemic has influenced glucose metabolism, emotional eating, and access to foods and healthcare among individuals with type 2 diabetes, as well as to understand beliefs, barriers, and facilitators towards COVID-19 vaccination and testing among adults in the Island. Dr. López-Cepero is a strong advocate for minority health and health equity, and for this she has been recognized as one of the El Mundo Boston Latino 30 under 30 and a Health Disparities Research Institute Scholar.
Dr. Roman Johnson is a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Prevention Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His scholarly interests lie at the intersection of early detection and screening of cancer in racial/ethnic minorities, neighborhood quality, and co-morbidity.
His work can be found in Cancer, The Journal of Cancer Education, and elsewhere. He strives to become a tenure-track assistant professor at a top-tier R01 university focusing most of his effort on research.
Dr. Tagrid Ruiz-Maldonado is a third-year Child Abuse Pediatrics fellow at the University of Utah. She completed her BSc, MD & General Pediatrics residency at the University of Puerto. Rico Upon completion of her fellowship training, she will become the first formally-trained Child Abuse Pediatrician from Puerto Rico.
In her Rising Stars talk, Dr. Ruiz-Maldonado discussed ongoing collaborations with multiple departments, including the Divisions of Critical Care and Emergency Medicine, and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Furthermore, drawing from her experience as a Boricua in Utah, she addressed her goals to continue fostering intercultural literary and promoting diversity within medicine and academia.
Dr. Akinyemi Oni-Orisan is a pharmacist-scientist and Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Francisco with expertise in applied pharmacology, clinical lipidology, and pharmacogenomics. Dr. Oni-Orisan’s long-term research goal is to advance precision medicine in cardiovascular pharmacotherapy for individuals from diverse backgrounds. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
Dr. Oni-Orisan teaches pharmacy students in the Discovery Projects research program including spearheading the inaugural Health Disparities Discovery Group and serving as a primary mentor for students in the Pharmacogenomics Discovery Group.
Dr. Oni-Orisan completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Clinical Pharmacology Training Program at UCSF. He received his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics at the University of North Carolina. He earned both his BS in biology and PharmD degrees at the University of Michigan.
Dr. Rachel Issaka is a Gastroenterologist and Assistant Professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington with expertise in colorectal cancer prevention, quality improvement, and health equity. Dr. Issaka’s research focuses on decreasing colorectal cancer mortality through increased screening in medically underserved populations. Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Dr. Issaka has contributed to national medical practice guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT).
Dr. Issaka completed her gastroenterology fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco where she also earned a master’s in clinical research. She completed her internal medicine residency at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where she served as chief resident and obtained her medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School.