SPH news

Posted Date: August 14, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Kenya Littleboy

Dr. Katherine Fogelberg

Dr. Katherine Fogelberg and friends are building a school in Kenya.

Their mission is to empower girls, to show them that big dreams are achievable and anything is possible through education and support.

The UNT Health Science Center public health professor deeply understands what it means when someone is there to lend a helping hand.

As a South Korean orphan adopted by an American family, her personal experiences and the opportunities she found growing up in her new country forever shaped her life, career and desire to give back to others.

Over the years, Dr. Fogelberg studied animal science and became a doctor of veterinary medicine. She completed a master’s degree in educational leadership. She took that forward to gain a PhD in science education, and has worked in public health for the last eight years.

KenyatraditionaldanceAlong the way, she’s also traveled the world, serving in the U.S. Army and caring for wildlife in remote places like South Africa and Uganda.

Now she wants to help other women dream big and go for their personal best.

“Msomi means scholar in Swahili, the most commonly understood language in Kenya,” Dr. Fogelberg said, explaining why the non-profit she has founded is called Msomi Academy for Girls.

The small team spearheading this project has a long road ahead to secure funding, develop and pilot curriculum, and become known and accepted among parents and future students. They know it won’t be easy, but they are ready for the challenge.

“We want to do something good in the world. My colleagues and I are passionate about education. We want to help empower girls,” Dr. Fogelberg said.

The startup team includes teachers, marketing and creative counsel, those with experience in preparatory school management, and UNTHSC public health students and alumni.

Several team members visited Kenya in June to look for land, meet with families, learn more about the region’s different cultures, deliver mosquito netting and teach prevention of infectious diseases like malaria, typhoid and cholera.

“We talked with girls who want to someday become pilots, lawyers and physicians,” Dr. Fogelberg said. “Many believe, for the first time in their ethnic cultural history, that this is possible, in large part because of a local role model who’s become the area’s first female to graduate from medical school. They are starting to see possibilities that might exist for them too.”

As a primary school initially targeting grades 1 through 8, Msomi will focus on liberal arts and applied science, to give girls practical tools for improving quality of life in their home communities and beyond.

While Dr. Fogelberg’s ultimate goal is to “get just one girl ready for a university education,” the team understands that there are other needs and many ways that Kenyan girls can grow and contribute right where they live.

Kenyateaching In Tent“The curriculum will relate to ways they can be successful in an agricultural society, so they can take on bigger roles typically reserved for men in their communities,” said UNTHSC MPH student Sarah Matthes, who is interning with Msomi and recently traveled with the team to Kenya. “Math and science classes through agriculture, using gardening and farming as teaching tools, will cover topics like planning and productivity of crops, composting techniques, when and how to plant, watering and other aspects related to the needs of their daily lives.”

Basics like reading, writing, culturally-relevant reproductive health and sex education will also be offered.

“The intent is to provide a comprehensive education, making it as useful as possible for their everyday lives,” Matthes said.

“As we are connecting with families and support organizations in the region, we are asking what people see as their biggest challenges, to learn more about how we can help,” Matthes said. “A big problem among women in Kenya is not knowing what their options are or thinking they might not be capable of going after what they want. We hope to change that.”

Msomi is currently in the process of acquiring 501(c)(3) status and fundraising to purchase land, construct the buildings and hire teachers, medical support and other needed staff.

Dr. Fogelberg’s plan is to use Kenyan resources, both human and material, to ensure the program is locally sustainable.

Along the way, the team continues to focus on their even bigger goal.

“It’s important to teach Kenyan girls how they can contribute successfully to society, but to do this, we have to get them to believe in themselves first,” Dr. Fogelberg said.

“Personally,” Matthes said, “I hope to see these girls find the way to pursue whatever is their best life and to have the resources to go for their dreams.”

Photos courtesy of Msomi Academy for Girls

 

Twitter: @MSoMI_Academy

Instagram: @msomiacademy

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/msomiacademy/

Posted Date: August 13, 2018
Austin Meyer

Dr. Austin Meyer

By Sally Crocker

Dr. Austin G. Meyer was already working on both a PhD in Biochemistry and a medical degree at other Texas universities when he decided to enroll in UNT Health Science Center’s Master of Public Health online program.

Why?

“I had thought about it for a long time,” he said. “Medical school focuses primarily on anatomy and physiology, and treatments based on pathophysiology of disease, but taking it a step further – to consider population health, the social determinants of health, health policy, or to organize, collect and analyze data for clinical trials and community health studies – all of that calls for a public health perspective.”

Dr. Meyer became interested in public health during his first year of medical school, when he took on a leadership team role with a free clinic managed by Texas Tech University in the Lubbock area.

“There were many areas of public health that I wanted to learn more about, such as how to interact with public health departments to set up vaccination days, how to navigate the policy landscape for a public health grant, how to develop funding for a public clinic and more,” he said. “The work I was beginning to do as a student leader in that role challenged me to look deeper into public health and how it impacts the practice of medicine.”

After his second year of medical school, he took a year off to finish his PhD.

At about that same time, the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak hit the news and quickly reached global concern levels.

With Dr. Meyer’s research on viral evolution already underway, he and a colleague were able to compare Ebola’s evolution at that point to earlier outbreaks, and to study it in contrast to other emergent viruses, like the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus, to understand whether Ebola was evolving more rapidly in 2014 than it had in the past.

As a result, they were invited to present their findings at the Ebola Modeling Workshop in Atlanta that was co-sponsored by Georgia Institute of Technology and the CDC.

“There were so many aspects of the Ebola outbreak that caught my attention as both a biochemistry researcher and a physician in training,” he said, “such as knowing how to treat the patient, how to interact with the public on a larger scale, how to contain the disease, the challenges and limitations of HAZMAT gear for emergency/medical personnel, and how to collect, organize and analyze data when situations are happening so rapidly and in numerous places.”

Doctors today, he said, are finding themselves in many different roles that call for public health knowledge and experience.

“Physicians touch on public health at almost every level. In addition to working with and sometimes for public health departments, doctors providing international aid can take on the role of community health worker, and through medical societies and advocacy efforts, physicians can impact policy,” Dr. Meyer said. “Public health is also important in reaching challenging populations to motivate better lifestyle choices related to diet, smoking, alcohol/substance use, exercise, blood pressure and cholesterol control, stress management and other conditions.”

Being able to complete the MPH online through the UNTHSC School of Public Health was a real benefit, Dr. Meyer said, to “add the context and background to complete the picture” that has now taken him to the next level, as an Internal Medicine and Pediatrics resident physician at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Posted Date: August 6, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Liam Oneill

Dr. Liam O’Neill

Private hospital rooms may save lives by reducing the risk of a dangerous type of hospital-acquired infection, according to UNT Health Science Center researchers in a new study published in PLOS ONE.

Liam O’Neill, PhD, Associate Professor of Health Behavior and Health Systems at the UNTHSC School of Public Health, who led the study with Frank Rosinia, MD, UNTHSC Professor and Executive Vice President for Strategy and Performance, and doctoral student Sae-Hwan Park, sought to understand the impact of private rooms on patient safety events and preventable complications, such as central line infections.

Examining discharge records for more than one million inpatients across 335 Texas hospitals, the research team found that patients who stayed in bay (double occupancy) rooms had 64% more central line infections than patients who stayed in private rooms. After adjusting for patient characteristics and risk factors, such as race, ethnicity, age, sex and comorbidities, the study’s authors found that patients who stayed in bay rooms had a 21% increase in the relative risk of a central line infection compared to patients assigned to private rooms.

Central line-associated bloodstream infections are those acquired through central venous catheters. Due to the central line’s proximity to the heart, such infections are both costly and extremely dangerous.

The mortality rate for patients with central line infections is 12-25 percent, accounting for about 5,000-10,000 preventable deaths each year.

“At the hospital level, taking overall facility design into account, a 10% increase in private rooms was associated with an 8.6% decrease in central line infections, regardless of individual room assignments. This suggests that there may be some positive externalities at work that benefit all patients, not just those assigned to private rooms.”

The study also found significant racial and ethnic differences in the likelihood of being assigned to a private room. Compared with non-Hispanic whites, African-Americans were 1.63 times more likely, and Hispanics were 1.44 times more likely, to stay in a bay room. Most of these differences appear to be driven by a hospital’s geographic location.

South and west of San Antonio, bay rooms are still predominant.

By contrast, the “Texas Triangle” – defined nationally as one of the country’s mega regions, bordered by the four main cities of Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin – has seen significant population growth and new hospital construction over the past decade, with the majority of hospital rooms in the region now private.

The researchers noted that hospitals with mostly private rooms also employed more nurses and had shorter lengths of stay with fewer in-hospital transfers. Each of these factors is also associated with fewer hospital-acquired infections.

“Private hospital rooms have numerous other benefits that are harder to quantify,” Dr. O’Neill said, “such as more privacy, reduced noise, fewer dietary and medication mix-ups, and reduced stress.”

While this study focused on only one aspect of private rooms, the research team plans to study other aspects in the future, he said.

“We hope that our findings will start to change the conversation in hospital board rooms from how much will private rooms cost to how many lives will they save,” Dr. O’Neill said.

 

Posted Date: July 31, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Erika ThompsonA new study led by a UNT Health Science Center researcher suggests that requiring HPV vaccinations for school enrollment may be an effective way for states to improve vaccine rates and meet CDC guidance for health protection among boys and girls beginning around seventh grade, as well as boost compliance rates specifically among boys.

The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) by Erika L. Thompson, PhD, MPH, and colleagues, found a rise in starting the series of HPV vaccination among adolescent boys in Rhode Island after the enactment of a new 2015 state policy.

“Few states have enacted policies for HPV vaccine as a school-entry requirement,” said Dr. Thompson, Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Systems at the UNTHSC School of Public Health. “Though Virginia and the District of Columbia were early adopters of this plan in 2008 and 2009, respectively, school prerequisites focused only on girls and were broadly defined, resulting in easily obtained objections to starting the vaccine series.”

HPV vaccination is recommended by the CDC for both males and females. It is routinely given at 11 or 12 years of age, but can be given beginning at age 9 through age 26. Depending on the age when a person receives the first dose, the vaccine may be administered as either a two- or three-dose series.

HPV vaccine is important in protecting against cancers and other diseases caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

Nearly 80 million people—about one in four, according to the CDC —are currently infected in the United States.  About 14 million people, including teens, become infected each year.

“Rhode Island’s recent school-entry requirements specify the first dose of the vaccine for both girls and boys before entering the seventh grade and completion of the series before entering ninth grade, using a narrow definition of exemption, making it more difficult to opt out,” Dr. Thompson said.

The researchers used National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen) parental reporting data from 2010 through 2016 in their analysis, comparing changes in vaccination rates before and after Rhode Island’s new policy. A control group of all other states’ data before and after Rhode Island’s change was used as a means for comparison within the study model. HPV vaccination rates were modeled separately for boys and girls, since typically boys have lower utilization of this vaccine.

Significantly, their findings showed an 11% increase in the vaccination initiation rate for boys after the requirements were established, while rates among girls remained high and steadily consistent, suggesting that by mandating the vaccine for school, state-level public policy may be able to close the gap between boys and girls while boosting vaccine rates among adolescents overall.

“Rates of HPV vaccination across the U.S. have been less than optimal to this point, and with the federal government’s Healthy People 2020 goal of achieving 80% compliance over the next two years, continued research into Rhode Island’s results may be helpful in informing state-level public policy for school requirements with more narrow opt-out guidelines in the future,” Dr. Thompson said.

Posted Date: July 26, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Armando Moreno

Jessica Allen and Yolanda Ortiz, NTACHC, with Armando Moreno at the CDC, Atlanta

When public health and private healthcare work together, more can be accomplished in preventing tuberculosis (TB), says recent UNT Health Science Center graduate Armando Moreno, MPH ’18, Health Management and Policy.

Moreno had an opportunity to collaborate over the last year with another graduate of the UNTHSC School of Public Health while completing an internship at the North Texas Area Community Health Centers (NTACHC) patient care clinic in North Fort Worth.

The nonprofit NTACHC network operates three clinics in Fort Worth and Arlington, serving a primarily uninsured and underinsured population.

Northside Community Health Center, where Moreno worked, is located in the center of 13 federally designated, medically underserved census tracts in Tarrant County where a shortage of health professionals and services exists.

Partnering with UNTHSC alum Jessica Allen, MHA, who serves as Northside’s Manager of External Affairs, Moreno’s work represents a national CDC initiative to reduce TB risk and infection.

Since 2001, UNTHSC has served as one of 10 sites around the country focused on this effort through the CDC’s Tuberculosis Epidemiologic Studies Consortium (TBESC), led by Thad Miller, DrPH, MPH, Associate Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems.

Moreno’s goal was to build a connection between TBESC and NTACHC’s ongoing work serving Fort Worth’s underserved population.

“One of the biggest risks for TB infection in the U.S. comes from other countries where TB rates are especially prevalent. By working through clinics like Northside, which serves a high foreign-born population, it may be possible to identify risk factors early on, so that individuals with latent TB infection could receive treatment,” Moreno said. “Latent TB can remain hidden, or dormant, with no symptoms for years but can still present a potential risk to others.”

A model was created for administrative and clinical protocol on how to screen and manage care for patients showing latent TB indicators, and Moreno recently traveled to the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters with NTACHC representatives to present the results of this new program.

“We were able to show what can happen when private healthcare joins in collaboration on a public health goal,” Moreno said. “While a public health goal may be deemed as ‘the right thing to do,’ putting it into practice in the private sector, administratively and clinically, has aspects that may require additional costs, changes in coding and billing practices and more, presenting some challenges. So the discussion hinges on how to make it work.”

In sharing their presentation, “A view from the other side: A community provider’s perception of proactive TB prevention,” Moreno, Allen and Northside’s assistant director of nursing emphasized that an important early step in working together is for public health to understand the perspectives and incentives of providers and their agencies in order to partner more effectively.

Another UNTHSC public health student will be transitioning into Moreno’s role with the program this fall as he moves to San Antonio for medical school.

Posted Date: July 9, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Scott Walters

Scott Walters, PhD

Researchers from UNT Health Science Center (UNTHSC) and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) have been awarded a two-year, $650,000 National Institutes of Health (NIH) R34 grant to develop and test a novel smartphone-based alcohol treatment for homeless adults.

Scott Walters, PhD, Professor and Chair of Health Behavior and Health Systems at the UNTHSC School of Public Health, and Michael Businelle, PhD, OUHSC Associate Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Director of the Stephenson Cancer Center’s mHealth Shared Resource, report that approximately 33% of homeless adults in the U.S. have an alcohol use disorder (8 times greater than the general population), resulting in shorter life expectancy, higher healthcare utilization and costs, increased rates of illness and greater risk of interpersonal violence.

“Alcohol treatment is common in homeless shelters, but compliance is typically very poor,” Dr. Walters said. “If we knew what things were leading people to drink and drop out of treatment, we could use that information to develop better quality interventions for this underserved population.”

Businelle Michael

Michael Businelle, PhD

This project will be the first to combine geolocation, self-reported psychosocial variables, such as stress and urge to drink, and objectively measured alcohol use to identify real-time events that lead people to drink.

“Alcohol use is strongly affected by triggers: for instance, emotions, the surrounding environment and social setting. We’re using smartphones to pinpoint moments when a person is at increased risk for relapse or heavy drinking and identify which combinations of stressors are especially problematic. This information can then be used to intervene during risky moments to reduce the chances of drinking,” Dr. Walters said.

This project has three phases.

First, smartphone-based surveys and passive sensing will be used to collect data.

Second, this data will be used to create a risk algorithm and tailored treatment messages that anticipate and intervene to prevent alcohol use.

The final phase will test the newly developed app among homeless adults enrolled in shelter-based alcohol treatment. Self-reported alcohol use will be verified using a transdermal alcohol sensor.

“Alcohol use is almost always measured in-person, during lab or clinic visits. But people’s recall of their drinking is often inaccurate, making it difficult to understand the complicated street-level interactions that drive heavy alcohol use,” Dr. Businelle said. “Capturing moment-to-moment data will provide a better understanding of the drivers of unhealthy drinking, and this information may be used to create interventions that are tailored to the individual in real-time.”

Posted Date: June 25, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Suicide Story Stock ImageThe recent high-profile suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain have brought wide attention to a serious and growing public health concern in the U.S.

New CDC data reports that suicide rates have increased by 30 percent since 1999, and a UNT Health Science Center alumnus points out that for every suicide that occurs, there are approximately another 25 more attempts being made by individuals across the U.S.

“The numbers, and the fact that they continue to rise, are staggering,” said Deepak Prabhakar, MD, MPH, a 2006 graduate of the UNTHSC School of Public Health, who now serves as Director of Psychiatric Education for Henry Ford Health System and as President of the Michigan Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “It’s important to also note that in more than half of all suicide cases, the individuals were never diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and did not receive much needed specialty mental health care.”

Untreated depression, anxiety, hopelessness, trauma, family or financial stresses, job situations and substance abuse can all put a person at risk, he said.

“Do we know all the reasons? No. First, there is a societal stigma about talking with a doctor that often keeps people from sharing these types of feelings. Access to care is a factor, as well as the time it can take to get an appointment with a provider; but there could be other underlying issues. If a person is using alcohol or drugs, he or she might not be in the state of mind to even recognize that help is needed and to seek resources,” he said.

Feelings of hopelessness and isolation, Dr. Prabhakar said, are at the top of reasons for considering suicide.

“In this age of social media, online communications and texting,” he said, “isolation can be a major factor. A lot of one-on-one, personal interaction has been replaced.  Just because someone is on social media and has hundreds of friends doesn’t mean they have a person they can talk to freely.”

There is no typical profile for a person who may be at risk of suicide – individuals of all demographics can be at risk. In general, more women attempt suicide, while more men die of suicide, and the highest rates now come from among the age group of 45 to 54, with ages 15-24 also at a rate of very high concern.

Deepak Prabhakar

Dr. Deepak Prabhakar

With young adults, Dr. Prabhakar said, contagion could be a worry, “due to entirely avoidable sensationalism and glamorization of suicide in popular media that could send a wrong message, and because hearing about others may prompt troubled kids to think suicide could be an option for them.”

“When a well-known celebrity dies, the impact on the community is far-reaching and opens the door to start talking about suicide,” he said. “It’s important to begin the dialogue, to ask if you think you know someone with these types of feelings, and to listen.”

Are there solutions?

“The reasons behind suicide are very complex, and we don’t often know what’s going on behind the scenes in a person’s life,” Dr. Prabhakar said. “However, people shouldn’t be afraid to ask if they think a friend or loved one might be at risk. It can be hard to talk openly about feelings, but there is a chance to help someone by listening without judgment and offering support.”

Adolescents, he said, often drop hints if they are considering suicide, so it’s important to tune in to those signals.

Emphasizing this recommendation is UNTHSC Assistant Professor Karen Bell, PhD, who has studied and consulted on suicide prevention for adolescents and college-age students.

Dr. Bell, a faculty member in the UNTHSC School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems, said that around 90 percent of students talk to their friends about their problems, and 80 percent are apt to talk to family members, “making it critically important for social networks to communicate with each other and serve as a gatekeeper to get potentially suicidal people to helping resources that can keep them safe.”

Resources are available through the American and International Foundations for Suicide Prevention, and phone counselors can be reached at anytime by calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

New efforts are also being made to screen for suicide risk through primary care providers.

“This is important, not just because many individuals with depression or suicidal thoughts never reach out to a psychologist or psychiatrist, but also because of the huge shortage of mental health professionals in today’s workforce,” Dr. Prabhakar said. “By using clinical interview and screening tools at the primary physician’s office – which can be as simple as asking just a few key questions about how a person is doing or feeling – we can hopefully identify and connect earlier with at-risk individuals. With appropriate help, there is hope and people do get better.”

Posted Date: June 19, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Usphssymposium2018

 

Dr. Dennis Thombs, Dean of the UNTHSC School of Public Health, recently spoke to a capacity crowd of more than 1,200 attendees at the 2018 United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Scientific and Training Symposium in Dallas.

The SPH was chosen as this year’s Academic Partner for the event, which brings U.S. Public Health Service members together with health professionals from across the country for continuing education, to build peer relationships and to gain valuable information on advances in health care and public health.

Key government leaders represented on the program included the Assistant Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services, ADM Brett Giroir, MD, and U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, MD, MPH.

As one of the event’s opening presenters, focused on this year’s theme of “Ensuring Health for Generations to Come: Science Matters,” Dr. Thombs had an opportunity to share information on academics and research at UNTHSC and ways that faculty, students and alumni are helping to find solutions for improved public health and a healthier nation.

A number of SPH researchers were also invited to speak at select breakout sessions, including:

  • Scott Walters, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems: “m.chat: Integrating Health Coaching and Technology with Vulnerable Clients
  • Erika Thompson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “A Social Determinants of Health Approach to HPV Vaccination among Young Adult Women, National Health Interview 2016
  • Marcy Paul, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “#PPEPtalk Texas – A Life Course and Peer Preconception Health Education Program in Texas
  • Erica Stockbridge, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems:Public Health/Private Healthcare Sector Initiatives to Forward Domestic Tuberculosis Elimination
  • SPH student Jialiang Liu with Menghua Tao, PhD, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology: “Comparison of Micronutrient Intakes by Body Weight Level among African American and Hispanic Women
  • Dana Litt, PhD, Associate Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems:I Tweet, Therefore I Am: Examining the Relations Between Alcohol-related Twitter Content and Alcohol Cognitions and Alcohol Use among Young Adults
  • Melissa Lewis, PhD, Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “Evaluating Personalized Feedback Intervention Framing with a Randomized Controlled Trial to Reduce Young Adult Alcohol-related Sexual Risk Taking
  • Harvey Brenner, PhD, Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems: “Impact of Patient and Hospital Economic Resources on Patient Safety and Hospital Mortality
  • SPH student Leslie Allsopp with David Sterling, PhD, CIH, ROH, Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology: “Estimating School Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution, to Inform Siting of Lower Cost Air Monitors and Support Measures to Reduce Risk

“It was very exciting for our school to serve as this year’s Academic Partner and to meet with so many public health, health care and government representatives from around the country who are making a difference in the lives of others,” Dr. Thombs said. “Many of our alumni pursue careers with the U.S. Public Health Service, making this opportunity even more meaningful as we reconnected and they shared details on their experiences in the field.”

Posted Date: June 14, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Heads Up May 2018Robyn Remotigue has spent more than 20 years in the field of research administration, using her background, talents and enthusiasm since 2013 to develop the Office of Research Services for the UNTHSC School of Public Health (SPH).

This summer she is being honored for her dedication to the field with a prestigious distinguished service award from the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA).

Remotigue, who serves as SPH Director of Research Services, has been named as the 2018 NCURA Julia Jacobsen Distinguished Service Award winner, recognizing her “sustained and distinctive contributions to NCURA that have, in turn, had a positive effect on the entire research community,” said NCURA President Georgette Sakumoto.

The award will be presented in August at the organization’s 60th annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Each year, no more than five research administrators across the United States are selected for this honor, from among NCURA’s more than 7,000 members.

Remotigue has been a member of NCURA for 16 years, having served on the organization’s faculty for Level II Critical Issues in Research Administration traveling workshops, as a member of the NCURA Education Scholarship Fund Select Committee, and currently as Co-Chair for this year’s NCURA annual meeting.

Since joining UNTHSC, she has worked across the university with faculty and leadership to build an infrastructure within the SPH supporting and guiding compliance and funding initiatives, research collaborations, and grant proposal submissions and administration.

One success of the SPH program has been creation of The WriteStuff, a series of bi-weekly sessions for non-tenured and tenure track faculty to present on grant proposals currently in development, to gain constructive peer feedback from the group.

The WriteStuff has been instrumental in encouraging collaboration among the faculty, providing a venue for sharing new ideas and boosting the number of proposal submissions,” said Dr. Dennis Thombs, Dean of the School of Public Health. “This is important to the university’s research program and our efforts to advance public health solutions.”

“Our school congratulates Robyn on this year’s NCURA distinguished service award, reflecting her leadership and visionary approach to the field of research administration and UNTHSC public health research,” he said.

Posted Date: June 11, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Cathleen KearnsDevang Agravat, MPH (Biostatistics), who graduated in May from the UNTHSC School of Public Health (SPH), received four employment offers from well-respected research institutes around the country, selecting the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice as his place to be.

Devang recently moved to the Dartmouth College community in New Hampshire to begin his new responsibilities as a Research Analyst, working with Medicare data management and analytics.

Before choosing Dartmouth, he considered offers from the University of Michigan/Michigan Medicine’s Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy; the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins; and Arizona State University’s Center for Health Information and Research.  He had interviewed with other institutions as well, but narrowed his search down to this select few.

The current job, he said, seems like the right fit and should also provide opportunities for future career growth.

“During the interviews, I saw that I liked the Dartmouth team structure, and the supervisor was a good match for me,” he said. “Also, the work I completed during my SPH graduate internship is in line with the type of role I will take on at Dartmouth.”

“I am familiar with the software systems used at Dartmouth, and there are opportunities to move up and grow into team leadership and statistical management. This is a place where I see myself contributing on a long-term basis,” he said.

With an undergraduate degree in dentistry, Devang was introduced to UNTHSC by an MPH alumnus who was working in Washington, D.C.

“He recommended the UNTHSC School of Public Health. Originally I thought about exploring Epidemiology, but quickly found myself drawn to Biostatistics; the program is very good at providing students important statistical knowledge, and I really liked working with the numbers and data, seeing how they impact public health research and policy,” he said.