Russell Rothman, MD, MPP

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 (IMPH) to improve patient and population health. Your support and collaboration make a meaningful difference in the pursuit of better health for our community.

This quarter’s newsletter highlights ongoing research and educational activities affiliated with the Institute for Medicine and Public Health. From innovative studies to educational programs shaping the future of healthcare, we are proud to showcase the incredible contributions of our dedicated team.

As we embrace the holiday spirit, and reflect on the accomplishments of this quarter, we are energized to continue our commitment to improving individual, family, and population health, driving us to explore innovative solutions and push the boundaries of knowledge.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy 2024!

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

Stanford and Essentia Health Join STAR CRN

The Stakeholders, Technology and Research Clinical Research Network (STAR CRN), based at Vanderbilt, is part of a national network known as PCORnet, funded by PCORI to provide support for patient centered outcom=

The STAR CRN includes: (1) Vanderbilt University Medical Center, (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 and MUSC, (7) Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, and (8) Mayo Clinic. These systems comprise scores of academic and community hospitals, hundreds of practices and over 14 million patients nationally.

In the summer of 2023, PCORI approved the expansion of PCORnet with 15 additional sites. This included the addition of Stanford University School of Medicine and Essentia Health to the STAR CRN.  Essentia Health (EH) is a rural community-based not-for-profit health system headquartered in northern Minnesota (MN) that stretches across northern MN, Wisconsin (WI), North Dakota (ND), South Dakota (SD), and a small region of Michigan. Currently, EH has 14 hospitals, 78 clinics, 6 long-term care facilities, 6 assisted- and independent-living facilities, 6 ambulance services, 24 retail pharmacies, and 1 research and education institute. More than 2,200 physicians and advanced practitioners provided 1.7 million clinic encounters, 159,000 emergency room visits, and 34,700 inpatient hospital admissions during a recent fiscal year.  Stanford Healthcare is one of the country’s leading academic medical centers and provides important geographic reach to Northern California. Stanford Healthcare includes Stanford Hospital (the main academic hospital), Tri-Valley community hospital, and a wide array of clinical services across the region. Engagement of Stanford Healthcare, which primarily serves adult patients, will complement the current engagement of Stanford Children’s Health (Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital) in PEDSnet within PCORnet. Stanford Healthcare has electronic health record data on 2.2 million patients that are not part of PEDSnet.

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

Sandra Simmons, PhD

VUMC receives state grant to evaluate innovative models of nursing care that include screening and responding to social drivers of health

Sandra Simmons, PhD will lead a $3.9 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Health to evaluate innovative models of nursing care that include screening and responding to social drivers of health to better meet the needs of all VUMC patients.

New leaders named to Vanderbilt-Ingram research programs

Stacie Dusetzina, PhD, Eric Grogan, MD, MPH, and Daniel Barocas, MD, MPH have been appointed to guide Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s research programs.
Stacie Dusetzina, PhD
Eric Grogan, MD, MPH
Daniel Barocas, MD, MP
Consuelo Wilkins,MD, MSCI

Vanderbilt launches $17 million program to advance diversity of research faculty

The Vanderbilt Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation Program (V-FIRST) principal investigators, led by Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, and Alyssa Hasty, PhD, and Cybele Raver, PhD, are strongly committed to and experienced in recruiting, mentoring and sponsoring faculty from underrepresented and minoritized groups.
Russell Rothman, MD, MPP
Jonathan Schildcrout, PhD 
Alvin Powers, MD

VUMC receives $28 million to lead national study of COVID-diabetes link

This study will greatly expand our knowledge about the relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes and will also provide us novel information about what factors influence the early course of diabetes in children and adults with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes,” said principal investigator and project leader Russell Rothman, MD, MPP.
Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc
Lyndsay Nelson, PhD

VUMC initiative to address social drivers of health

Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc and Lyndsay Nelson, PhD have been awarded $1.6M in NIH funding for  “Multi-Level Initiative to Address Social Drivers of Health in Clinical Practice” as a research project in the P50 Southeast Collaborative for Innovative and Equitable Solutions to Chronic Disease Disparities led by Dr. Consuelo Wilkins. 
Bill Heerman, MD, MPH

VUMC receives $10 million to study childhood obesity interventions in rural and minority communities in Tennessee and Louisiana

Bill Heerman, MD, MPH, chief of the Division of General Pediatrics a Vanderbilt, will lead the randomized, multisite trial with co-principal investigator Amanda Staiano, PhD, at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
Carlos Grijalva, MD, MPH

Study explores how often children diagnosed with flu experience serious neuropsychiatric side effects

This study highlights the importance of understanding the frequency and context in which neuropsychiatric events occur … especially among young children and children with underlying conditions who are also at high risk for influenza complications,” said senior author Carlos Grijalva, MD, MPH.
Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD 

VUMC receives $51 million in NIH grants to improve efficiency of conducting clinical trials across the US

Gordon Bernard, MD, Paul Harris, PhD, Consuelo Wilkins, MD,MSCI, and Wesley Self, MD, MPH, in the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR) have been awarded two five-year federal grants totaling $51 million to harness new and existing approaches for boosting recruitment and removing roadblocks to the efficiency of conducting clinical trials throughout the country.
Gordon Bernard, MD
Paul Harris, PhD
Consuelo Wilkins, MD,MSCI
Wesley Self, MD, MPH

Annet Kirabo, DVM, MSc, PhD
Sepiso Masenga, MSc, PhD

Study to explore link between salt taste sensitivity and salt intake, hypertension and genetic variations in individuals of African descent

Study to explore link between salt taste sensitivity and salt intake, hypertension and genetic variations in individuals of African descen in collaboration with Sepiso Masenga, MSc, PhD, senior lecturer and researcher at Mulungushi University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Zambia, Annet Kirabo, DVM, MSc, PhD, associate professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, received a new two-year exploratory research grant to study the link between salt taste sensitivity and salt intake, blood pressure, hypertension and genetic variations in individuals of African descent.

VIGH and partners receive training grant to create vaccine-related research in Peru

In partnership with the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) and the Instituto de Investigacion Nutricional (IIN), the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) has received $1.2 million for a five-year training grant funded by the Fogarty International Center to establish the Peru-Vanderbilt Prevention through Vaccination Training (PREVENT) program.

2023 VIRDE Scholars Complete Training at Vanderbilt

The Vanderbilt Institute for Research Development and Ethics (VIRDE) welcomed eleven medical and public health professionals from Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia to Vanderbilt for a one-month training course in October 2023. The course covers grant writing and research ethics and is facilitated by the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH).

Master of Public Health (MPH)  2025

More than 60 Vanderbilt graduate and professional students in the Institute for Medicine and Public Health (IMPH) tested their trivia knowledge at new student orientation.The Trivia Night was a tremendous success, creating an engaging and lively atmosphere for both new and returning students. The participants brought their diverse backgrounds and experiences to the table, making for an exciting and friendly competition. 

Vanderbilt MPH students explore campus
MPH students at Eskind Biomedical Library

MPH students attended a Student Reception at Tennessee Public Health Association's annual conference where they were able to connect with public health professionals from across the state in a networking event hosted by the Tennessee Department of Health. 

From Left to Right: Claire Umstead, MPH, Alumni; Sarah Monesmith, Global Health Track; Joshua Atura, Global Health Track; Konor von Kraut, Global Health Track; Julia Landivar Donato, Global Health Track; Ishan Basu Ray, Health Policy Track; Hannah Schluter, Epidemiology Track; Haniya Shariff, Health Policy Track; Brittany Gutierrez Kitto, Health Policy Track; Sherissa Mohammed-Ali, Global Health Track; Ariana Matos, Global Health Track; Kim Harrell, Executive Director of the Tennesse Public Health Association; Sharla Rahman, Epidemiology Track; Brad Hawkins, PhD, MPH, MPH Program Practicum Director.

Recent MPH graduate Mary-Margaret Fill, MD, MPH, presented the keynote address, "OneHealth in Tennessee", and received the 2023 William Schaffner, MD, Public Health Hero award from TPHA.

Vanderbilt graduate and undergraduate students walked with VU's Public Health Student Association's in the Nashville Cares' annual AIDs Walk to raise awareness and financial support to end the HIV epidemic.

MPH Students attended the Annual TN Emerging Infections Program Scientific Presentation Day. At this event, experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Tennessee Department of Health lectured on topics ranging from Mpox outbreaks to healthcare associated Legionellosis investigations.

Students were also able to support their Global Health Track peer, Anjola Ajayi, who was invited to present her research on Social Determinants ofHealth and Recurrent Cervical Dysplasia among Women in Middle Tennessee at theEIP Day poster session

Second-year MPH Students Use Shared Passion to Make a Global Impact

When applying to Vanderbilt’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program, prospective students immediately face a pivotal choice: Do they want to follow the Epidemiology, Global Health, or Health Policy track? For those who choose the Global Health track, there is a passion for education, an interest in diverse perspectives, and a belief that all communities deserve access to the proper tools to maintain their health. No two students embody these characteristics better than second-year MPH students Tevin Mathew and Anjola Ajayi.
Lara Harvey, MD, MPH

MPH Alunni, Lara Harvey, MD, MPH, was invited to speak as part of the Nashville TedX Event earlier this month. Harvey shared insights form her work on using anthropology to understand women's health. Read More

Nicole Quinones, MPH

MPH Health Policy Track Alumni, Nicole Quinones, MPH, has been awarded the Emerging Scholars Grant from the Society of Family Planning. This grant will allow her to examine and document the financial distress experienced by Abortion patients in a post-Dobbs environment. Read More

Kelsey Gastineau, MD, MPH

Recent MPH graduate Kelsey Gastineau, MD, MPH, has been named Early Career Physician of the Year by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (TNAAP). Kelsey’s work focuses on the implementation of evidence-based, community-focused interventions and secondary database analysis to reduce firearm injuries in youth. Read More

Ryan Belcher, MD, MPH

Novel probe technology helps positively identify and preserve the parathyroids during endocrine surgery, says Vanderbilt MPH alumnus Ryan Belcher, MD, PhDRead More

Maribeth Nicholson, MD, MPH

Vanderbilt MPH alumna Maribeth Nicholson, MD, MPH discusses pediatric treatments for Clostridioides difficile infection. Read More

William Heerman, MD, MPH

Implementing family-based treatment paradigms in primary care settings may prevent obese children from gaining excess weight, says Vanderbilt MPH alumnus and faculty member Bill Heerman, MD, MPHRead More

Health Policy PhD Program faculty and students came together to celebrate the commencement of the new academic year in a unique and memorable way - by learning to curl! This event was a fantastic opportunity for our community to bond, fostering a sense of camaraderie among faculty and students. Curling, with its blend of strategy, teamwork, and a bit of friendly competition, provided a perfect setting for both fun and learning.

Epidemiology PhD students, along with their guests, came together for a festive BBQ to extend a warm welcome to our new students.The event was a tremendous success, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among our students. It provided a relaxed and enjoyable setting for both new and returning students to connect, share experiences, and build lasting friendships. 

Current PHD Student Accomplishments
Simone Herzberg, G2 Epidemiology MD/PhD student
Simone Herzberg, G2 Epidemiology MD/PhD student, was awarded an F31 from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases for her project titled “Investigating Causal Relationships of Diabetes and Obesity on Degenerative Rotator Cuff Tear”. She is mentored by Dr. Ayush Giri.


Shuai Xu, Epidemiology PhD student
Shuai Xu, Epidemiology PhD student, recently had a first-author paper published in the British Journal of Cancer. Fellow Epidemiology PhD student, Fangcheng Yuan, and program alum, Guochong Jia, are also named authors.

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

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