Greetings from the Institute for Medicine and Public Health!

As we approach the end of the year, I would like to take the time to thank all of our faculty, staff, students, and trainees for your continued time, effort, and commitment to education, research, training, and other activities supported by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health to improve patient and population health during these challenging times.

We are all so grateful that despite the challenges that we have faced this year, we’ve had an impactful year addressing COVID-19, health equity, population health, and other key health issues that impact us locally, nationally, and globally. 
This quarter’s newsletter highlights some of the many activities and honors that faculty and staff affiliated with IMPH have been involved in over the past year. As we look ahead, we are excited to continue our work and remain committed to continuing efforts to translate knowledge into better health at local, national, and global levels. 

I wish you all the best for a restful and safe holiday and extend the deepest of gratitude for all you’re doing and continue to do to help improve the health of our community.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2022!


Russell Rothman, MD, MPP
Senior Vice President, Population and Public Health
Director, Institute for Medicine and Public Health

Russell Rothman, MD, MPP

Everyone Deserves to Be Healthy

“Health equity was built into everything I did, even if I didn’t know it or recognize it at the time,” said Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Senior Vice President for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence for VUMC and Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence for Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “I have always learned and believed that people are the same - everyone deserves to be healthy, and everyone should have the best opportunities to take care of themselves and their families.”

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI

NEJM Catalyst Article on a Systems Approach to  Addressing COVID-19 Health Inequities

Consuelo Wilkins MD, MSCI, Senior Vice President for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence, Elisa Friedman MS, Assistant Vice President for Community & Population Health Improvement, Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSCI, Director of the Center for Health Services Research, and others from Vanderbilt published an article in NEJM Catalyst about implementing a systems approach to offer practical solutions to address COVID-19 health inequities.

Velma McBride Murry, PhD

Dr. Velma Murry Gives Talk on Equity in Evaluation for POTUS Executive Office

“Policies and programs implemented during the Jim Crow era continue to detrimentally impact people of color,” Velma McBride Murry, PhD, said. “From the establishment of a research question to the dissemination of results, all components of a project must be considered from an equity lens,” she said.

Digna Velez Edwards, PhD, MS

Genetic Ancestry and Hypertension Risk

Digna Velez Edwards, PhD, MS, and colleagues in Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, and Boston conducted trans-ethnic association analyses of ancestry proportions in more than 300,000 participants in the Million Veteran Program (MVP), a study of the genetic contributions to disease led by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

As part of our commitment to create an equitable and culturally competent healthcare system, the Graduate Certificate in Health Equity is offered to doctor of medical students who wish to deepen their knowledge and expertise to intervene on individual, system, and community levels to impact meaningful change.
IMPH Working Group for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
The Institute for Medicine and Public Health (IMPH) is pleased to announce a new IMPH Working Group for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). The purpose of this working group is to educate and inform the IMPH community on topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  The group will partner with the VUMC Office of Health Equity and Office for Diversity Affairs and other groups across VUMC to synthesize and communicate scheduled events, speakers, and activities that are occurring across the VUMC and VU campus. The group will host approved events and activities to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion and to raise awareness of organizational activities and discussions. 
The study team, from left, Douglas Heimburger, MD, MS, Kondwelani Mateyo, MBChB, MMed, Justin Banerdt, MD, MPH, and E. Wesley Ely, MD.

Vanderbilt, Zambia Researchers Identify Predictive Factors of Delirium in Sub-Saharan Africa 

A collaborative team of researchers from VUMC and the University of Zambia Teaching Hospital published the risk factors as a follow-up look at the prevalence and impact of delirium, a form of acute brain dysfunction, in lower-resourced hospitals. Findings showed the duration of delirium predicted both mortality and disability at six months after discharge.
Wei Zheng, MD, PhD

People at High Genetic Risk for Colorectal Cancer Benefit More from Lifestyle Changes

Analyzing data from participants in the UK Biobank, Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, MPH, Anne Potter Wilson Professor of Medicine and associate director for Population Sciences Research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) and colleagues estimated that maintaining a healthy lifestyle was associated with a nearly 40% reduction in colorectal cancer risk among those with a high genetic risk of developing the disease.

Breast Cancer Survivors: Eat Nuts

Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD, and colleagues examined the association of nut consumption (peanuts, walnuts and other nuts) with overall and disease-free survival in 3,449 five-year breast cancer survivors in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study.

Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD

VUMC is Pacesetter for National Aspirin Study

“Beyond addressing this important issue for patients with cardiovascular disease, this was an opportunity to demonstrate the usefulness of PCORnet for truly large-scale pragmatic trials,” said Russell Rothman, MD, MPP, director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health and Senior Vice President for Population and Public Health at VUMC.

At STAR CRN and across PCORnet, we’re bringing new flexibility, efficiency and power to clinical trials and effectiveness research, and this study provides an initial large-scale demonstration of that,” Rothman said.

Russell Rothman, MD, MPP

The Stakeholders, Technology And Research Clinical Research Network (STAR CRN) includes: (1) Vanderbilt Health System (2) the Vanderbilt Healthcare Affiliated Network (3) Meharry Medical College, (4) UNC Health Care System, (5) Duke Health Care System, (6) Health Sciences of South Carolina, (7) Wake Forest Health Care, and (8) Mayo Clinic. These systems comprise scores of academic and community hospitals, hundreds of practices and over 12 million patients nationally. The populations cared for by STAR members are diverse in age, race, ethnicity and urban/rural status. The objective of our CRN is to robustly support projects in comparative effectiveness research, pragmatic clinical trials, and other key research areas.  This network can provide access to a broad array of clinical data, patients, providers, and systems to address an array of research questions. 

Sean Collins, MD, MSc

Our Researchers Supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are Leading a Nationwide Clinical Trial to Treat Severe COVID Complications

Sean Collins, MD, MSc, professor of Emergency Medicine at VUMC, who has deep expertise in emergency care and RAAS, will lead the trial, which will test whether drugs targeting the Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System (RAAS) can prevent the vascular, fibrotic and inflammatory consequences of severe COVID-19 disease.

Chris Lindsell, PhD
The goal of ACTIV-6, part of the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) public-private partnership, is to prioritize and speed development of the most promising treatments.

The Data Coordinating Center (DCC) principal investigator is Chris Lindsell, PhD, professor of Biostatistics and director of the Research Methods Program in the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR).

VUMC Reseachers Lead Grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to Develop Biomarkers to Improve the Diagnosis of Acute Heart Failure

A four-year, $6.2-million grant will be used to develop a novel panel of biomarkers to improve the diagnosis of acute heart failure (AHF).“Given the frequency of inaccurate diagnosis and its adverse consequences, we will address a significant unmet need by improving diagnostic accuracy for acute heart failure,” said Sean Collins, MSD, MSC, co-director of the Vanderbilt Coordinating Center and director of the VUMC Center for Emergency Care Research and Innovation.

Stacie Dusetzina, PhD

Dusetzina Outlines Savings from 4 Primary Medicare Part D Reform Proposals

Stacie Dusetzina, PhD, Ingram associate professor of Health Policy and Cancer Research, outlines the differences in savings among the four plans, introduced by both Republicans and Democrats.


Bill Blot, PhD

Bill Blot, PhD, a cancer epidemiologist at VICC, built upon his long-standing interest in racial disparities in cancer incidence, and together with his colleagues partnered with Meharry Medical College to launch the first major study to find out why certain cancers arise in excess in African Americans in the southern US.

Kevin Griffith, PhD

Study Finds Higher Deaths Among Veterans in 2020, but Less than General Population

"Despite VHA-enrolled veterans having a higher prevalence of risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness, their rate of excess deaths was markedly lower than what was observed in the general population.” said Kevin Griffith, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy at VUMC who studies the VA.

It is an honor to have been selected by CDC to do this important work of evaluating SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness as the vaccines roll out in the U.S. over the next year. I am incredibly proud of our team, which has been leading the IVY Network for the past two years and has taken on the challenge of conducting clinical research during the pandemic,”  said Wesley Self, MD, MPH, associate professor and vice chair for Research in the Department of Emergency Medicine, and the study’s principal investigator.
Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc, SFHM, FACP
Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc, and colleagues will evaluate implementation of the STRATIFY (Improving Heart Failure Risk Stratification in the ED) clinical decision support tool in different emergency department settings to determine what factors affect how the decision support tool is used in practice, and how the local environment and use of the tool impact hospital admissions for heart failure.
Chris Lindsell, PhD

A Multicenter Cluster Randomized, Stepped Wedge Implementation Trial 

This implementation trial co-authored by Chris Lindsell, PhD, professor of Biostatistics aims to "inform military stakeholders regarding oxygen requirements for critically injured warfighters, while reducing logistical burden in prolonged combat casualty care."

“Our team is honored to have this opportunity to support the health and well-being of nursing home residents in our area,” said principal investigator Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc, professor of Medicine in the Section of Hospital Medicine and director of the Center for Health Services Research and Center for Clinical Quality and Implementation Research at VUMC.

VUMC Expands Programming in Effort to Help Pregnant and Postpartum Women, Infants in Opioid Crisis

“We have to work to push through the system, break down barriers, enhance services and create resources to connect women,” said Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH, executive director of Firefly, and a neonatologist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. “The ultimate goal for this new program is to support families and optimize care for pregnant women with opioid use disorder and for opioid-exposed infants.”

Public Health Graduate Programs Videos

Hear from faculty leadership, students and alumni of IMPH-supported Vanderbilt Graduate Programs in Health Policy, Global Health and Epidemiology. The video series covers Vanderbilt University's Health Policy PhD Program, Epidemiology PhD Program, and the Master of Public Health Program.
Christianne Roumie, MD, MPH

There is so much appreciation to share this holiday season.

As we draw close to the end of 2021, we wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season and the time to reflect on what has inspired us this year.
At the top of our list is the success of our MPH alumni and faculty.

  • 60% MPH graduates completed their degrees with a first-author publication.
  • 100% of the MPH graduates in the last 5 years were employed or continued training and education within a year of graduation.
  • Carolyn Audet, PhD, won the Dr. Velji Global Health Innovation Award from the Consortium of Universities for Global Health.
  • Muktar Aliyu, MD, DrPH, was elected as a member to the American Society of Clinical Investigation.
  • Carlos Grijalva, MD, MPH, was cited multiple times in White House briefings for his work on COVID-19 transmission and vaccines.
  • Velma McBride Murry, PhD, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, joining 4 of our MPH faculty who are also members.
  • William Schaffner, MD, is the trusted voice of public health in the news, reaching an audience of millions this year.
We are also inspired by our new Health Policy PhD students, who have enthusiastically joined research teams evaluating the pandemic response while engaging in their coursework.
Our Department, and particularly our academic programs, have adapted themselves during the pandemic, thanks to the innovation of our faculty leadership and staff.
We are tremendously grateful for all who work and teach in public health. We wish you the very warmest of holiday seasons from Nashville.

Christianne Roumie, MD, MPH, and  
The Vanderbilt University MPH Team
MHS 3890: Covid and Society class talking with guest speakers during class on Nov. 2, 2021. (Hustler Multimedia/Noah Srulovitz)

Covid 19 and Society is a medicine, health and society (MHS) course introduced during the 2020-21 academic year. The course explores the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on social justice, the economy, the arts, technology, politics and medicine through interactive discussions and a lineup of world-renowned guest speakers.“The pandemic is changing every aspect of our lives, so personally I think there is going to be a need for a class like this for a number of years to come,” Jonathan Metzl, MD, PhD, director of the Department of Medicine, Health and Society said.

Danny Sack
Shari Barkin, MD, MSHS

Shari Barkin, MD, MSHS was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

Robert Dittus, MD, MPH

Robert Dittus, MD, MPH, the Albert and Bernard Werthan Professor of Medicine was honored during Vanderbilt Translational Research Forum with the Excellence in Mentoring Translational Scientists award.

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Vice President for Health Equity for VUMC and Associate Dean for Health Equity for VUSM has been named Senior Vice President for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence for VUMC and Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence for VUSM.

Dr. Wilkins received the 2021 Marion Spencer Fay Award from Drexel's Institute for Women's Health & Leadership.

Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH

Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, professor and vice chair of Faculty Affairs in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, has been appointed to the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) Biomedical Informatics, Library and Data Sciences (BILDS) Review Committee. His term will take place from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2025.

Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH

Stacie B. Dusetzina, PhD, associate professor of Health Policy and Ingram Associate Professor of Cancer Research at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine has been appointed to a three-year term on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).

Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH

Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH named 2021 Chancellor Faculty Fellows.

Peter Rebeiro, PhD received the 2021 Division of Epidemiology Teaching Award.

IMPH Holiday Toy & Food Drive 2021
Thank you everyone for attending the IMPH Blood Drive and for helping save lives by making a blood contribution to our drive. 

Tuesday, January 4| 12 PM -1 PM
The Center for Health Services Research Works in Progress:
"Identifying Equitable Approaches to Implement Lung Cancer Screening in the Context of Medical Mistrust"
Jennifer Richmond, PhD, MSPH    
Zoom details will be emailed to Vanderbilt community on Fridays; contact

Friday, January 14| 12 PM -1 PM
The Center for Clinical Quality and Implementation Research (CCQIR) Scholarly Series:
"Improving the Quality of HIV Care in Resource-limited Settings"
Aima Ahonkhai, MD, MPH
Email at for information on how to connect
Tuesday, January 18| 12 PM -1 PM
The Center for Health Services Research Works in Progress:
"WHOLE Food for Prediabetes. A Dietary Lifestyle Intervention to Manage Adult-Onset Prediabetes and Prevent Type 2 Diabetes in Families"
Markie Sneed, PhD, RN, APRN, FNP-BC  
Zoom details will be emailed to Vanderbilt community on Fridays; contact
Friday, January 21| 12 PM -1 PM
The Center for Clinical Quality and Implementation Research (CCQIR) Scholarly Series
"10 Key Ingredients for D&I Proposals"
Nicole Stadnick, PhD, MPH and Boriska Rabin, PhD, MPH
Email at for information on how to connect
Tuesday, January 25| 12 PM -1 PM
The Center for Health Services Research Works in Progress:
"Clinician Interviews to Inform Implementation Steps and Adaptations of an Older Adult Deprescribing Intervention"
Thomas Strayer, PhD
Zoom details will be emailed to Vanderbilt community on Fridays; contact

Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
2525 West End Ave | Suite 1200 | Nashville, TN 37203

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