SPHIS Publications -- Fall 2023

Dept. of Bioinformatics & Biostatistics

Maiying Kong, PhD, professor, Dept. of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, contributed to an article published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology titled, “The Beneficial Effects of Lactobacillus GG Therapy on Liver and Drinking Assessments in Patients with Moderate Alcohol-Associated Hepatitis.” The research team evaluated how a specific probiotic and the microbiome impact both alcohol-use disorder and alcohol-induced liver injury. The research was recently highlighted at the National External Advisory Council meeting of the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism. UofL co-authors include: Vatsalya Vatsalya, MD, assistant professor, UofL School of Medicine, Huirong Hu, graduate fellow, and Craig McClain, associate vice president for health affairs/research, UofL School of Medicine.

Dept. of Epidemiology & Population Health

Anne B. Wallis, MHS, PhD, associate professor, Dept. of Epidemiology and Population Health, and researchers from Yerevan State Medical University (Republic of Armenia) recently published “Maternal exposure to organochlorine pesticides and anthropometrics of newborns - A hospital-based cross-sectional study in rural and urban settings in Armenia” in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health. The study was led by Dr. Natalya Tadevosyan and included Yerevan University colleagues Drs. Hasmik Guloyan and Artashes Tadevosyan. The study objective was to determine a possible association between maternal exposure to organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and anthropometric measures of infants for a group of postpartum women in urban and rural areas of Armenia. Researchers found that individual OCPs and total OCPs and DDTs (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), measured in breast milk, were significantly higher in rural samples than in urban ones. There was no association between the anthropometrics of infants and OCPs levels in rural or urban areas. The study was a first in examining these issues in Armenia.

Dept. of Health Management & Systems Sciences

Bert Little, PhD, professor and interim chair, Dept. of Health Management and Systems Sciences (HMSS), recently published “COVID-19 infection and mortality among non-pregnant indigenous adults in Mexico 2020-2022: Impact of marginalization” in the Journal of Global Health. Researchers analyzed the effects of being indigenous and marginalized on COVID-19 infection fatality in Mexico. The team determined indigenous marginalized individuals with COVID-19 had higher risk of hospitalization and ICU admission, were less likely to receive mechanical ventilation, and had a 4% higher COVID-19 mortality risk than non-indigenous patients. The research team concluded improved community medical care and augmented health services in rural hospitals could mitigate barriers to health care access in indigenous, marginalized populations. Co-authors were Shaminul Shakib, HMSS doctoral candidate, Maria E Pena Reyes, Escuela de Nacional Antroplogia e Historia, Giang Vu, University of Central Florida, and SPHIS faculty Seyed Karimi, Natalie Dupré, Paul McKinney, and Riten Mitra.

The article "Cadmium exposure is associated with chronic kidney disease in a superfund site lead smelter community in Dallas, Texas" was published in Annals of Human Biology by Bert Little, PhD, HMSS professor and interim chair; alumnus Giang Vu, PhD '20, University of Central Florida; and Brad Walsh, Parkland Hospital and Health System. The study was conducted in a lead smelter community in Dallas, TX following an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Cleanup project. The team found that cadmium (Cd) exposure increased the risk of chronic kidney disease at Stage 3 or higher among African American residents living in postal codes where the smelters operated. The authors discuss the public health implications of environmental Cd including medical, sociodemographic, and economic factors.

HMSS alumnus Emmanuel Ezekekwu, PhD ‘23, was lead author on the article, “Examining the relationship between long working hours and the use of prescription sedatives among U.S. workers,” published in Sleep Medicine. Researchers found that long working hours were significantly associated with an elevated use of sedative-hypnotic agents and medications with sedative-hypnotic properties among U.S. workers. Specifically, female workers and individuals working in professional services had the highest likelihood of using sleep medications. Co-authors included faculty members Drs. Christopher Johnson, Seyed Karimi, Demetra Antimisiaris, and Doug Lorenz

Two faculty in the Dept. of Health Management and Systems Sciences will be presenting their research at upcoming conferences. Melissa Eggen, MPH, instructor and doctoral candidate, will present her poster, “Seeking financial and practical support in an abortion-hostile state: Analysis of abortion fund data in Kentucky, 2014-2021,” at the Society for Family Planning Annual Research Meeting in October 2023. In November 2023, Wei Fu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Health Management and Systems Sciences, will give an oral panel presentation titled, "Vaccination Policy, Delayed Care, and Health Expenditures” at the Southern Economic Association conference. Additionally, he will present “NIH Grant Expansion, Ancestral Diversity and Scientific Discovery in Genomics Research” at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management Conference.

Dept. of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences

SPHIS alumna Suur Ayangeakaa, PhD ’20, and Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences at Duke University, is first author on the article, “Sociocultural and structural influences on HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Engagement and Uptake among African American Young Adults.” Published in the BMC Public Health, the study’s goal was to understand if the influence of sociocultural and structural factors improved PrEP engagement and uptake among African American (AA) young adults. The team found that factors impacting PrEP engagement among AA young adults included sociocultural factors (community/social network influences, medical mistrust, and stigma) and structural factors (PrEP availability, accessibility, and PrEP engagement strategies). Co-authors were Jelani Kerr and Ryan Combs, UofL Dept. of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences; Lesley Harris and Emma Sterrett-Hong, UofL Kent School of Social Work; Jeanelle Sears, Bowling Green State University; and Kimberly Parker, Parker Owens Research Group.

Ryan Combs, PhD, associate professor, Dept. of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, and Hallie Decker, MSSW, doctoral candidate in the Dept. of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, contributed to an article published in Academic Pediatrics titled, “The Early Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Pediatric Resident Education: A National Assessment.” The research team concluded the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted inpatient and outpatient education. When these were more negatively impacted, resident preparation for more senior roles suffered. Findings highlight the importance of competency based medical education to tailor experiences ensuring that each resident is competent for independent practice. Co-authors were Monique Naifeh, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center; Michelle Stevenson, Norton Children's Hospital and UofL; Erika Abramson, Weill Cornell Medicine; Christopher Aston, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and Su-Ting Li, University of California Davis. 

Monica Wendel, DrPh, MA, professor and chair, Dept. of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences (HPBS), and Hallie Decker, MSSW, HPBS doctoral candidate, published two articles in the Family & Community Health Journal Oct./Dec. 2023 Supplement. The themed supplemental issue, titled “Systems-Level Public Health Interventions,” is sponsored by a generous grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Decker was first author the article, “Applications of Participatory System Dynamics Methods to Public Health: A Systematic Review,” that examined the existing applications of participatory system dynamics (PSD) to public health research. The authors identified several advantages to adopting PSD methods in public health scholarship and practice and reports evidence for PSD's potential to advance equity in public health research and practice. Wendel and Decker were co-authors on “Advancing the Systems Science Paradigm in Public Health Through Intervention and Evaluation,” with lead author, Dr. Witney Garney, and Sara Flores, both with the Texas A&M School of Public Health in College Station.

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