Current Yerby Fellows
In studies that compare different diagnostic or treatment groups, subjects may not only be measured on a certain set of biomarkers, but also matched across groups on a number of demographic characteristics and measured on additional covariates. Josephine’s research focuses on modifying traditional discrimination and classification methods to also account for the group matching and measurement of covariates that may be used in a particular study, in order to more accurately identify discriminatory biomarkers. As a Yerby Fellow, Josephine is working with Dr. Rebecca Betensky in the Department of Biostatistics on novel ways to account for group matching and covariate effects on biomarker data in a variety of research areas, ranging from survival analysis to Bayesian variable selection techniques. A primary aim of her work is to explore the applicability of her research methodology to several types of studies typically involving group matching, including case-control studies and genetic/genomic studies.
Cabral’s research within the Viswanath lab and the Harvard School of Public Health’s Lung Cancer Disparities Center focuses on advancing understanding of how communication can be utilized to reduce health inequalities and promote public health, including cancer prevention efforts. Her past research includes studies related to framing, risk communication, and health communication. She is particularly interested in examining the effects of communication about health disparities.
Juan’s interdisciplinary research combines cellular, molecular, and genomic approaches to characterize how epigenetic changes reflect the impact of environmental exposures on human health outcomes. Within his work an important epigenetic modification under study is DNA methylation, which serves to modulate chromatin structure and gene expression. As a Yerby Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Environmental Health, mentored by Prof. Andrea Baccarelli, Juan is pioneering the use of cell-culture methods and of multiplexed, next-generation sequencing technologies within large epidemiological studies. This novel high-throughput approach offers a powerful, cost-effective method for mapping molecular mechanisms and biomarkers that reflect epigenome-wide reprogramming and health trajectories after environmental exposures. In addition to colleagues at the HSPH Center for Health Bioinformatics, he is actively collaborating with faculty at the Harvard-MIT Broad Institute, the Partners Center for Personalized Genetic Medicine, and the Channing Laboratory at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Patricia’s research focuses on the interactions between dietary micronutrient intake and the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain. During her doctoral studies, she analyzed the role of dietary intakes of B vitamins and several minerals in the development of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in the Nurses’ Health Study II PMS Sub-study. As a Yerby Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Nutrition, Patricia is working with Dr. Alberto Ascherio to study the role of micronutrient intake in the prevention of psychiatric and neurological diseases, particularly in depression and Parkinson’s disease, using data from the Nurses’ Health Study I and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study cohorts.
Dustin’s research seeks to understand how neighborhood characteristics (such as the built environment, crime/violence, neighborhood disorder and collective efficacy) influence population health among children, adolescents and their families—with a special emphasis on minority health and health disparities. His research utilizes a geospatial lens to apply spatially explicit approaches such as computer-based geographic information systems, web-based geospatial technologies and geospatial modeling techniques. As a Yerby Postdoctoral Fellow, Dustin will primarily examine neighborhood determinants of youth cancer prevention behaviors (e.g. tobacco use and obesity risk behaviors) and disparities in neighborhood environmental features related to cancer risk (e.g. disparities in the tobacco retail environment). His primary research mentor is Dr. David Williams.
Chandra L. Jackson’s research focuses on the epidemiology, prevention and control of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Her past work highlighted the potential for health information technology to improve diabetes care as well as racial/ethnic differences in 1) overweight/obesity trends within levels of educational attainment and 2) obesity-related mortality. As a Yerby Postdoctoral Fellow, she is working with Drs. Frank Hu and Ichiro Kawachi to investigate the role of suboptimal diet and lifestyle as modifiable contributors to the disproportionate obesity and diabetes risk experienced by traditionally under-resourced populations. By centering her research objectives on identifying modifiable, social determinants of both obesity and its publically- and policy-relevant health and social consequences across the life span, she plans to contribute to the translation of epidemiologic findings into interventions and policies that address structural, macro-level as well as individual-level barriers to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. This approach will contribute to an overall obesity prevention strategy in addition to the elimination of preventable obesity-related disparities. To begin accomplishing these objectives, she is analyzing data from the Nurses’ Health Study I and II as well as the National Health Interview Survey, and plans to utilize data from the Jackson Heart Study, Black Women’s Health Study and Southern Communities Cohort Study.
Erica’s research focuses on understanding risk factors associated with aggressive subtypes of breast cancer, cancer metastasis, and elucidating racial and ethnic disparities in cancer. She is particularly interested in early life exposures, body size/obesity, and molecular biomarkers. As a Yerby Postdoctoral Fellow she will work on projects related to delays in follow-up of abnormal mammograms, mediators of racial disparities in breast cancer survival, predictors of mammographic breast density, and the relationship between vitamin D and body size and risk of breast cancer subtypes. Her primary research mentor is Dr. Rulla Tamimi.