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Health Disparities Advisory Committee
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2015-2018 Health Disparities Network Co-Chairs:


Steven Fu, MD, MSCE

Dr. Fu is the Director of the Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, a VA Health Services Research Center of Innovation. He is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School and a core investigator in the University of Minnesota's Tobacco Use Research Center. Dr. Fu is an internationally recognized expert in tobacco cessation and health disparities, including a leader in the treatment of tobacco dependence among diverse racial/ethnic minority groups, and among our nation's military Veterans. His research is focused on identifying and implementing best practices for improving the delivery and utilization of tobacco dependence treatments among diverse and vulnerable populations.



Norval Hickman, PhD, MPH

Dr. Hickman is a Program Officer with the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program at the University of California Office of the President. Dr. Hickman is a California licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY 24866) with training in Behavioral Medicine and Public Health. He has conducted a cessation clinical trial for ethnically diverse individuals with serious mental illness recruited during an acute psychiatric hospitalization and research focused on tobacco prevention, epidemiology and cultural correlates of tobacco use among priority populations.


Advisory Committee Members


Erik Augustson , PhD, MPH


Erik Augustson is currently a Behavioral Scientist and Program Director in the Tobacco Control Research Branch (TCRB) within the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) at NCI. His research interests focus on understanding various aspects of health behaviors with a particular emphasis on "hardcore" smokers. His most recent research spans epidemiological, psychological, and behavioral-genetics levels of analysis, with an end goal of improving models of smoking that acknowledge smoking as a complex, multiply-determined behavior, such that more effective treatments can be developed.


Jen Cantrell, DrPh, MPA

Dr. Cantrell, is Director of Research and Evaluation at Legacy.® She is also an Assistant Professor (Adjunct) in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Cantrell’s research examines the roles of advertising, public policy and geographic factors on tobacco use in general and tobacco-related disparities among vulnerable populations, including individuals in low-income and minority communities. Dr. Cantrell is currently directing the evaluation for the upcoming truth 3.0 campaign. Her previous research examined community-level processes, tobacco policies and institutional factors that influence tobacco use among minority and immigrant communities.  




T.C. "Kelvin” Choi, PhD, MPH

Dr. Kelvin Choi is a Stadtman Investigator and the Acting Head of Social and Behavioral Group at the Division of Intramural Research, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), National Institutes of Health. Dr. Choi received his PhD in Social and Behavioral Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota, and was an invited attendee of the NIH Institute on Systems Science and Health 2011 and Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health 2012. Dr. Choi’s research focuses on tobacco marketing and counter-marketing, particularly in populations targeted by the tobacco companies.


Joanne D’Silva, MPH

Joanne D'Silva is a past Co-Chair of the TRDN and Senior Research Program Manager at ClearWay Minnesota, where she is involved in research, evaluation, and surveillance initiatives. With training in public health and behavioral sciences, Joanne's areas of expertise include grant-making, program planning and evaluation, survey management, technical assistance and training, and dissemination.Joanne's primary interests include cancer health disparities among priority population groups. Her research examines tobacco-related disparities among racial and ethnic minority populations. With a broad interest in applied research, Joanne is particularly interested in the dissemination and translation of strategies to inform programs and policies aimed at advancing health equity.



Patricia Nez Henderson, MD, MPH

Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson is a past Co-Chair of the TRDN. She is a member of the Dine’ (Navajo) tribe, is Vice President of the Black Hills Center for American Indian Health, an American Indian nonprofit health organization in Rapid City, South Dakota. Dr. Nez Henderson has collaborated with tribal communities all over the country in implementing comprehensive tobacco control and prevention programs, including the development of culturally tailored cessation programs, web-based prevention programs for Native youth, and mobilizing the Navajo Nation towards a commercial tobacco-free legislation.  Dr. Nez Henderson is a panel member of the PHS Guideline Tobacco Dependence and Treatment (2008) and on the FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.  


Monica Webb Hooper, PhD

Dr. Webb Hooper is Associate Professor of Psychology and member of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami. She is also director of the Tobacco, Obesity, and Oncology Laboratory (TOOL). Dr. Webb Hooper is a clinical health psychologist whose research focuses on cancer risk behaviors, with a focus on tobacco use and cessation and minority health/health disparities, the development of culturally specific smoking cessations interventions for African Americans and Hispanics, and biobehavioral predictors of outcomes. The goal of her research is to impact public health by reducing the prevalence of cancer overall, and cancer health disparities in high-risk populations.

Raúl Mejía, MD, PhD

Dr Mejia is a leading expert in the epidemiology and risk factors of cardiovascular disease in Argentina and the Latin America He. He is the lead investigator at CEDES focused on cardiovascular epidemiology and risk factors and has led several projects on tobacco research funded by the Fogarty, NIH and the International Development Research Centre, Canada (IDRC). Dr Mejia is an attending physician at the most prestigious hospital in Argentina in preventive medicine and he is the Director of the Fellowship in General Internal Medicine. Dr. Mejia heads an active research team at the University of Buenos Aires and CEDES and has a strong background in mentoring, he has mentored over 30 junior researchers over his 20 years as a senior investigator.



Shadi Nahvi, MD, MS

Dr. Shadi Nahvi is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center. Dr. Nahvi completed a fellowship supported by an NIH-funded health disparities Center of Excellence. Dr. Nahvi’s research includes a randomized placebo-controlled trial of varenicline among smokers in methadone maintenance treatment, and a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded study to evaluate the efficacy of an intervention to optimize use of tobacco cessation treatment among opioid-dependent patients in methadone maintenance treatment. 


Aashir Nasim, PhD


Dr. Nasim's research centers on the social epidemiology of substance use and abuse among African Americans. A central research aim has been to determine how certain theoretical and methodological conceptualizations of resilience contribute to our understanding of the onset and progression of substance use behaviors from childhood to adulthood in African Americans. Following from this aim have been two primary research objectives which are to distinguish between the promotive and protective effects of sociocultural factors on adolescent substance use; and, to better understand the functionality of protective factors in buffering risks for substance use and abuse.


Christi A. Patten, PhD

Dr. Patten is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, Professor of Psychology, Director of the Behavioral Health Research Program, and Director of the Community Engagement Program within the NIH-funded CTSA at Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN.  Her work focuses on developing novel, theory-based behavioral interventions for tobacco cessation with various populations including adolescents and smokers with psychiatric comorbidity, as well as the social network of smoker. She has a successful longstanding partnership with the Alaska Native community, and has conducted several intervention studies to reduce tobacco use among Alaska Native adolescents and pregnant women.  Dr. Patten is a co-investigator on several other projects evaluating behavioral lifestyle interventions in various underserved populations.  She served as Chair of the Risk, Prevention and Interventions in the Addictions (RPIA) and Interventions to Prevent and Treat Addictions (IPTA) NIH study sections.  She has served on several expert panels related to cancer disparities and tobacco use.  Dr. Patten serves as a mentor to numerous trainees and junior faculty in research.


Kymberle L. Sterling, DrPH., MPH

Dr. Kymberle Sterling is an Associate Professor of Health Promotion & Behavior at the Georgia State University School of Public Health in Atlanta, Georgia.  Her research interests are broadly focused on using theory-based behavior change strategies to prevent and reduce cancer-related risk factors among vulnerable populations.  Dr. Sterling has received grant support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2005 and her research has sought to understand cigarette and cigar use behaviors among racially and ethnically diverse youth and young adults. She is the principal investigator of two Food and Drug Administration/NIH-funded tobacco control regulatory sciences research grants that seek to develop measures of flavored little cigar and cigarillo (LCC) smoking behavior; identify risk perceptions for flavored LCC smoking; and assess the susceptibility and intention to smoke flavored LCCs among young adult cigarette smokers.  She is also a co-Investigator on a FDA/NIH-funded tobacco control regulatory sciences (TCORS) center grant that seeks to understand factors that contribute to an individual's decision to use novel tobacco products.

Jennifer Irvin Vidrine, PhD

Dr. Jennifer Irvin Vidrine is a tenured Associate Professor, Deputy Director for Tobacco Research and Director, Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, and the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Endowed Chair in Cancer at the Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Dr. Vidrine’s research focuses on three primary areas: 1) smoking-relevant risk perceptions and risk communications, 2) tobacco cessation treatment for underserved and vulnerable populations of smokers, and 3) the dissemination of  evidence-based tobacco treatments within healthcare systems. Her research program has been supported by grants from the NIH (NCI), the CDC, the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).





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