2017 New Faculty

 

Behavioral and Social Sciences

Jasjit Sing Ahluwalia, MD, MPH, MS
Professor of Behavioral & Social Sciences
Dr. Ahluwalia has been in academics since 1992 as a faculty member, endowed professor, department chair, and in other leadership positions. His primary research has been funded by NIH for more than 20 years, and focuses on nicotine addiction and smoking cessation in African-American smokers. His work extends to health disparities research and global health research in Mumbai and New Delhi, India. He has led training programs and has a long track record and passion for mentoring students, fellows, and faculty.  Nationally, Ahluwalia served as the inaugural chair of a chartered NIH study section titled Health Disparities and Equity Promotion, and in 2014, completed a 3-year term as chair of the federal government’s National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Ahluwalia received his BA degree at New York University and a combined MD/MPH from the Tulane University Schools of Medicine and Public Health and Tropical Medicine. During a two-year fellowship at Harvard, he studied clinical epidemiology, trained in clinical research, and earned an MS in health policy from the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Why this research matters: Health equity is a medical, societal and moral imperative. In our efforts to work towards this, we are studying why African Americans have greater morbidity and mortality from tobacco use in spite of smoking fewer cigarettes. Our work looks at biology, behavior, addiction, racism, and other factors that impact tobacco use and quitting.

Hector Lopez-Vergara, PhD
Assistant Professor of Behavioral & Social Sciences
Hector received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University at Buffalo (SUNY) in 2014. His program of research has sought to “unpack” specific dysregulatory risk factors for substance use and psychopathology, with an emphasis on executive functioning, motivational, and memory processes. Hector was awarded a K08 Career Development Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) that seeks to test a framework to quantify etiological heterogeneity of alcohol involvement. “Unpacking” etiological heterogeneity has the potential to increase experimental precision and advance our current mental health classification system, and hence is a necessary step in developing personalized medicine approaches that seek to build upon existing levels of treatment outcome efficacy.

Matthew Meisel, PhD
Assistant Professor of Behavioral & Social Sciences 
Matthew Meisel received his PhD in Behavior and Brain Sciences in 2015. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences in the School of Public Health.  Dr. Meisel’s program of research utilizes social network analysis to examine how the composition and structure of the social network are related to addictive behavior, primarily alcohol use.

Why this research matters? By leveraging the social connections among individuals in a social network, Dr. Meisel’s program of research has the potential to guide the development of new interventions that produce long-term reductions in drinking. Targeted interventions that account for the social status of an individual may better facilitate behavior change across a social network.

Jennifer Pellowski, PhD
Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dr. Pellowski received her PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 2015 and then completed a two year post-doctoral fellowship in Child/Adolescent Biobehavioral HIV research at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University/Rhode Island Hospital. Her program of research is dedicated to improving the lives of people living with HIV through addressing psychosocial and contextual factors that impede engagement in health behaviors, domestically and internationally. She has interests in social and contextual determinants of health, sexual and reproductive health of women, and the development of behavioral interventions to improve health and well-being. Her current K01 from the National Institute of Mental Health seeks to improve HIV treatment adherence among HIV positive women as they transition from pregnancy to postpartum in South Africa. 

Biostatistics

Lorin Crawford, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics
Lorin Crawford received his PhD in 2017 from the Department of Statistical Science at Duke University.  Dr. Crawford’s main area of research involves the development of novel and efficient statistical methodologies to address complex problems in quantitative genetics, cancer pharmacology, molecular genomics, and radiogenomics. He has specific expertise in developing methods that take significant steps towards solving the cost and throughput limitations associated with the study of nonlinear interactions among features in association studies.

Why this research matters: Dr. Crawford works on the forefront of statistics and machine learning to find innovative solutions to better model new types biological information and facilitate ground-breaking discoveries. For instance, his methods have been used to identify transcriptional outputs that drive therapeutic resistance in melanoma, suggesting more robust and universal strategies for treating resistant tumors of all tissues types.

Stavroula Chrysanthopoulou, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics
Dr. Chrysanthopoulou received her PhD from Brown’s Department of Biostatistics in 2013.  She is an expert in the area of microsimulation modeling and recently developed the MIcrosimulation Lung Cancer (MILC) model to describe the natural history of lung cancer, simulate individual trajectories, and make predictions. Her interests are focused on complex statistical predictive models used in medical decision making, calibration and predictive accuracy assessment methods, causal inference and missing data techniques, simulation studies, as well as high performance computing techniques. Dr. Chrysanthopoulou worked for the Center for Statistical Sciences as an Investigator for one year before her appointment as Instructor of Biostatistics with the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2015. She has extensive teaching experience at the graduate level. While at UMASS Medical School, she designed the syllabus and developed the course material for three courses in Biostatistics, i.e, Survival & Longitudinal Data Analysis, Simulation Methods in Biomedical Research, and Introduction to Biostatistics. In the spring 2017 semester, she taught PHP2514, Applied Generalized Linear Models, as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for Brown’s Department of Biostatistics.  Dr. Chrysanthopoulou was appointed Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, Research Scholar, at Brown effective 1 September 2017. As a core faculty member in CFAR she will collaborate with Dr Hogan's research group and other HIV investigators at both Brown and BUMC and join HIV-related projects. She will assist with the Department’s Master’s Graduate Program.

Jon Steingrimsson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics 
Jon Steingrimsson obtained his PhD in statistics from Cornell University. Prior to joining Brown University he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on developing statistical methodology helping investigators to make informed treatment decisions. Most randomized trials focus on estimating an average population treatment effect, often resulting in trials that fail to detect important benefits in specific subpopulations. Jon is currently working on developing adaptive randomized trial designs that systematically generate stronger evidence about subpopulation benefits and harms. Jon's previous work focused on creating flexible risk prediction models when some observations are only partially observed. 

Health Services, Policy & Practice

Emmanuelle Belanger, PhD
Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy & Practice
Dr. Belanger is a member of the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research. Her background includes training in both social and health sciences. She obtained her PhD from the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at McGill University. Her doctoral dissertation was a qualitative study about patient participation in palliative care decisions. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Montreal Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM) in the social epidemiology of aging. Dr. Belanger's research program involves mixed-methods designs and primarily concerns shared decision-making in palliative care, the delivery of end-of-life care in community settings, as well as psychosocial determinants of health among older adults. Overall her research endeavors aim to improve the quality of late life years and end-of-life care in the context of an aging population.

Stefan Gravenstein, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine and Health Services, Policy & Practice
Stefan Gravenstein is a geriatrician interested in why older people get sicker when they are afflicted with the same disease as their younger counterparts, and strategies for improving quality of care in various healthcare settings.  He has investigated the disease questions through the lens of infection and vaccine immunogenicity, especially in the context of the long-term care setting and advanced age and with comparative effectiveness work.  From a quality improvement perspective, he has worked with the New England quality improvement network as their clinical director and led quality improvement work across healthcare settings, including transitions of care, antibiotic stewardship and use of indwelling catheters. 

Eric Jutkowitz, PhD
Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy & Practice
Dr. Jutkowitz is an Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy & Practice in the Brown University School of Public Health. He received his PhD in Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration with a focus on Health Decision Science from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. His research is focused on understanding the value and quality of care delivered to older adults with an emphasis on the informal and formal long-term care system.

What makes your research important to overall public health? 
With the aging of the population, it is imperative to improve the value of care delivered to older adults. Using innovative methods, his research will inform the development and implementation of high value care, and will help to improve the nations long-term care system.

Andrew Zullo, PharmD, ScM, PhD
Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy & Practice
Andrew Zullo is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Services, Policy, and Practice. He is a member of both the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research (CGHCR) and the Center for Evidence Synthesis in Health (CESH).  Dr. Zullo earned his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at Rutgers University. He then earned his Master of Science (ScM) in Epidemiology and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Health Services Research at Brown University. His PhD dissertation focused on the use, safety, and effectiveness of diabetes medications for older adults in the nursing home setting. Dr. Zullo has continued to practice as a clinical pharmacist at Rhode Island Hospital, where he leads the Department of Pharmacy’s observational research program and mentors post-graduate pharmacy residents.

Why this research matters? There is little or no evidence to support treatment decisions for many populations receiving medications in clinical practice. The gaps in evidence arise because many people are excluded from the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) used to approve medications for use. Dr. Zullo’s research aims to apply innovative causal inference methods to observational data for the purpose of generating such evidence. His work will fill gaps in the medical evidence by assessing the comparative effectiveness and safety of treatments for understudied populations, thus supporting clinical decision-making.