Research Project

Cardiovascular disease and social determinants of health

Marcia P. Jimenez was an NICHD fellow in 2015-2016. She studies cardiovascular disease and the social determinants of health. She earned her PhD in Epidemiology in 2018 and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Here she describes her fellowship year.

The support from the fellowship allowed me to work with my own research team on preliminary analysis of my dissertation, examining long-term impacts of neighborhood on stress markers and physiologic factors that may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. I was also grateful to be able to attend academic conferences and build a network with researchers outside of Brown.

This year I also submitted a competitive grant application to the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which was highly ranked. This award supports promising doctoral candidates who will perform dissertation research and training for a Ph.D. in a scientific health-related field relevant to the mission of the NIH during the tenure of the award. The funding decision is currently in process.

I was also able to start two exciting research projects. The first one quantifies racial/ethnic disparities in stroke among minority populations and evaluates the role of risk factors in modifying and mediating the association between race/ethnicity and stroke. The second project assesses the heterogeneity of obese individuals in the United States to help clinicians and policymakers establish goals for obesity treatment and identify the need for specific interventions. Finally, the PSTC fellowship allowed me to finish working on three research projects that were recently published:

  • Vable, A.M., Canning, D., Glymour, M.M., Kawachi, I., Jimenez, M.P. and Subramanian, S.V. (2015). “Can Social Policy Influence Socio-Economic Disparities? Korean War GI Bill Eligibility and Markers of Depression,” Annals of Epidemiology.
  • Vable, A.M., Canning, D., Glymour, M.M., Kawachi, I., Jimenez, M.P. and Subramanian, S.V. (2016). “Are there spillover effects from the GI Bill? The mental health of wives of Korean War veterans,” PLOS ONE.
  • Beltran-Sanchez, H., Jimenez, M.P. and Subramanian S.V. (2016). “Assessing Morbidity Compression in two cohorts from the Health and Retirement Study,” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The PSTC fellowship provided me with extra time that would have been otherwise dedicated to assistantships and allowed me independence in my research. Over the past year, I was able to develop my thesis research, begin new research projects and finalize published manuscripts. I was selected as the Brown School of Public Health Awarded attendee for the CDC Millennial Health Leaders’ Summit 2016. It was an intensive two-day training that brought together graduate students nominated by their universities for their outstanding achievements and promise as future leaders in addressing health disparities across the nation. During the year, I met with my advisor, Eric Loucks, on a bi-weekly basis to discuss manuscripts in progress and preliminary results related to my thesis.

Being a PSTC fellow has advanced my career by allowing me to delve into research of my interest and collaborate with investigators from other universities. This has been a fruitful year in terms of learning, not only from classes, but also from applied research! I greatly enjoyed belonging to a community of scholars with such diverse backgrounds and fields of study. It was very rewarding to learn about research in other fields during the Thursday PSTC seminars, as well as learn to explain my own research in broader terms. Trainees should all go to the seminars! They provide a great way to learn about noteworthy investigation projects at Brown and beyond.