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COPH Study to Investigate Genetic Component of Blood Pressure Variability

C O P H Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology Mohammad El Faramawi, P h D, M B B C h, M s c, M P H

Mohammed Elfaramawi, MD, PhD

Mohammed Elfaramawi, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, is the principal investigator for a first-of-its-kind study that will explore the relationship between common genetic variants and arterial blood pressure variability, which has not been tested before in any American population. The main aim of the proposed study is to locate SNPs (genetic variants) associated with medical visit-to-visit blood pressure variability.

Epidemiologic studies have revealed that long-term increases in blood pressure variability are associated with cardiovascular damage, and with an increased incidence of cardiovascular events and mortality independent of elevated mean blood pressure.

The proposed study is important because the discovery of such variants and genetic regions is a stepping stone to uncover biological insights to identify new pharmacological targets for decreasing blood pressure variability; this in turn will lead to novel prevention strategies to reduce the growing public health burden of blood pressure variability-related cardiovascular disease, according to Dr. Elfaramawi.

Researchers will use Genome-Wide-Association (GWAS) data of the Cardiovascular Health Study and the Women’s Health Initiatives in the three-year study, supported by a $447,000 R15 grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. The grant title is Genes, Blood Pressure Variability and Cardiovascular Diseases.”

Co-PIs on the study are Robert Delongchamp, PhD, and Mohammed Orloff, PhD, faculty in the Department of Epidemiology. Eleanor Feingold at the University of Pittsburgh will serve as a consultant.

COPH HBHE Faculty Funded to Research Faith-based Intervention for Depression

C O P H Assistant professor and Clinical psychologist Tiffany Haynes, P h D

Tiffany Haynes, PhD

Tiffany Haynes, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education and Karen Yeary, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, have received a U01 grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to test the efficacy of an intervention addressing depression among rural African Americans.

The award is $2.1 million for five years.

Rural African Americans are disproportionately affected by discrimination, racism and poverty which in turn puts them at higher risk for a host of negative health outcomes including poor chronic disease management, difficulties at work and in social relationships, and the development of clinical depression.

C O P H Associate Professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education Karen Yeary, P h D

Karen Yeary, PhD

Because as much as 85 percent of the African-American community can be reached through churches, churches are seen as a promising venue for addressing mental health issues in that community.

Drs. Haynes and Yeary along with their collaborators – faith community leaders in the Arkansas Delta and UAMS researchers – have developed an evidence-based, culturally appropriate behavior change intervention to be used in rural African-American churches. The 8-session intervention is based on a previous, NIMHD-funded project, “Faith Academic Initiatives to Transform Health (FAITH), in the Delta.

Besides testing the efficacy of the intervention, the project also aims to identify strategies that maintain implementation fidelity in “real world” settings, such as churches.

COPH EOH Faculty Serves as Journal Guest Editor, Submissions Welcome

C O P H Associate Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Alesia Ferguson, P h D, M P H

Alesia Ferguson, PhD, MPH

Alesia Ferguson, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupation Health, is a guest editor for a special issue of the open-source, peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The special issue title is “Children’s Exposure to Environmental Contaminants.”

Submissions Deadline is June 30.

The journal website notes that the special issue will focus on a public health concern for which data are limited—children’s increased vulnerability to environmental contaminants due to their small size and play behaviors that may increase their contaminant intake:

“This Special Issue aims to showcase and summarize new information about child behaviors that are useful for quantifying exposures of children to environmental contaminants. We welcome papers that address behavioral patterns specific to children, children’s susceptibility to contaminants at various growth stages, quantify environmental exposures to contaminants, and document contaminant distributions in areas that present exposure risks to children. Innovative risk assessments focused on children’s susceptibility to environmental contaminants are also welcome.

For more information contact Dr. Ferguson or go to this link.

COPH Epi Faculty on Team Recommending New H. Pylori Treatment Guidelines

C O P H Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology Lori Fischbach, P h D, M P H

Lori Fischbach, PhD

Lori Fischbach, PhD, Associate Professor and Interim Chair in the Department of Epidemiology, serves on the Canadian Helicobacter Study Group, which has produced new consensus guidelines that recommend more intense, longer duration treatment of Helicobacter pylori in adults.

It is estimated that about a third of the US population is infected with H. pylori, which causes gastric ulcer disease and is associated with increased risk for gastric cancer.

The new guidelines are based on the group’s systematic review of the literature on management of H. pylori in response to frequent failures of therapies that follow current guidelines. The group also recognized that emerging therapies called for an update.

An article about the new guidelines, The Toronto Consensus for the Treatment of Helicobacter pylori Infection in Adults, is in the April 19 issue of the online journal, Gastroenterology.

Reuters Health published an article on May 3 about the new guidelines, which was picked up by Medscape.

COPH Communications Assistant Dean Moves to Center for Health Literacy

C O P H Assistant Dean for Communications and External Affairs Nancy Dockter, M P H

Nancy Dockter, MPH

Nancy Dockter, MPH, who has served as Assistant Dean for Communications and External Affairs, has accepted a job at the UAMS Center for Health Literacy, effective June 1. She will be the Coordinator of the Plain Pages program. Ms. Dockter has been with the COPH Dean’s Suite since 2013. Plain Pages provides readability assessments and editing of health-related documents to make them easier to understand by health services users.