PRIDE: Peer Mentors

Cohort 1

April Carson, MSPH, Ph.D.: Dr. Carson completed her BS degree in Microbiology with high honors at the University of Georgia, and her MSPH and PhD degrees in Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in cardiovascular disease epidemiology. Her research focuses on health disparities in cardiovascular disease and diabetes. She has experience with several large observational cohort studies and has published on a range of social, clinical, and lifestyle factors related to the occurrence of disease in disadvantaged populations.

Lisa Lewis, Ph.D.: Dr. Lewis is Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Using community-based research methods, she studies determinants of medication adherence in Blacks living with high blood pressure with an emphasis on psychosocial factors such as self-efficacy, social support, depression, spirituality, and perceived discrimination. Dr. Lewis also has expertise in the development and testing of community-based interventions targeted at improving the behavioral management of hypertension in settings such as faith-based organizations. Currently, she is Principal Investigator of a study designed to test the effectiveness of a church-based intervention compared with standard patient education in increasing antihypertensive medication use in Black church members diagnosed with hypertension.

Tené T. Lewis, Ph.D.: Dr. Lewis is Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed postdoctoral training in Psychosocial Epidemiology at Rush University Medical School in Chicago, IL. Dr. Lewis’ primary area of research is in the area of psychosocial epidemiology, with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women. She has a particular interest in understanding how social and psychological factors contribute to the disproportionately high rates of CVD morbidity and mortality observed in African-American women compared to women of other racial/ethnic groups.

Kamala Thomas, Ph.D.: Dr. Thomas is Assistant Professor at Pitzer College, a part of the Claremont University Consortium. Additionally, she holds adjunct positions at Claremont Graduate University and University of California, Los Angeles. Her research team examines psychobiological pathways through which chronic stress influences health outcomes. She is passionate about conducting research that addresses ethnic disparities in health outcomes. The majority of her work in this area has examined neuroendocrine, sympathetic nervous system, and immune function in the context of chronic stress.

Alberto Ramos III, MSPH, MD: Dr. Ramos is Assistant Professor of Neurology at University of Miami. His efforts focus on the epidemiological associations between sleep disorders and cerebrovascular disease with an emphasis on health disparities in Hispanics. His main interest is in the relation and mechanisms of sleep apnea and sleep deprivation with increased risk of stroke and sub-clinical markers of vascular disease.

Nikki Wooten, Ph.D.: Dr. Wooten is an Assistant Professor at University of South Carolina. Her research interests are substance use and mental health problems in military service members; behavioral health service utilization in military personnel, veterans, and their families; health disparities in military and veteran health care systems.

Cohort 2

Dr. Amani M. Nuru-Jeter, PhD, MPH, is Associate Professor of Community Health and Human Development; and Epidemiology at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. She is also a Faculty Affiliate of the UC Berkeley Population Center, the UC Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues; and the Center on Social Disparities in Health and the Center for Vulnerable Populations at UC San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Nuru-Jeter's broad research interest is to integrate sociological, demographic, epidemiologic methods to examine racial inequalities in health as they exist across populations, across place, and over the life-course. Her current program of research consists of four inter-related areas of inquiry: (1) The intersection of race, socioeconomic position, and gender in predicting health inequities, (2) socio-environmental stress and physiologic dysregulation; (3) the measurement and study of racial discrimination as a determinant of health disparities; and (4) effects of ‘place’ on health.

Dr. Nuru-Jeter is Principal Investigator of the African American Women's Heart and Health Study (AAWHHS), which examines the association between racism stress, cardiovascular biomarkers, and physiologic aging among midlife African American women in the San Francisco Bay area; and Co-Principal Investigator of the Bay Area Heart Health Study which examines similar associations among African American men with particular emphasis on internalized racism and telomere length (i.e., cellular aging). Her research has included work on doctor-patient race-concordance; the intersection of race, socioeconomic position, and gender on risk for psychological distress, disability outcomes, adult mortality, and child health and development; racial residential segregation; income inequality; and race-related stress and mental health outcomes.

Dr. Nuru-Jeter earned her PhD in Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, her MPH in Maternal and Child Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health, and her B.S. in Biology and Neurophysiology at the University of Maryland, College Park. After completing her doctorate, Dr. Nuru-Jeter was in the inaugural cohort of the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program at UC San Francisco/UC Berkeley.

Dr. Azizi Seixas completed his doctoral studies in clinical psychology at Fordham University, Bronx, NY. Since completing his training, he has worked as an Assistant Professor of Psychology. Dr. Seixas is engaged in two major areas of research. First, his research at the Center for Healthful Behavioral Change focuses on the impact neurocognitive and psychosocial impairments and sleep disturbance have on stroke disability among Blacks. This work is being supported by a research supplement from the NIH/NINDS to the parent project entitled Center for Stroke Disparities Solutions (U54NS081765). Second, he is interested in addressing sociocultural and environmental determinants of chronic diseases (such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, and mental illness) and health behaviors that prevent access to adequate care in disparity communities, which are disproportionately burdened by adverse cardiovascular outcomes. His work identifies barriers hindering diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea-related cardio-metabolic diseases among minorities and to evaluate the efficacy of behavioral models in enhancing adherence to recommended therapies. He is currently the project leader on the newly funded NIH/NIMHD R01 project entitled “Tailored Peer Education and Social Support among Blacks with Obstructive Sleep Apnea”, which aims to increase sleep education and adherence to obstructive sleep apnea evaluation and treatment among Blacks. Dr. Seixas also uses advanced mathematical models (i.e. machine learning tools) and system science computational modeling to investigate multi-level and multi-factorial relationships in population health research.

Dr. Brenda W. Campbell Jenkins, MPH, PhD, is the Program Director for the Jackson Heart Study (JHS) Graduate Education and Training Center,  where she coordinates the Daniel Hale Williams Scholars Program.  She also works with the JHS Undergraduate Training and Education Center to organize the annual JHS Research Day. As a Jackson Heart Study investigator, she has contributed to the science in cardiovascular epidemiology with research focused on understanding the inter-relations of psychosocial stressors, obesity, sleep, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Currently, she is a Co-Principal Investigator of Association of Obesity, Built Environment, Biological, Behavioral and Psychosocial Factors and Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality of theJackson State University Center of Excellence on Minority Health and Health Disparities. She is a member of the IRB Subcommittee and the Steering Committees of the JHS and the Mid-South Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center at University of Alabama at Birmingham, the JHS Publications and Presentations Subcommittee, JHS Training and Education Subcommittee and the Associate Managing Editor for the JHS Community Outreach Center Newsletter. Dr. Jenkins is also a proud alumna of the Behavioral Medicine and Sleep Disorders Research, PRIDE Summer Institute at SUNY Downstate, New York. In addition, Dr. Jenkins is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi.

Dr. Dawn Aycock is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at Georgia State University. She is a registered nurse and certified adult health nurse practitioner who has spent the majority of her career involved in clinical and nursing research. Dr. Aycock received her BSN from Prairie View A&M University, MSN from Emory University and PhD in nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also was a scholar in the second cohort of the Center for Stroke Disparities Solutions (CSDS) training program. Dr. Aycock’s research interest is primary stroke prevention in African Americans, particularly among young adults and those with a family history of stroke. She focuses on helping individuals improve their understanding of stroke, personal risk of stroke and healthy lifestyle behaviors to reduce stroke risk. Dr. Aycock has received grant support from Georgia State University and the National Institutes of Nursing Research, NIH to develop and test a Stroke COunseling for Risk REduction (SCORRE) intervention in young adult African Americans.

Dr. Douglas Wallace is an Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Has was born and raised in Nicaragua. He completed medical school and neurology residency training at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He completed sleep medicine fellowship at the University of Miami and the Miami VA Healthcare system. He is currently the medical director of the Miami VA Sleep Center. Dr. Wallace's research interests include examining the etiology of race-ethnic differences in positive airway pressure adherence.

Dr. Martina Gallagher's research focus is on the prevention and treatment of obesity, and its cardiometabolic sequela, experienced by Latino families in the community setting. Her interventions incorporate behavioral factors and cultural perspectives with the end goal of fostering  sustainable adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors.  Her expertise are ethnographic qualitative research methods, Latino cultural factors that influence health behavior, community-based research, lifestyle interventions focused on treating and preventing obesity within the family context, and sleep and its impact on health. Dr. Gallagher received a PhD with an emphasis on health promotion of Hispanic families from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, TX. She completed a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship, at the University of Washington School of Nursing in Seattle, WA, where she learned basic sleep concepts, and data collection, analysis and interpretation of objective and subjective sleep measures in community settings. Dr. Gallagher’s hobbies are knitting and Argentine tango dance.