Professor Simin Liu’s research responds to the emerging health threats from the vast environmental pollution and deterioration in China. He is building a prenatal cohort study and a birth cohort study in Wuhan, China to test the “fetal origin” hypothesis for human diseases. The fetal origin hypothesis suggests that human diseases start in utero, because fetuses are most sensitive to environmental exposures. He aims to follow women and their children from prenatal to postnatal, and to investigate factors related to pregnancy outcomes, birth outcomes, and health outcomes of children later in life.
Professor Liu also studies the environmental exposures of workers in China. His cohort study of the Kailuan Coal Industry in Hebei, China includes 100,000 coal miners and has followed the subjects every two years to study coal miners’ health from occupational exposure to coal dust. The Jingchuan Metal Exposure Cohort Study in Gansu, China involves 50,000 workers exposed to nickel, copper, cobalt, zinc and other heavy metals. The study has followed the subjects every two years by interviewing and collecting blood samples to study the effect of heavy metal exposure on human health, including incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic disease.
Two Public Health students are examining the burden of behavioral and psychological health problems that contribute to morbidity and mortality in South Korea. Doctoral student Harold Lee is studying the socioeconomic disparities associated with physical activity, while Master’s student Yoojin Cha is examining the prevalence and intersections of mental health, alcohol, and smoking. They are analyzing the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a national representative study of adults in South Korea.
Transmission of HIV through sex has been rising exponentially in China. Professor Don Operario is engaged in a trial that uses mobile health (mHealth) approaches to promote HIV self-testing with high-risk men in China. Using WeChat, the most popular social networking app in China, his team developed an mHealth intervention that supports high-risk HIV uninfected men in administering HIV self-testing, interpreting results, engaging in regular repeat testing, and reducing risk behavior. This is the first known attempt to develop a combination approach to HIV self-testing (HST) that leverages advances in mobile technology as a platform for repeat testing and motivating behavior change. The findings will support future testing of the effectiveness of a combined HST plus app-based messaging intervention on sexual risk behavior and HIV retesting.