We are Public Health Newsletter | Fall 2019
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We are Public Health Newsletter | Fall 2019
Dean's Message:  
Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH  
Director and Founding Dean of the Program in Public Health  
On Friday, October 4, UCI launched its Brilliant Future campaign with an evening filled with captivating stories about all of the groundbreaking research that’s being done at the university. Framed within the campaign’s four strategic pillars—transforming healthcare and wellness, accelerating world-changing research, exploring the human experience, and advancing the American dream—we learned about a broad range of topics, from the Cancer Center’s innovative collaborations, to the plastic plague on coral reefs, to the new UCI museum of plein air art.
As part of the campaign, the university charged each school to think about its identity and needs. Anyone working in our field spends a lot of time responding to that very question: “What is public health?” Public health is fluid and dynamic. It’s different every day. One of our challenges as multidisciplinary practitioners is to be responsive to those changes. Fifty years ago, we were focused on vaccinations. Today we are still focused on vaccinations, but the issues are new and require novel solutions. The scope of public health is not limited to a single infectious disease but encompasses new ways of thinking about chronic disease, aging, and integrative health. It expands to topics as diverse as the environment, gun violence, vulnerability, and stress. Simply ensuring that people are not sick is not enough. Health is about quality of life that extends to wellness, nutrition, mindfulness, and more.
So, what path have we set to prepare our school, our students, and our community to rise to the exciting and unexpected challenges ahead? What is our ask? How do we assure the best possible foundation for our soon-to-be School of Population and Public Health? We want to provide you with some of the highlights from our case statement, developed with careful thought about our strengths and our future vision and from lots of conversations with faculty, staff, students and alumni. Together we envisioned the initial needs that would optimize our work in public health as we move toward our brilliant future.
Here are our funding asks for this year:
Training a Diverse Workforce of Future Leaders in Health and Wellness
Our priorities including supporting our mission to provide scholarships and fellowships that promote a pipeline for diversity and equity for thousands of future public health leaders, most of whom are first-generation college students or underrepresented minorities.
Establishing Endowed Chairs to Recruit and Retain Exceptional Faculty
Endowed chairs will help to provide the prestige and resources necessary to recruit and retain prominent faculty to advance our mission of research excellence and foster a culture of inclusion and diversity.
Increasing Seed Funding for Research Innovations
Funding for innovative programs will stimulate research and nurture excellence in key health areas, including chronic disease prevention, integrative nutritional science, human development, environmental and occupational health, health equity, community engagement, and global health.

Empowering Communities to be Informed and Advocate for Their Health
Opportunities for community outreach will enable us to create an exchange of knowledge and best practices with community members and to develop sustainable programs to train community leaders, educators, counselors and chief wellness officers.
Enhancing Lab Space and Teaching Clinics
State-of-the-art facilities will result in new and critical discoveries to protect the clean air, safe drinking water, green space, and overall health of our communities.
What is public health? Public health is all around us. WE are public health, and we are looking forward to a brilliant future.
If you’d like to donate to the planned School of Population and Public Health, please click here.
Support Public Health's Brilliant Future
Faculty Focus:  
Daniel M. Parker, PhD  
Assistant Professor of Public Health  
Research Focus: Global health; focus on spatial epidemiology of infectious diseases; microdemography and health  
This year, Dr. Parker was awarded funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to investigate the incidence of vector-borne diseases in Cambodia in order to limit their transmission.  
What roles do you hold at PPH?
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention, I have a courtesy appointment in Epidemiology, and I’m the Director of GHREAT (global health, research, education, and translation) which is a global health initiative housed within PPH. I also lead my own research group.
Why do you choose to work in public health?
There are so many reasons that I can’t list a specific thing. I really enjoy statistical analysis and geographic information science. I love to travel and to learn about different cultures, places, and ecologies. I find pathogen biology to be incredibly fascinating. If I’m in a position where I can do all of these things, help people in the process, and make a living at it, then I’ve found the perfect place for me!
What facets of infectious disease epidemiology do you feel should be investigated further (either by you or other researchers)?
A key theme in my own research (because I think it deserves further work) is the role of human travel or movement with regard to risk of acquiring infections, dispersal of infections across landscapes, and accessing healthcare. I mostly look at this with regard to malaria, but these topics are relevant for all infectious diseases and all locations.

Which infectious diseases should receive more attention than they do and why?
Tuberculosis. It is one of the biggest single contributors to global mortality, probably ¼ of the world is infected with the causative agent, and it does not receive the same amount of funding as do other major diseases. This is a tricky disease to diagnose and treat as well – so major funding efforts toward operational research would be beneficial.
What are the most rewarding parts of your work? The most challenging?
Situations where I’ve been instrumental in increasing access to healthcare (like some of my work in Kayin State of Myanmar) have probably been the most personally rewarding for me. Increasingly I find mentorship rewarding in a similar way because it can amplify my own public health efforts (for example, when students go on to do good public health work). It is great to find students who are passionate and driven with regard to a specific topic, and then to help them find ways to work on that topic either through research during their degree program or as a career afterward.
With regard to the most challenging aspects of my work: What really frustrates me is when a public health solution is obvious and feasible, but it doesn’t happen simply because of a lack of political will or because of other socio-political and economic reasons. I believe that everyone should have access to basic healthcare, and I get angry when I see situations where it is completely possible to do that but it still does not happen.
Will you describe a recent infectious disease outbreak of interest and the corresponding public health response—and what you feel public health can learn from the event?
Dengue fever has been at epidemic levels this year throughout the tropical world – including in South and Central America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, Asia, and Africa. Chikungunya is also at epidemic levels in many places this year. This includes an outbreak that was occurring on the Thailand-Myanmar border when I was visiting there this summer and in Ethiopia (many other places as well). Both of these diseases manifest with a high fever, joint pains, headache, and a rash. The common factor linking them is a mosquito that spreads both diseases (from the Aedes mosquitoes, and Aedes aegypti in particular). This mosquito can also spread Zika virus, and it is now present throughout much of the world, including in Orange County. There is no cure for either of these diseases so the public health approach is almost completely focused on disrupting contact between humans and the mosquitoes that spread the disease. Efforts include spraying insecticides and distributing bednets. I worry that this year is a sign of things to come in the future. The mosquito is already present throughout much of the world, and global changes (including climate change) might lead to shifts in where these diseases exist and changes in their overall burden where they already exist.
Program Focus:  
GHREAT (Global Health Research, Education, and Translation)  
GHREAT (Global Health Research, Education, and Translation) is a student-run, Public Health 198 Directed Studies class under the advisement of Dr. Daniel Parker. GHREAT is dedicated to promoting awareness of global health issues in the UCI community through the analysis of news, trends, and research literature. As an organization catering to the undergraduate population, GHREAT works to create an open and engaging forum for the discussion of various global health topics, through different perspectives, in the hopes of increasing students’ understanding of health issues both at home and abroad.
Members of GHREAT have the opportunity to lead monthly Global Health Journal Club events, update and write for the GHREAT blog and quarterly newsletter, facilitate outreach events to increase global health awareness on campus, and participate in an independent research project under the guidance of Dr. Parker. In the past, GHREAT has hosted Dr. Thomas Coates, Director of the UC Global Health Institute, and Dr. Ruth Goldstein, Assistant Professor in Global and International Studies, at monthly Journal Club events. This year, GHREAT plans to implement quarterly global health themes that will guide Journal Club and outreach events, as well as frame blog and newsletter submissions, in an effort to highlight important topics in global health and medicine in need of a bigger platform. GHREAT’s theme for fall quarter is "mental health awareness from a global health perspective."
Student Focus:  
Spotlight: Samar Arshad  
GHREAT Student Director  
4th Year Public Health Sciences Major  
Career Goals: Healthcare is my passion. I aspire to attend medical school after my time at UCI to pursue training as an obstetrician/gynecologist who specializes in treating minority women both at home and abroad. As a future physician, I hope not only to make a positive impact on women's health and wellness but also to work toward incorporating aspects of public health, such as preventative care and cultural competency, into the medical sphere.
Poster Presentations
American Society of Human Genetics:Two graduate students presented their research from the Department of Epidemiology at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) conference in Houston, TX on October 15-19. ASHG is the world’s largest human genetics conference. Rachel Lucia (pictured above - left, Epidemiology, PI: Hannah Lui Park) presented her research poster entitled “Epigenome-wide association study of the herbicide glyphosate and DNA methylation”. Stanislav Listopad (pictured above-right, Computer Science, PI: Trina Norden-Krichmar) presented his research poster entitled “Machine learning models for classification of small sample size RNA sequencing data”.
UROP Fall Call for Proposals
We are pleased to announce the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Fall Call for Proposals. UCI undergraduates from all disciplines who are conducting research or creative projects under the guidance of UCI faculty are encouraged to apply.
The research proposal should include background and objective of the research project, project’s design and feasibility, student’s specific responsibilities, project’s timeline, and a detailed budget with justifications. In addition, faculty mentors will be asked to upload one letter of recommendation per project, which will evaluate the student's performance to date and capacity to complete the proposed activities.
Proposal Writing Workshop:
Wednesday, October 30, 2019 (3-5 p.m., Calit2 Auditorium)
Fall 2019 Call for Proposals
Deadline: Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Staff Focus: Department Administration  
Rosanna Horton, EdD
Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention
Rosanna Horton has worked for university’s and non-profits since the 1990s. Rosanna’s passion and back ground interests are in health education, holistic health, wellness and integrative medicine which made it an easy choice to return to UCI in 2018 as the Department Administrator for Population Health & Disease Prevention.
Rosanna earned her undergrad degree in Health Sciences/Education and Masters in Education, both with an emphasis on Holistic Health from San Francisco State University. Later Rosanna went on to earn her doctoral degree (EdD) in Education, Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University. Rosanna’s dissertation entitled “Will Collaboration or Affiliation between Allopathic Medical Schools and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Accredited Schools Better Incorporate CAM into Allopathic Medical School Curriculum?” and she was very fortunate to have Dr. Susan Samueli (Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Science) as her external reader. Rosanna’s passion for well-being for all lead her to return for a fellowship with the Institute for Social Innovation from Fielding Graduate University and completed the project entitled "With the growing use of integrative and/or complementary and alternative medicine how are we reaching out to the underserved?"
Rosanna is excited to be a part of the team moving from the “Program in Public Health” to a School of Public Health.
Briana Desmond
Department of Epidemiology
Briana joined UCI seven years ago after working for three years at a humanities department at UCLA. In her current and past roles at the university, she has focused on creating cultures of collaboration and cohesive teams within her units, driving innovation through strategizing new programs and efficiencies, and establishing trust with faculty through transparent internal controls. In her current role as department administrator for Epidemiology, she provides strategic leadership, management, and expertise that supports faculty, staff, and students, while aligning operations with department objectives and vision.
ImageBriana is excited and grateful to be contributing to the planning of the future School of Public and Population Health. She looks forward to supporting Epi through this next stage of growth and change, collaborating with the expanding teams in the dean’s office, the other departments within the new school, and the College of Health Sciences, and seeing a school of public health at UCI come to fruition!
When not working, Briana spends most of her time coordinating activities for her son, baking and experimenting with new paleo recipes, and spending time out in nature with her family.
Briana Desmond to represent UCI at the 2020 UC Women’s Initiative for Professional Development
We are pleased to announce that Briana Desmond, department administrator of Epidemiology, has been selected to represent UCI at the 2020 UC Women’s Initiative for Professional Development (UCWI). She will join a select group of 30 women made up of faculty and staff from across the UC system in this unique program designed to help women advance in their careers as leaders within the university.
“Briana leads her staff by example, promoting a positive environment where ideas and creativity flow freely and are encouraged, while maintaining accountability and efficiency in work. She is the type of leader that the organization wants to promote to positions of higher authority,” said Karen Edwards, Professor and Chair, Epidemiology. Past UCI staff participants include directors, assistant and associate deans, and assistant vice-chancellors. We are proud to have Briana leading one of our core teams and look forward to her advancements in the years to come! Please join us in congratulating Briana on this great opportunity.
Quarter Highlights  
$1M Grant
Scott Bartell, PhD, professor in UCI’s Program in Public Health will lead the study as principal investigator of a new research project. The University of California, Irvine was awarded $1 million by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to participate in the first year of a major multi-site health study to investigate the relationship between drinking water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and health outcomes.
$39M NIH Grant
Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH is part of a national team of investigators recently awarded a $39M NIH grant led by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to address the complex challenge of post-stroke vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID). Dr. Boden-Albala is chair of health disparities for the first-of-its-kind DISCOVERY study that specifically focuses on inclusion of populations in the U.S. who suffer disproportionately from post-stroke cognitive and functional disability. "We are excited for UCI to join forces with this talented and versatile team of investigators to tackle the important issue of health disparities related to Alzheimer’s disease and stroke," she said.
New UCI Center for Population, Inequality, and Policy takes on causes and consequences of socioeconomic inequality.
Tim Bruckner, PhD, will serve as co-director of a new research unit. Understanding the causes and consequences of socioeconomic inequality in the U.S. is the focus of a new University of California, Irvine Organized Research Unit. Under the auspices of the Center for Population, Inequality, and Policy, 26 faculty representing five schools and units on campus will study widening gaps in economic, educational, health, and other outcomes among the U.S. population, and in other countries. Research within the center will serve as a guide for policies and other strategies designed to improve well-being - including employment, education, health, housing, and income - of the less advantaged.
Panel Discussion
Liza B. Krassner, MPA, Academic Programs Manager, participated as a panelist at the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Leadership Forum hosted by the Regional Center of Orange County. The forum's aim was to open discussion on the barriers that API health professionals/health providers deal with in helping the API community address developmental disabilities and mental health needs. Nearly 90 participants (providers, advocates, community/business leaders and supporters, journalists, local government reps, etc) were in attendance.
Poster Presentation
Trina Norden-Krichmar, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, presented a poster entitled: “Integrated –omics approach to predict and monitor treatment response for patients with Alcoholic Hepatitis”, at NIH on September 16-17, as part of the “Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis: Pathogenesis and Mechanisms of Liver Injury Joint NIAAA-NIDDK Research Workshop”.
Faculty Success Program Award
Brittany Morey, PhD, awarded a $2,000.00 UCI ADVANCE Career Development Award to attend the Spring 2020 session. The FSP affords faculty participants with a supportive community committed to accelerating their research productivity while advancing their career goals.
Oladele “Dele” Ogunseitan, professor and founding chair of the Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention -- selected as a UC Presidential Chair.
Oladele "Dele" Ogunseitan, PhD, professor and founding chair of the Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention at the University of California, Irvine, has been selected as a UC Presidential Chair. During his five-year nonrenewable term, he will help advance campuswide goals of encouraging new or interdisciplinary program development and enhancing the quality of existing academic programs. His appointment marks only the second time a UCI faculty member has held the distinction.
Epidemiology Publications
Sora Tanjasiri, MPH, DrPH, published the following publications:
Tanjasiri SP, Mouttapa M, Weiss JW, Sablan-Santos L. (2019). Outcomes of a randomized community trial to increase Pap testing among Pacific Islander women in Southern California. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-18-1306. This paper describes the outcomes from a five-year randomized community trial testing the efficacy of a social support-informed intervention on increases in Pap testing among Chamorros, Samoans and Tongans in Southern California.
Rainer MA, Xie B, Sabado M, Kwan PP, Pike JR, Tan NS, Vaivao DE, May VT, Pang JK, Pang VK, Toilolo TB, Tanjasiri SP, Palmer PH. (2019). Psychosocial characteristics of smoking patterns among young adult Samoans and Tongans in California. Addictive Behaviors Reports. 9. (June 2019). This paper describes the psychosocial predictors of smoking, including self-efficacy, stress, hostility, depression, and impulsivity.
Save the Date for the CCR Investigator Training Program - December 2
The UCI Center for Clinical Research will host Pfizer’s acclaimed Investigator Training Program (iTP) on December 2, 2019.
This free, one-day program will empower clinicians to build critical skills required for the recruitment, management, conduct and reporting of clinical trials. It will examine the entire trial process, from planning stages to trial close-out activities, and practical recommendations for increasing the efficiency of clinical trial conduct at investigative sites.
Led by clinical trial experts, this interactive training will consist of didactic lectures, discussions and group activities. The iTP is targeted to investigators and the entire clinical study team, including research fellows, coordinators, research nurses, data managers, regulatory and IRB members. Clinical trial experience (even if limited) is encouraged, though not required.
Attendees will receive a certificate of attendance after completing this International Conference on Harmonization (ICH)/Good Clinical Practice (GCP) program. This workshop is approved for 8 contact hours towards maintaining an Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) certification.
Alumni Focus
Please welcome the inaugural Public Health Alumni Chapter Board! Meet them November 19th at 6:00 at Bar Louie. Details and registration here.
Top Row: Tyler Mehrbrodt (President), Farihah Chowdhury ’14 & ‘18 (President Elect) , Karen Blanco ‘14 (Vice President), Matt De Leon ’19 (Communications). Bottom Row: Andrea Martinez ’16 (Special Events), Melinda Hoang ’14 (Special Events), Natasha Wasim ’17 (Treasurer), Jackie Osegueda ’17 (Communications).
Stay tuned for Public Health Alumni Program news and events at publichealth.uci.edu and on our social media.
Last month, Public Health Anteaters gathered at Everson Royce Bar for the second annual LA Alumni Night. Thanks to Dr. Gideonse for joining! Check out http://publichealth.uci.edu/ph/_alumni/events to stay up to date on future alumni events in your area.
HAVE ALUMNI NEWS, IDEAS OR QUESTIONS? CONTACT: Meredith Kwok Assistant Director of Constituent Relations Public Health / Advancement

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