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Meet Our Fellows
Current A-TRAC Fellows
Angela Aherrera, MPH Johns Hopkins University Project: Metal Exposure in E-cigarette Users in Baltimore, MD
Angela Aherrera’s graduate work from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) involved evaluating factors that influence support and enforcement behavior towards the Turkey smoke-free legislation. As a JHSPH research associate and pre-doctoral student conducting environmental epidemiologic research, she is currently investigating and analyzing the level of metal concentrations among electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) users compared to non-users as well as cigarette smokers. In the past, she conducted studies investigating the effects of secondhand smoke exposure on respiratory outcomes in infants and children with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Such studies, which included evaluating the effects of e-cigarette vapor on postnatal lung development and neurocognitive behavior, have prompted her to further investigate the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes on cardiovascular health.
Rana Jaber, PhD, MPH Florida International University Cardiovascular Biomarkers Associated with E-cigarette Use
Rana Jaber obtained her PhD in epidemiology from Florida International University. She has substantial experience in tobacco control research in developing countries. She is the founder of the dichotomous grouped-time survival analysis, and the first to use this approach to analyze repeated measures with interval censored binary outcome using SAS. She is the first to show that waterpipe smoking can provide a gateway to initiate cigarette smoking among adolescents. She also showed that social determinants of waterpipe and cigarette smoking progression delineate gender differences in smoking among youth in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR). Recently, Dr. Jaber has extended her efforts in tobacco to investigate the discontinuation of smoking, nicotine dependence, and nicotine withdrawal symptoms among adolescents. She will examine the cardiovascular biomarkers that are associated with electronic cigarettes use and will continue her work on nicotine dependence.
Matthew Marshall, MS New York University Project: Cardiovascular Effects of Conventional and Electronic Hookah Charcoals
Matthew Marshall is a pre-doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Medicine at New York University School of Medicine. He earned his Master’s degree from NYU School of Medicine in May 2016, and for his M.S. thesis, Matthew investigated the mechanisms for how World Trade Center dust worsened injury with time in First Responders. Currently, Matthew seeks to identify the molecular and functional changes that cause cardiovascular disease (CVD) as a result of hookah smoke. This investigation is important from a cardiovascular standpoint, because hookah smoke has been associated with an increased risk of CVD; however, no studies have been performed to investigate the mechanisms by which hookah smoke causes CVD.
Lindsay Reynolds, PhD Wake Forest University School of Medicine Project Title: Investigation of Epigenomic and Transcriptomic Mechanisms Potentially Mediating the Cardiovascular Consequences of Smoking
Lindsay Reynolds is a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Yongmei Liu at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, where she utilizes functional genomic data sets, including genomic, epigenomic, and transcriptomic data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) to investigate the molecular features of cardiovascular disease, and related risk factors: aging, smoking, and obesity. She earned her PhD at the University of California, San Francisco in 2012. Dr. Reynolds’ research goals are to identify early biomarkers of smoking-associated disease to improve disease risk prediction, and to identify potential targets for early disease intervention strategies. This could be useful for evaluation and comparison of the disease risks associated with the use of different tobacco products.
Andrew Stokes, PhD Boston University Project Title: Investigating the Effectiveness of Local Tobacco Policies and Smoking-Related Health and Mortality in the U.S.
Andrew Stokes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health and affiliate of the Center for Global Health & Development at the Boston University School of Public Health. His research interests lie in examining the effects of behavioral risk factors on temporal and geographic patterns in health and mortality in the US and internationally. He is also interested in the effects of health policies and programs on patterns of health across populations. He received his PhD in Demography from the University of Pennsylvania, where his research focus was on methods for estimating the disease burden associated with obesity.
Martin Tibuakuu, MD, MPH Johns Hopkins University Project Title: Smoking, CRP and Subclinical Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease
Martin Tibuakuu is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and a fellow at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. His research interests focus on environmental exposures such as air pollution and tobacco exposure on cardiovascular health. His current working projects include the identification of sensitive biomarkers of subclinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease secondary to tobacco exposure. He holds an MD degree from the University of Algiers and an MPH degree in Epidemiologic and Statistical Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
A-TRAC Affiliated Fellows
Sina Kianoush, MD, MPH Johns Hopkins University Project: Evaluating the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Health Effects of Electronic Cigarettes in Humans
Sina Kianoush is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. His research interest lies in the study of traditional and novel cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle modification regarding preventive cardiology. His current working projects include potential health effects of electronic and combustible cigarettes, mobile health technology (e.g. mActive-SMOKE), and biomarkers of subclinical cardiovascular injury. He has earned his MPH degree from Yale School of Public Health in Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology, where his research focus was on obesity prevention and novel anticoagulants.
Stacey Konkle, MPH, CPH University of Louisville Project: Analysis of Urinary Tobacco Smoke Metabolites and Cardiovascular Harm Indices
Stacey Konkle is a doctoral student researcher at the University of Louisville Institute of Molecular Cardiology. Her research interests lie in the study of environmental air pollutant exposures as a link to increased cardiovascular risk. Her current working projects focus on investigating the association of urinary volatile organic compound metabolites with measures of increased cardiovascular risk, among large complex survey study population, such as NHANES. She has earned her MPH degree from the University of Louisville School of Public Health in Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology, where her research focus was on identifying and remediating healthcare acquired infection outbreaks.
Marina Malovichko, PhD University of Louisville Project: Biomarkers of Cardiovascular Toxicity of Tobacco Products
Marina Malovichko obtained her graduate degree at the Department of Chemistry, University of Louisville, where she studied the activation and regulation of thrombin. As a postdoctoral fellow, at the Institute of Molecular Cardiology, University of Louisville, she is studying the cardiovascular effects of tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, oral tobacco and mainstream cigarette smoke. She is examining the early, sensitive and robust biomarkers of the cardiovascular toxicity and biomarkers of exposure.
Wendy White, PhD, MPH Jackson Heart Study Project: Renal Decline in Menthol vs Non Menthol Cigarette Smokers
Wendy White currently serves as Deputy Director of the Jackson Heart Study Undergraduate Training and Education Center at Tougaloo College. She became interested in health disparities and smoking while completing her PHD in Environmental Science at Jackson State University. Her research interests include smoking, menthol cigarette use and health effects, and lung function.
Past A-TRAC Fellows
Adejare Atanda, BDS, MPH Candidate Johns Hopkins University
Adejare Atanda holds a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from University of Ibadan in Nigeria and will soon complete his MPH at Johns Hopkins. His present work evaluates the efficacy of an LGBT directed quit smoking intervention at Chase Brexton’s Health Services addiction treatment center. Additionally, he is using 2011/2012 NHANES data to examine the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors in LGBT populations as compared to the general US population and how these translate into an increased cardiovascular disease risk. He hopes to pursue a PhD in Epidemiology with a focus on tobacco use and non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases) in hidden & underserved populations.
Mahmoud Al Rifai, MD, MPH Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Mahmoud Al Rifai completed his medical education at the American University of Beirut. He received a Master’s of Public Health Degree with a focus in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and was inducted into the Delta Omega Alpha Chapter Society. He is currently the AHA Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center (ATRAC) fellow at Johns Hopkins and hopes to pursue a career in preventive cardiology with strong research interests in the effects of novel forms of tobacco exposure on CVD, subclinical atherosclerosis, and CVD risk assessment.
Jessica Fetterman, PhD Boston University Project Title: Mitochondrial Biomarkers for Assessing Tobacco and Tobacco-related Product Induced Cardiovascular Injury
Jessica Fetterman’s graduate work at the University of Alabama in Birmingham investigated the role of mitochondrial genetics and function in cardiovascular disease susceptibility and progression. As a postdoctoral fellow at Boston University Medical School, she applies her basic science training in cardiovascular and mitochondrial physiology to translational clinical research. In past, she has conducted studies investigating the role of impaired autophagy and altered mitochondrial turnover in vascular dysfunction in diabetic patients, which has provided the basis for one of her current research projects applying her knowledge about the life cycle of mitochondria to an additional cardiovascular risk factor, cigarette smoking.
Rachel Keith, PhD, NP University of Louisville Project Title: CITU Study
Rachel Keith started her career as a classically trained bench researcher in physiology and biophysics investigating proteins associated with protection from deleterious effects of cardiovascular and metabolic dysregulation. Upon completion of her studies and a postdoctoral position, she pursued a degree as a nurse practitioner in order to facilitate a career focused on translational research. This led her to a junior faculty position that will allow her to look at environmental and lifestyle factors associated with both cardiovascular disease and diabetes. She is especially interested in how modifications to exposures (i.e. air pollution, smoke, and particulate matter) or lifestyle changes (i.e. diet, exercise and smoking) can prevent either the complications or development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Hoda Magid, MHS Johns Hopkins University Project Title: Alternate Tobacco Product Use in Patients Admitted with Myocardial Infarction
Hoda Magid is an MHS candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studying Epidemiology. Her research interests lie at the intersection between Environmental Epidemiology and Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology. Among other projects, she is currently a research assistant with JHU’s Institute for Global Tobacco Control working on two tobacco control projects in Russia, Turkey, and Egypt. She is excited to be working on Project 2 as an A-TRAC fellow.
Iris Zeller, MD, PhD University of Louisville Project Title: Endothelial Toxicity of Tobacco Constituents
Iris Zeller studied Medicine at the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, where she also obtained her PhD in cardiovascular toxicology. She then moved to the U.S. to study the effects of cigarette smoking on the periodontal pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis, during a postdoctoral position at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. Currently, she is studying animal models of tobacco regulatory science at the University of Louisville in the lab of Dr. Sanjay Srivastava as an A-TRAC trainee.