Russell Rothman, MD, MPP


It has been another tumultuous year. The war in Ukraine and other international conflicts, climate change, the COVID pandemic, gun violence, the opioid crisis, racism, health inequities, the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion, and other issues all have a direct impact on individual and public health. The Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health remains committed to addressing these and other challenges that impact individual, family, and population health and well-being. We continue to support education, training, community engagement, and research efforts that seek to “translate knowledge into better health”. The stories below exemplify many of the activities that faculty, staff, trainees, and students affiliated with IMPH are engaged in to try to improve population and public health.  Please take a moment to reach out to the staff, students, trainees, and faculty affiliated with these projects and thank them for the amazing work that they do to try to address challenges and improve our future. The IMPH is eager to support any staff, students, trainees, or faculty at Vanderbilt with interest in getting more involved with our education, training, community or research efforts. Please visit our website, or reach out to us if you would like to get involved.

Best wishes, 

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

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI

Confronting Racism at VUMC

Consuelo Wilkins MD, MSCI, Senior Vice President and senior associate dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence, leads the charge in confronting racism at VUMC. In creating a task force, a list was made of 187 actions focused on being an antiracist medical center.


Recent NIH awards support two new capacity-building programs in Zambia and Nigeria. The Vanderbilt-Zambia Cancer Research Training (VZCARE) program is developing a cadre of researchers and educators equipped with modern knowledge and expertise to lead cancer epidemiology research and training in Zambia. In collaboration with Nigerian colleagues, the Vanderbilt-Nigeria Biostatistics Training (VN-BioStat) program is training a cohort of highly skilled Nigerian biostatisticians to lead and supervise high-level biostatistics activities for HIV research studies in West Africa.

The Partnership for Research in Emerging Viral Infections-Sierra Leone (PREVSL) program supported Dr. Robert Samuels as its first training fellow. He received his Master of Science in Clinical Investigation degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, which included a one-year fellowship with the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program. Currently, Dr. Samuels is in Sierra Leone evaluating the prevalence of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in young children. Read more from Fogarty about Dr. Samuels here.

The Lancet recently published The Nigeria Commission: investing in health and the future of the nation. Co-authored by Muktar Aliyu, MD, DrPH, MPH, Director of VIGH, and international colleagues, the Commissioners provide a comprehensive roadmap for improved health services in Nigeria through a whole-of-government and multi-sectoral approach.

Published in BMC, a new 10-year evaluation of the Vanderbilt Institute for Research Development and Ethics (VIRDE) program shows a positive impact on scholars' careers and significant knowledge gains in identifying funding, writing grant components, and reviewing grants. 

Additional COVID vaccine helps protect transplant patients

The study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, shows that even after vaccination, patients taking immunosuppressive medications to prevent rejection of an organ transplant have higher risk for severe COVID-19 than those with competent immune systems


Wesley Self, MD, MPH

Keith Meador, MD, ThM, MPH

Study compares moral injury in health care workers and veterans

New research from Keith Meador, MD, ThM, MPH, and colleagues finds that healthcare workers showed similar rates of potential moral injury (PMI) as military service members who deployed to combat after 9/11.  

Wes Ely, MD, MPH

Study shows life-saving benefit of baricitinib for ventilated COVID patients

Wes Ely, MD, MPH, Co-Director of the CIBS Center, published a groundbreaking study in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, demonstrating that among critically ill COVID-19 patients, those randomized to baricitinib had lower 28-day all-cause mortality, compared to standard of care. The multinational COV-BARRIER trial led to a change in WHO guidelines for treatment of COVID-19.

Stacie Dusetzina, PhD

Many Medicare beneficiaries do not fill high-price specialty drug prescriptions

Stacie Dusetzina, PhD, Russell Rothman, MD, MPP, and colleagues found that many Medicare beneficiaries receiving subsidies were twice as likely to obtain the prescribed drug than those not receiving subsidies, demonstrating the need to increase the accessibility of high-price medications by reducing out-of-pocket expenses under Medicare Part D.

Martin Blakely, MD

Study compares surgeries for low birthweight babies

Martin Blakely, MD led a multi-center study called the Necrotizing Enterocolitis Surgery Trial (NEST) to improve survival and reduce the neurodevelopmental impairment among newborns diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) or isolated intestinal perforation (IP).

Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD

Bots boost liver cancer outcome

Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD, and colleagues at Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center conducted the largest study to date to confirm the efficacy of robotic-assisted surgery in treating early-stage HCC.

Kevin Griffith, PhD

Study shows little variance in overdose deaths when sorting by Medicaid expansion status

Kevin Griffith, PhD examined how the pandemic impacted access to substance use disorder treatment services, which are improved with Medicaid services. Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states experienced similar increases in drug and opioid overdose deaths during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Hilary Tindle, MD, MPH

According to a recent JAMA Internal Medicine study, coauthored by Hilary Tindle, MD, MPH and colleagues from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, smokers have better quit rates with hospital-based interventions than quitline help, but indicate need for longer follow-up.


The VUMC Garden of Hope

Engaging ecology and health in our Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, and Middle Tennessee communities. Through partnering with colleagues in nutritional services, and other sustainability and health professionals, The Rooted Community Health initiative (RCH) aims to enhance community engagement through programming, around ecology, sustainability, and health care.

The Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) is excited to celebrate this year's global health MPH and certificate graduates and appreciates the work of many student collaborators. Twenty students graduated with a Master of Public Health in the Global Health track or a Graduate Certificate in Global Health. Over 50 student collaborators worked with VIGH faculty and staff on various global health education and research projects.
Kia Quinlan, MD, MBA, VU '22, received the Sten H. Vermund Award for Excellence in Global Health for her strong commitment to global health. As a leader, innovator, and global health champion during her time at Vanderbilt, Kia engaged in several VIGH programs and courses. She completed a clinical rotation with Primeros Pasos Clinic in Guatemala and will begin her residency in pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.
“I love being at Shade Tree,” González Peña said. “I found belonging there because I think we all had this common goal of service as well as learning and teaching each other, since people work there with all different subspecialties like ophthalmology, gynecology, orthopedics and more. Ultimately, we have that same overarching goal of caring for those in need.”

Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH

Experts Seek Uniform Patient Confidentiality Policies for Adolescents

“Adolescents are at high risk for sensitive medical issues. Redressing rampant confusion and inconsistency with regard to patient privacy for this group should be a national public health priority,” said Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs and Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Pediatrics, Medicine and Clinical Nursing at VUMC.

Jennifer Erves, PhD, MPH, MEd

Panel considers ways to improve vaccine readiness, restore trust

“There is no easy solution for this,” said panelist Jennifer Erves, PhD, MPH, MEd, associate professor of Internal Medicine at Nashville’s Meharry Medical College. As a start, however, health care must engage with the community. Just show up,” Erves said. “We have to meet people where they are.”

Derek Williams, MD, MPH

Derek Williams, MD, MPH, chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine in the Vanderbilt Department of Pediatrics, has received the 2022 Excellence in Research award from the Society for Hospital Medicine (SHM) for his contributions to numerous studies to improve the care delivery and outcomes for children with pneumonia and other acute respiratory illnesses.

Dan Tilden, MD, MPH

Dan Tilden, MD, MPH, recipient of the Oscar B. Crofford Scholar in Diabetes Award; was honored at Diabetes Day 2022


We are thrilled to announce that the Epidemiology PhD Program received accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). 

Muktar Aliyu, MBBS, DrPH, MPH

Effective July 1, Muktar Aliyu, MBBS, DrPH, MPH, a renowned physician-epidemiologist is leading Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) as its next director. Dr. Aliyu will be the first holder of the Endowed Directorship in Global Health to support his efforts.

The ADAPTABLE study has been selected as a Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Awardee for 2022 by the Clinical Research Forum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting understanding and support for clinical research and its impact on health and health care. The awards recognize outstanding achievements in clinical research from across the U.S., identifying major advances in the biomedical field resulting from the nation’s investment in health and welfare. Investigators on the ADAPTABLE study include, Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc, Daniel Muñoz, MD, MPA, Russell Rothman, MD, MPP. 

Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD

Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, is leading the Engagement Coordinating Center for PCORnet, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network. The Center is supported by a new three-year, $2 million award from PCORI. 

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, was elected this year to membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI). Dr. Wilkins was recognized for her pioneering work to effectively engage historically marginalized communities in the design and conduct of research across the translational spectrum. 

Wes Ely, MD, MPH

Wes Ely, MD, MPH was honored by the American College of Critical Care Medicine with the 2022 Distinguished Investigator Award. 

Matthew Freiberg, MD, MSc

Matthew Freiberg, MD, MSc is leading a new $7 million grant from the NIH to study the effect of probiotics on heart disease risk. The randomized controlled trial will compare daily probiotic supplements to placebo on the development of alcohol-related gut damage, and in a second study, the association of gut metabolites with cardiovascular disease.

Velma McBride Murry, PhD

Velma McBride Murry, PhD discussed the impact of pandemic-era policies on children and families at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services panel. She was appointed a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education Consensus Study Committee to review evidence addressing the long-term effects of COVID-19 on families and children.

Michael DeBaun, MD,

Michael DeBaun, MD, MS, MPH, professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, vice-chair of Clinical Research and Translational Research and J.C. Peterson, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pediatrics, has been elected president-elect of the American Pediatric Society.

Call for Pilot Studies Preparatory to Large Clinical TrialsComplementary and Integrative Health Interventions to Support Deprescribing of Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonists in Older Adults. For more info, contact the US Deprescribing Research Network at

In recognition of Women’s History Month, the Institute for Medicine and Public Health hosted a panel discussion “Women Leaders in Public Health”. Our panelists-Melinda Buntin, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Policy, Digna Velez-Edwards, PhD, Director of Women’s Health Research,  and Kristy Sinkfield, MEd, Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, shared stories about their professional journey and career in academic public health.
In recognition of the important role of administrative professionals, and celebration of IMPH amazing staff, the Institute for Medicine and Public Health hosted Administrative Professionals Day at the Centennial Park.

Thank you for coming out to volunteer with IMPH to serve Second Harvest Food Bank and the Project CURE!
Just in few hours IMPH volunteers helped to sort and pack 5195 pounds of food that would help feed 4329 people. We are grateful for your help in providing food to people facing hunger in our community and for your time in the Project CURE' s mission of "delivering Health & Hope to the world!" 

Thursday, July 7| 10:30 AM -11:30 AM
Epidemiology PHD Dissertation Defense:
“Genome- and transcriptome-wide association studies in African-ancestry women uncover new insight into
breast cancer genetics and improve risk predictions

Guochong Damon Jia, MPH
To register, email 

Tuesday, August 2| 2 PM - 3 PM
Epidemiology PHD Dissertation Defense:
“Association of carotenoids and retinol with lung cancer risks”
Yan Sun, MPH
To register, email

Wednesday, August 17| 11 AM - 12 PM
Epidemiology PHD Program
Summer Book Club Author Discussion with Adam Kucharski
To register, email

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

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