Faculty Profile: Patricia Markham Risica, DRPH

Patricia Markham Risica
Patricia Markham Risica, DRPH
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Research)
Institute for Community Health Promotion
Work: +1 401-863-6553
Professor Risica's research interests include obesity, nutritional epidemiology and eating behaviors; the influence of location of fat on the body with disease risk; weight gain during pregnancy and keeping weight after pregnancy; breastfeeding; and diabetes, heart disease and obesity among African American women, in addition to Alaska Natives and other native peoples around the polar parts of the globe.


Dr. Risica is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Research) at Brown University School of Medicine. Dr. Risica has a B.S. from the Ohio State University, and MPH and DrPH from Johns Hopkins University and 6 years of previous experience in clinical nutrition. Upon joining Brown, Dr. Risica was Director of Data Management and the Survey Center (1997-2001). In addition, Dr. Risica was Evaluation Director for the Center of Excellence in Women's Health (2003-2005). Dr. Risica previously served as Co-Investigator for a number of projects and currently functions as the Co-PI and Evaluation Coordinator for several ongoing large intervention projects involving nutrition, physical activity and smoking cessation. Dr. Risica is currently PI of SisterTalk@Home as well as two recently completed studies, "Baby's Breath: Reducing ETS Exposure of Pregnant Women and Newborns", and "SCRIPT New England: Postpartum Maintenance of Abstinence from Tobacco."

Dr. Risica is currently serving as an Epidemiologist and Evaluator for the Initiative for Healthy Weight (IHW) for the Department of Health (DOH). In this role, Dr. Risica interfaces with many divisions and projects within the DOH as well as the many community partners that are working on IHW workgroups and projects.

Dr. Risica is also currently the Advocacy Chairperson for the Rhode Island Public Health Association, and is Past President (2003-04). She is also Communications Chairperson for the Food and Nutrition Section of the American Public Health Association and is serving on the Action Board and Joint Policy Committee. She is Past Chair of that Section (2006-07).



Research Description

Professor Risica's research interests include obesity, risk factors for obesity, body fat distribution, metabolic syndrome and allostatic load; weight gain during pregnancy and retention after pregnancy; breastfeeding; and diabetes, heart disease and obesity in Alaska Natives. Dr. Risica has predominantly worked in evaluation with particular expertise in telephone surveying, as well as in-depth experience in data management.

Grants and Awards

Food and Nutrition Section, Chair Award, American Public Health Association, 2005.

Deans award for excellence in teaching, Brown University School of Medicine, August 2003.

Elsa Orent Keiles Fellowship in Biochemistry and Human Nutrition in International Health, Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health, 1997.

Lydia J. Roberts Fellowship in Public Health Nutrition, The American Dietetic Association and the American Dietetic Association Foundation, 1992.


1999- Rhode Island Public Health Association
2000-2002 Membership Committee Chairperson
2002 President Elect
2003 President
2004- Communications Committee Chairperson, Nominations Chairperson
2005- Advocacy Committee Chairperson
2007 Board Member

1998- Society for Epidemiologic Research

2001- North American Association for the Study of Obesity
2005- Fellow of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity

1993- American Public Health Association
1999-2001 Newsletter Editor, Food and Nutrition Section
2001-2002 Secretary Elect, Food and Nutrition Section
2002-2003 Secretary, Food and Nutrition Section
2004-2005 Section Council, Affiliate / Section Liaison, Food and Nutrition Section
Food and Nutrition Section Chair Award
2006 Chairperson Elect
2007 Chairperson
2010 Communications Chairperson
2010 Action Board
2010 Joint Policy Committee

1987- American Dietetic Association
1998- Rhode Island Dietetic Association
1993-1998 Alaska Dietetic Association
1987-1993 Maryland Dietetic Association

1994-1998 American Society for Circumpolar Health

1988–1993 American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

1988–1993 Maryland Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
1989-1990 Secretary
1990–1992 Board Member

Funded Research

1. NIH R18 DK68525 (Risica Dual PI with Lasater) 5/1/2007 – 4/30/2012
NIDDK SisterTalk @ Home: Home-based Weight Loss for AA Women
The current proposal builds upon an existing and demonstrably effective 12-hour video-based weight management program for Black women. Existing video footage will be adapted and new content added to develop a series of 36 half hour sessions and 6 boosters targeting nutrition, physical activity and self management techniques.

2. NIH 1 R01 HL070947-01A1 (Risica) Principal Investigator 9/30/03 – 7/31/2010 (NCE 2)
NHLBI Reducing ETS Exposure of Pregnant Women and Newborns
The purpose of this study is to develop an innovative intervention (tailored "take-home" DVDs) to help low income pregnant women maximize their pregnancy outcome and their new infant's health through smoking cessation and reduction in exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and to study the feasibility and efficacy of this intervention compared with a usual care group.

3. NIH R01 HL77608-01 (Risica) Principal Investigator 9/1/2004 – 8/31/2010 (NCE)
NHLBI Postpartum Maintenance of Abstinence from Tobacco
The purpose of the project is to develop and field test a maintenance of smoking abstinence program designed for a predominantly low-income, high risk population of women from a wide variety of ethnic/racial backgrounds who have quit smoking because of (or during) their pregnancy.

Teaching Experience

2005 - Guest Lecturer, Epidemiology, Research Design and Methods, Department of Nutrition, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI

2004- Lecturer, Pathophysiology/Nutrition 281 (Medical Students) Brown University Medical School, Providence, RI

2000- Small Group Facilitator, Pathophysiology/Nutrition 281 (Medical Students) Brown University Medical School, Providence, RI

Courses Taught

  • Nutrition Problems in the Developing World (BC0168)

Selected Publications

  • Eide MJ, Weinstock MA, Dufresne RG, Neelagaru S, Risica PM, Burkholder G, Upegui DI, Phillips KA, Armstrong BA, Robinson-Bostom L. Relationship of treatment delay with surgical defect size from keratinocyte carcinoma (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin). J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Feb;124(2):308-14. (2005)
  • Risica P, Nobmann ED, Caulfield LE, Schraer C, Ebbesson SOE. Springtime diet of Alaska Natives: International Journal of Circumpolar Health 2005; 64(3): 222-233. (2005)
  • Ebbesson, SOE, Risica PM, Ebbesson LOE, Kennish JM. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce glucose intolerance and improve metabolic syndrome risk factors for CVD and DM in Alaskan Eskimos: The Alaska Siberia Project. International Journal of Circumpolar Health 2005 64(4), 396-408. (2005)
  • Ebbesson SOE, Adler A, Schraer C, Risica PM, Ebbesson LOE, Mayer AM, Doolittle W, Ehlert G, Swenson M, Robbins DC. Cardiovascular disease in three Alaskan Eskimo Populations: The Alaska Siberia Project. International Journal of Circumpolar Health2005 64(4), 365-386. (2005)
  • Ebbesson SOE, Risica PM, Ebbesson LOE, Kennish JM. Eskimos have CHD despite high consumption of omega 3 fatty acids: the Alaska Siberia project. International Journal of Circumpolar Health 2005 64(4), 387-395. (2005)
  • Strolla LO, Gans KM, Risica PM. Using qualitative and quantitative formative research to develop tailored nutrition intervention materials for a diverse low-income audience. Health Education Research 2005 Nov 22. (2005)
  • Weinstock MA, Risica PM, Martin RA, Rakowski W, Smith KJ, Berwick M, Goldstein MG, Upegui D, Lasater TM. Reliability of assessment and circumstances of performance of thorough skin self-examination for the early detection of melanoma in the check-it-out project. Preventive Medicine 2004 Jun;38(6):761-5 (2004)
  • Goldman R, Risica P. Perceptions of Breast and Cervical Cancer Risk and Screening among Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in Rhode Island. Ethnicity and Disease 2004; 14(1): 32-42. (2004)
  • Gans K, Burkholder G, Risica P, Lasater T. Baseline fat-related dietary behaviors of white, Hispanic, and black participants in a cholesterol screening and education project in New England. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2003;103: 699-706. (2003)
  • Scand Journal of Public Health. 2003;31(2):92-9. (2003)
  • Taylor JS, Risica PM, Cabral HJ. Why primiparous mothers do not breastfeed in the United States: a national survey: Acta Paediatrica. 2003 Nov;92(11):1308-13. (2003)
  • Gans KM, Kumanyika SK, Lovell HJ, Risica PM, Goldman R, Odoms A, Lasater TM: SisterTalk: A Cable-TV delivered weight control program for Black women. Preventive Medicine. 2003 Dec;37(6 Pt 1):654-67 (2003)
  • Gans K, Burkholder G, Upegui D, Risica P, Lasater T, Fortunet R. Comparison of baseline fat-related eating behaviors of Puerto Rican, Dominican, Colombian, and Guatemalan participants who joined a cholesterol education project. Journal of Nutrition Educ Behav 2002; 34:202-210. (2002)
  • Weinstock MA, Mguyen FQ, Risica PM. Patient and provider satisfaction with teledermatology. Journal of the American Acadademy of Dermatology. 2002 Jul;47(1):68-72 (2002)
  • Risica PM, Eaton CB, Levy S, Monroe A. Self-esteem, Race, Income, Education and Utilization of Preventive Health Services in Women: The Commonwealth Fund Women's Health Survey Clinical Journal of Women's Health 2001;1(3):139-148. (2001)
  • Risica PM, Schraer C, Ebbesson SOE, Nobmann ED, Caballero B. Body fat distribution in Alaskan Eskimos of the Bering straits region. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 2000 Feb;24(2):171-9. (2000)
  • Risica PM, Schraer C, Ebbesson SOE, Nobmann ED, Caballero B. Obesity in Alaskan Eskimos of the Bering straits region: International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 2000; 24: 939-944. (2000)
  • Weinstock MA, Martin RA, Risica PM, Berwick M, Lasater T, Rakowski W, Goldstein MG, Dube CE. Thorough skin examination for the early detection of melanoma. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 1999; 17(3):169-175. (1999)
  • Schraer CD, Risica PM, Ebbesson SOE, Go OT. Low fasting insulin levels in Eskimos compared to American Indians: are Eskimos less insulin resistant? International Journal of Circumpolar Health 1999; 58(4): 272-280. (1999)
  • Ebbesson SOE, Schraer CD, Risica PM, Adler AI, Ebbesson L, Mayer AM, Shubnikof EV, Yeh J, Go OT Robbins DC. Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in three Alaskan Eskimo populations. The Alaska-Siberia Project. Diabetes Care 1998; Apr;21(4):563-9. (1998)
  • Bjerregaard P, Dewailly E, Young TK, Blanchet C, Hegele RA, Ebbesson SE, Risica PM, Mulvad G. Blood pressure among the Inuit (Eskimo) populations in the Arctic. ()