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HIV Disparities SWG membership

Velma Murry, Ph.D.
(Co-Lead) VU (Peabody Ed. Sch)
Mitchell Parks, M.D.
(Co-Lead) MMC (Psych)
Tony Brown, Ph.D.
VU (Sociology)
Tyson Brown, Ph.D.
VU (Sociology), MMC (RWJF Ctr)
Ellen Wright Clayton, M.D., J.D.
VU (Ctr for Biomed. Ethics & Society)
Dana Crawford, Ph.D.
VU (Ctr for Hum Genetics Res)
Andre Christie-Mizells, Ph.D.
VU (Sociology), MMC (RWJF Ctr)
Jacqueline Hampton, Ph.D.
Margaret Hargreaves, Ph.D.
MMC (Int. Med.)
Elizabeth Heitman, Ph.D.
VU (Ctr for Biomed. Ethics & Society)
Daniel Howard, Ph.D.
Kevin Johnson, M.D.
VU (Bioinformatics)
Paul Juarez, Ph.D.
MMC (Fam. Med.)
Aaron Kipp, Ph.D.
VU (Epidemiol.)
Robert Levine, M.D.
MMC (Fam. Med.)
Peter Martin, M.D.
VUSM (Psych)
Uma Rao, MBBS
MMC (Psych)
Russell Rothman, M.D.
VU (Ctr for Health Svcs Res)
Carolyn Szetela, Ph.D.
MMC (Biomed Ed)
R. Jay Turner, Ph.D.
VU (Sociology)

HIV Disparities Scientific Working Group




From left: Mitchell Parks (MMC), Robert Levine (MMC), Peter Martin (VU), Carolyn Szetela (MMC), Richard D’Aquila, Aaron Kipp (VU), Tony Brown (VU), Sid Pratap (MMC), Sally Rebeiro (VU, CDC Epidemiology and Outcomes Research WG data coordinator), David Haas (VU), Andre Christie-Mizell (VU/MMC), Russell Rothman (VU), Tyson Brown (VU/MMC), Margaret Hargreaves (MMC).

The HIV Disparities Scientific Working Group started in 2010 focused on trans-disciplinary behavioral and community-based participatory approaches to minimize risky behaviors among adolescents and youth. One collaboration started by the SWG (Drs. Uma Rao, Meharry Psychiatry; Velma Murry, Vanderbilt Peabody College of Education and Human Development; and Lynn Walker, adolescent psychologist at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Pediatrics) is a study of the an intervention to decrease risk-taking behavior and poor decision-making in adolescents (recruited from Dr. Walker’s adolescent clinic to which they were referred because of such a clinical problem).

Dr. Murry has previously developed and tested a universal preventive intervention targeting risky behaviors in African-American youth, the Strong African-American Families (SAAF) program. In a randomized controlled NIMH-funded study, SAAF was effective in delaying/reducing alcohol and drug use, risky sexual behaviors and conduct problems (Murry, V.M. and G.H. Brody, Partnering with community stakeholders: engaging rural African American families in basic research and The Strong African American Families Preventive Intervention Program. J Marital Fam Ther, 2004. 30(3): p. 271-83). Also, the positive intervention effects of SAAF were sustained for up to 5 years post-intervention.

The new proposal extends the earlier development and validation of the intervention by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify and quantify potential biological changes following the intervention. A better understanding of how the intervention works, and under which circumstances, will be helpful in yielding more meaningful and positive outcomes for different subgroups of at-risk adolescents.
Over late 2010 to 2011, further new social science recruitments helped grow the SWG. Professor R. Jay Turner, a prominent researcher on the “stress process” model for understanding disparities in health outcomes, joined Vanderbilt University Dept. of Sociology and started the Center for Research on Health Disparities with Dr. Tony Brown and others. Vanderbilt Sociology already had a very strong emphasis on quantitative health disparities research.

Sociology had also already partnered with MMC culminating in 2009 with an $18.2 million award to establish the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy (CHP) at MMC, with a strong role for VU Sociology in education and research training of health policy fellows in the “stress process” model that is now the leading paradigm to explain mechanisms of racial disparities in health. The CHP’s perspective is that these biologic contributions are relatively minor compared to social, medical, and access issues; “race” chiefly captures issues of social stratification, inequality in economic and political opportunities and power, discrimination, and marginalization. Two Vanderbilt Sociology Dept. faculty, Tyson Brown and André Christie-Mizell, are now active in, and funded by, the CHP at MMC. CHP director, Daniel Howard, has long experience in partnerships between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and research-intensive universities.

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This page was last updated October 24, 2013 and is maintained by Gina Perez