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Livingston Foundation Creates PhD Fellowships

Development Communications | June 7, 2012

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[In the photo: Livingston Foundation trustees Charlie Gregory (standing, left), Greg Gregory, Michael Golden, Milton Brannon, Jonathan Golden (seated, left) and Greer Brannon met recently with Livingston Fellow Shuo Chen.]

A generous gift from the Atlanta-based Livingston Foundation has created the Livingston Fellowships in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. The Livingston Foundation chose to fund the doctoral fellowships after its chair, Jonathan Golden, learned of the need from Lawrence and Ann Estes Klamon, fellow members of the RSPH Dean’s Council and co-chairs of the RSPH Campaign Committee. Golden presented the idea of creating the Livingston Scholars Fund to the foundation’s board of trustees.

Inaugural Livingston Fellows Shuo Chen and Matthew Magee spend a lot of time in front of computer screens mining data for their respective research projects on brain mapping and tuberculosis. Each is a PhD student, Chen in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and Magee in the Department of Epidemiology. 
“Now I can buy a very fast PC,” says Chen, who also has received awards from the Organization for Human Brain Mapping and the American Statistical Association. He will need that fast PC to continue his work collecting neuroimaging data using 3D images of the brain. His research involves analyzing activity and interactivity of different regions of the brain, both in rest mode and task-induced mode when prompted by stimuli. Chen’s goal is to draw population-level inferences from his findings that could improve disease diagnosis and prognosis and lead to personalized treatment plans for people with brain disorders and diseases, such as depression.

Before coming to Emory, Chen—originally from China—worked as a biostatistician at Vanderbilt University, where he earned his MS degree in biomedical informatics.

Magee’s dissertation focuses on treatment outcomes for tuberculosis patients with diabetes. The patients he studies are in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he travels two to three times a year to collaborate with the Georgia National Center for Tuberculosis. Using the Livingston funds for travel expenses and supplies is an obvious choice. “But the money also will make my research go further,” Magee explains, “because it will allow me to add a new design to my cohort study, perhaps to do more chest radiographs.”

Magee, who has an MPH degree in epidemiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, also draws support from a research development award from Emory’s Laney Graduate School.

“The opportunity to help attract the best and brightest doctoral students to Rollins was an easy, win-win decision,” says Milton Brannon, president and treasurer of the Livingston Foundation. “The school is a leader in developing scientific talent, and we are proud to play a role in that effort.”