Patricia M Risica, DrPH, RD

Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Associate Professor of Epidemiology


Dr. Risica is an Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences and of Epidemiology at Brown School of Public Health. Dr. Risica has a B.S. from the Ohio State University, and MPH and DrPH from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Risica has served as Co-Investigator or Principal 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/avoidance, early detection of melanoma, and opioid use. Dr. Risica led the Healthy Start project (With Kim Gans, UConn), which aimed to improve the nutrition and physical activitiy environments of family child care homes.  Dr. Risica was PI of [email protected] 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," all of which were initiated by Dr. Thomas Lasater (deceased).  She is working on several pilot projects to broaden her research with community and academic partners: 1) the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute to study the influences of stress and sleep on maternal feeding intentions and behaviors; 2) Women and Infant's Hospital (Kristen Matteson, MD) to study lower opioid use and greater disposal after surgery; 3) the LIFE study (Audry Tyrka, MD and Karen Jennings, PhD, RN) to examine the effects of childhood trauma/maltreatment on adult diet and obesity risk; 4) Institute of Population, Health and Development (Huy Ha, MD, DrPH and team, Hanoi City, Vietnam) to identify ways to decrease environmental tobacco exposure among pregnant Vietnamese women; 5) Clinica Esperanza (Annie Degroot, MD and team) to study and strengthen Vida Sana, a program to decrease metabolic risk among a mostly Hispanic community.

Dr. Risica is currently the Evaluator for the CDC funded WISEWOMAN program and Women's Cancer Screening Program.  She has served as the Epidemiologist and Evaluator for the Initiative for Healthy Weight (IHW) for the Department of Health (DOH) (2009-2014). In these roles, Dr. Risica interfaces with many divisions and projects within the DOH as well as the many community partners working on IHW workgroups and projects.

Dr. Risica is also currently the President and Advocacy Chairperson for the Rhode Island Public Health Association, and is Past President (2003-04). She is also on the board of 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).