Community Based Research Faculty Fellowship | PCOM Research
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Community Based Research Faculty Fellowship

Community Based Research Faculty Fellowship

The Community Based Research Faculty Fellowship aims to broaden community-based research opportunities for students at each of PCOM's locations.

This fellowship was created by the Office of Diversity and Community Relations in concert with the Division of Research and the PCOM Library. Funding from the PCOM Alumni Association supported the launch of this program.

About the Community-Based Research Faculty Fellowship

Funding is awarded annually for up to three full-time faculty members who are interested in engaging community-based organizations and PCOM students in collaborative research studies. Preference is given to proposals that include inter-professional initiatives and engage multiple students.

”A Comprehensive Exploration of Barriers to Mental Health Services Among Vietnamese Adults in Norcross, Georgia”

Shu Zhu, PhD

This study is intended to investigate the critical issue of underutilization of mental health services among the Vietnamese adult population at the First Senior Center located in Norcross, Georgia. The results will help better understand the unique barriers this particular ethnic group faces when it comes to accessing and using mental health resources. Despite the rapid growth in the recognition of mental health disparities and ways to combat it, there remains a large gap in our understanding of specific factors influencing the limited usage of mental health services and the knowledge of seeking mental health help among the Asian population. Through a well-designed and detailed survey, we are aiming to identify and elucidate the intersectional and multifaceted barriers that prevent them from receiving mental health services. Then, feasible solutions can be developed to resolve this issue. Key variables such as cultural stigma, language barriers, generation conflict, and lack of culturally competent services will be explored to provide a nuanced understanding of the challenges faced by this population.

”Addressing Nutritional Disparities in Diverse and Low-Income Communities among Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)”

Farzaneh Daghigh, PhD

Diverse low-income patients with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) face multifaceted challenges
related to both addiction and nutritional deficiencies, impacting their overall health outcomes. The confluence of addiction's physical and psychological effects, coupled with malnutrition and nutrient imbalances, complicates recovery efforts. OUD patients often neglect their nutritional health within the relentless cycle of substance dependence, focusing minimal attention on overall well-being. Unique challenges of OUD, such as intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms, disrupt standard eating patterns, resulting in inconsistent dietary choices and further health deterioration. Compounding the issue, individuals with OUD from diverse community encounter barriers to healthcare access, hindering comprehensive nutritional education. The lack of awareness regarding the crucial role of nutrition in the recovery process perpetuates suboptimal dietary choices, reinforcing the cycle of malnutrition. This research aims to address these challenges by investigating the nutritional dimensions of OUD and its impact on patient outcomes. By exploring the effects of nutrition education and access to nutritious meals, the study seeks to bridge gaps in addiction treatment paradigms.

”Case Study: Soil Lead Contamination and Plant Analysis of the Metro Atlanta Buckhead Slag Site”

Francis E. Jenney, PhD

This research investigates the consequences of lead-contaminated soil and lead propagation into consumable plants in Atlanta residents' gardens. Atlanta's historical significance as a railroad terminus has left a legacy of lead contamination from heavy railway use. The contamination resulted from lead-based paint on train carts, lead-based lubricants on rails, and industrial waste disposal practices along railway easements. The study centers around the Buckhead Slag Superfund site for lead contamination, located near a busy railway and ten miles west of another Superfund site on Atlanta's Westside. The EPA extended the site due to soil concentrations ranging from 348-654 ppm of lead. This project collected plants and soil samples from the new Superfund site, analyzing them to determine lead propagation from soil to plants. Our goal is to understand if residents face lead contamination from the surrounding soil and if their concern should also be from the produce they cultivate too. The research addresses Atlanta's historical lead sources, emphasizing the urgent need to comprehend and mitigate lead contamination's impact on the environment and community health.

”Investigation of the impact of a clinician-directed educational program about gun violence, prevention and available community resources in two community health centers in North and West Philadelphia”

Erik Langenau, DO, and Michael Roberts, PsyD

Gun violence disproportionately impacts geographical areas within Philadelphia, particularly North and West Philadelphia. Negative impacts on physical and emotional health are extraordinary, affecting not only the victims of gun violence, but also family members and communities. Support systems and programs are in place, but clinicians may be unaware of these programs or how to access them. This quality improvement study aims to investigate the impact of a clinician-directed educational program that includes information about gun violence, prevention, and available resources on communication efforts between patients and clinicians in PCOM offices in North and West Philadelphia. Through anonymous pre, mid-point and post-training patient surveys, we address three research objectives: (1) Assess the baseline frequency of clinician-initiated conversations with patients about gun violence, preventive strategies and available local resources; (2) Evaluate the impact of the educational program on clinicians’ comfort in addressing gun violence and knowledge of local resources to support patients and families impacted by gun violence; and (3) Evaluate the impact of the educational program on the frequency of doctor-initiated conversations about gun violence, preventive strategies and available local resources, as reported by patients. Results of this study will provide meaningful insight to communication strategies clinicians can use to support patients and families. Data from this pilot will also inform larger subsequent studies, which can be used by other clinicians and practices across the country.

”Raising awareness of health impact of high blood pressure in underserved communities via early detection and education”

Mei Xu, PhD

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is crucial for preventing and delaying the development of hypertension, lowering blood pressure, as well as effectively managing hypertension and its associated risks. Key components of a healthy lifestyle include maintaining healthy body weight, minimizing sodium intake, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking. In addition, early detection through hypertension screening plays a pivotal role in identifying individuals at risk, allowing for timely medical intervene to mitigate the morbidity and mortality associated with hypertension. Through a partnership with PCOM's Health Centers, this project aims to mitigate health disparities to increase awareness, early detection, and proper management of hypertension. Comprised of a team of Biomed and DO students, the study aims to: 1) educate the public on the health implications of hypertension, 2) screen for blood pressure, and 3) offer advice for further medical attention if needed. To carry out the tasks, we will create informative pamphlets addressing high blood pressure and develop health questionnaires. 

”Impact of Implementing Medication Therapy Management Service for Underserved Populations: Children with Disabilities”

Yujin Kim, PharmD, PhD, and Xinyu (Eric) Wang, PhD

Medication therapy management (MTM) is a unique service provided by health care providers, including pharmacists and physicians, to ensure the best therapeutic outcomes for patients. The targeted beneficiary of MTM is confined to the Medicaid and Medicare recipients, and it is difficult to extend this service to other patient populations who can benefit from this service. Although some evidence exists that MTM can achieve positive outcomes among minority and special populations, the extent of this service is limited and inconsistent. The purpose of this community-based study is to explore the need of MTM service to a special population, pediatric patients with disabilities. This research project has the potential to bring attention to this small population as well as close the gap in health equity. The study explores how medication therapy management improves health outcomes among pediatric patients with disabilities. In partnership with Wheat Mission in Atlanta, the study engages pharmacy and medical students in hands-on research experiences that exposes them to special need populations and the implications of medication therapy management in improving health outcomes. The second phase of this study will examine qualitative and quantitative survey data and develop an implementation strategy for the delivery of healthcare for children with disabilities.

“PCOM Partners: Evaluating the Association Between Soil Contamination Lead Levels and Blood Lead Levels in the Georgia Community”

Brian Matayoshi, PhD

With advent of the pandemic, food scarcity is pervasive. The trend of urban community gardens poses a new challenge regarding health due to the potential risks from exposure to lead contaminated soils and produce. In metropolitan areas throughout the United States, the historic use of lead-based paint, leaded gasoline, and the presence of former lead smelters have left a legacy of lead contaminated soil. People, particularly children, are vulnerable to lead toxicity, leading to poor health, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. The CDC estimates that over one half a million US children between ages 1 and 5 have blood lead levels high enough to damage their health. In collaboration with Saikawa lab and Live Healthy Gwinnett, this study aims to perform lead contamination analysis of soil sample collections and blood lead level analysis in metropolitan Atlanta.

“The Effectiveness of a School-Based Coping Skills for Anxious Latino Youth & Acculturation as a Predictor of Child Anxiety and Family Relationships”

Susan M. Panichelli Mindel, PhD

Anxiety is a common problem among children, with prevalence rates averaging between 10-20%. Children with difficulties managing stress and worry have been shown to have difficulties with academic achievement, peer relationships, and later emotional adjustment in adolescence and adulthood. Furthermore, level of acculturation has been associated with child anxiety and psychological functioning, parenting practices, and family connection, while acculturative stress significantly predicts more withdrawn, somatic, and anxious/depressed symptoms. School-based group treatments for children struggling with anxiety and stress can be a cost effective and efficient way of intervening to prevent the development of future maladjustment. While some treatments have been effective in treating anxiety, limited research has evaluated the effects of a prevention program in a school setting. Moreover, the majority of research has heavily focused on Caucasian youths and adults. There is a clear lack of equally comprehensive research among the largest ethnic minority group, Hispanics and Latinos. The purpose of this study is twofold: 1. to determine if a school-based intervention is effective in helping Latino youth manage their stress and worry; and 2. to investigate the role acculturation may play in caregiver and child relationships and child psychological functioning.

“Neuroepidemiology: Using Data for Characterizing Neurological Disorders, and Multidimensional Impacts on Life Qualities in Colquitt Council, Georgia”

Joshua Owolabi, PhD; Rasheed Agboola, MD; and Jennifer Shaw, PhD

Mental health is of significant importance all through life stages. Nevertheless, the patterns of incidence as well as prevalence and distribution of mental-health related challenges such as neurological disorders could significantly vary on the basis of age and other demographic attributes. There is an annual presentation on the burden of neurological diseases by countries, which is considered of vital importance to national health stakeholders. Nevertheless, there is a need to study local contexts and neuroepidemiology attributes towards better allocating resources and effectively addressing neurological disorders. This should be a matter of health equity. While neurological conditions can develop at any life stage, aging plays a key role in onset, hence prevalence. The Colquitt council has a significant proportion of the aging population, it should be a matter of health equity that data be considered in determining allocation of resources for the welfare of such a population. This research will use statistical methods by obtaining quantitative clinical data and demographic data. Quantitative data will be analyzed using the SPSS software for incidence, prevalence and distribution of neurological disorders. Qualitative data of lived experiences of affected individuals and caregivers, if obtainable, will be analyzed using Dedoose software. Research outcomes will help characterize the top disorders that constitute the burden of Neurological disorders in Colquitt county towards formulating improved approaches to care, resource allocation and enhancement of lived experiences of affected populations.

”Educating Older Adults with Low-Income About Mediterranean Diet”

Farzaneh Daghigh, PhD

In partnership with Beacon Residential communities, this study aims to improve community resident’s nutrition knowledge to mitigate mortality risk and lower incidences of chronic diseases through the assessment of eating behaviors and food literacy. Community residents will be introduced to the MedDiet principles to improve their overall health through the delivery of culturally specific nutrition education.

“Incidence of Gout in a Population of Underrepresented Type 2 Diabetic Patients”

Farzaneh Daghigh, PhD, and Arturo Bravo Nuevo, PhD

The objective of this multi-site study is to assess the prevalence of hyperuricemia and gout in type 2 diabetes among low-income racial minorities in partnership with Beacon Residential communities. Findings from the study will be used to create a more targeted approach to disease prevention and personalized dietary recommendations for the community.

“Impact of Implementing Medication Therapy Management Service for Underserved Populations: Children with Disabilities”

Yujin Kim, PharmD, PhD, and Xinyu (Eric) Wang, PhD

This study explores how medication therapy management improves health outcomes among pediatric patients with disabilities. In partnership with Wheat Mission in Atlanta, the study engages pharmacy and medical students in hands-on research experiences that exposes them to special need populations and the implications of medication therapy management in improving health outcomes.

“Inter-Professional Education and Skills Acquisition in Post-Acute/Long-Term Care (PALTC): Analysis of Osteopathic Students’ Knowledge and Attitudes”

Nicol Joseph, DO, CMD

The purpose of the study is to analyze the effect of an educational intervention that immerses osteopathic medical students within a post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) setting with exposure to and interactions with an interdisciplinary team. The study will analyze the medical student’s knowledge and attitudes regarding PALTC during rotations with vulnerable populations at Monumental Post Acute Care at Woodsite Park using pre and post surveys and 360 reviews. Data will potentially improve health care delivery for diverse patient populations and address issues related to social determinants of health.

“Investigating Barriers to Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine for Adolescents in Rural Communities”

Shari Allen, PharmD, BCPP

The study involves a partnership with rural pediatric offices to survey an adolescent population about their barriers to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 40% of the adolescent population are not vaccinated against COVID-19. Current research studies limit vaccine hesitancy to adult populations. This study aims to gather data that will contribute to the absence of research on adolescents and vaccine hesitancy. The research will include students from PCOM, PCOM Georgia and South Georgia who will use the data gathered to create age-appropriate resources to educate adolescents with accurate COVID-19 information.

“Keep the Spark”

Lori Redmond, PhD

In partnership with Georgia FirstGen, this multi-year study examines the academic and systemic barriers that impede underrepresented students’ interest and/or access to careers in medicine. Data will be gathered to develop an intervention strategy to expose and increase minority students' preparation for post-secondary education in health sciences.

Two of our new community based research studies involve interdisciplinary experiences for PCOM students.

  • Faculty members representing the PCOM School of Pharmacy and the PCOM School of Professional and Applied Psychology proposed “Exploring Barriers to Receiving Medical and Mental Health Services in Rural Communities” which will engage eight students from each discipline in this study in the South Georgia community.
  • Another study led by faculty from the School of Pharmacy and Department of Bio-Medical Sciences will guide eight pharmacy, biomedical sciences and osteopathic medicine students in research that will examine “The Increase in COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake Within the Minority Population Through Direct Grassroots Engagement With Local Churches in Georgia.“
  • A third study will engage ten graduate and medical students in examining vaccine hesitancy in Suwanee, Georgia: “PCOM Partners: Empowering Community Members to Reduce COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy.“
Current fellows recently presented their findings to PCOM faculty.

Our Faculty Researchers

Faculty members Valerie Cadet, PhD, and Edo-Abasi McGee, PharmD, as well as PCOM Georgia students, participated in grassroots engagement to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake within Black and minority populations.

Learn More

PCOM Georgia Faculty Educate Gwinnett Citizens on COVID Vaccines portrait

Research at PCOM

PCOM aims to develop innovative approaches to promoting health through basic, translational, clinical, behavioral, education and community research projects.